Examines Obama's Church Search

Barack Obama in screencap Complete with a photo of the president-elect at the pulpit, is hyping how "Obama Goes Church-Hunting, With Caution" on the Web site's front page.

"In picking church, Obamas will weigh political, religious and personal feelings," the subheading to Russell Goldman's reads.:

Come Jan. 20, Barack Obama knows the house in which he and his family will live, but he has yet to decide at which house of worship they will pray.

Within steps from the White House, the Obamas can choose from a bevy of churches, each offering reasons to be selected, from historic connections to the presidency to historic connections to the African-American community.

Anywhere the Obamas choose to worship, observers told, will likely be scrutinized for a political message.

The Obama transition staff would not comment on which church the family was considering or when it would announce a decision.

But for someone perplexed from all the options available at what church to attend, the president-elect has been spending his Sundays working out rather than worshiping:

Obama has attended church sparingly in the past several months, and since winning the election has spent his Sunday mornings at the gym.

"I think he has to use some discretion because of Rev. Wright, and carefully consider where he and his family choose to attend," said pastor Ronald Braxton of the historically black Metropolitan AME Church, located six blocks from the White House.

Although a skeptic might plausibly argue the president-elect's absence from a house of worship points to him being cavalier about the spiritual and theological importance of finding a church home, Goldman took for granted that Obama is devout:

Obama has spoken frequently about the importance of his Christian faith. In his 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope," he wrote that "the historically black church offered me a second insight: that faith doesn't mean that you don't have doubts, or that you relinquish your hold on this world. ... You needed to come to church precisely because you were of this world, not apart from it."

Having noted how the histrionic ravings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright must be on Obama's mind in choosing a new congregation, Goldman oddly chose to close with the thoughts of another leftist minister, Al Sharpton:

"Ironically, Wright belonged to the United Church of Christ, a middle-of-the-road white denomination," said Sharpton. "The Wright situation must be something on his mind when looking for a church, but I don't know what his thinking is.

"The truth is, it's a new age in America and in America's churches," Sharpton added. "What were once white churches are now mixed. And what were once black churches are now mixed."

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