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Obama's Minister and Church:

I've been reading some recent blog posts, linked by Instapundit, about Barack Obama's church, the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, an Afrocentric church that preaches what the New York Times calls Black liberation theology.

The senior pastor (and former pastor) of the church is one Jeremiah A. Wright. Rev. Wright, who, according to Obama, has had an incredibly profound influence on his life, has said many controversial things over the years, which a simple Google search will turn up. Browsing around I came across the fact that in November, the church's newsmagazine, The Trumpet, announced that it plans to "honor" Louis Farrakhan "this winter at its Sounds of the Shore gala with an Empowerment Award." Apparently, Rev. Wright himself heartily approves of Farrakhan.

"When Minister Farrakhan speaks, Black America listens," says the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, likening the Minister's influence to the E. F. Hutton commercials of old. "Everybody may not agree with him, but they listen… His depth on analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye opening. He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest. "Minister Farrakhan will be remembered as one of the 20th and 21st century giants of the African American religious experience," continues Wright. "His integrity and honesty have secured him a place in history as one of the nation's most powerful critics. His love for Africa and African American people has made him an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose." (emphasis added)

I disagree with Barack Obama on almost everything, but I find him to be a likeable fellow and a very engaging speaker, and instinctively a more promising choice for president than his Democratic opponents (which, admittedly, isn't saying much). However, having harshly criticized Ron Paul for his dubious associations [even before the newsletter scandal], and even Giuliani for sucking up to Pat Robertson, I certainly don't think that Obama deserves a pass for his membership in a church that, among other dubious things, holds Louis Farrakhan to be a heroic role model, especially given Obama's campaign theme of being a "uniter." (Evidence that Obama has quietly worked for change on such issues within the church would be welcome.)

Unfortunately, my suspicion is that the MSM won't touch this story until Hillary operatives inevitably spread it before the Florida and Northeast primaries, at which time it will become, improperly, another "black-Jewish" issue, when it should be a "is Obama upholding the standards he claims to believe in?" issue.

SKI:
A stretch too far, David.

There is a huge gap between associating someone with writings published under their own name and associating them with something said by someone who their minister supports.
1.14.2008 9:41am
Durka (mail):
At which point, Obama, in a face-saving move will pledge his undying support of Israel and offer to increase the annual billions we give of our money to Israel. Which of course is your end game, as usual.
1.14.2008 9:42am
Elliot Reed (mail):
I look forward to David's posts on the views expressed in the other candidates' church newsletters.
1.14.2008 10:01am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
This is a much bigger deal than Romney's peculiar political beliefs, and at least as big a deal as Huckabee's.

I really hope the press doesn't try to ignore this story because they like Obama - you'd think they'd have learned their lesson with Kerry and trying to ignore the "Swifties."
1.14.2008 10:07am
lawstudent:
David,

Will you also criticize McCain for making nice with Jerry Fallwell, Huckabee for his statements advocating the quarantine of individuals with AIDS and his fervent religious opposition to homosexuality, and so on down the list? I appreciate your attempt to balance your criticisms of Paul with some of Obama, but it seems every candidate has some associations they ought to be ashamed of.
1.14.2008 10:15am
Amanda (mail):
I'm not sure I would trust the NYTimes to properly analyze the theology of any church—they don't even have a religion section in their paper. But Trinity United Church of Christ does explain that it preaches black liberation theology (http://www.tucc.org/talking_points.htm). I'd be hard pressed to define black liberation theology on the basis of TUCC's explanation, but it does make more sense in the context of TUCC's about us statement (http://www.tucc.org/about.htm):


We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.

The Pastor as well as the membership of Trinity United Church of Christ is committed to a 10-point Vision:

1. A congregation committed to ADORATION.
2. A congregation preaching SALVATION.
3. A congregation actively seeking RECONCILIATION.
4. A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA.
5. A congregation committed to BIBLICAL EDUCATION.
6. A congregation committed to CULTURAL EDUCATION.
7. A congregation committed to the HISTORICAL EDUCATION OF AFRICAN PEOPLE IN DIASPORA.
8. A congregation committed to LIBERATION.
9. A congregation committed to RESTORATION.
10. A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY.



TUCC's mission includes (http://www.tucc.org/mission.htm)
"As a congregation of baptized believers, we are called to be agents of liberation not only for the oppressed, but for all of God's family....

The fortunate who are among us combine forces with the less fortunate to become agents of change for God who is not pleased with America's economic mal-distribution!

W.E.B. DuBois indicated that the problem in the 20th century was going to be the problem of the color line. He was absolutely correct. Our job as servants of God is to address that problem and eradicate it in the name of Him who came for the whole world by calling all men, women, boys and girls to Christ."




The UCC as a whole (remember, it's a denomination in the covenanting tradition—i.e., non-hierarchical) has a significant emphasis on what it calls economic justice, so these emphases don't seem terribly outside the UCC mainstream (http://www.ucc.org/justice/issues.html).
1.14.2008 10:16am
Adam J:
Interesting Ralph, you think the press ignored the swifties because they liked Kerry? The press likes red meat in the water much more, it sells ads. The reason they didn't pick up that story was much more likely because they had no credibility whatsoever... much like this attack... attacking someone for a person that they have associated who has associated with someone controversial... how on earth does this show that Obama approves of Farrakhan, or more importantly of Farrakhan's antisemitism or racist beliefs.
1.14.2008 10:18am
Amanda (mail):
Also, I tend to disagree with the political views expressed by the pastors (senior pastor and the education pastor) at my church. The education pastor thinks that Hugo Chavez is the best thing to happen to South America in the last several decades. I vehemently disagree. Fortunately, politics generally doesn't come up at the sermon; it comes up in conversations outside the pulpit.

But these political disagreements are minor compared to the fact that this church, as a representative of the body of Christ, has managed to bring me closer to God in my worship and beliefs than any church I've ever attended. It's a function of the pastorate as well as of the congregation and the mission activities. And that's really important, and hard to uncover from reading a website or newsletters.
1.14.2008 10:19am
Houston Lawyer:
I find it quite odd that any christian church would sing the praises of the leader of the Nation of Islam.

Since the American people don't really know Obama, they will try to understand him by whatever proxy they find most understandable and convenient. If Romney can be questioned based on his faith, Obama can surely be questioned based on his.

Most often, your church membership follows the faith in which your family raised you. It is a poor proxy for what you actually believe, but many people use it nontheless.
1.14.2008 10:20am
Steve:
Attending a church is not like signing a political manifesto. You can attend a church without endorsing every position the church takes, let alone agreeing with every statement the minister makes.
1.14.2008 10:22am
Mr L (mail):
Attending a church is not like signing a political manifesto. You can attend a church without endorsing every position the church takes, let alone agreeing with every statement the minister makes.

Nice of you to say but Bush took a lot of shit for merely speaking at Bob Jones U. Good for the goose, good for the gander I say.
1.14.2008 10:30am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
Mr L: Bush took a lot of shit for merely speaking at Bob Jones U.

Surely you see important differences between being a member of a congregation and deciding to make a speech at a church of which you are not a member.
1.14.2008 10:37am
Elliot Reed (mail):
Surely you see important differences between being a member of a congregation and deciding to make a speech at a church of which you are not a member.
And there are additional differences between an institution whose leader has said something nice about someone racist in its newsletter and an institution that actively and publicly engages in race discrimination.
1.14.2008 10:49am
Observer:
"Surely you see important differences between being a member of a congregation and deciding to make a speech at a church of which you are not a member."

Well, if anything, being a member of a congregation shows a much higher degree of endorsement of that congregation than merely giving a speech at a church of which you are not a member. If Obama had merely spoken at Wright's church once, I don't think anyone would make a big deal out of it.
1.14.2008 10:49am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Ralph Phelan said:
Ralph Phelan (mail):
This is a much bigger deal than Romney's peculiar political beliefs

Crikey!
I meant "peculiar religious beliefs!" Fortunately it appears readers figured that out.

That's what I get for posting before coffee.

----
you think the press ignored the swifties because they liked Kerry? ... The reason they didn't pick up that story was much more likely because they had no credibility whatsoever....

Regardless of the merits of their claims, the mere existence of such a large and organized group of Kerry-haters was a significant political story in and of itself. Democrat primary voters deserved to know about it when trying to choose a viable candidate. I was aware of this potential problem for his candidacy in December 2003, yet obviously the were not, especially considering how many said they voted for him based on his perceived "electablity." A perception the press had already decided was the truth. (Scroll about halway down to get to the important part. BTW, I'm not alleging conspiracy here, just groupthink.)

If the Democrats nominate Obama without having a serious discussion of Obama's church, they'll be forced to have that discussion against the Republicans come October & November instead.
1.14.2008 10:57am
Adam J:
Observer- membership to a congregation doesn't show any endorsement whatsoever of a single particular statement made by the congregations leader. I suspect that my priest believes that homosexuality is evil, since this is one of the professed beliefs of the Catholic church. However just because my priest believes it certainly doesn't mean that I do (I don't). Are you telling me that I should stop going to a Roman Catholic Church because that means I support the belief that homosexuality is evil?
1.14.2008 11:01am
GV:
Does this mean that John Kerry is actually pro-life? Who knew.
1.14.2008 11:05am
SenatorX (mail):
I find it quite odd that any christian church would sing the praises of the leader of the Nation of Islam.

I second that.
1.14.2008 11:07am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
Observer: "Well, if anything, being a member of a congregation shows a much higher degree of endorsement of that congregation than merely giving a speech at a church of which you are not a member."

I don't think that's right. The decision to join a congregation is a matter of religious faith, not an exercise in policy. And once you're a member of a church, you accept that you will disagree with others in the congregation, and you keep this to yourself.

I went to church eight days ago, and didn't like the sermon at all, for a variety of reasons. But I will be a part of that congregation well after that particular officiant has moved elsewhere.
1.14.2008 11:08am
ejo:
difference between being a member and giving a speech-I would say this has it backwards. the former would seem to be more of an endorsement of the teachings of the Church than the latter. why would it not be relevant that he attends a church whose mantra appears to be "whitey is evil, more government handouts"? nationally, people do not seem to be aware that Obama is a south side political hack. he did nothing in the State Senate and not much more nationally.
1.14.2008 11:08am
Thales (mail) (www):
I'm not sure the mainstream press "ignored" the Swift Boaters in the 2004 season. Rather, I think they gave them prominent play, more than they deserved, but then eventually exposed them for the inveterate liars that they were. Recall that one of the editors of the Chicago Tribune was actually present for the events in "question" unlike any of Kerry's accusers, resurrected Nixon hatchet-man John O'Neill included, and wrote a prominent column defending Kerry, despite his basic desire to stay out of the politics of the race. Kerry's supine response to the slimy attack on his service record did not help make this process go faster and may well have cost him the election. Obama may well want to get out in front of this story by defending his church membership but also taking the perfectly sensible position that he doesn't necessarily agree with everything the church says or does. Obama publicly disagreed with the anti-gay views of one of his conservative southern minister supporters, so he's certainly shown himself able to separate himself from his supporters when there's a compelling reason.
1.14.2008 11:10am
Gary Anderson (mail):
If you're running as a blank slate candidate with no past record to speak of, of course people will pick up clues to who you are by what you profess to believe in.

So much for unity.

I wonder how long Andrew Sullivan will ignore or deny this one, as he's been covering Hillary's "tears" and the "You dissed MLK!" meme.

Jan. 21 is MLK day, and the perfect time to have this issue out in the open. If Obama is a Johnny-come-lately Christian, one has to wonder how firm he is in his Christian beliefs or if he joined this large church solely for political reasons to advance his Chicago political career.

