- (Photo: AP Images / Haraz N. Ghanbari)
Home is where the heart is.
And according to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, a church home is where a person formally joins, not where they regularly attend services.
That, then, would rule out Evergreen Chapel at Camp David as a possible church home for the Obama family, which has been without one since withdrawing their membership last May from Trinity United Church of Christ, where the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright previously served as senior pastor.
“There have been no formal decisions about joining a church,” Gibbs clarified Monday after Time magazine ran a story about the Obamas finding a church home in Evergreen Chapel.
“I think they will continue to look for a formal church home,” the press secretary said during the briefing. “I think when he (Obama)'s at Camp David, he'll continue to go to the chapel there. He has told us that he greatly enjoys that.”
Following Gibbs comments and a statement released by White House officials, the reporter of the Time story made clear that she stands by her story, and that there was a reason why the White House didn’t call her reporting into question.
“The reason it didn't is that the plan for the foreseeable future is for the First Family to attend services at the nondenominational Evergreen Chapel when they're at Camp David,” wrote Time’s Amy Sullivan in a follow-up article.
She also noted that while Evergreen Chapel is not a membership congregation, it could provide a robust worship community for the president, who said earlier this year that it’s been difficult without one.
“Now, I've got a wonderful community of people who are praying for me every day, and they call me up and – you know, but it's not the same as going to church and the choir's going and you get a good sermon,” Obama said in an interview that ABC's "This Week" aired on Jan. 11.
On May 31, 2008, Obama had withdrawn his membership from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago after controversy arose over sermons that his long-time pastor had preached in 2001 and 2003.
In the sermons, Wright lashed out against the U.S. government, accusing it of “purposely infect[ing] African American men with syphilis” and “inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.” He also suggested that American had brought the Sept. 11 attacks upon itself.
“America's chickens are coming home to roost," Wright said after noting the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII.
Obama, in response, said he was “outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle.”