It’s a famous storyline from Western literature, not to mention the lives of millions of believers: a person responds to God’s call and becomes Christian. Think of St. Paul falling to the ground and hearing God’s voice or St. Augustine hearing a voice say “Take and read, take and read.”
So have reporters examined why Barack Obama sought out Trinity United in the first place? As you might guess, the answer is no. None of the stories about Obama’s speech have addressed this question.
This is no trivial matter. After all, Obama did not seek out Trinity United as a child. He sought it out as an adult. By then, his reason and will were mature. He could have sought out and joined other churches in Chicago; instead, he sought out and joined this one. As Doug LeBlanc pointed out more than a year ago,
Barack Obama made a conscious decision to become a Christian while attending Trinity United Church of Christ.
Worse, Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times obscures the truth, implying that Obama did explain his decision to seek out the church:
Standing against a backdrop of eight American flags on Tuesday morning, Mr. Obama offered the most thorough explanation to date about his association with the church and his pastor, whom he has known for nearly 20 years.”
“For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course,” he said. “Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely–just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”
In fact, Obama’s explanation was not his “most thorough explanation to date” about his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr.. In an interview with Dan Gilgoff, Obama said that he sought out Trinity in admiration for Wright’s speaking ability, despite Wright’s views:
People who are familiar with the black church tradition know that Reverend Wright’s considered one of the greatest preachers in the country. Our church, Trinity United Church of Christ, even though it is part of a 95-, 97-percent white denomination, very much draws on the historical black church tradition and Reverend Wright’s sermons do as well. And that means that sometimes he’s provocative in ways that I’m not always comfortable with and in ways that I deeply disagree with occasionally.
Why Obama sought out Trinity United in the first place might be impossible to determine. But surely reporters should start asking more questions. After all, the South Side of Chicago has plenty of churches, as does the rest of the city. Finding clues as to why he chose Trinity might reveal about not only his politics but also his faith.