Of course it's a fair topic for questions. Just as is the past drug use -- none of the past candidates got a pass on that one either, so it's nothing racial.

I agree that if Democrats don't confront these issues well before their candidate is nominated, the Republicans and the rest of the country certainly will.

Are you telling me that I should stop going to a Roman Catholic Church because that means I support the belief that homosexuality is evil?

You probably should study up on your professed religion. The Roman Catholic Church does NOT believe that homosexuality is "evil". Poke a bit further into the doctrine and you not only might learn something, but might understand the consistency behind their pro-life positions, on many issues. Then, once you're a bit more educated, you will have to search your soul to see if those beliefs meet your spiritual needs, or if you would do better to seek another place of worship, another congregation to participate in.
1.14.2008 11:12am
no name today:
Husband and I are Roman Catholic. Until a few years ago, the Cardinal over our area was rabidly opposed to private individuals having guns. Husband, especially, is absolutely pro-RKBA.

Do you imagine that he'd have left the Catholic church because of the Cardinal's comments?

I'm not sure we can hold Obama accountable for what one old preacher at his church says about someone else.

If Obama, his wife, and their children are active at their church, I'm not sure it's reasonable for him to look at his children and say, "As a matter of political protest, we'll be going to another church from now on." No doubt his children and his wife have developed social connections with others at the church.

For most, church going is not a political statement.

At this point, Obama is running for the Democratic nomination. Considering the crowd he's running in -- particularly Lady Macbeth -- Obama is the best of the lot.
1.14.2008 11:13am
Gary Anderson (mail):

I went to church eight days ago, and didn't like the sermon at all, for a variety of reasons. But I will be a part of that congregation well after that particular officiant has moved elsewhere.


How odd. In most churches, the preacher is educated to his/her own denomination's core teachings. Unless this was a renegade speaker, chances are that one particular leader's "moving elsewhere" does not reshape the whole faith doctorine.
1.14.2008 11:15am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Houston Lawyer wrote:
Most often, your church membership follows the faith in which your family raised you. It is a poor proxy for what you actually believe, but many people use it nontheless.

But "most often" doesn't apply to this particular case: From an NYT article:
"He comes from a very secular, skeptical family," said Jim Wallis, a Christian antipoverty activist and longtime friend of Mr. Obama. "His faith is really a personal and an adult choice. His is a conversion story."

This makes his faith as relevant as Huckabee's rather than Romney's.
1.14.2008 11:18am
calmom:
On Meet the Press, Tim Russert asked Mitt Romney about his church's history of excluding blacks from the ministry. It was a question directly aimed at guilt by association. Will Russert or anyone else in the major media ask a similar question of Obama? I very much doubt it.

With the current dust-up over Hillary's and Bills remarks, Obama's supporters are crying 'racists'. Nothing shuts up a PC person faster than being called a racist. The press certainly doesn't want to be called racists, so they will give Obama a pass on this one, too.
1.14.2008 11:19am
AF:
"Since the American people don't really know Obama, they will try to understand him by whatever proxy they find most understandable and convenient. If Romney can be questioned based on his faith, Obama can surely be questioned based on his."

Translation: If Obama gets the nomination, the Republican attack machine will continue to lie incessantly about his religious beliefs and a lot of people will end up believing he is Muslim.
1.14.2008 11:19am
Gary Anderson (mail):
I'm not sure we can hold Obama accountable for what one old preacher at his church says about someone else.

Why not ask him before we nominate him? Again, when he has no record to speak of and is asking for tbe leadership position without having worked on any issues, clues like these are all we have to determine what "change" he really is promising, and to whom.

He's just not ready. And he is not uniting behind anything really. Just a bunch of empty promises in a sing-song cadence. Besides, don't many speak of the man's great "character"?

MLK he's obviously not.
1.14.2008 11:20am
anon252 (mail):
If a white candidate was close to Bob Jones, was a member of Bob Jones's church, and the church had decided to recently honor David Duke, I think we could expect some controversy. Geez, people are criticizing Romney because of the Mormon church's racist policies that it disavowed 30 years ago.
1.14.2008 11:22am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Those who have nothing better to do than pick on Obama are only doing so because he is a winner -- all the way to the WH.

And they can't find anything else significant with which to discredit him.
1.14.2008 11:22am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Of course it's a fair topic for questions. Just as is the past drug use --

The past drug use question may be "fair" but it's also boring. Like Bush, Obama admits to having had a wild past, but claims to have reformed because of a religious conversion. Whether the reform is for real is both a fair and interesting question in both cases. But the details of the pre-reform behavior strike me as having little practical importance in either.
1.14.2008 11:24am
Gary Anderson (mail):
And once you're a member of a church, you accept that you will disagree with others in the congregation, and you keep this to yourself.

Not if you're running as president of all Americans on the "unity" ticket promise.

If we can ask Romney about his Mormonism, it shouldn't take Clinton's campaign to ask him about this issue.

American voters, particularly white ones, should inquire further, as they should about the land detail where coincidentally he purchased his house the same exact day as another more disreputable person purchased the adjoining property... portions of which were later sold to Obama to expand. His hands aren't as clean as you might think, no matter how much he might claim "sheer coincidence!"
1.14.2008 11:24am
Gary Anderson (mail):
If Obama gets the nomination, the Republican attack machine will continue to lie incessantly about his religious beliefs and a lot of people will end up believing he is Muslim.

Lol. If what David Bernstein has written here about his congregation and minister is indeed a lie -- and you are the one who brought up the "he's a Muslim!" spin in this thread -- then let Obama tell us it's a lie.

Just as John Kerry was free to defend himself from the Swift Boaters. No Free Passes -- no matter what your color, how good looking some might think you are, and all the empty promises you can spew.

Remember, this man advanced himself quickly -- coming from the outside -- in Chicago politics. It doesn't take a genius to see that he's simply not as "clean" and honest as some naives would have us think. The recent Ron Paul scandal should give us more incentive to continue asking questions... that's how you eventually get to the truth. And it's not just the Jews who should be concerned about his past.
1.14.2008 11:28am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"Those who have nothing better to do than pick on Obama are only doing so because he is a winner -- all the way to the WH."

There's actually a smidgen of truth to this. Ron Paul's skeletons had been in his closet for decades, but nobody bothered hauling them out and talking about them until he started getting double-digit poll numbers, because until then he just wasn't worth bothering with.

Similarly, now that Obama looks like he has a realistic shot it's time to take him seriously, and that includes serious examination of all possible negatives. Welcome to the big leagues.
1.14.2008 11:29am
Gary Anderson (mail):
But the details of the pre-reform behavior strike me as having little practical importance in either.

I disagee, and I suspect a lot of the less hip voters do too. Did he sell drugs? Did the details of his drug-use background have him breaking laws that would have landed other users/possible sellers in prison? If so, why the special pass for this man? How does that past influence his current policy? It's pretty hard to enforce drug laws if the current president broke them too, and suffered zero consequences. If caught, would he even have been eligible for financial aid for college? We hold a past DUI against job applicants; why the free pass for this man? Because he's black?

I think you're underestimating the genuine conservatism amongst those voting for the Commander-in-Chief. Character counts, after all.
1.14.2008 11:33am
Gary Anderson (mail):
And they can't find anything else significant with which to discredit him.

Maybe we should run a fresh-out-of-college candidate with no political past to speak of either. With no history of drug use, and membership in a denomination that has clearly outlined its beliefs and positions over time. This is too much a gamble to elect this man solely because of his race and promises to unite. Behind what?

He's running as the "no experience, change candidate". That's his problem if there's nothing there for which to credit him, no substantial successes to focus on. No free passes!
1.14.2008 11:38am
Gary Anderson (mail):
Will Russert or anyone else in the major media ask a similar question of Obama? I very much doubt it.

He will if voters demand it. Russert as a journalist is a tool.
1.14.2008 11:39am
Baseballhead (mail):
<blockquote>And once you're a member of a church, you accept that you will disagree with others in the congregation, and you keep this to yourself.

<b>Not if you're running as president of all Americans on the "unity" ticket promise.</blockquote></b>

So if you disagree with some of your pastor's personal political views, you have to quit your church if you run for president? That's pretty harsh. Finding another pastor who shares the same opinion on every single issue won't be easy, and I doubt the rest of the family will enjoy being dragged to every church in the state to find one who's not a potential political liability.
1.14.2008 11:40am
Frog Leg (mail):
My relatives have had a "incredibly profound influence on [my] life," and they have said some pretty shocking things too. If we are damned not only by what we do, but by things done by people who have been around us at a formative time in our lives, then no one should bother running for office.
1.14.2008 11:42am
PLR:
Prediction: Obama counters by inviting any interested parties to attend services at the church.

I don't expect a law professor ((or a professor of law either) to have any trouble navigating these waters.
1.14.2008 11:43am
Adam J:
Gary Anderson - what the hell are you talking about? Are you trying to say that you believe the Church doesn't think that homosexual acts are sinful? It's in the Bible and it's in the Catechisms, I just don't know how you can accuse me of being "uninformed." And I find it highly inappropriate for you to try and tell me that I should "search my beliefs." Do you really think it's apprpriate to tell someone that that you don't even know?
1.14.2008 11:43am
ejo:
if you go to a racist church (assuming blacks can be racist, of course), wouldn't you want to let us know if you disagree with some of the tenets?
1.14.2008 11:46am
Procrastinator:
Maybe you should do some research into what he actually accomplished (esp. IL's videotaped confessions law) before attempting to discredit Obama as a "no experience" candidate, Gary. BTW, if he beats Hillary in the primaries, he'll have experience at doing something that no Republican ever managed--destroying the Clintons!
1.14.2008 11:47am
rarango (mail):
As a part time atheist and full time agnostic, this "controversy" doesn't appear to me to be a controversy. As some posters have already pointed out, how is this different for a southern baptist or roman catholic? Seems to me that you don't have to sign up for the doctrinal interpretations of popes, cardinals, bishops, ministers, or conventions. Non-ssue. Surely there are some subsstantive issues we can discuss: Health Care, Economic Policy, Foreign Policy.
1.14.2008 11:49am
therut:
Marxism and Christianity do not look pretty when melded toghther. Liberation theology is such a "theology". As is theological liberalism. Funny how the MSM and most others never dig in and speak of the Theocratic tendency of this type of theology. Separation of Church and State is not something they preach. Their theology is SOCIALISM. They preach give to Ceasear what is Gods and we will distribute it as WE see fit. Nothing new here. Been around for awhile. Theocracy will come from the left with the full power of the STATE. That is their mantra. But who will stand up to them today????????????
1.14.2008 11:56am
melk (mail):
A lot of bending over backwards here. I would certainly NOT belong to any church, or in my case, synagogue, that published anything close to such a sympathetic portrait of a person like Farrakhan. Are you kidding? This is not just a case of disagreeing with certain opinions within your church or synagogue.
1.14.2008 12:05pm
runape (mail):
If I remember correctly, Mendell's biography of Obama gives quite a bit of evidence that Obama (a) does not agree with all that his pastor preaches, and (b) has explained as much to his pastor, and sought to convince him of the error of some of his more radical views. (I believe the same is true of Oprah Winfrey, though I may be remembering incorrectly.)
1.14.2008 12:08pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Are you trying to say that you believe the Church doesn't think that homosexual acts are sinful?

No, as written, that is quite correct.

I was this earlier question, which clearly is inaccurate, "Are you telling me that I should stop going to a Roman Catholic Church because that means I support the belief that homosexuality is evil?"

