Barack Obama’s Pastor Problem

If you were one of the 3 people reading my blog 7 months ago, you would have read about the problems that Barack Obama would have when his membership in an arguably racist church got more attention.  In my post, “Is This Candidate Racist?”  I linked to the website of his church, Trinity United Church of Christ.  I concluded that if he was white, and belonged to a church with a similar statement of beliefs, but focused on Caucasians instead of African-Americans, that he would have a huge problem.

It looks like people have begun to listen to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his now retired pastor, and they don’t like what they are hearing.  Among other things, the pastor said “God damn America,” in a way that suggested that he really wanted it to happen.  Meanwhile, some of Obama’s response to the criticism of his pastor was of the “I wasn’t in church when he said that” variety, mixed in with “if I was in church that Sunday, I must not have been listening to the sermon.”  This is not inspiring confidence at all, but Hillary Clinton, whose pastors have all been much more laid back, is certainly happy.

Pastor Doug Wilson, of Blog and Mablog, is beginning to make good sense of this situation from the perspective of “a fellow incendiary pastor.”  Rev. Jeremiah Wright believes that the government invented the AIDS virus to kill black people.  Pastor Wilson believes that this is a nutty charge, but he does believe that the government is killing black babies by funding Planned Parenthood.  (Indeed, nearly half of the babies killed by abortions are members of minority races, so he does have a point.)  Therefore he thinks that Rev. Wright is actually a “useful idiot” who is, if anything, making the white oppressor’s job easier.

So, he wonders, what makes Rev. Wright wrong?  Pastor Wilson wants to make sure that Rev. Wright is not criticized merely for being “anti-American”, or “critical of the government.”  He develops his thoughts in the following posts:

Fox News Indignation – Where he introduces the problem.

A Chilling Effect – Where he wonders what would happen if one of his church members ran for President.

Why Jeremiah Wright is no Jeremiah – Where he comes to some conclusions about why exactly Rev. Wright is wrong, but he also explains why most of his critics are wrong too.  Here are a few quotes:

First, the original Jeremiah did not deliver his jeremiads with a sense of bad boy glee, accented with a gaudy shirt, and with a choir dancing in the background. The real Jeremiah delivered a grim sentence condemning a city that he deeply loved. Jeremiah was accused of a lack of patriotism, but he was actually one of the few patriots in the city…

…A story is told of a conservative Methodist congregation in the backwoods that lost their pastor, and so in their letter to the bishop they asked for him to be replaced with a “real hellfire and damnation” preacher. The bishop didn’t have many of those left, but he shrugged his shoulders and sent one. He lasted two weeks. The next one lasted for one. A third was sent (the bishop’s last one) and he settled in as the pastor of this congregation for the next thirty years. This naturally baffled the bishop, and one day when he was visiting with one of the old-timers from that church, he asked about it. “Why did you all reject the first two hell-preachers, and keep the third?” The old guy scratched his chin and said, “Well, the last one sounded like he didn’t want us to go.”

Wright is being condemned, not for having the list of sins wrong (which he did), but for being un-American with a camera running. 

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14 thoughts on “Barack Obama’s Pastor Problem

  1. I thought Obama’s comments this past Monday in Philadelphia more than adequately disposed of this controversy–at least as it pertains to him.

  2. Rich,

    If a white guy was running for president, and it turned out that his pastor had a habit of making accusations against blacks and Jews (instead of whites and Jews), do you think a speech like this would have been adequate?

    Remember, Barack Obama listens to Rev. Wright for 30 minutes a week as a captive audience, and Rev. Wright baptized his kids. He joined this church voluntarily, and maintains his membership voluntarily, and he has his daughters sit under this fellow’s teaching voluntarily, and he has voluntarily given quite a bit of money to this church. This is not the church he was born into, and he can freely join another church if he wants to.

    It is also a congregation where he could have brought any concerns about the man’s preaching to the Consistory, or to the denomination. (It is not like a Roman Catholic church where you can’t really question a priest’s teaching.) However, he didn’t seem to have expressed any concerns until Rev. Wright’s preaching became a hot potato.

    Would you sit in a church where the pastor disparaged another race on multiple occasions?

  3. Funnily, in South Africa blacks had (have?) that same view…that aids was invented to kill them…lol! and…the same view about the funded family planning..I grew up on the farm and the local family planning mobile clinic came around for women who wanted injections…and they tried to educate them what it all was about…..they all refused as that was what they said…so I’m wondering…who’s “informing” who about all of this…was it Americans who “spread” that “story” amongst the South African blacks or was it the other way around…LOL!

