If you were looking for a newspaper article on what other African-American preachers thought about Barack Obama’s former pastor’s fiery sermons from a religious perspective (and not exclusively related to politics), look no further than Tuesday’s Dallas Morning News.
Reporter Jeffrey Weiss spent some time talking to a number of fairly prominent pastors in the Dallas area and other communities and found that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s frequently quoted sermons “illuminate chasm between races.”
The controversy is letting white America in on what was well-known to black Americans: A profound distrust of government and other institutions is preached in varying degrees from black pulpits — and shared by many in the pews.
Weiss goes on to examine some polling data that shows that many African-Americans share Wright’s beliefs, and some of them are not completely inaccurate or without some justification. The best part of the story is the interviews Weiss did with preachers in the community and how they responded to the controversy:
“Our history in America says that we are not shocked by his statements,” said the Rev. Frederick Haynes III, senior pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas.
Few black religious leaders have publicly criticized Dr. Wright. Bishop T.D. Jakes, head of the Dallas-based Potter’s House megachurch, blogged ambiguously about Dr. Wright last week: “But please know that we are not monolithic and all blacks do not all agree with him, with me, or with anyone else.”
The Rev. Clara Reed, superintendent of the Sherman-McKinney District of the United Methodist Church agreed with Mr. Obama that Dr. Wright is too tied to the past.
This story reminds me a lot of the story The Indianapolis Star did after the controversy broke but with more detail and historical background. It’s the type of reporting that informs and does not inflame.
Another strong-point of the story is that it literally fact-checks some of the more controversial statements and in a very helpful chart, shows which ones are true, hyperbole, or false. The fact that Wright gave the sermon so many times should tip off a reporter to check into the claims being made. Imagine cable news performing this type of quality in-depth analysis?