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Obama’s Other Pastor Problem – Rev. Meeks

This revelation is a few days old, but in the rush of events it seems to have slipped by without much attention.

From Chicago’s CBS-2 (and YouTube):

Obama Camp Rejects Supporter’s Past Use Of N Word

Mar 19, 2008

It’s Third Time Campaign Is Forced To Denounce Controversial Comments

CHICAGO (CBS) ― Sen. Barack Obama is target for critics again Wednesday night in another incident involving a minister and race.

Without permission from CBS 2, the Fox News Channel ran Wednesday evening parts of a 2- year-old story by CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery on language used by State Sen. James Meeks, who is now a delegate pledged to Obama.

“We don’t have slave masters, we got mayors,” Meeks said then while preaching. “But they are still the same white people who are presiding over systems where black people are not able to be educated. You got some preachers that are house n——. You got some elected officials that are house n——. Rather than them try and break this up, they’re gonna fight you to protect that white man.”

When confronted in 2006 about his divisive language, Meeks initially defended it.

“The word n—– is not, in the African American community, a bad word,” Meeks said. “It’s a term of endearment and I don’t see it as derogatory or offensive.”

“No one will be offended by it, except an individual it applies to,” he added.

An important part of the truth that Fox News did not report Wednesday night is this: Shortly after Flannery’s story aired two years ago, Rev. Jesse Jackson said it was time to stop using the N-word. And Rev. Meeks announced from his South Side pulpit that he was “retiring” the N-word from his vocabulary.

Although Meeks was never very close to Obama, last month he was elected as a delegate pledged to Obama.

Look for Obama’s critics to repeat this tactic in the weeks and months to come. Sen. Hillary Clinton demanded he denounce Louis Farrakhan. Obama did. Tuesday, it was his longtime pastor.

An Obama spokesperson told CBS 2 Wednesday night: “Sen. Obama has appeared at hundreds of churches and served with scores of colleagues and can hardly be expected to be held responsible for all that they say.” …

How’s that for unbiased reporting. The real crime here is Fox News reporting what Mr. Meeks said using this local station’s footage. For shame.

Note too that the the Chicago TV station does not seem to have any problem with the content of Mr. Meeks remarks, or his anti-white sentiments. They just objected to his use of the “N word.”

Moreover, according to CBS 2, Mr. Obama was lying about his close relationship with Mr. Meeks in this lengthy interview with the Chicago Sun-Times back on April 5, 2004:

Obama: I have a deep faith

Barack Obama credits his multicultural upbringing for his theological point of view.

April 5, 2004

BY CATHLEEN FALSANI Sun-Times Columnist

Casually straightening his tie with one hand as he holds the door for a stranger with the other, the young politician strides into the cafe, greeting an employee by name and flashing a big grin at the rest of the room.

He grabs a bottled protein shake from the cooler at the back of Cafe Baci on South Michigan Avenue, and settles into a table near the soft-drink dispenser, doffing his suit jacket along the way.

Barack Obama is alone on this Saturday afternoon in the city, his press secretary nowhere in sight. He’s not carrying anything with him. Not even notes.

If an hourlong conversation about his faith unnerves him, Obama’s not letting on…

The first question he fields without hesitation: What does he believe?

“I am a Christian,” the 42-year-old Illinois state senator and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate says, as one of the nearby customers interrupts to congratulate him on his recent primary win. Obama shakes the man’s hand and says, “Thank you very much. I appreciate that,” before turning his attention directly back to the question.

“So, I have a deep faith,” Obama continues. “I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.

“That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.”

When he was 6 years old, after his parents divorced, Obama moved with his mother and her new husband — a non-practicing Muslim — to Indonesia, where he lived until he was 10 and attended a Roman Catholic school.

“I went to a Catholic school in a Muslim country, so I was studying the Bible and catechisms by day, and, at night, you’d hear the Muslim prayer call,” Obama recalls…

Those experiences, as much as his multireligious childhood, affect how he expresses his faith, Obama says.

