Saturday, July 04, 2009

Come to the Church in the Wildwood

What can I write about on this important holiday in the United States, a day when homes will be festooned with American flags and funnel cakes will be eating by the millions?

How about the president and his family looking for a church? It seems that the Obama family has experienced problems finding a church home because of the gawkers. They tried to attend one congregation in Washington but people got wind of it and lined up for three hours before worship. Many members couldn't get in because of president Obama's fans and some attenders couldn't resist snapping photos on their cell phones as they walked forward for communion. Tacky.

So the secret service has been busy checking out worship services for the Commander-in-Chief (wouldn't you love to be part of that briefing) and they have decided that a smaller congregation near the Camp David retreat in Maryland fits the bill. The Evergreen Chapel is only a couple of decades old and about 50 to 70 faithful worship on Sundays, many of them Camp David staffers. As you can see in the photo above, the Bush families worshipped there as well, proof that God loves everyone.

So now we know more about the worshipping travails and habits of the American president than we do about the Canadian prime minister or any of his cabinet. Thanks to Joe D. for sending me the article about this. There are more differences between our two countries than three days on the July calendar.


Ian said...

For me, one of the more interesting points of comparison between Canada and the United States are our mutually exclusive attitudes toward the separation of church and state.

During election '08, I watched with amusement John McCain's struggle to position himself politically between all of the Republican party's various factions. Mixed in amongst hard-c conservatives, fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and others, was the sizable Christian majority so necessary for winning in any American federal election. McCain's hardest balancing act, in fact, was learning how to appease "the Bible belt" in a way that would not alienate him from the rest of the right. Where McCain chose to worship was as big a factor to some voters as was his views on the economic crisis, or relations with Iran.

Compare this kind of appeasement to the negative and quite visceral reaction to John Tory's funding scheme for religious schools during the last Ontario election (a decision which ultimately led to his demise) and you can clearly see the lines of two very different, very polar ways of looking at how (if) church and government can mix.

lionlamb said...

Recent polls in the U.S. show that an increasing number of Americans are willing to list themselves as "religious nones." Pollsters have been surprised at how quickly that percentage has grown. I', always sad to hear about the secularization of our culture, but it's likely that this shift will bring about change.

Perhaps religion won't be as important a factor in the States before long, as is already the case in Canada and Europe. John Tory's huge misreading of the sentiments of Ontarians cost him an election and a job.

Deborah Laforet said...

Religious conservatives do seem to have a lot of power in American politics, but in practice, the separation between church and state is very strong. I remember moving to Canada and being shocked that Catholic schools were publicly funded. I grew up in a Catholic school and I know my mom doled out a lot of money for tuition. I wondered how public funding for Catholic schools in Canada could be tolerated.

Separation of church and state is in the Constitution of the U.S., and there was a time when this was a very important and essential addition to it. It is interesting now to see the influence that religion has on American politics.