Obama's theology-or lack thereofTo his credit, Barack Obama is now speaking out more forcefully on the anti-American comments of his old preacher, Rev. Jeremiah Wright (who does not, unfortunately, give the lovely campus of United Theological Seminary a good name):
"I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies," Obama said in his blog posting. "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 Reverend Wright that are at issue."
Fair enough. From a political point of view, this is still not an issue that will go away in a General Election , largely because I do not believe that Obama distanced himself from Wright with enough force. I do believe that he understands the gravity of the situation, and that a lot of voters who would otherwise warm to him may turn away because of this association-and that the issue will dissipate as far as the Democratic primaries are concerned.
One group that seems to think that Rev. Wright's comments were perfectly appropriate was Barack Obama's denomination, the United Church of Christ:
"These attacks, many of them motivated by their own partisan agenda, cannot go unchallenged," Thomas emphasizes. "It's time for all of us to say 'No' to these attacks and to declare that we will not allow anyone to undermine or destroy the ministries of any of our congregations in order to serve their own narrow political or ideological ends."
The UCC is not, as some in the blogosphere have mistakenly characterized it, an exclusively African-American denomination-there are people in that church from all ethnic backgrounds. The UCC claims that everyone is welcome in their churches, but having visited UCC congregations in the past, I can tell you that I, as someone who practices a traditional and orthodox form of Christianity, felt very out of place there and would not likely have been welcomed as a member. Many (but not all) UCC churches practice a sort of faux-liturgical form of worship to give them a feel similar to Catholicism or to Protestant churches such as the Episcopal Church or some Methodist churches where liturgy is also used. I've been to Methodist churches that use a form of liturgy and felt very much at home because I knew what to do and had a real sense of prayer taking place. I've visited traditional Anglican churches where, while I'm not free to take communion as a Catholic, I certainly didn't feel as though God was disrespected or Christianity misrepresented in its fundamental form.
Visiting a UCC church does not give one the same sense of a general respect and honor for the things of God as the other aforementioned churches do. Thumbing through a hymnal, I found the words to some of the most revered hymns in Christendom changed to reflect someone's "inclusive" agenda-anything the referred to Christ as the Son of God was changed to "Child of God," and the Nicene Creed, a nearly-1,700-year old statement of Christian orthodoxy, was also changed. Instead of saying "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen," the version used in the UCC I visited said "we believe in one God, the Father-Mother Almighty, maker of heaven and earth...," and lapsed into heresy with "we believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Child of God." We are all children of God-Christ was his only begotten Son.
The church bulletins were filled with support for political causes that were to the Left of the political spectrum almost exclusively. While that might personally turn me off that so-called immigrants' rights groups were worthy of support while there was no mention of supporting groups like the local crisis pregnancy center, National Right to Life, or even an organization like Boys Town, I think the UCC and its leaders have a right to support the causes they believe in. I have a real problem with our current tax exemption laws, which prevent churches and ministers from speaking their mind and heart about the issues of the day as they relate to the Kingdom of God. I have even more of a problem with the fact that these laws have (until very recently) been very selectively enforced. Churches whose internal politics lean to the Left have largely been given a pass, while churches with a Rightward bent have been put through the ringer-Jeremiah can say his bit about the damnation of America and the evils of Hillary Clinton and George Bush, but if a preacher got up and said "Barack Obama is doing an evil work," or "the ACLU is filled with much wickedness," the IRS will be looking that church up in very short order.
Based on the United Church of Christ's recent history and internal political bent, it is no surprise that their leaders seek to vindicate pastors in their ranks who hate America.