The White House closely guarded the secret of where the Obamas would worship for Easter this morning. But it was only to make sure that the church wasn’t swamped by gawkers, not because there’s any significance in their selection. Actually, that’s not true. The fact that they went right across Lafayette Park (well, technically, they got in the motorcade and drove around the park) to St. John’s Episcopal Church probably indicates that the First Family isn’t close to choosing a permanent church to join in the Washington area.
Sasha Obama reportedly had her head in her hands soon after the Obamas sat down in the sixth pew from the front (traditionally reserved for presidents) and I’m not surprised. I love Episcopal services and liturgies myself–especially at Easter–but if you’re a kid used to the rambunctious worship style of Trinity United Church of Christ, the Episcopalians probably seem a little staid.
Still, St. John’s is a safe compromise for the Obamas. The New York Times ran a story this Saturday on the fierce elbowing going on among DC churches to court the Obamas. If they visited one of the churches actually in contention, they risked a redoubling of those efforts. The Obamas have already attended St. John’s once before, for a service the morning of the Inauguration. And it’s unthreatening. When George W. Bush went to church in Washington, he stuck almost exclusively to St. John’s, as have scores of previous presidents; it’s sometimes referred to as the “Church of the Presidents” for that reason. St. John’s isn’t the kind of church the Obamas will end up at–and that’s why it was perfect for them on Easter.