The key differences are the words ACTS and SINFUL. There seems to be some who wish to spread the idea that the Chruch believes homosexuals or homosexuality is evil. That's not the Church's position at all. It's the ACTS.

As I understand it, celibate homosexual Roman Catholics are clearly Roman Catholics, not evil or sinful, and quite welcomed. As are others, formerly practicing homosexuals who have repented and then are free to take the Eucharist in good conscience.

I blame active homosexuals like Andrew Sullivan, who want to perform their sexual acts, yet still consider themselves to be Roman Catholics as well. You really can't have it both ways, and rewrite the Church's teachings at whim. Personally, the more I read him, the less "catholic" I see; I suspect he just plays that card for publicity's sake.

If you know anything about his past, as well, it's hard to even put him into the box of formerly celibate homosexual who finds and commits to a single sexual partner, also homosexual. That person too would not be following the Church's teachings, but at least the modesty of body would seem to be present, as compared to those who took multiple sex partners merely to satisfy bodily urges.

If you have questions, or if you know a Catholic wondering about homosexuality, I strongly recommend you talk to leaders in that faith and not rely on how others would interpret things. Suffice it to say, the Church does not believe homosexuals are evil, and it's very sad that meme has gained such widespread currency.
1.14.2008 12:10pm
Dave N (mail):
In my adult lifetime I have been a member of both the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Methodist Church. I enjoy the majesty and liturgy of the Episcopal Eucharist.

That said, all three denominations have taken political views not only well to my left, but well to the left of mainstream America. Long gone are the days when the Episcopal Church could be described, as one wag did, as "the Republican Party at prayer."

But I decided long ago that I go to a church that meets my spiritual needs--not my political. Consequently, I give to my local congregation and not the national denomination.

I am not an Obama supporter but I think that unless he has expressly endorsed the political views of his church, this is a definite non-issue.
1.14.2008 12:10pm
SenatorX (mail):
The Christians I talk to do indeed move churches when they don't like the pastor, this seems common and obvious to me. They don't leave the religion but they leave that specific church. If you stay then it seems you must like something he is saying.
1.14.2008 12:12pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
And once you're a member of a church, you accept that you will disagree with others in the congregation, and you keep this to yourself.

............Not if you're running as president of all Americans on the "unity" ticket promise.

So if you disagree with some of your pastor's personal political views, you have to quit your church if you run for president? That's pretty harsh.


No. But clearly you can no longer sit back and "keep this to yourself". As a presidential candidate, you will be called on to explain yourself. See Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. No Free Passes based on race.
1.14.2008 12:13pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"And they can't find anything else significant with which to discredit him."

That's because Obama is pretty much a blank slate—he has virtually no record on which to run. Are we supposed to judge him entirely on his happy talk speeches that are pretty lean on specific policy pronouncements?

Let's face it—Obama is pretty much a media creation. A white person with his lack of experience would never have gotten anywhere near the media boost. Only two sitting Senators have ever been elected president, and for a good reason. They need some kind of executive experience to be a credible candidate.
1.14.2008 12:14pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
I don't expect a law professor ((or a professor of law either)

Lecturer. He was a lecturer at the Univ of Chicago Law school. Ask a law professor to explain to you the difference if you're unclear.
1.14.2008 12:15pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

I certainly don't think that Obama deserves a pass for his membership in a church that, among other dubious things, holds Louis Farrakhan to be a heroic role model, especially given Obama's campaign theme of being a "uniter."

By this taint-by-association logic anyone who remained Catholic following the pedophile priest scandal supports pedophilia, or at least believes pedophiles should go unpunished.

On another Obama note: perhaps buying a ten-foot strip of his neighbor's yard will sink his campaign, unlike Bill's philandering and Hill's magical cattle future profits.
1.14.2008 12:17pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Do you really think it's apprpriate to tell someone that that you don't even know?

Except I wasn't addressing you personally. You asked a rhethorical question, and I responded. I'm sorry if I personally hurt your feelings. I didn't realize you'd be so sensitive to an honest response when you asked the question:

Q: Are you telling me that I should stop going to a Roman Catholic Church because that means I support the belief that homosexuality is evil?

A: You probably should study up on your professed religion. The Roman Catholic Church does NOT believe that homosexuality is "evil". Poke a bit further into the doctrine and you not only might learn something, but might understand the consistency behind their pro-life positions, on many issues. Then, once you're a bit more educated, you will have to search your soul to see if those beliefs meet your spiritual needs, or if you would do better to seek another place of worship, another congregation to participate in.
1.14.2008 12:18pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

They don't leave the religion but they leave that specific church. If you stay then it seems you must like something he is saying.

This is what has kept me an independent voter all these years: both major parties take positions that make me gag. Yet I don't question the integrity of anyone who is a registered Democrat or Republican.
1.14.2008 12:22pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
BTW, if he beats Hillary in the primaries, he'll have experience at doing something that no Republican ever managed--destroying the Clintons!

Sooo, will such experience translate into "destroying the coutntry?" No thanks. Winning elections, and winning wars, recharging the economy, securing the borders -- different skill sets, I think. See Karl Rove.

Also, it was former Gov. Ryan -- in trouble for his corruption scandals -- who did more to reshape IL's death penalty and the videotaping policies. Obama was not a leader on those issues.

Also, many believe it's impractical to videotape confessions, and I hardly think that's a national priority, so I'm not so certain that's the issue I'd hang my hat on.
1.14.2008 12:24pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
As a part time atheist and full time agnostic, this "controversy" doesn't appear to me to be a controversy.

Do you know much about Louis Farrakahn and the Nation of Islam? Some of us do. Trust me, it's an issue as it should be.

Even if you live in Iowa and have only seen black people on t.v.
1.14.2008 12:26pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

many believe it's impractical to videotape confessions

Considering the success of COPS, law enforcement officers seem well up to the task of videotaping. In fact one of their videotapes generated quite a bit of discussion on this very blog.
1.14.2008 12:27pm
Adam J:
Gary Anderson- Excuse me, but I really don't see how the Church is any less bigoted for declaring the act of homosexuality is a sin but the thoughts are not. Nor have I heard you try and explain how you think it was appropriate for you to question my faith because my beliefs conflict with my Church's. I don't see how its for you to determine whether or not one can have beliefs that conflict with their church, and I think your attempts to judge people for this say a great deal about your own character.

Dave N - Well said.
1.14.2008 12:28pm
Jason F:
Those interested in Senator Obama's church might want to read this piece by Martin Marty.
1.14.2008 12:32pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
The past drug use question may be "fair" but it's also boring. Like Bush, Obama admits to having had a wild past, but claims to have reformed because of a religious conversion.


I seem to recall that while then Governor Bush admitted to drinking and was still hit with an 11th hour story about a twenty-four year old DUI in the national media the weekend before the 2000 election. The story had the effect of convincing more than a few people to not to vote for him even though there really wasn't any doubt that he had been dry for more than 20 years. Not sure if Barack Obama's presidential campaign would be able to handle an eleventh hour revelation that he wasn't just using coke in as part of his "wild past" but sometimes supplied it to his friends and classmates.
1.14.2008 12:34pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Many of the commenters in this thread are failing to pay attention to the second link in David's post, regarding Obama's very close relationship with this pastor. This isn't just the guy who's been presiding over the church that Obama was born attending. THIS IS THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR OBAMA CONVERTING FROM BEING A NON-BELIEVER TO BEING A CHRISTIAN.

From the article:

It was a 1988 sermon called "The Audacity to Hope" that turned Mr. Obama, in his late 20s, from spiritual outsider to enthusiastic churchgoer. Mr. Wright in the sermon jumped from 19th-century art to his own youthful brushes with crime and Islam to illustrate faith's power to inspire underdogs. Mr. Obama was seeing the same thing in public housing projects where poor residents sustained themselves through sheer belief.

In "Dreams From My Father," Mr. Obama described his teary-eyed reaction to the minister's words. "Inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones," Mr. Obama wrote. "Those stories — of survival, and freedom, and hope — became our story, my story."

Mr. Obama was baptized that year, and joining Trinity helped him "embrace the African-American community in a way that was whole and profound," said Ms. Soetoro, his half sister.


That's not to say whether the criticism is accurate or not, whether we should or should not be concerned about Pastor Wright's views and their impact on Sen. Obama. But this is not simply "taint-by-association." This is not some casual acquaintance, a pastor who came to the church Obama had been going to. He is responsible for Obama's spiritual conversion, and Obama has counted him as a close friend and mentor for many years now.

Men are often judged, and rightly so, in part by the company they keep. Sen. Obama will be no different. For myself, based on what I know so far, I find plenty of other reasons to oppose Sen. Obama, and his ties to Pastor Wright don't give me too much concern. But they're proper grounds for coverage in a presidential campaign.
1.14.2008 12:35pm
Gary Anderson (mail):

By this taint-by-association logic anyone who remained Catholic following the pedophile priest scandal supports pedophilia, or at least believes pedophiles should go unpunished.

On another Obama note: perhaps buying a ten-foot strip of his neighbor's yard will sink his campaign, unlike Bill's philandering and Hill's magical cattle future profits.


Difference is: the pedophilic priests were in the minority of priests overall. They didn't preach pedophilia from the pulpit, nor homosexuality. The ones who transferred them, rather than disciplining them, were not endorsing their acts either.

The land deal is much more than "buying 10 feet from a neighbor". Who was that neighbor? Why did they both purchase the properties on the same day, with previous connections between the two neighbors? It really sounds like there was a previous connection between the two -- that Obama was "helped" financially to make this Kenwood purchase; that he couldn't afford both lots on his own, and a deal was struck for someone with a questionable past to make the purchase on the exact same day, who later sold the buffer to his family. There really is more there than he has tried to explain away; this is Chicago, remember. Roots run deep, and the country doesn't need that kind of leadership at this time. Just like the Nation of Islam means something to Chicago voters, and not to those not in the know, who might just think, "What? It's just another religion, right?"

Question. Question. Question. If he's as good as he promises, he's stand up to these questions and pass the test. Trying to delect the questions just makes me question the Obama surrogates, and how long they think they'll get a free pass from those who see such questions and challenges as "racist because he's a black candidate." Not true, just plain not true.
1.14.2008 12:37pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Excuse me, but I really don't see how the Church is any less bigoted for declaring the act of homosexuality is a sin but the thoughts are not.

You can decide for youself if the Church is bigoted or not. I was merely correcting your misconception that the Chruch thinks homosexuals are evil. Not true.

The difference matters if say, homosexuality is genetic. And if say, you are a young Catholic person who identifies as homosexual and wants to know more from your faith leaders. Those who would spread the myth that the Church thinks you're evil are just plain wrong and do a disservice by spreading this meme.

The Church would never condemn such a person, instead would offer information on the Church's teaching on homosexuality, which indeed does call for celibacy and refraining from homosexual ACTS. The "if it feels good, do it and you can still call hold yourself out as a practicing Catholic in the morning" teachings of homosexuals like Andrew Sullivan do nobody any favors, except maybe Andrew Sullivan. Please, if you have further questions, talk to your clergy. He's just making it up as he goes along... and spreading a lot of myths about Catholic teaching along the way, sadly.
1.14.2008 12:44pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
That last sentence referring to A.S. of course.
1.14.2008 12:46pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Mr. Obama was baptized that year, and joining Trinity helped him "embrace the African-American community in a way that was whole and profound," said Ms. Soetoro, his half sister.


