Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fair and Rational People: The Truth About Obama's Church

Did you know that Trinity United Church of Christ is part of the larger United Church of Christ, a predominantly white denomination? Did you know there are more than 1.2 million members of this church - mostly white?

How is it then, that some people believe this church is somehow "militant black supremacist," and why are people so angry about rev. Wright's sermon - a sermon which was certainly critical of American foreign policy - but was hardly the racist and hateful thing so many reactionaries believe it to be?

Well, the answer is quite simple: those angry critics have neither listened to the complete sermons of rev. Wright, nor have they made an effort to learn the truth about this church and what it represents. And yet, they have the gall to condemn not only rev. Wright as "full of hate," but they also have the audacity to claim the same about Barack Obama and every one of the 1.2 million members of UCC for even being associated with the church.

I'm willing to bet most of these folks have not even taken the time to read or listen to Barack Obama's historic speech on race relations. As one writer put it, "it is truly disingenuous and deceitful to insult someone without even bothering to hear their side of the story."(source)

This is a call for all those who consider themselves rational people: Reverend John H. Thomas, President of United Church of Christ (pictured above) has a message for you:
Those who sifted through hours of sermons searching for a few lurid phrases and those who have aired them repeatedly have only one intention. It is to wound a presidential candidate. In the process a congregation that does exceptional ministry and a pastor who has given his life to shape those ministries is caricatured and demonized.


But what was his real crime? He is condemned for using a mild "obscenity" in reference to the United States. This week we mark the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, a war conceived in deception and prosecuted in foolish arrogance. Nearly four thousand cherished Americans have been killed, countless more wounded, and tens of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered. Where is the real obscenity here? True patriotism requires a degree of self-criticism, even self-judgment that may not always be easy or genteel.


How ironic that a pastor and congregation which, for forty-five years, has cast its lot with a predominantly white denomination, participating fully in its wider church life and contributing generously to it, would be accused of racial exclusion and a failure to reach for racial reconciliation.


Today we watch as the gap between the obscenely wealthy and the obscenely poor widens. More and more of our neighbors are relegated to minimal health care or to no health care at all. Foreclosures destroy families while unscrupulous lenders seek bailouts from regulators who turned a blind eye to the impending crisis. Should the preacher today respond to this with only a whisper and a sigh?


I pray we will be shrewd enough to name the hypocrisy of those who decry the mixing of religion and politics in order to serve their own political ends.
I beseech every person who considers themselves rational and objective to set aside your anger, and take a minute to learn about UCC and what it really stands for. Please maintain respect when commenting, and at least demonstrate your fairness by reading the excerpts of Rev. Thomas' message before posting your replies. (Click Here to read the full text of Reverend Thomas' message.


D. Tree

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