Obama's Preacher

This week Barack Obama denounced a number of "inflammatory" statements made by his longtime pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I think it is a bit surprising that so many people are so upset by brief snippets of very long sermons. It would be nice to see them in full context before jumping to conclusions.

However, I will concede that Rev. Wright appears to have some far-left political views. Why, exactly, does this surprise anyone? Pulpits across America are regularly occupied by liberals of every color. It is more common in some denominations than others, but the things Rev. Wright said are not that unusual in certain quarters. He is just more forceful and colorful than most in expressing what he thinks.

It is also not news that Rev. Wright and Sen. Obama are close associates. Anyone who was paying attention to the presidential campaign knew all about Rev. Wright and his rhetoric over a year ago. Why is it suddenly a big deal? Perhaps because the media wishes it to be so?

I'm also not sure which of the things he says are so wrong. Rev. Wright thinks that black people still lack equality in America. He mentions the KKK and wants black Americans to embrace their African heritage. From this some people conclude he must be a kind of reverse racist. Yet this doesn't fit with the many self-help initiative his church has sponsored. Wright often, according to reports, exalts his black congregation to stand on its own feet and stop waiting for handouts. These are all good things. Furthermore, Wright's church is part of the largely white United Church of Christ denomination. None of this is consistent with the racist attitudes some think they see in him.

We also saw clips this week of Rev. Wright talking about U.S. military actions he thought to be atrocious, like the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Whether you agree with him or not, this is not exactly a fringe view. There are plenty of people from all backgrounds who think Truman should not have used nuclear weapons. Among these are many preachers, teachers, professors, popes, politicians, diplomats and war heroes.

The one thing that probably resonates the most is the clip of Wright saying "G-- D--- America." This is from a sermon he preached right after 9-11, the theme of which seems to have been that we in America brought the attacks on ourselves. Again, this is not an unusual view. Last year on the sixth anniversary of 9-11 I posted this speech and video by Rev. John Corapi suggesting much the same thing, albeit for different reasons. Many, many pastors made similar comments about God using the terrorists to send a message to America. Wright's crime seems to be that he said it a little louder.

If you're wondering whether I have gone off the deep end here, calm down. I will never vote for Obama as long as he favors legal abortion and infanticide. There are plenty of reasons to hope he never becomes president. What I'm saying is that the fact he has a fiery, opinionated pastor is not one of those reasons. I feel sure that every politician in both parties has some close associates who have said outrageous things. What counts is what the person who wants our vote thinks, and what he intends to do if elected.

Frankly, I'm glad that Obama at least has a pastor and professes some semblance of Christian belief. It gives us hope that he will someday see the error of his ways. A crazy pastor is better than no pastor at all.


Pauli said...

he must be a kind of reverse racist

Uhhh... there's no such thing as "reverse racism". The word "racism" describes blacks who hate whites just fine, it's the same thing.

Patrick said...

Good point. Many people do use the term in this way, however.

I agree with you that racism is the same thing no matter where it originates.