Sounds an awful lot like his "religious conversion" was a tool of political expediency. Christianity is about your personal relationship with God, it's not about trying to find acceptance among people who look like you.
1.14.2008 12:47pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
But then attention to detail, and consistency -- on candidates or Church/political issues -- has never been his strong point, of course. Come to think of it, I'm not really sure what his strong point is...
1.14.2008 12:47pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
A Zarkov --

"'And they can't find anything else significant with which to discredit him.'

That's because Obama is pretty much a blank slate—he has virtually no record on which to run. Are we supposed to judge him entirely on his happy talk speeches that are pretty lean on specific policy pronouncements"

Isn't what you suggest exactly how Bar Examiners judge all the younger Bar applicant who have not yet had time to accumulate a record in life? So, by your formula, maybe the younger Bar applicants should not be whizzed through attorney admission without significant additional psychological/psychiatric testing to determine if they are future trust account thiefs, or will embezzle from their law firm employers, etc. Certainly, under the current formula of Bar admissions, the older Bar applicant is penalized for having a "record." Under the current formulation, the Bar Examiners are really comparing apples to oranges, since if all applicants (younger and older) were compared on equal footing we would not be comparing no record to someone with a record whereby the no record applicant might turn out post-attorney licensure to develop a record of someone like Matthew Hale.

As long as Bar Examiners across this Country are willing to take a chance on licensing a younger person with no record, I don't see any problem whasoever with entrusting Obama with the Presidency.

Besides, he is still a winner!! And those who don't like him are a bunch of poor losers.
1.14.2008 12:50pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Considering the success of COPS, law enforcement officers seem well up to the task of videotaping.

Not in emergency situation, spoken as someone who knows a bit about policework. First, you have to haul them into the station where the video equipment presumably is located, wasting precious time. Second, not every precinct is equipped with officers with the best technical expertise, so if the equipment fails, you lose valuable information. If there's a problem with dirty cops, it might be good to voluntarily videotape. But it wouldn't be a wise mandate nationally, for reasons touched on above.
1.14.2008 12:52pm
Mark Symms (mail):
David B.: well said.

Gary A. : keep it up!

Barrack Osama -er Obama is a litle too shiny for me. To much Muslim influence in his past. Whether it sutck or not, time will tell.
1.14.2008 12:57pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
So, by your formula, maybe the younger Bar applicants should not be whizzed through attorney admission without significant additional psychological/psychiatric testing to determine if they are future trust account thiefs, or will embezzle from their law firm employers, etc.

Big difference between admitting someone to the bar, and electing them Commander in Chief. Big difference in disbarring someone who later fails in their lawyerly performance, and impeaching a president in office. Big diffence between a law student right out of school, and 48-year-old Barack Obama.

Distinctions people, not generalities. I sure HOPE you can understand that, and won't call for CHANGING bar admission procedures instead of more closely examining the records of presidential candidates.
1.14.2008 12:58pm
Cornellian (mail):
Let this be a lesson to aspiring politicians - don't set foot in that church until you've done a thorough background check on the minister.
1.14.2008 1:02pm
Mr. LIberal:
I have only one point to make.

The difference between Ron Paul, who put out a newsletter in his own name over which he had full control over its editorial content, and Barack Obama, who attended a church despite disagreeing with some of the things that the pastor said, is massive.

As a churchgoer, I do not agree with my pastor on numerous issues. But, that doesn't necessarily mean I am going to take the rather extreme step of changing churches, especially when there are many other things that I do agree with.
1.14.2008 1:02pm
SIG357:
"I am not an Obama supporter but I think that unless he has expressly endorsed the political views of his church, this is a definite non-issue."





Obama is a member of a black nationalist church. Would you consider it a non-issue if one of the Republican candidates was a member of a white-nationalist church?
1.14.2008 1:04pm
Baseballhead (mail):
Difference is: the pedophilic priests were in the minority of priests overall. They didn't preach pedophilia from the pulpit, nor homosexuality. The ones who transferred them, rather than disciplining them, were not endorsing their acts either.


Are you serious? Transferring pedophiles from church to church, exposing the children of congregation after congregation to these men may not have been an endorsement of child molestation, but how can you argue that the Church wasn't protecting child molesters? By their actions, the Church essentially aided and abetted in molestation.

On the other hand, Obama has publicly disagreed with some of Wright's personal opinions. You can speculate as to the degree of sincerity, but your speculation doesn't mean very much. Trying to indict Obama because of his relationship with Wright while letting the Church skate on protecting pedophiles is pretty sad, and it speaks more towards your own personal indemnity towards Obama than to anything the electorate need worry about.
1.14.2008 1:05pm
Mr. LIberal:
I actually have one more thing to say.

This is nothing more than a pathetic and petty smear. David Bernstein should be ashamed of himself. The man is a thorough disgrace.
1.14.2008 1:09pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Obama is a member of a black nationalist church. Would you consider it a non-issue if one of the Republican candidates was a member of a white-nationalist church?

You mean, like Dukakis? Going to a Greek-nationalist church, speaking Greek, dancing Greek dances, eating Greek food, doing business preferentially with other Greeks, having pride in his Greek ancestry? Is his church membership the reason he lost?
1.14.2008 1:10pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Anderson, you are implying the requisite character and fitness to practice law in the United States District Court is something to discount as having no real use whatsoever in determining whether a 20-something applicant with no past can wreck havoc in our Courts hearing the terrorism cases brought by our Commander-in-Chief's DOJ.

I wasn't talking in generalities, and there is no real distinction. In fact, many people holding federal office would never have remotely passed a State Bar character and fitness investigation.

And, yes, Bar admissions need to be changed to prevent debacles of misplaced trust such as Samuel B. Kent, and others of similar ilk.
1.14.2008 1:10pm
SIG357:
"As a churchgoer, I do not agree with my pastor on numerous issues."




Obama is not simply "a churchgoer", he is running for President of the United States. Everything he does and has done is subject to scrutiny, especially given his scanty political record.

And this case is not merely an instance of disagreement over interpetation of some element of the Bible. The church is question seems to be scarcely Christian at all.

In any event, is there any evidence that Obama disagrees with the teachings of this church? I mean evidence that preceeds his presidential campaign.
1.14.2008 1:10pm
ejo:
well, under that standard, any catholic is responsible for the sins of its pedophile oriented church. using that standard, Obama is responsible for the racism of his church. getting back to common sense, however, why should it slide that he is a member of a racist church? is it the color of the skin of the parishioners?
1.14.2008 1:11pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Let this be a lesson to aspiring politicians - don't set foot in that church until you've done a thorough background check on the minister" ---> No way ...

the minister will invoke the recent Ninth Circuit decision on unconstitutionally overborad background checks being discussed on another Volokh thread (below).
1.14.2008 1:12pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr: "overborad" = overbroad
1.14.2008 1:13pm
Adam J:
Thorley Winston - do you make it your habit to question all people's beliefs as well? Or do you only do so when it's politically expedient for you?
1.14.2008 1:13pm
SIG357:
You mean, like Dukakis? Going to a Greek-nationalist church, speaking Greek, dancing Greek dances, eating Greek food, doing business preferentially with other Greeks, having pride in his Greek ancestry?



No, that is not what I mean. I mean exactly what I said. Like a white conservative Republican being a member of a white nationalist church.
1.14.2008 1:13pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

No, that is not what I mean. I mean exactly what I said. Like a white conservative Republican being a member of a white nationalist church.

How is that relevant to Obama's Afrocentric church, which seems on a par with Dukakis's Hellenocentric church?
1.14.2008 1:17pm
SIG357:
"why should it slide that he is a member of a racist church? is it the color of the skin of the parishioners?"





Did you read the description of the churches principles? Substitute "white" and "European" for "black" and "African" and tell me you don't see anything disturbing about it.
1.14.2008 1:17pm
U.Va. 3L:
Obama is a member of a black nationalist church. Would you consider it a non-issue if one of the Republican candidates was a member of a white-nationalist church?

Allow me to repost, from further up in the thread, the bit from the "about us" statement provided by Obama's church.
We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.

The Pastor as well as the membership of Trinity United Church of Christ is committed to a 10-point Vision:

1. A congregation committed to ADORATION.
2. A congregation preaching SALVATION.
3. A congregation actively seeking RECONCILIATION.
4. A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA.
5. A congregation committed to BIBLICAL EDUCATION.
6. A congregation committed to CULTURAL EDUCATION.
7. A congregation committed to the HISTORICAL EDUCATION OF AFRICAN PEOPLE IN DIASPORA.
8. A congregation committed to LIBERATION.
9. A congregation committed to RESTORATION.
10. A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY.

And now, allow me to post the Sixteen Commandments of the Creativity Alliance, formerly known as the World Church of the Creator, probably the most well-known of all white nationalist churches.
THE SIXTEEN COMMANDMENTS OF CREATIVITY

1. It is the avowed duty and holy responsibility of each generation to assure and secure for all time the existence of the White Race upon the face of this planet.

2. Be fruitful and multiply. Do your part in helping to populate the world with your own kind. It is our sacred goal to populate the lands of this earth with White people exclusively.

3. Remember that the inferior colored races are our deadly enemies, and the most dangerous of all is the Jewish race. It is our immediate objective to relentlessly expand the White Race, and keep shrinking our enemies.

4. The guiding principle of all your actions shall be: What is best for the White Race?

5. You shall keep your race pure. Pollution of the White Race is a heinous crime against Nature and against your own race.

6. Your first loyalty belongs to the White Race.

7. Show preferential treatment in business dealings with members of your own race. Phase out all dealings with Jews as soon as possible. Do not employ niggers or other coloreds. Have social contacts only with members of your own racial family.

8. Destroy and banish all Jewish thought and influence from society. Work hard to bring about a White World as soon as possible.

9. Work and creativity are our genius. We regard work as a noble pursuit and our willingness to work a blessing to our race.

10. Decide in early youth that during your lifetime you will make at least one major lasting contribution to the White Race.

11. Uphold the honor of your race at all time.

12. It is our duty and our privilege to further Nature's plan by striving forwards the advancement and improvement of our future generations.

13. You shall honor, protect and venerate the sanctity of the family unit, and hold it sacred. It is the present link in the long golden chain of our White Race.

14. Throughout your life you shall faithfully uphold our pivotal creed of Blood, Soil and Honor. Practice it diligently, for it is the heart of our faith.

15. As a proud member of the White Race, think and act positively, be courageous, confident and aggressive. Utilize constructively your creativity ability.

16. We, the Racial Comrades of the White Race, are determined to regain complete and unconditional control of our own destiny.

"To the fulfillment of these religious beliefs,
We Creators forever pledge our Lives, our Sacred Honor, and our Religious Zeal.
RAHOWA!"


One of these things, as they say, is not like the other. The claim that Obama's church is anything like a white nationalist church is simply odious.
1.14.2008 1:19pm
SIG357:
"How is that relevant to Obama's Afrocentric church, which seems on a par with Dukakis's Hellenocentric church?"


If you can find a comparable statement of principles from Dukakis's church, I invite you to do so.

