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Obama’s Spiritual Mentor Brings Up Monica

From the DNC’s Baltimore Sun:

Flanked by the Sanctuary Choir of Trinity United Church of Christ, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. preaches to his congregation.

Obama’s spiritual mentor

Powerhouse Chicago preacher draws attention, and plenty of controversy

By Michael Hill

January 16, 2008

CHICAGO – The packed house at Trinity United – some 3,000 in all – had been in the pews for almost two hours, energized by a 200-voice choir and a rousing dance performance Sunday, when the Rev. Jeremiah Wright stepped up to speak.

Wright is well-known in Chicago and in the black church world for taking over a small United Church of Christ congregation in 1972 and turning it into an 8,000-member powerhouse. More recently, his name has become familiar as the longtime spiritual mentor of Barack Obama, who joined the church in 1988 – a move Obama says was important to shaping his identity as an African-American.

The connection has thrown a spotlight on some of Wright’s more controversial remarks in a church that advertises itself as “unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian” – at times espousing a black liberation theology that can sound as exclusionary as Obama’s message is inclusionary. He has also equated Zionism with racism.

On Sunday morning – amid intensified crossfire between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Obama over the use of race in the Democratic presidential campaign – Wright was preaching from the Gospel of John, using his powerful style to link the story of the loaves and fishes to a contemporary political message…

Some argue that blacks should vote for Clinton “because her husband was good to us,” he continued.

“That’s not true,” he thundered. “He did the same thing to us that he did to Monica Lewinsky.”

Many in the crowd were on their feet, applauding – amazed, amused and moved by the fiery rhetoric of their preacher, who is about to retire.

It is just such rhetoric that has made Wright’s remarks an occasional staple on conservative talk shows. They often make the rounds in anti-Obama e-mail…

Just yesterday, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen noted that a magazine associated with Trinity United once named Louis Farrakhan as its person of the year, praising the Nation of Islam leader. Cohen called on Obama to denounce such praise of Farrakhan, known for statements deemed anti-Semitic…

As in the past, Obama did not completely denounce Wright. The candidate’s 1995 book Dreams From My Father depicts Obama’s decision to join Trinity United as a fundamental step in affirming his identity as an African-American. Obama’s mother was white, he was raised in large part by her parents and he spent much of his youth in Indonesia with his mother’s second husband. He only met his father, a Kenyan, once.

Obama took the title of his more recent book, The Audacity of Hope, from the first sermon he heard preached by Wright, whom Obama met while working in Chicago as a community organizer…

If Wright’s rhetoric costs Obama some votes, others believe that would be more than offset by voters moved by Obama’s ability to bring religion back into the liberal political message.

Ronald Walters, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, notes that Obama is getting the support of many black preachers who flirted with the Republican Party during the Bush administration, finding its position on cultural issues such as gay marriage and abortion appealing.

“Jeremiah Wright is one of the most influential and well-known black preachers in America,” Walters said. “His church is in the center of black culture. It is not some cult. It is not something out of the way. It is a quintessential black church.”

Hopkins says those who condemn Wright’s message as anti-white do not understand it. For one, he notes that this is the largest congregation, and the largest contributor, in the United Church of Christ, a white church.

“And what he says is not against anybody, it is against the internal evils within the black community itself, the need to deal with those and confront them with strong values,” Hopkins said.

“The idea that one would come to Trinity and see symbols or rituals that are anti-white America or hear a Wright sermon against white people is very curious to me,” he said. “It’s impossible to hold 8,000 people together talking against white people.

“I just tell people if they want to come to Trinity, bring their dancing shoes,” he said of the music-filled services that can last three hours.

On Sunday, Wright seemed incensed over a column by avowed atheist Christopher Hitchens that had run the day before in the Chicago Sun-Times. Hitchens decried Obama for giving “his allegiance to a crackpot church with a decidedly ethnic character.”

Several times Wright singled out “white reporters” for criticism. He talked of blacks being held down by attitudes of white supremacy, criticizing blacks who obediently follow whatever path whites tell them to. But the scores of whites in the pews were warmly welcomed by the black congregation…

“They call it Wrightville,” Hopkins said of the neighborhood around Trinity United, “though he doesn’t like that.”

That’s because the church is active in so many areas – from Boy Scouts to financial advice to running a school in the hardscrabble area of low-rise projects and small storefront businesses bisected by a train track.

“He has built one of the most substantial institutions in the city of Chicago and in the country and predicated it on service to the community,” Walters said. “I can think of some mega-churches that are not that involved in the community. But Trinity United is.” …

It is gratifying to finally see some in the media begin to take up the issue of Mr. Wright.

But both this reporter and the (leftwing lunatic) Richard Cohen (who seems to have picked up on our Farrakhan piece) obviously still do not know the half of it.

And it would seem that they don’t want to know. And they muddle it even then.

For instance:

Just yesterday, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen noted that a magazine associated with Trinity United once named Louis Farrakhan as its person of the year, praising the Nation of Islam leader.

Huh? 

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan received the “Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer” Award at the 2007 Trumpet Gala held on November 2, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

The aforementioned article, in the Church’s November/December issue was just reporting on that fact, along with their interview of Farrakhan. The magazine is published by Wright’s daughter.

But such is what passes for journalism at the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.

That’s because the church is active in so many areas – from Boy Scouts to financial advice to running a school in the hardscrabble area of low-rise projects and small storefront businesses bisected by a train track.

Yes. So was “Your Muslim Bakery.”

At least that is what they claimed to be doing.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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