Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama's Pastor Gets In The Spotlight

All across the country, the pulpit in American churches has been used to preach theological beliefs, historical information and revelation-conscious opinion for decades. It's no longer the place to just read the Word of God, but it's the place where preachers and pastors exalt their own words to something that resembles an act of God. Their words to its listeners become as the red letters in the Four Gospels - pivotal, crucial and essential. That seems to be the case for the fiery sermons of Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright - the popular and beloved pastor of the 10,000 member Trinity United Church of Christ. He has since retired from pastoring the large congregation after thirty-six years of active ministry, but the retirement has gone under silence in the media due to the emergence of what many call "racially-inflammatory and anti-American" messages preached from his pulpit. What makes all of this most important is that, while in a very crucial presidential election year, Wright happens to be the pastor of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and his messages do not coincide with the "peace-love-and-hope" messages and dialogue of Obama.

Wright's relationship with Obama extends beyond the last few months of the 2008 presidential race. Obama joined Trinity, under Wright's watch, in the 1980s and was later joined in marriage by the pastor. Wright is also accredited by Obama for the title of his best-selling book, "The Audacity of Hope." Once the sermons hit news reports last week focusing on Wright's big endorsements on Obama and even bigger controversial views, Obama denounced them in a press conference and later removed him from his appointment over Obama's African American Religious Leadership Committee. Whether one wants to fully believe or support Wright is one thing, but hearing it in the open is sometimes very tough to digest. To some critics, his statements on racism often point towards black separatism. ABC News aired sermons showing Wright, in the traditional gospel preacher role, accusing the federal government of crimes against people of color, including selling drugs to blacks, creating the HIV virus to infect blacks, and perpetuating racism that led to disproportionate imprisonment of blacks. The media also ran circles around a particular message that Wright preached claiming that "the United States was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and urged black Americans to ask God to "damn America."

Obama didn't derail his pastor when questioned by the media about Wright's statements. Instead he said Rev. Wright "is like an old uncle who says things I don't always agree with," telling a Jewish group that everyone has someone like that in their family."

On the Tuesday episode of ABC's popular daytime talk-dish The View, things got nasty when co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck confronted the issue - stating that there is an evident contradiction for Obama to announce Don Imus' resignation for racially-graphic tones but quickly defended his pastor in the media.

On the other hand, African Americans are remaining supportive of Obama and Trinity's former pastor. During a Sunday evening service, Pastor Otis Moss III addressed the matter by stating that "it is an indictment on Dr. Wright's ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite."

In truth, Obama shouldn't be judge because of his pastor's actions and opinions. But it is scary to separate the fact that birds of a feather flock together. In this case, if you want to know your presidential candidate, do your homework. While he is a great speaker, intelligent and highly beloved by many supporters for his "hopeful" agenda, it might be fair to say - after the recent investigation of his pastor - that we probably don't have a clue as to who the real Obama is.


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