A much better analogy would actually be Jews and the Jewish church.
1.14.2008 1:21pm
Adam J:
SIG357- I for one don't see anything disturbing about it. Tell me, then do you also find it disturbing that Jews find solidarity as a result of the Holocaust?
1.14.2008 1:23pm
Baseballhead (mail):
<blockquote>And this case is not merely an instance of disagreement over interpetation of some element of the Bible. The church is question seems to be scarcely Christian at all. </blockquote>How quickly we go from "Obama's pastor likes Farrakahn" to "scarecely Christian at all." Just goes to show that even the most reasonable people can be wildly irrational with regards to religion and politics. From the previously linked Martin Center article:
So Trinity is "Africentric," and deals internationally and ecumenically with the heritage of "black is beautiful." Despite what one sometimes hears, Wright and his parishioners — an 8,000-member mingling of everyone from the disadvantaged to the middle class, and not a few shakers and movers in Chicago — are "keepin' the faith." To those in range of Chicago TV I'd recommend a watching of Trinity's Sunday services, and challenge you to find anything "cultic" or "sectarian" about them. More important, for Trinity, being "unashamedly black" does not mean being "anti-white." My wife and I on occasion attend, and, like all other non-blacks, are enthusiastically welcomed.

Heretical? Hardly. Harriet and I sometimes come home reflecting and remarking that Wright sounds almost literalist about biblical texts when he preaches. The large-print texts are before the worshipers, and Wright, taking up the Gospel message line by line, applies it to personal, cultural, social, and political life.
Doesn't sound "scarcely Christian" to me, but then again, I'm not trying to smear Obama.
1.14.2008 1:25pm
SIG357:
"One of these things, as they say, is not like the other. The claim that Obama's church is anything like a white nationalist church is simply odious."





That is a quite remarkable display of reading non-comprehension. The similarities are considerable, notably the emphasis on race.
1.14.2008 1:25pm
Baseballhead (mail):
<blockquote>And this case is not merely an instance of disagreement over interpetation of some element of the Bible. The church is question seems to be scarcely Christian at all. How quickly we go from "Obama's pastor likes Farrakahn" to "scarecely Christian at all." Just goes to show that even the most reasonable people can be wildly irrational with regards to religion and politics. From the previously linked Martin Center article:
So Trinity is "Africentric," and deals internationally and ecumenically with the heritage of "black is beautiful." Despite what one sometimes hears, Wright and his parishioners — an 8,000-member mingling of everyone from the disadvantaged to the middle class, and not a few shakers and movers in Chicago — are "keepin' the faith." To those in range of Chicago TV I'd recommend a watching of Trinity's Sunday services, and challenge you to find anything "cultic" or "sectarian" about them. More important, for Trinity, being "unashamedly black" does not mean being "anti-white." My wife and I on occasion attend, and, like all other non-blacks, are enthusiastically welcomed.

Heretical? Hardly. Harriet and I sometimes come home reflecting and remarking that Wright sounds almost literalist about biblical texts when he preaches. The large-print texts are before the worshipers, and Wright, taking up the Gospel message line by line, applies it to personal, cultural, social, and political life.
Doesn't sound "scarcely Christian" to me, but then again, I'm not trying to smear Obama.
1.14.2008 1:25pm
Baseballhead (mail):
And this case is not merely an instance of disagreement over interpetation of some element of the Bible. The church is question seems to be scarcely Christian at all.
How quickly we go from "Obama's pastor likes Farrakahn" to "scarecely Christian at all." Just goes to show that even the most reasonable people can be wildly irrational with regards to religion and politics. From the previously linked Martin Center article:
So Trinity is "Africentric," and deals internationally and ecumenically with the heritage of "black is beautiful." Despite what one sometimes hears, Wright and his parishioners — an 8,000-member mingling of everyone from the disadvantaged to the middle class, and not a few shakers and movers in Chicago — are "keepin' the faith." To those in range of Chicago TV I'd recommend a watching of Trinity's Sunday services, and challenge you to find anything "cultic" or "sectarian" about them. More important, for Trinity, being "unashamedly black" does not mean being "anti-white." My wife and I on occasion attend, and, like all other non-blacks, are enthusiastically welcomed.

Heretical? Hardly. Harriet and I sometimes come home reflecting and remarking that Wright sounds almost literalist about biblical texts when he preaches. The large-print texts are before the worshipers, and Wright, taking up the Gospel message line by line, applies it to personal, cultural, social, and political life.
Doesn't sound "scarcely Christian" to me, but then again, I'm not trying to smear Obama.
1.14.2008 1:26pm
Baseballhead (mail):
I apologize for the multiple postings. Safari isn't working well for me today.
1.14.2008 1:26pm
SenatorX (mail):
By this taint-by-association logic anyone who remained Catholic following the pedophile priest scandal supports pedophilia, or at least believes pedophiles should go unpunished.

No, the logic would be if the preacher was a pedophile, preached pedophilia, and you still went to that church. Would it be unreasonable to infer that you were ok with pedophilia?
1.14.2008 1:27pm
Adam J:
SenatorX- and what, exactly has Professor Bernstein claimed that Rev. Wright preached? Oh that's right... nothing at all.
1.14.2008 1:30pm
SIG357:
How quickly we go from "Obama's pastor likes Farrakahn" to "scarecely Christian at all."




Given that Farrakahn, from a Christian perspective, is a pagan, I'm not sure why you think this is an incredible leap. It certainly gives considerable weight to the idea that for this church, race transcends Christianity. And that is a very un-Christian idea.
1.14.2008 1:30pm
Adam J:
SIG357-
Given that Farrakahn, from a Christian perspective, is a pagan, I'm not sure why you think this is an incredible leap.

Gee, and I thought it was okay to find virtuous qualities in non-Christians... maybe you should check out your Bible again and read about the "Good Samaritan".
1.14.2008 1:35pm
Henry679 (mail):
More God bullshit in politics, just what we need.

A pox on all of you.
1.14.2008 1:35pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I think that this is too narrow:
The difference matters if say, homosexuality is genetic. And if say, you are a young Catholic person who identifies as homosexual and wants to know more from your faith leaders. Those who would spread the myth that the Church thinks you're evil are just plain wrong and do a disservice by spreading this meme.
At least some attribute some male homosexuality to prenatal conditions, and, one study I know of ties it to maternal stress at certain critical times during pregnancy. I would suggest that the point you are trying to make is whether someone is born homosexual or not, with genetics being one of the ways that it could happen.

I am thankful that I don't have to face this problem, and, esp. that following such theology would deprive me (if I were born homosexual) of the ability of ever having fully satisfying sexual relations with another adult (given that same sex marriages are also forbidden).

But just so that you don't think that I am trying to gang up on the RC Church, I seriously doubt that Obama's church is any more forgiving in this area. On average, Black churches (and Blacks in general) seem to be more anti-Gay than do White ones, and overall, the more fundamentalist, the less tolerant of Gays.

Disclosure of biases: I am not Gay, Black, or Roman Catholic, but rather White, mainstream (i.e. liberal theology)Protestant.
1.14.2008 1:40pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Off topic: David, did you see Glenn Greenwald's shout-out to you. I was a little surprised he picked you of all people to support his point. Wonder what that was about.
1.14.2008 1:41pm
SIG357:
Tell me, then do you also find it disturbing that Jews find solidarity as a result of the Holocaust?





As a matter of fact, I don't think it "disturbing" for Jews to express solidarity with each other, with or without the Holocaust. Jewishness is defined by its extreme sense of loyalty to other Jews. Christianity is not defined in similar ethnic or racial terms.

Whether it's appropriate for Jews to behave as they do is a whole different kettle of fish. I will concede that this attack on Obama is an odd one for a Jew to make. But that aside, Obama's church still looks pretty un-Christian.
1.14.2008 1:42pm
Baseballhead (mail):
More God bullshit in politics, just what we need.

Ain't that the truth. This is just DB trying to foment something out of nothing. "I disagree with Barack Obama on almost everything..." and you can leave out the rest of that statement.
1.14.2008 1:44pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"No, the logic would be if the preacher was a pedophile, preached pedophilia, and you still went to that church. Would it be unreasonable to infer that you were ok with pedophilia"

My favorite Church had an Irish Catholic parish priest who told jokes during Mass. I still went to that Church. It is not unreasonable to infer that I am okay with Irish jokes. LOL
1.14.2008 1:44pm
SIG357:
Louis Farrakahn as the Good Samaritan? I thought I'd seen it all, but there is no limit to what the internet can turn up.

Farrakahn is a black David Duke. I suspect this church won't find "the good" in Duke.
1.14.2008 1:46pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
On another Obama note: perhaps buying a ten-foot strip of his neighbor's yard will sink his campaign, unlike Bill's philandering and Hill's magical cattle future profits.

Well it does kind of cancel out the "sick of the sleaze and corruption" modivation for voting against Clinton, which was likely the source of some significant fraction of Obama's support. If you're gonna vote for a corrupt machine politician, why not pick the one with experience?
1.14.2008 1:49pm
Arkady:
Well, we can see that the right-wing noise machine is getting cranked up. Pajamas Media ran a story entitled


Obama's Creepy, Race-Obsessed Church


Now, suppose that PJM's left-wing analogue ran a story entitled


Lieberman's Creepy, Israel-Obsessed Synagogue


Let's have a show of hands -- how many think David's head would explode?
1.14.2008 1:55pm
Adam J:
SIG357- I never made the claim that Farrakahn to be a Good Samaritan- I merely proved how outrageous it was for you to claim that it's unchristian for a Pastor to like a "pagan."
1.14.2008 1:56pm
hattio1:

Geez, people are criticizing Romney because of the Mormon church's racist policies that it disavowed 30 years ago.

Changed, not disavowed. There's a difference. I still, however, don't see it as a fruitful discussion with Romney (though we all know it will happen if he's the nominee, and has already happened). I think this questioning of Obama holds even less promise.
1.14.2008 2:01pm
ejo:
well, if the rabbi at the synagogue gave speeches on the racial superiority of his congregants and affiliated himself with a jewish version of Farrakhan, they might have a point. if you can make common cause with Farrakhan, I have a hard time, as an undercooked being, crediting your racial views.
1.14.2008 2:01pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I merely proved how outrageous it was for you to claim that it's unchristian for a Pastor to like a "pagan."

It's true that it's OK for a pastor to like "virtuous pagan," but it's also irrelevant to this case, as Farakhan is anything but "viruous."

What excuse is there for a supposedly Christian pastor to honor a hate-filled, anti-semitic heretical Muslim? It has been suggested that for him black solidarity trumps both Christian doctrine and American anti-racist ethics. If you have an alternate explanation, please present it.
1.14.2008 2:04pm
hattio1:
ejo,
Where is the evidence that the preacher at Obama's church ever gave speeches on the racial superiority of africans or african/americans?
1.14.2008 2:07pm
Adam J:
SIG357- Just a suggestion, but you should probably avoid attempts at defining "jewishness" in the future, one might think you are sterotyping. Also, black nationalism (generally) finds its solidarity as a result of the discrimination that has occurred against their race. I didn't think that the Christian faith had a problem with trying to overcome discrimination- last time I checked all people are considered equal in God's eyes. On the other hand white nationalism finds solidarity based on their belief in being naturally superior to other races- a different animal completely and I think your attempt to compare the two is pretty reprehensible.
1.14.2008 2:08pm
Jason F:
Farrakahn is a black David Duke. I suspect this church won't find "the good" in Duke.


Finding the good in everyone? How un-Christian can you get!
1.14.2008 2:11pm
Adam J:
Ralph Phelan- If you find it irrelevant you should be critizing SIG357, not I. He is the one who said it was unchristian to like Farrakan BECAUSE he was a pagan. I find it wrong to like Farrakan because he is a bigot, but that is not the point SIG357 made.
1.14.2008 2:19pm
Adam J:
oops, make that criticizing
1.14.2008 2:21pm
ejo:
I guess you don't know much about the good "Reverend" Farrakhan. as to black nationalism, if you don't think it is based on racial superiority, what is the nonsense about "sun" people versus "ice" people based on? I hate to make the analogy as it has adherents here, but it is like claiming to be "anti-zionist" as opposed to "anti-jewish". when you scratch one, you tend to find the other.
1.14.2008 2:23pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
It just occured to me ... does the Trinity United Church of Christ have any connection with the (cultishly creepy) Boston Church of Christ?

