Obama Condemns His Pastor's Controversial Remarks, Right Wing Bloggers Unconvinced
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In a characteristically eloquent post on HuffPo, Barack Obama blasts Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.
I pause only to note that I hope this means we won't be hearing any more "periodically down" nonsense from you, Barack. At any rate, Obama continues on to explain how he could remain in a church with a minister who sometimes says outlandish things:
As I have written about in my books, I first joined Trinity United Church of Christ nearly twenty years ago. I knew Rev. Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago. He also led a diverse congregation that was and still is a pillar of the South Side and the entire city of Chicago. It's a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS.
Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he's been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.
Which makes some sense. Look, I know many of the readers of this blog have wandered from the religious paths we once followed. But having belonged to churches over the years, I can tell you that I didn't always agree with what my minister was saying; still don't, always. Nobody's said anything as outlandish as Wright's anti-Hillary sermon, but I've definitely heard people say things I disagree with, and say them from the pulpit. And criminy, I'm a Unitarian.
I have a good friend who's Catholic, as is his wife. They're also in favor of birth control, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-women's equality. So why do they remain in the church? Well, it's where they feel most connected spiritually. That doesn't mean there aren't things they disagree with in their church, nor that they weren't disappointed by the selection of the current pope. But they still feel grounded in that church.
So do I tell my friend that he's horrible for staying in a church that sometimes preaches things at odds with what he believes? No, I don't, because I'm quite fine with him finding and staying in a church he feels connected to. And I feel the same way toward my friends who are atheists and agnostics and Lutherans and Methodists...all of us find things we disagree with in our chosen faith traditions, but that doesn't mean we must chuck them all.