Obama and His Bitter Church
By: Doug Hagin
Big speech in Philadelphia for Barack Obama today (March 18). Big for what it could mean for his presidential hopes, which had been going very well, until his pastorâ€˜s rants tripped him up. Perhaps even for race relations in America, if Obama himself is to be believed, which, given his recent battles with honesty, might be a stretch.
For those who are not aware of why Barack Obama felt compelled to give a major speech on race in America, a quick review. Obama and his family are members of a Black church in Chicago. The Trinity United Church of Christ has a few problems with its long-time, recently retired pastor, Jeremiah Wright. It seems that Reverend Wright is quick to throw around wild accusations and racist sermons.His more infamous rants include his accusing the United States of sponsoring terrorism around the world, and of giving drugs to Black Americans, and of lying about Pearl Harbor. He continually denigrates the USA for being a racist country, built on racism, calling America â€œThe United States of KKKAmericaâ€! He has been caught bashing White people on video numerous times as well. His most despicable rant might have been the time he said America deserved 9-11. In this demented racistâ€™s mind, we are no different from al Qaeda, and 9-11 was simply our chickens coming home to roost.
Perhaps more frightening than the consistently racist, bitter, and anti-American rhetoric spewing from Rev. Wrightâ€™s mouth are the responses the videos of his sermonâ€™s show from church members. Hooping, hollering, raucous applause, and cheers follow his hate-filled rants. Particularly appealing to his flock was Wrightâ€™s claim that God should not bless America, but damn America for its â€œracismâ€œ. Its members, those that have been interviewed have tried to excuse Wright and his comments, â€œIt is just being Black in Americaâ€ said one church member on an ABC News video clip. Another just said Wright was just telling the truth in his sermons.
Therein lies the REAL problem with Barack Obamaâ€™s membership in this church. It is not so much that one church member says these things, but the long-time reverend says them. Worse yet, the members seem not only to tolerate the bigotry; they seem to revel in it! Therefore, the question, or at least the most pressing question for Obama is why he is a member of such a church. I mean, why would a man who has said he wants to be president of not Black America or White America, but all of America tolerate such teaching?
Obama, in his speech, offered up this â€œI have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely â€“ just as Iâ€™m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm werenâ€™t simply controversial. They werenâ€™t simply a religious leaderâ€™s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country â€“ a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wrightâ€™s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems â€“ two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.â€
Hmmm, condemnation does not seem to fit the bill here does it? After all, Obama has lied about being present when the radical Reverend Wright went on his tirades. Further, if Obama is so offended, why did he not walk out of that church the first time he heard Wrightâ€™s racist sermons and the exuberant support for them among the parishioners? Honestly, folks, would you stay in that church? Would you allow THAT preacher to not only marry you and your wife, but also baptize your kids? Would you, as a parent allow your children to be victimized by that racist environment? I cannot imagine too many of us sitting still while our church honored David Duke or some other White supremist. Yet Barackâ€™s pastor honored Louis Farrakhan last year. Where was Obamaâ€™s outrage then? He certainly showed far more outrage at Don Imus over his remarks, which funny or not, WERE intended as a joke, about the Rutgers basketball team.
Obama offered up excuses for not leaving the church, and for not repudiating Reverend Wright in his speech today. Both, he said have done many good deeds and should not be reduced to sound bites. Hmmm, let me go back to Obamaâ€™s stance on Don Imus and his remarks for a second. Imus has done a great deal, and raised millions for charities, including ones that specifically help Black children. I guess Obama did not consider Imusâ€™s good deeds when he condemned him.
Yet Obama excused his hateful pastor and his church that cheers the hatefulness. â€œThe man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing Godâ€™s work here on Earth â€“ by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDSâ€œ.
Obama, continued, doing his best to sugar coat the church, its former pastor and his involvement with it. â€œLike other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety â€“ the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinityâ€™s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes-bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions â€“ the good and the bad â€“ of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother â€“ a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.â€
Ah, we see Barack, those people, and their bitterness, and your pastorâ€™s racist heart, and his anti-Americanism, and your fellow parishioners roaring approval of it, are part of you. I am not sure what you were trying to tell us today Barack, but I think we got the message loud and clear. Either you secretly approve of the hate at your church, or you are too much a damned coward to really stand against it. Either way, it speaks no good of you sir!