(AFP) – Dec 26, 2010
KANEOHE, Hawaii — US President Barack Obama and his family made a rare public appearance at church services Sunday, at a military base near the Hawaii rental home where they are spending Christmas and New Year holidays.
The president, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia arrived at St. Michael church on a US Marines Corps base near the hamlet of Kaneohe a little after 11:00 am (2200 GMT) and settled into pews in the first row.
The first family took communion and heard a Christmas-themed sermon at the service attended by some 100 worshippers.
It was Obama's first public church attendance since September 19, when he went to Sunday services at a church near the White House.
Obama usually refrains from going to church, out of concern that his presence and the exhaustive security precautions required before and during the worship could prove disruptive for other congregants.
The question of Obama's faith has been a recurring talking point for the US public, in large part because polls show that a substantial number of Americans have the misconception that he is Muslim, despite his frequent declarations that he is Christian.
His church outing took place one day after Obama visited the base to celebrate Christmas with men and women in uniform.
The first family is spending their holidays in Kailua, in the northeast of Oahu Island.
The president was born in Hawaii and attended a private school here as a youth.
On Saturday, the president and the first lady spent about an hour and a half with the marines on Saturday taking pictures and sharing a Christmas meal.
Obama, who was expected to remain in Hawaii through the New Year's Day holiday, also visited this base during previous Christmas vacations in 2008 and 2009.
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