For the third time in about a month, the First Family went to a church service, this time at Zion Baptist Church in Washington D.C. to celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. Keith Koffler of interprets this as a sign that Obama might be using religion as a way to boost his chances with voters:

Obama has rarely gone to church since becoming president. But last month he and his family walked across Lafayette Park in front of the White House to attend services at St. John’s Church. They attended Christmas services at a Marine Base in Hawaii and today were at Zion Baptist Church in DC.

While it’s possible the trips to church a part of some kind of renewed personal religious commitment, they are also consistent with Obama’s increased use of religious imagery as part of his public profile.

During two recent annual events – the televised Christmas in Washington gala and the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, Obama invoked specifically Christian themes he had shunned in the past.

The Christian narrative is appealing to a key demographic that fled Democrats en masse during the 2010 midterm election – white working class voters. Obama will need to bring as many members of this group back into the fold if he hopes to prevail in critical swing states like Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, and other must-win states in the Midwest and the South.

Zion Baptist Church’s basic statement of faith doesn’t look to be too radical, but this Sunday’s program book reportedly included a plea for donations for the Occupy D.C. crowd.

Nevertheless, I’d rather not be cynical about this. Church, after all, is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. Whatever motivates Obama to go is less important than what happens when he’s there. Let’s hope the content of the services Obama has recently attended is significantly different than the content of the services at Jeremiah Wright’s church — and maybe even of the sort to work the same change in the president all church-goers wish to see in themselves as the result of participating in a liturgy. That is, may it be for him a reminder of his creaturely status and an invitation to true worship.

Tags: religion