I suspect not, as I know there are several different clusters of "Churches of Christ," but I'd kinda like to know for sure.
1.14.2008 2:24pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I find it wrong to like Farrakan because he is a bigot, but that is not the point SIG357 made.

Acknowledging SIG357's error, it remains the case that having Obama's church (and the pastor who personally recruited him into it) honor Farakhan is kind of questionable, and will raise the justified supicion that Obama secretly admires Farakhan too.

So Obama is going to have to make some kind of "not in my name" statement - unless of course he really does admire Farakhan, or (like Ron Paul) is unwilling or unable to piss off those of his supporters who do.
1.14.2008 2:31pm
Adam J:
ejo- Yes, Farrakhan has crossed the line from preaching racial equality to preaching racial superiority- and it's certainly fair to call him a bigot for doing so. But most of the "black nationalist" movement has not crossed this line, whereas ALL of the "white nationalist movement" has.

I haven't seen any evidence that Obama's church has crossed this line- and one positive statement by the church or its pastor regarding Farrakhan doesn't make that case. Can you show me any real evidence that the church have actually said african americans are superior to other races?
1.14.2008 2:33pm
Henry679 (mail):
well, if the rabbi at the synagogue gave speeches on the racial superiority of his congregants and affiliated himself with a jewish version of Farrakhan, they might have a point.


Hmmm...God's chosen people. Nope, never heard of it!

This thread is embarrassing.
1.14.2008 2:37pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Difference is: the pedophilic priests were in the minority of priests overall. They didn't preach pedophilia from the pulpit, nor homosexuality. The ones who transferred them, rather than disciplining them, were not endorsing their acts either.


Are you serious? Transferring pedophiles from church to church, exposing the children of congregation after congregation to these men may not have been an endorsement of child molestation, but how can you argue that the Church wasn't protecting child molesters? By their actions, the Church essentially aided and abetted in molestation.


Pedophilia never became an endorsed part of the Church's teaching, preached from the pulpit. Some sinned, not the majority of priests and leaders who have been tainted by these accusations. That's not an official part of Church teaching. You should take care not to put words in others' mouths.

As I understand it, this church we're talking about here has the info DB provided as part of it's official platform. Big difference. And why is everyone so quick to say Obama has disavowed himself from those teachings? I certainly haven't heard that from him yet.
1.14.2008 2:47pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
God's chosen people

Ever seen "Fiddler on the Roof?"

"Please, couldn't you choose somebody else for a change?
1.14.2008 2:48pm
Smokey:
Gary Anderson,12:37 pm:
[Obama's] land deal is much more than "buying 10 feet from a neighbor". Who was that neighbor? Why did they both purchase the properties on the same day, with previous connections between the two neighbors? It really sounds like there was a previous connection between the two -- that Obama was "helped" financially to make this Kenwood purchase...

Question. Question. Question. If he's as good as he promises, he's stand up to these questions and pass the test.
OK. Sure. And what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Right?

So, did Hillary 'stand up' and forthrightly answer all questions re: Whitewater? Re the *ahem* 'disappearance' of FBI files? Or of the 'disappearance' of her Rose law firm billing records? Or of her illegal leaking of personnel files? Or of her attempted travelgate firings, or her defying of court subpoenas? Or of her receiving 'financial help' through the cattle futures bribery of her long-time crony, Mr Red Bone of Arkansas? Or of the massive illegalities in campaign finance, and the breaches of U.S. security regulations, and the numerous coverups and potential obstructions of justice that Mrs Clinton was orchestrating with her co-conspirator husband?

No. Mrs Clinton dodged and weaved, tapdanced, backed and filled, prevaricated endlessly.

Yet, some would hold Obama to a much higher standard.

Why is that?
1.14.2008 2:52pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Disclosure of biases: I am not Gay, Black, or Roman Catholic, but rather White, mainstream (i.e. liberal theology)Protestant.

So what color star do you want us to pin on you, Bruce?

Of course, any homosexual Roman Catholic who would like to pursue a sexual relationship (or many) is free to do so. It's the problem of continuing to take the sacrament of Eucharist, to affirm that you believe and follow the Chruch's teaching that is not kosher. Especially troubling is the attempt to re-write doctrine to fit your own sexual needs. Hence, it's a myth that the Church thinks homosexuals are evil -- whether they are genetically conceived gay, it occurs during the mother's gestation, or indeed is a free choice. You're correct -- I was using the genetic Roman Catholic homosexual as but an example.
1.14.2008 2:55pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Whoever above is comparing the Good Samaritan parable to the Nation of Islam teachings has some outside reading to do.
1.14.2008 2:56pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Smokey 2:52 p.m.
See my 1:49 p.m.
If Obama is no more unifying than George Bush and no less sleazy than a Clinton, what's the point of his campaign?
1.14.2008 3:09pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
No. Mrs Clinton dodged and weaved, tapdanced, backed and filled, prevaricated endlessly.

Yet, some would hold Obama to a much higher standard.

Why is that?


Ah, the pot calling the kettle black... Clinton has been thoroughly questioned on all those issues; we all know about them because the media brought them up.

This issue about Obama'a black church... and his land deal with shady characters... why shouldn't the media actively question and probe Obama's past just as they did the Clinton's?

You're not pushing for special treatment for Obama here, are you? If Clinton was asked and prodded for answers, why not Obama?
1.14.2008 3:10pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Plus, this issues seems to directly contradict his promise of uniting, bringing us all together. Between that and the race angle, I get the distinct feeling that plenty of people are going to be left out of the Obama coalition.

Wasn't he supposed to be weak on experience or demonstrable skills, but strong on uniting the country? So much for that.
1.14.2008 3:12pm
hattio1:
ejo,
I never claimed that Farrakhan didn't preach the superiority of the black race. Where's the evidence that OBAMA'S PREACHER preaches the superiority of black races.
1.14.2008 3:17pm
Ashamed for Gary.:
I am suprised, and a bit disappointed, that no one took the time to point out Gary Anderson's very suspect statement early on:

"American voters, particularly white ones, should inquire further,..."

It seems rather odd that someone who professes to have a beef with Obama's minister's kind statements regarding a racist (Farrakhan), ostensibly because racism is bad, would make a nakedly race-based appeal in his post. Exactly why is it "particularly" important for "white" voters to know about this?

I stopped listening to Gary's misguided rants early, having noticed this glimpse into Gary's closet. If the Obama-Wright-Farrakhan chain is (or should be) troubling to intelligent, informed voters, then Gary has no reason for appealing particularly to "white" voters. I suspect he knows his Farrakhan boogie-man bogus link is particularly disturbing (in an irrational, primal fear-type way) to old, conservative "white ones" like Gary.

Gary, be ashamed.

Of course, if this "company you keep" meme has any relevance, Gary draws praise from Mark Symms who disgustingly went the third-grade route ("Barrack Osama -er Obama").

David Bernstein, thank you for raising the level of discourse around here.
1.14.2008 3:58pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
Mary Symms: Barrack Osama -er Obama is a litle too shiny for me. To much Muslim influence in his past.

Stay classy, wingers!
1.14.2008 4:04pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Exactly why is it "particularly" important for "white" voters to know about this?

Because, presumably, just as it's white working-class students who tend to bear the burdens of affirmative-action programs for college admissions that benefit lesser-qualified black students, the sons and daughters of professionals and the middle-class -- it would be whites or ethnics who would be outsiders if indeed Obama's unity promise coalition is elected.

While black voters might be interested as well in whether the candidate shares the same positions professed by his minister or church, presumably they would have far less to lose under a President Obama...
1.14.2008 4:18pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
It seems rather odd that someone who professes to have a beef with Obama's minister's kind statements regarding a racist (Farrakhan), ostensibly because racism is bad, would make a nakedly race-based appeal in his post. Exactly why is it "particularly" important for "white" voters to know about this?

Maybe because Farakhan is anti-white, and so is of particular concern to us in the same way (though obviously not to the same degree) that Nazis are of particular concern to Jews.
1.14.2008 4:18pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Gary, be ashamed.

Not on your life!
1.14.2008 4:20pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Of course, if this "company you keep" meme has any relevance, Gary draws praise from Mark Symms who disgustingly went the third-grade route ("Barrack Osama -er Obama").

I don't know "Mark Symms", nor have I sat through any of his sermons. Or converted, had my spiritual life changed because of his beliefs.

Some of you really are doing everything you can to run from this one, and it's going to need to be addressed sooner or later by your presumably preferred candidate...
1.14.2008 4:23pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Thank you Ralph.
Well said.
1.14.2008 4:26pm
Brian K (mail):
I see a whole lot of ODS (obama derangement syndrome), DDS (democrat derangement syndrome), LDS (liberal derangement syndrome) and MDS (muslim derangement syndrome) on this board.

the only one i don't see is HDS (hillary derangement syndrome).
1.14.2008 4:46pm
Public_Defender (mail):
I'm a liberal Democrat who supports Obama, and as much as it pains me to say it, I basically agree with Professor Bernstein. Obama not only attends this church, he has cited it as an important part of who he is.

If Obama can't deal with questions like Bernstein's, he won't and shouldn't survive to win the White House. My prediction (at least my hope) is that he'll deal with these questions well.

I think it's unreasonable to hold Obama responsible for everything in his church newsletter, but it is fair to ask him his views on pastoral statements that affect public policy.

As to the Romney example, he was (is?) a leader (one of many "bishops") in his church, so we are entitled to know his views on the positions of that church that affect public policy.
1.14.2008 5:07pm
Dave N (mail):
It just occured to me ... does the Trinity United Church of Christ have any connection with the (cultishly creepy) Boston Church of Christ?
No.

In fact, the question itself is a weird kind of guilt by association (tbe fact that Senator Obama's last name is similar to Osama Bin Laden's first name is even weirder, but I digress).

The Boston Church of Christ is part of a larger group called the International Churches of Christ, which is a rather fundamentalist Christian sect.

The United Church of Christ is a mainline Prostestant denominatio formed in 1957 by a merger between the Congregationalist Church and the Evangelical and Reform Church. As far I can tell, the only thing the Internatioan Churches of Christ (including the Boston Church of Christ) and the United Church of Christ have in common are the words "Church of Christ" in their names.

In other words, implying the two denominations are the same because of similar names is like saying that Reggie Bush and George W. Bush must be related because they share the same last name.

As I said earlier, I am not an Obama supporter nor will I ever likely be one, but some of the comments on this thread are just plain silly.
1.14.2008 5:15pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Public_Defender

I'd say Romney the bishop, Huckabee the preacher, and Obama the convert whose life was turned around have made religion a part of their story in a way that none of the other candidates have (at least to my knowledge), and therefore deserve closer scrutiny on the subject than the others.
1.14.2008 5:21pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
In fact, the question itself is a weird kind of guilt by association

Only if you leave out the second half of my post:

I suspect not, as I know there are several different clusters of "Churches of Christ," but I'd kinda like to know for sure.

Turns out I was wrong, there are two main clusters, but the principle is the same.

BTW, sincere thanks for doing the research I was too lazy to do for myself.
1.14.2008 5:24pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
well, if the rabbi at the synagogue gave speeches on the racial superiority of his congregants and affiliated himself with a jewish version of Farrakhan, they might have a point.