“Alongside my own deep personal faith, I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion,” he says. “I am a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure. I mean, I’m a law professor at the University of Chicago teaching constitutional law.

“I am a great admirer of our founding charter and its resolve to prevent theocracies from forming and its resolve to prevent disruptive strains of fundamentalism from taking root in this country.

“I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God’s mandate. I don’t think it’s healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism, or dialogue with people who disagree with them.”

Still, Obama is unapologetic in saying he has a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” As a sign of that relationship, he says, he walked down the aisle of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in response to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s altar call one Sunday morning about 16 years ago.

The politician could have ended his spiritual tale right there, at the point some people might assume his life changed, when he got “saved,” transformed, washed in the blood. But Obama wants to clarify what truly happened.

“It wasn’t an epiphany,” he says of that public profession of faith. “It was much more of a gradual process for me. I know there are some people who fall out. Which is wonderful. God bless them…. I think it was just a moment to certify or publicly affirm a growing faith in me.”

These days, he says, he attends the 11 a.m. Sunday service at Trinity in the Brainerd neighborhood every week — or at least as many weeks as he is able. His pastor, Wright, has become a close confidant.

So how did he become a churchgoer?

It began in 1985, when he came to Chicago as a $13,000-a-year community organizer, working with a number of African-American churches in the Roseland, West Pullman and Altgeld Gardens neighborhoods that were trying to deal with the devastation caused by shuttered steel plants.

“I started working with both the ministers and the lay people in these churches on issues like creating job-training programs, or after-school programs for youth, or making sure that city services were fairly allocated to underserved communities,” he says. “And it was in those places where I think what had been more of an intellectual view of religion deepened.

“I became much more familiar with the ongoing tradition of the historic black church and its importance in the community. And the power of that culture to give people strength in very difficult circumstances, and the power of that church to give people courage against great odds. And it moved me deeply.”

Obama says he reads the Bible, though not as regularly as he’d like, now that he’s on the campaign trail. But he does find time to pray.

“It’s not formal, me getting on my knees,” he says. “I think I have an ongoing conversation with God…. I’m constantly asking myself questions about what I’m doing, why I am doing it.

“The biggest challenge, I think, is always maintaining your moral compass.”

Friends and advisers, such as the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church in the Auburn-Gresham community on the South Side, who has known Obama for the better part of 20 years, help him keep that compass set, he says.

“I always have felt in him this consciousness that, at the end of the day, with all of us, you’ve got to face God,” Pfleger says of Obama. “Faith is key to his life, no question about it. It is central to who he is, and not just in his work in the political field, but as a man, as a black man, as a husband, as a father…. I don’t think he could easily divorce his faith from who he is.”

Another person Obama says he seeks out for spiritual counsel is state Sen. James Meeks, who is also the pastor of Chicago’s Salem Baptist Church. The day after Obama won the primary in March, he stopped by Salem for Wednesday-night Bible study.

“I know that he’s a person of prayer,” Meeks says. “The night after the election, he was the hottest thing going from Galesburg to Rockford. He did all the TV shows, and all the morning news, but his last stop at night was for church. He came by to say thank you, and he came by for prayer.”

Obama admits it’s not easy for politicians to talk about faith.

“Part of the reason I think it’s always difficult for public figures to talk about this is that the nature of politics is that you want to have everybody like you and project the best possible traits onto you,” he says. “Oftentimes, that’s by being as vague as possible, or appealing to the lowest common denominators. The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is.” …

Mr. Obama is finding out the truth of that last observation.

Still, we must remember that it is more important to have good judgment than experience. It’s more important to have a moral compass, than to have accomplished anything.

For the record, Mr. Meeks is still proudly listed on the Obama campaign site as an endorser. At least as of this hour.

Indeed, since Mr. Meeks is a superdelegate, there is very little chance of Mr. Obama denouncing him or his racism.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, March 24th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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