Although U.S. President Barack Obama may be a devoted Christian, being the most well-known national leader can present a problem when trying to attend church regularly on Sundays.
According to a recent article by The Huffington Post, the first family has still not been able to locate a church home since the beginning of Obama's presidency, instead opting to make occasional appearances at local churches in Washington D.C. or the Evergreen Chapel at Camp David.
Between security preparation and gawkers hoping to catch a glimpse or snap a quick picture of the president, difficulties arise for all involved when trying to maintain a sacred atmosphere for prayer and reflection in church. When the first family decided to celebrate Easter Sunday at the Allen Chapel AME Church in Washington D.C. in 2010, congregants were forced to wait in long lines to go through metal detectors, while latecomers were turned away altogether for security reasons, according to ABC News.
"The preparation to accommodate a president is intense," Bishop T.D. Jakes, who has hosted presidents and other dignitaries at The Potter's House church in Dallas, told The Huffington Post. "It is...very difficult to manage for any local church. I also think that many of them don't want to be a distraction of what should be the focal point of the service, which is to worship the Lord."
While Obama is unable to attend church regularly, he receives daily devotionals and remains in contact with a variety of faith leaders to keep his spirituality alive.
In addition, the president said that while a few churches might be willing to accommodate the first family every weekend so that they may attend services, it would not be fair to the congregation.
"We've decided for now ... not to join a single church,” Obama told NBC News back in March 2010. "The reason is because Michelle and I have realized we are very disruptive to services. Now, there are a whole bunch of churches who would say it's OK, but [not] when every other member of the congregation has to be 'magged' every time you attend."
Over the years, the president's lack of a regular appearance at church every Sunday has drawn scrutiny and criticism from Christians, with some questioning whether or not he truly believes in the Christian faith. A poll conducted back in 2010 showed that nearly one in five Americans believed Obama was a Muslim.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was quoted last year at the Values Voters Summit in Washington D.C. as saying, "it certainly would be helpful if Obama would show a little love to the people who are unapologetically Christian, and I think there's some things [like] being part of the National Day of Prayer that would go a long way toward that, and leading the example of attending worship."
However, some are understanding of the president's opting out of attending church every Sunday.
"I agree with the President's decision not to join a local church while serving," said one commenter on ABC's discussion board. "That is an example of using godly wisdom. For surely his presence in church would take away from the presence of the Holy Spirit and the word from on high. Remember now, God gets all the glory...God and God alone."