Hmmm...God's chosen people. Nope, never heard of it!
Sigh. A hundred years ago, in a place without Jews, I'd expect people to say things like this. You'd think in 21st century America, people would know by now that this is not a claim of 'superiority.'

It doesn't mean "chosen because we were better." Indeed, unlike Christianity, Judaism doesn't claim that everyone who isn't Jewish is damned.
1.14.2008 5:27pm
Ashamed for Gary:
Ralph,

Have you heard of Godwin's Law?

Gary,

You are suggesting, based on Obama's connection with the senior minister of a church who once said something nice about Farrakhan, that "whites and ethnics" will be "outsiders" if Obama is elected?

Gary, the whites are under attack angle (e.g. "Birth of a Nation") is, to put it mildly, passe.

Ashamed for Gary, because somebody has to be.
1.14.2008 5:28pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
You are suggesting, based on Obama's connection with the senior minister of a church who once said something nice about Farrakhan, that "whites and ethnics" will be "outsiders" if Obama is elected?

No, it's the whole platform thing. Who do you suppose will be stuck paying for his uber-liberal policies? I see him united the illegal immigrants, the black people, reaching across the aisle to work with Republicans and corporations that favor the wealthy, but nothing about the working-class white people that traditionally has been the backbone of the Democratic party.

Ashamed for Gary, because somebody has to be.

Yep, I'm quite familiar with that liberal guilt, but sadly, your types tend to outreach just far enough to pull the rest of us in -- who don't share it -- to pay the costs of your guilty consciences. (see affirmative action programs, school bussing for we but still quite segregated neighborhoods for thee, etc. etc.)
1.14.2008 5:37pm
David Holt (mail) (www):
Please read this response from the UCC:

http://www.ucc.org/news/thomas-denounces-smear-1.html
1.14.2008 5:40pm
K Parker (mail):
Do you imagine that he'd have left the Catholic church because of the Cardinal's comments?
Sure, I can imagine a person might decide that, base on how loudly and obnoxiously the Cardinal expressed those views, forced the parish priests to pay lip service to them, etc.
For most, church going is not a political statement.
It's certainly not in mine, either, but what if the Cardinal (or, in my case, the PCUSA General Assembly) insists on making it so?

Tony Tutins, your disingenuousness about the Greek Orthodox Church is fearsome to behold.
1.14.2008 5:51pm
Ashamed for Gary:
Gary,

So, you are claiming that Obama has a racist platform that will make true your statement that "it would be whites or ethnics who would be outsiders if indeed Obama's unity promise coalition is elected." Please, do present exhibit A to this amazing claim.

Don't confuse my being ashamed for you with guilt. I haven't a thing to do with your hysterical fear-mongering and don't feel a bit guilty about it. I am ashamed for you, Gary, not apologetic for you.

"school bussing for we but still quite segregated neighborhoods for thee"

I live in a quite integrated neighborhood, thank you for inquiring. Is your lame attempt to turn this thread into a discussion of the merits and demerits of affirmative action a concession of no real substantive point here or simply cover for your having unintentionally revealed that you view this as an "us" (whites) against "them" (blacks) issue?

AFG
1.14.2008 5:52pm
unwelcome guest:
There are a lot of African-Americans who claimed to have been criminals and stopped after converting to Nation of Islam. Perhaps an Africanic person might laud Farakhan for that rather than his professed beliefs. Judging by the fruits and all that.
1.14.2008 5:57pm
vclurker (mail):
That's fine, unwelcome, but that's not Wright's stated rationale for praising him: "His depth on analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye opening. He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest." Nothing about turning criminals into model citizens, or anything like it.
1.14.2008 6:07pm
Adam J:
vclurker- good point, of course a better point is that Wright said nothing to suggest he agrees with Farrakhan on his more bigoted beliefs either. Am I to be attacked for bigotry if I say that Thomas Jefferson was a great human being who did many great things for our nation? After all, Jefferson was a slave owning racist who thought that African Americans were inferior. Under your logic we must assume I'm a racist merely cause I said he did good things for our country.

Anytime someone has something decent to say about a person who has questionable beliefs should they attacked for holding the same beliefs? Asked if they hold those beliefs sure, but attacked without any reason to assume they hold the beliefs is unreasonable. And what is far more unreasonable is to attack Obama, who has made no statement regarding Farrakha, and merely associates with someone who had.
1.14.2008 6:31pm
neurodoc:
As a commenter rightly noted, Rev. Wright's said nothing at all in his statement about the fulsome praise he heaped on a prominent bigot, Louis Farrakhan.
1.14.2008 6:50pm
calmom:
Belonging to an Afro-centric church isn't religious, it's political. And Obama can rightly be criticized for belonging to an organization with questionable political beliefs and goals.
1.14.2008 7:15pm
American Patriot:
Keep it up, Gary! Don't let the liberals intimidate you. "Ashamed for Gary" is using a typical rhetorical device of the left by trying to demonize you as a person, so that the debate is no longer about Obama but about whether those who are concerned with Obama's shadowy connections are racist.

The best analogy would be if any of the Republican candidates had a very close religious mentor who publicly praised David Duke. Is there any chance the such a candidate would have kept *any* credibility?

Ron Paul has suffered tremendously from his association with Lew Rockwell (which is in many respects similar to Obama's association with Wright), and Rockwell would never have said something as controversial as praising David Duke (though he may have praised people who praised people who praised Duke).
1.14.2008 7:42pm
Dave N (mail):
Ralph Phelan,

I apologize for not including your entire post when I responded. Upon reflection, that was unfair to you. I was trying to rebut the implication that the two churches were related and I unfairly made it sound like you believed that they were.
1.14.2008 7:51pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Don't cry for me, Argentina.

Everything I've read about his political positions suggest the working class will lose under his presidency; I truly believe he is and a.a. candidate -- without his race, there's no way he'd be a credible presidential candidate at this point in his career.

I sure hope he doesn't get elected to provide the "evidence" that you seek to prove my points about who would be "in" and who would be left on the sidelines, stuck paying the price for all those liberal ideas.

And please, don't try to intimidate people like me with genuine concerns into silence by playing the race card. Remember, you're all about the "unity" candidate, but if already starting hearing about "cold white people" in a joking fashion. It's really no joke, based on the past few decades, who benefits, who works hard and has to pay for all these liberal ideas. Earn your way up, don't play the race card, is how I was brought up. I really hate to see our country divided, whether it's Republicans v. Dems, or blacks/corporations/illegal immigrants/white liberals v. working-class whites, in terms of representation of relevant issues.

Why go there? And why hate on those of us who have our eyes open to the clues showing, understand the past, and suspect we'll be the ultimate losers if this man is elected. Don't condescend to me, for starters.
1.14.2008 7:54pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Belonging to an Afro-centric church isn't religious, it's political.

Our rich tradition of segregation long relegated blacks to afrocentric churches, like the Missionary Baptist churches, the Churches of God in Christ, and the African Methodist Episcopal churches. Obama happens to go to a church open to all races. How many blacks belong to your church? Can you prove that you don't belong to a Euro-centric church?

K. Parker: there are a lot of Nationalist churches in America. Most if not all support their parishioners and their homeland. I don't see why an African Nationalist church is automatically suspect as evil. They are trying to raise their people up rather than tear other people down.
1.14.2008 8:03pm
fnook (mail):
Not that anyone cares, but this post by D Bernstein is completely ridiculous. Talk about making a mountain out of molehill.
1.14.2008 8:26pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Thank you American Patriot for your kind words.

Also, I wanted to apologize for some of the odd nonsensical phrasing in my (numerous) comments. (Sorry to monopolize, but this subject on today's thread is close to my heart.)

My connection here is slow, and sometimes when I type, I have to wait while the cursor "catches up". In rereading, I realize often words are dropped mid sentence. So I apologize for coming off sounding very dumb, but you can piece together the gist of my sentences I hope, and I'll try to use the convenient "Preview" button next time I participate like this, to catch what's left out, and also correct things like verb tense, that I do accept responsibility myself for letting my fingers getting ahead of my thoughts. Sorry, and good night.
1.14.2008 8:34pm
AFG:
Gary,

As most his policy points are not terribly distinguishable from Hillary's and, if anything, less liberal than John Edwards', his race seems to have little to do with your substantive complaints about Obama. To you, he's just another liberal.

You continue to assume I am a liberal simply because I find your race-baiting distasteful. Will "whites or ethnics" be outsiders if Clinton is elected? If so, your point is then that the Democratic Party at large is somehow anti-white? Or just anti-middle class-working-white? Either way, the claim hardly needs me to point out it is ridiculous.

I am not trying to silence you. I am quite happy that you have taken the opportunity to invoke a battle between the races when, your only substantive complaint, seems to be a policy matter shared by all the Democratic candidates.

What, again, does Obama's race, his connection to Wright (and Wright's connection to Farrakhan...and Farrakhan's connection to Kevin Bacon, is it?) have to do with the policies you don't like (affirmative action and bussing, two of the most important issues of the day...if that day is in 1972)? Nothing, of course.

So, after saying it is "whites or other ethnics" that will be "outsiders" if Obama is elected, you now backpedal to saying it is his policies you dislike and that will hurt those "whites and others" by which you mean middle class Americans, apparently, exclusive of African Americans. But his policies are virtually indistinguishable from Hillary's, yet you seem to prefer Hillary.

Now you say "without his race, there's no way he'd be a presidential candidate at this point in his career." Who, exactly, has been playing the race card? And your explanation for Edwards as a presidential candidate (2004 and 2008) after achieving little other than being an unremarkable, one-term Senator? Is he secretly black?

You make no sense, Gary, and you inject race and a create a spectre of the "whites" (your words) being "outsiders" if Obama is elected president.

By all means, voice your genuine concerns, but don't expect me not to call you when you blatantly pander to fears that once a black man is in the White House, it won't be safe for "whites" anymore. If you have genuine policy complaints, voice them. If you are genuinely troubled that Obama may secretly sympathize with Farrakhan, fine. But based on the thin reed you have, don't make this into a race war and expect not to be consdescended to.

Still, AFG.

P.S. How's GWB working out for you, Mr. middle class?
1.14.2008 8:46pm
Adam J:
Gary- Obama is an affirmative action candidate? If you're going to say such completely ignorant statements I'm pretty sure there's not much point in even trying to argue with you. You're certainly free to question his experience or his liberal policies, but these in no way suggest any evidence that he is an "affirmative action candidate", and by making yet another ignorant attempt to inject race into this post you are showing that it is you, not Obama, who should be questioned about his views on race.
1.14.2008 8:57pm
American Patriot:
The argument that Obama is an affirmative action candidate is not something that Gary just made up. The point is that Obama would never have been considered as a serious candidate for the White House in 2008 if it was not for his skin color. His experience is limited to one term in the Senate (state senate and law lecturer (not professor) don't even approach the level of qualifications expected in a serious candidate for President). This is not meant to deride Obama, since his accomplishments are impressive for his age. If he were to spend another term in the Senate and maybe one term as Illinois governor, I could see him as a serious non-AA candidate in 2020.
1.14.2008 10:00pm
Baseballhead (mail):
...Obama would never have been considered as a serious candidate for the White House in 2008 if it was not for his skin color.

No free ticket like being black in America! Sometimes I'm stunned at how white folk are able to make a living for themselves in such a hostile environment.
1.14.2008 10:10pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
patriot: "Obama would never have been considered as a serious candidate for the White House in 2008 if it was not for his skin color the fact that a lot of people see him as the only candidate inspiring enough to unite a country that is very tired of being divided."

