Church Attendance and Presidents

CNN ran a story yesterday about Fred Thompson's "no apologies" stance regarding his status before the Almighty. "I'm OK with the Lord, and the Lord is OK with me," is how CNN reported he put it. The story mentions that he does not attend church when at home in McLean, Va. (my backyard and home to some excellent churches), but does attend when home with his mom in Tennessee.

So, initially my sense is Christians should want to be involved with a local body of believers. The Christian life echoes the unique community of the Trinity. We need other believers for accountability, equipping, and corporate worship and the church provides that context per Jesus' plan. Does Thompson want to go, but he can't for reasons unknown to us? Seems doubtful. What is it about being with Mom that gets him to services? Then I wondered, what is the church attendance record for all the candidates since they are falling over each other to show us their authenticity? Church attendance has long been abused and misunderstood. If I go to church regularly, I'm a good Christian. That's about as true as a Congressman saying he regularly votes on Capitol Hill so he must be a good politician.

Then I thought it would be interesting to know the church attendance of past presidents prior to their taking office. We know Carter taught a Sunday School. Presumably JFK attended Mass.

So I'm just full of questions. Religion is going to be front and center in this election with the kinds of candidates running, the value voter block, the War on Terror, abortion, evolution, and more. Some of the candidates' statements don't reassure me that their faith goes much beyond what we know from Barna surveys about the general state of belief and practice in America. Which is to say, in this race we don't seem to be seeing a lot of the real worldview that comes from following Jesus.


Church attendance is not any guarantee that one is a geniune Christian but one cannot be a geniune Christians without being faithful to the Church. Jesus died for the Church and left the Church to carry on his work. The bible says the Church is his bride. There is simply no scriptual foundation for Mr Thompson's statement. It may be OK with him but its not Ok with God. He needs to reference the bible for such a thought and statement not his own opinion. If God's ways are merely my opinion then how many God's are there? A different God for every person. God is not every man's opinion but the God of the Bible.
Your analogy between church attendance being an indicator of the authenticity of faith and a Congressman voting being an indicator of a good legislator is useful. Perhaps one step further is valid: a Congressman who doesn't vote on legislation is probably not a good Congressman--he isn't taking his responsibilities as a legislator very seriously. The analogy to a person who claims faith but doesn't take seriously the responsibility to be part of a church body seems clear. (As a caveat, it might be that an individual is part of a church body but isn't able to attend services. So maybe this doesn't go too far in addressing the issue.)
Brent- I like your expansion! You're right in saying it doesn't address every situation- because of stupid work schedules, I was prevented from attending church for a month a few summers ago, for instance- but illustrations rarely cover every angle. Basically, I like what you wrote!

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