  4. Nikita, it’s not a myth that Planned Parenthood is responsible for the deaths of black children, and the U.S. government indirectly through it. It’s not even arguable: Planned Parenthood provides abortions, abortions kill black children (as well as white and others), and the U.S. government funds Planned Parenthood.

    So this isn’t about a myth about birth control being “about” genocide; it’s about the bare fact that the U.S. government pays Planned Parenthood to kill children, and that blacks are part of that — but no one gets as upset about that reality as they do about the myth of AIDS being a deliberate anti-black genocidal plan.

  5. When I said “blacks are part of that,” I wasn’t attributing any specific black activity in the destruction of children through PP, but rather than black children are among the victims.

  6. Regardless of this pastor’s comments, to try and adopt them as Obama’s is clearly unfair especially when Obama has made absolutely clear that he disagrees with the comments made from his previous pastor. He unequivocally disagreed with them. Not only that but his actions in Congress and in the community show that he does not have the same viewpoint.

    You’re straining here to paint a picture of Obama using someone else’s character flaws and failings. This is a non-issue but something Obama’s detractor’s are trying to make stick since there is little else.

  7. Rich,

    I am not saying that Barack Obama agrees with his pastor on every point. However, he has been strongly influenced by him, and he has not opposed some of the wilder statements until it was politically necessary to do so.

    If I belonged to a white racist church, and I was running for office, would my church membership be relevant? Please answer this.

    I understand that people agree with some of what their church teaches, and disagree with other parts of a church’s teachings, but at a certain point you have to ask a person why they are sitting in that particular pew.

    Let’s suppose someone found a video of a worship service at Trinity UCC, where Obama was saying “amen” to one of Rev. Wright’s more outrageous comments. Would that make a difference to you? Why or why not?

  8. Hi Jane..I see your point and I agree with Ray..was also said it in a jest…but on the other hand…family planning funded or not-funded…so would you then reason that if it is not funded, that we (ourselves) “kill” children. I mean, taking contraceptives is the “modern day” thing.. in any form. Or…do I misunderstand you? ;)… we don’t want to overpopulate the world in our modern society….

  9. Nikita,

    I think we can make a distinction between “contraception”, which merely prevents conception, and forms of birth control which cause a conceived embryo to be aborted.

    [I know a large number of the Roman Catholics who read this this blog will disagree, but that is for another time.]

    Most Protestants will say that contraception is not inherently immoral, and is not equivalent to abortion. Roman Catholics will disagree, but still allow for “natural family planning.”

  10. “he has been strongly influenced by him”

    I think that’s a leap and simply don’t see how you can support this other than he sat in a pew and listened to sermons given by this pastor. This is what he said in Philadelphia:

    “[T]he remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – 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 Wright’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 – 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. ”

    Not only does Obama talk the talk but he walks the walk. There’s no merit to this fabricated controversy.

    To ask me to disect a scenario where a white man attends a “racist” church is inapposite to this issue. It matters only what that individual says and does. Should I be labeled a racist because I have family and friends who have shown to be racist from time to time?Besides it is black Americans who were once enslaved and carry with them that past and not whites. Different perspective, different culture, different set of circumstances.

  11. I see you are not answering my questions.

    Barack Obama has been strongly influenced by Pastor Wright. After all, he lifted the title of his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” from one of Pastor Wright’s sermons.

    Even if he didn’t do that, you can’t listen to a guy for 15-20 years, shout “amen’ to his sermons, dance in the pews during the singing, and not be influenced by your pastor.

    Heck, I’m a Presbyterian, and I only mumble “amen” on occasion, and I never dance in the pew (OK, I might sway a bit during a hymn, especially if I’m holding a baby), and I am still influenced a lot by my pastor. And my kids are influenced more, because more of their life has been spent under his teaching.

  12. Hi Ray… that is what I meant by family planning in SA… the injection is one way… and that’s what the government of the day tried to do…. to inform them (white/black) about family planning and the same time to help them/support them in that…
    my view …… God says in His Word…that we should look after our planet and take care of everything..it’s our responsibility… so He gave us the intelligence to do research… find medical solutions… if He didn’t want us to prevent “unwanted” children/ to plan our families…. why would He give us the intelligence to be able to look after our planet in that way… only one of the many ways to “save” our planet… We can have days-without-end discussions about this… 🙂

  13. Nikita, I wasn’t tying abortion to family planning directly. But money is fungible — if the government gives money to Planned Parenthood for (non-abortive) family planning, even if they tightly restrict the use of those particular monies, that frees up more of PP’s fund-raising monies to be used directly for abortion. Those in government responsible for channeling money to PP can’t help but know this, so it is reasonable to suggest that the government’s giving money to PP directly facilitates “killing children,” i.e. abortion.

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