Fixed.
1.14.2008 10:19pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Speaking of uniting what's divided. The GOP is fractured, and there's only one candidate who can bring it back together: Hillary. So it's very disconcerting for them to see Obama rise. Therefore we're going to see a great deal of ODS (Obama derangement syndrome; thank you Brian), and it's often going to be racial in nature. But that's OK, because the haters are already concentrated in the GOP, and no Dem was going to get those votes anyway.
1.14.2008 10:21pm
Tax Lawyer:
American "Patriot"

Consider:

John F. Kennedy: 1 1/3 Terms in Senate; three terms in the House of Reps (arguably less valuable than Obama's experiences at the state level). Scion of one of America's oldest, wealthiest, and most established families. Younger than Obama by almost 5 years at time of election.

Jimmy Carter: One-term governor of Georgia. Two terms in state government.

Reagan: two-term governor of California. B-list movie actor. Union official.

Clinton: two-term governor of rural backwater.

GWB: Failed business executive (in several businesses). Two-term governor of Texas (a state with a relatively weak executive branch, Constitutionally). Scion of one of America's oldest, wealthiest, and most established families; recovering alcoholic.

Fred Thompson: 1 1/3 terms in Senate. Actor.

Say what you will about the merits of each of these men as President (or candidate). It's hard to (seriously)call Obama an AA candidate when his resume at time of running is compared to theirs (Two of the five -- JFK and Carter -- also had records of distinguished military service; but three did not). If I were a different kind of person, I might question your motives for callimg him that.
1.14.2008 10:26pm
American Patriot:
jukeboxgrad, your statement is probably correct but this does not conflict with what I said.
1.14.2008 10:31pm
SenatorX (mail):
Tax Lawyer doesn't know why governors make good presidential candidates while Senators do not. I suggest he dig deeper.

If I were a different kind of person, I might question your motives for callimg him that.

You are that person and you just did. If you mention black or Islam in the same sentence as Obama you are a BIGOT. We get it. However if you think this response is sufficient to silence people asking questions about OUR potential next president then you are wrong. I only speak for myself but if I don't get credible answers I will assume the worst and vote accordingly.
1.14.2008 10:54pm
Dave N (mail):
jukeboxgrad,

The ODS is coming from TeamHillary not the GOP. Name ONE Republican Presidential candidate who has attacked him the way Hillary or her minions have.

So you can sneer at the "Republican attack machine" all you want, but it doesn't change where the attacks are coming from.
1.14.2008 11:06pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
If I were a different kind of person, I might question your motives for callimg him that.
Well, maybe you should try to distinguish between executive and legislative experience. And state vs. federal.

Really, of the guys you name, every one of them had more and/or better experience. Like Obama, Thompson and Kennedy had no executive experience -- but they had far more federal experience. Carter didn't have any federal experience, but he did have a term as governor.

Also, you might want to do a little more research:
Clinton: two-term governor of rural backwater.
By "two," presumably you mean "six-term." Plus a term as state attorney general.
1.15.2008 12:01am
Mr L (mail):
Fixed.

Ha, ha, that's a good one. Somehow I doubt that Mr. Uniter's supporters are clamoring for compromise with Republicans. This is the same bullshit that Bush got called on with his 'uniter, not a divider' line.

If anything, Hillary's more of a uniter, both as a focus for hatred from the left and right and her poll-driven support of centrist positions on things like Iraq and the PATRIOT act.
1.15.2008 12:03am
Harry Eagar (mail):
I cannot agree that Clinton will use this. Look how she has been licking boots just because she was insufficiently adulatory of M.L. King.

No, here's how I dope it. Democrats will ignore this as much as possible, and so will Republicans, who fear a Clinton candidacy more than anything.

Now they can watch with undisguised pleasure as the Obama bandwagon rolls over Clinton.

Then, when we get past the conventions, they spring the Farrakhan trap on Obama.

Sweet, if you're whoever the GOP nominee is.

A few months ago, I'd have bet the Democrats could have elected a ham sandwich, because of the war.

Now, with the body count down and the Obama religious scandal in the wings, I can foresee a fall in which the Democrats have nominated a candidate who will not be voted for by either blacks or Jews.

Politics ain't beanbag.
1.15.2008 12:12am
Elais:
Predictions in politics is usually wrong. I would not make any sweeping claim about how this will affect the chances of Democratic or REpublican candidates.
1.15.2008 12:54am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
patriot: "your statement is probably correct but this does not conflict with what I said"

That's a matter of perspective.

You seem to be claiming that both factors are operative (he's both black and inspiring). I'm claiming that the latter, not the former, is what's operative, and that you have no particular basis for claiming otherwise.
1.15.2008 12:58am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
senatorx: "governors make good presidential candidates"

Right about now I'm sure many people are noticing that governors don't always make good presidents.
1.15.2008 12:58am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dave: "The ODS is coming from TeamHillary not the GOP"

I know, but just wait about ten minutes.
1.15.2008 12:59am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
l: "Somehow I doubt that Mr. Uniter's supporters are clamoring for compromise with Republicans."

You can be as cynical as you like, but I know something unusual is happening when commenters at a very righty blog are praising him and comparing him favorably to Reagan. I've seen a bunch of similar examples that I found fairly startling.

"This is the same bullshit that Bush got called on with his 'uniter, not a divider' line."

He "got called" on that? Really? Do you mean before he became president and proved he didn't mean it? Or after?

"If anything, Hillary's more of a uniter"

As I said, her primary achievement as a "uniter" will be to unite the GOP.
1.15.2008 1:00am
Grover Gardner (mail):
Nothing like reading the underbelly of American thought to get one all fired up to go out and vote. Talk about guilt by association--urk.
1.15.2008 1:04am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I think it's relevant to mention this statement that McCain made on 2/28/2000:

Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.


Of course in 2006 McCain retracted that and embraced Falwell. A little flip-flop. Still, McCain's statement seems to give Obama some cover, since any number of GOP pols (including McCain himself) have embraced Falwell and/or Robertson, much more directly than any alleged association between Obama and Farrakhan.

And if the matchup is McCain vs Obama (a reasonable likelihood, in my opinion), McCain might be inclined to stay away from this can of worms.
1.15.2008 1:35am
Dave N (mail):
Me, I think Jerry Fawell (whom I can't stand for a mulititude of reasons) stands up better than Louis Farrakhan--who is a black racist demagogue. But as I said almost 12 hours ago upthread--I don't think this is an issue unless there is actual evidence that Obama has expressly endorsed the views of his church in honoring Farrakhan.

I don't support Obama for President, probably never will. There are major policy reasons why I do not. That said, I honestly believe the concerns expressed by some on this thread are completely unfounded.
1.15.2008 2:34am
neurodoc:
Now, with the body count down and the Obama religious scandal in the wings, I can foresee a fall in which the Democrats have nominated a candidate who will not be voted for by either blacks or Jews.
I don't follow. Which candidate do you think the Dems would nominate(Obama or Clinton) who would get neither the black or Jewish votes? And those votes would go in great numbers to which Republican? If you bet on these things, let me know and I will take as much of your money as you are prepared to part with.
1.15.2008 3:35am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Tony Tutins:
Our rich tradition of segregation long relegated blacks to afrocentric churches

Not true.

Majority-black churches exist because of segregation, but being "Afrocentric" is an ideological choice not all majority-black churches make. Many are just plain "Baptist."
1.15.2008 8:21am
Perry:
Its pretty funny to watch people try and frame coherent arguments based solely on their thinly veiled fear of black people.

Bravo. Good show.
1.15.2008 10:56am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Perry:

My fear of fascists like Farakhan, and the results of their being tolerated as anything other than fringe kooks, is neither veiled nor based on race.

Farakhan should be getting the same banishment from mainstream public life that David Duke got. He's not.
1.15.2008 11:11am
Harry Eagar (mail):
neurodoc, I see Obama as the candidate, with Jews sitting on their hands because of the Farrakhan connection, and blacks -- or at least a lot of them -- sitting on theirs because they were for Clinton and won't like what they think they got with Obama.
1.15.2008 11:23am
Gary Anderson (mail):
By all means, voice your genuine concerns, but don't expect me not to call you when you blatantly pander to fears that once a black man is in the White House, it won't be safe for "whites" anymore. If you have genuine policy complaints, voice them. If you are genuinely troubled that Obama may secretly sympathize with Farrakhan, fine. But based on the thin reed you have, don't make this into a race war and expect not to be consdescended to.

Still, AFG.

P.S. How's GWB working out for you, Mr. middle class?


You misread my friend. Middle-class whites are likely to be unaffected by the policies of a President Obama. It's the working-class voters who will be left out in the cold, and forced to pay for his unity coalition.

I agree with the above that all of the presidents listed had more experience than candidate Obama. Short of Law Review editor, PIRG organizer, stage legislator, and first-term Senator, he has shown me nothing regarding his ability to get the job done -- except promises to "unite" various coalations, and work with Republicans -- to the detriment of the working class. No thanks.

Further, it is the Obama campaign continually touting his race. I didn't bring it up -- he did.

I stand by my honest belief that had he not been sired by an African, no way would Obama be where he is today. He came up in a.a. times, and no doubt in my mind benefitted all the way along by that degree of blackness. Were he a 100% white man today, no way we would even be talking about his qualifications at this time. Except -- you want to toss out the racist label when somebody honestly points that out.
1.15.2008 12:28pm
ejo:
thinly veiled fear of black people-why such a general slur when the individuals being called out are called out by name. fear/disgust of an anti-semitic lunatic like Farrakhan sounds pretty rational to me, much like calling David Duke what he is-what about you? how about Sharpton, that mainstream race baiter and hater? great guy, no matter what the color, eh?
1.15.2008 2:51pm
xdxd:
This whole fracas ridiculous. This is immediately obvious as a manufactured "controversy" rather than any kind of substantive criticism of Obama. "The minister of his church has praised Farrakhan in a newsletter! How can Obama let that slide without comment?!" Please.

Farrakhan is awful, but this connection is far too tenuous to be noteworthy. (I'm white and Jewish, by the way.) Giuliani hasn't been asked about the anti-war views of the Pope, and with good cause—because such questions would be an inane and preposterous attempt to foist guilt by association onto his candidacy.

We are absolutely seeing a double standard here where people get up in arms at even the slightest, most tenuous connection to anti-white racism but—whether consciously or not—find themselves treating other forms of prejudice with far more lenience. (An example being Bush's visit to Bob Jones University, as has already come up in this thread.)

Exhortations to look at the stated principles of Obama's church and replace "black" with "white" are disigenuous at best and intentionally misleading at worst. This country, which has been and continues to be controlled by white people, has a history of white people enslaving and killing black people for hundreds of years. So when "injustice" against white people has been mentioned, it was and is often a canard used as justification for continued efforts of oppression of other races. That's just how it's been in American history. "Injustice" against black people, on the other hand, speaks to many historical and current concrete examples of anti-black discrimination. So it makes sense that the state philosophy of Obama's church is perfectly acceptable as it refers to a black church and would set off alarm bells if it were a white church. This isn't a double standard; it's just a clear-eyed view of history and reality.
1.15.2008 3:49pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
xdxd spouts the usual blather of those who haven't been paying attention.

The Wright-Farakhan connection isn't new or trivial, it's wide ranging and goes back 24 years.
Black people can be bigots too, and most whites who aren't named Gore, Clinton, Kennedy or Bush don't control the country.
Read the thread and get yourself oriented.
1.15.2008 5:02pm