When Barack Obama was sworn in as president, churches near and far rented buses, piled congregants aboard and drove to Washington to see the nation’s 44th president take the oath of office.
The 45th president’s inauguration doesn’t seem to be nearly as popular a destination for a church bus trip.
Searching for a church group planning to attend the inauguration, The Washington Post asked plugged-in pastors, representatives of denominations large and small, and many others who work with churches nationwide. The National Association of Evangelicals — representing evangelical churchgoers, who voted heavily for Donald Trump — said it does not know of any church planning to attend.
Representatives of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and of the Presbyterian Church of America, both evangelical denominations, and of the mainline Episcopal Church all asked around in their networks, but they didn’t find any churches planning trips. Representatives of the Assemblies of God and the Jehovah’s Witnesses said they do not know of any either.
Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists and United Methodists didn’t respond to inquiries on this subject. The Southern Baptist Convention — the nation’s largest evangelical denomination, so perhaps a likely denomination for a church looking to herald Trump’s inauguration — said it has no way of knowing the travel plans of its many churches.
Jackie Frend knows about travel plans, though. As the president of the Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington, D.C., her inbox has been flooded with tour requests coming from groups visiting the District for the inauguration. “Oh my gosh, we’re all booked,” she said. “Every single tour guide.”
But when she looked through the tour requests submitted on the guild’s website during the past several months, she didn’t see a single inquiry from a church group. The inauguration tourists seem to be mostly school groups this year, Frend said.
Even searches for social media posts about “church trip inauguration” turn up plenty of posts from churches making plans in 2013, to attend Obama’s second inauguration, but none in 2017.
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