When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on January 20, he'll not only become Commander in Chief. He'll also become the first ever Pastor in Chief.
We've never had a Pastor in Chief, but that's because we've never had a faith moment like this before. Spiritual hunger is everywhere. The fastest growing religious group in America is "spiritual but not religious," as people from all faith backgrounds strike out on their own in search of ultimate meaning. Spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra draw huge crowds and write multiple bestsellers. The megachurches are exploding. The internet offers millions of searchers new ways to find prayers, inspirational readings and rituals. Even The Washington Post has joined with its own entry, On Faith.
With a growing spiritual hunger also comes a need for a community of support and belonging. That's where President-elect Obama comes in. He already captured the sense of the times by making his campaign about faith and purpose, resisting the politicized debates about the teaching of evolution or the role of prayer in schools. In their place, Obama spoke of issues like overcoming fear of difference and finding common ground in the search for unity.
I'm a big fan of the United States of America, under any President, but if it's OK with everyone (and even if it's not OK with everyone) I think I'll be opting out of the United Church of America; I was participating in an election, not a faith moment.