Claiming “Bush went to church a lot,” Doocy criticized Obama for National Prayer Day decision
Steve Doocy asserted that former President Bush “went to church a lot,” whereas "[t]his president, I don't believe, has selected a church that he will attend regularly." But Doocy ignored numerous reports that Bush infrequently attended church as president and did not join a congregation in the D.C. area.
On the May 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, discussing President Obama's decision not to hold a public ceremony for National Prayer Day, co-host Steve Doocy asserted that “there's a big difference between this president and the last one. George W. Bush went to church a lot, went to that yellow church just across from Lafayette Square from the White House. This president, I don't believe, has selected a church that he will attend regularly.” However, in claiming that former President Bush “went to church a lot,” Doocy ignored numerous reports of Bush's infrequent church attendance during his eight years in office. Moreover, in suggesting that Bush “selected a church” that he “attend[ed] regularly,” Doocy ignored numerous reports that Bush never belonged to a congregation in the Washington, D.C., area.
As Media Matters for America has previously noted, in an article for the October 11, 2004, issue of The New Republic, headlined "Empty Pew," Amy Sullivan criticized the media for its lack of reporting “on the president's whereabouts on Sunday mornings”:
What most [Americans] -- including many of the president's fiercest supporters -- don't know, however, is that Bush doesn't go to church. Sure, when he weekends at Camp David, Bush spends Sunday morning with the compound's chaplain. And, every so often, he drops in on the little Episcopal church across Lafayette Park from the White House. But the president who has staked much of his domestic agenda on the argument that religious communities hold the key to solving social problems doesn't belong to a congregation.
Additionally, in November 2008, reporting on which church the Obamas would consider attending once they moved into the White House, media outlets reported that Bush's church attendance was infrequent:
- In a November 17, 2008, Associated Press article, Matthew Barakat reported that Obama “could choose, as many presidents have done, not to attend services at all. President George W. Bush, for instance, has only infrequently attended services in Washington, occasionally going to St. John's [Church, near the White House].”
- In a November 14, 2008, Time article, Sullivan noted that “Ronald Reagan didn't go to church at all” and reported that while "[t]he Clintons drove down the street every Sunday to Foundry United Methodist ... George W. Bush never became a regular member of any local church, preferring to worship most often at the chapel at Camp David."
- In a November 11, 2008, article in The Hill, Jordy Yager wrote: “President Bush is widely known for his religious beliefs, but for eight years has not frequented a local church, at times citing security concerns.” Yager added that “security does not make regular worship impossible. Both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, for example, attended D.C.-area churches. Clinton's church, Foundry Methodist Church, installed metal detectors because many tourists attended services on Sunday -- some simply to catch a glimpse of the president.”
From the May 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: Well, there's a big difference between this president and the last one. George W. Bush went to church a lot, went to that yellow church just across from Lafayette Square from the White House. This president, I don't believe, has selected a church that he will attend regularly. You know, and, while some might say, you know, “Why isn't he doing this?” -- because we are a religious nation when you look at the statistics -- there are others on the other side, for instance, the American Atheist Group, by that name, says that the president, forget about the fact that he is going to observe it privately at the White House, he shouldn't observe it at all.