Update: Obamas Deny Time Report They Stopped Church-Shopping
The White House denied Time's Monday report that the Obamas have ended a search for a church home in the nation's capital. Here's Politico:
The White House said Monday that President Barack Obama continues "to look for a church home," and said a magazine report that he has stopped is erroneous.
White House deputy press secretary Jen Psaki said by e-mail: "The president and first family continue to look for a church home. They have enjoyed worshiping at Camp David and several other congregations over the months, and will choose a church at the time that is best for their family."
The Obamas haven't faced much questioning from the White House press corps about when they're going to make a church decision. With most presidents, this might not be a big deal, but the establishment media's reluctance surely reflects its sensitivity to Obama's political problems with choosing radical, ranting Rev. Jeremiah Wright in Chicago and staying in his church for 20 years.
Spokesman Robert Gibbs, like Psaki wasn't very direct about precisely when the Obamas might stop shopping and start attending, so Time's Amy Sullivan is standing by her story, since "nothing in the statement contradicts my reporting." But what the White House is contradicting is any sense of finality. They seem to want to keep the question persistently open and unanswered.
If the White House had wanted to call into question my reporting, it certainly could have. 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. It's not a membership congregation, so as Robert Gibbs carefully noted in this afternoon's briefing, they won't be "joining" the chapel. The Obamas have not ruled out becoming members of another church down the road — what churchgoer would? — but neither are there any plans for them to pursue that option right now.
For the Obamas and for Sullivan, the question is this: if they wanted to claim the First Family was going to charm the evangelicals with their piety, do they think this game of kicking the can is impressive? Or doesn't it begin to signal insincerity?