Praise God: A Politician Finally Said Something Real About Racism

Below are selections from the transcript of the speech that yesterday Barack Obama gave on race relations in America. I’m turning 50 this week. I thought I might die of old age before I ever heard anyone of Mr. Obama’s political prominence publicly say things this basic and true. Racism is the cancer of our nation. I personally thank God that someone of Mr. Obama’s status finally said things about it as real as:

 

     “[The Declaration of Independence] was not enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part — through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk — to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.”

     “Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety — the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.”

    

     “We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

     “Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students. ”

     “Legalized discrimination — where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments — meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

     “A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families — a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods — parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement — all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.”

     “For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

     “And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”

     “Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.”

     “In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination — and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past — are real and must be addressed.”

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Shell

    Um, make that "Amen". (I'm typing in the dark.) Amen!

  • Joyce Nguyen

    Dear John Shore, Speaking about and actively helping to heal injustice is very important for the the body of Christ which includes all races . I truly believe in my heart that as Christians we should listen and try to understand and acknowledge past hurts! However, to say racially divided, abusive speech, about Jews, whites, and anybody not African- American like many of Rev. Wright's sermons and call it healing or understanding and using the pulpit to do so is not Christ centered and is not truth!!! He will be judged evermore for inciting hate, fear, and untruth in his church to fellow believers. You can not use the name of our LORD for any political gain or ideology of hate! God is sovereign and reigns on high. I will continue to pray that Satan's handprints are not on ANY Pastor's sermons and will lift the Lord's name high and glorious. Rev. Wright's comments about America are shameful and hurtful to many people who serve this country….police, firefighters, our military….We are a blessed nation indeed and need to reconcile and heal from the past prejudices that linger in our nation. Rev. Wright's sermons and others like him will not serve to heal the body of Christ or help people to focus on Christ's love or teachings. In Christ, Joyce

  • Keith

    John, I found the most interesting statement Mr. Obama made yesterday was (paraphrase) "I am sure you all here you pastors say things you disagree with all the time." My pastor preaches the Bible faithfully and does not go beyond what it says to make any political point or vent personal feelings. Either this pastor does not faithfully preach the Bible (seems obvious he does not) or it is assumed that those in the pews are simply going to a social gathering and will continue to create their own truth as they see fit. Interestingly at Easter time this is what a famous Roman leader once said Jesus before handing Him over for crucifixion "what is truth." The Bible does not condone racism or deny the pain it causes, but it surely does not put the hope or future of believers in the hands of those who may oppress us. Rather as Jesus said "These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Either our hope lies in Jesus or in something else. To suggest in any "Christian" preaching that hope lies elsewhere is to remove Jesus from the place of Lord. May He bring those who search for hope elsewhere into a knowledge of the truth.

  • Marcy Muser

    John,

    It seems to me Mr. Obama is correct in many ways. Even today, many (perhaps most) black people continue to experience discrimination. If only 1% of white people are strongly racially prejudiced, that means one out of every 100 white people a black American encounters is likely to discriminate against them. So if a black American goes to a baseball game where there are 25,000 people, 250 of those are racists. It's pretty likely that a black person is going to encounter one of those racist people. If a normal person has contact with 100 people each day, a black person will meet one of those people every day! That would convince anyone that white Americans are racist.

    And yet, 99% of Americans are NOT racist, and most of us find the actions of those racists abhorrent. So how do we counteract the actions of those few who insist on remaining racist in spite of all that has been done to convince them this is wrong? Will taxing the majority of Americans, both black and white, in order to pay reparations for things we all agree were wrong, convince the minority of racist Americans? Somehow I doubt it. Will forcing businesses to hire black people regardless of their qualifications improve the condition of black Americans and persuade the racists they were wrong? It seems unlikely; in fact, it reinforces the belief of the racists (and of some blacks as well) that blacks can't compete on their own merits – and that seems far more harmful in the long run. It seems to me a public relations battle, conducted mostly person-to-person by those who understand that all people are equal in value, is the best approach, though it is slower and cannot happen through government dictates. But we white Americans have GOT to commit to undertaking this battle fiercely, to doing all we can to make friends with black Americans even when we are rebuffed (recognizing that they have been wounded repeatedly and may find friendship dangerous), to speaking up when black people put appropriate words to their feelings (as you has done here) even if we disagree with some of their other positions, and to publicly and immediately repudiating racist actions and speech wherever we find them.

    At the same time, I think Mr. Obama has made a serious mistake in eliminating moral issues from the discussion of how the black culture in America got where it is. In the 1950's, in spite of the unconstitutional limitations on black freedom in many states, black families were improving financially relative to the rest of the country. Black people attended church in far greater numbers, black men were marrying before they had children and staying with their families, and black children were facing opportunities they had never had before. People like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and General Colin Powell went to college and rose to prominence during those years. But the s-xual revolution of the 1960's decimated the black culture. It encouraged black men to consort freely without any obligations; it communicated to black women that their value was exclusively in their physical attractiveness, and it convinced black men, women, and children that church was irrelevant to their daily lives. In spite of the civil rights movement and affirmative action, the financial condition of the majority of black America has declined drastically since the 1960's, and the black family has nearly been destroyed.

    While I recognize that anger and bitterness over racism has been partially responsible for the condition of blacks in America today, I don't believe their situation will improve significantly until black Americans as a group return to a moral foundation. If they are willing to give up blaming and resenting white people (many of whom also find racism detestable), and recognize their need for solid spiritual and moral underpinnings, they will perhaps improve their own condition far more than anything the rest of us can do for them. Black men need to do the hard work of earning a living, marrying their women and raising their children; black women need to hold their standards higher and refuse to sleep with a man until they are married; black churches need to stop preaching against whites and Jews and start calling their own people to live according to biblical standards. (Some are, and their people are prospering as a result.)

    In the meantime, white people need to undertake a ministry of building relationships with black people, no matter how difficult that may be. (And it is difficult – many black people have been hurt enough that they are unwilling to allow whites to form even an acquaintance with them.) We need to listen when black people have the courage to speak about their feelings and experiences. And we need to speak up boldly against racism and any form of prejudice. And we also need to advocate for spiritual and moral values for American culture as a whole – for men to marry and be faithful to their wives, for women to save themselves for marriage. The revolution of the 1960s has been harmful to all Americans; we all need to be called to higher standards.

  • Sabina

    Amen! again

  • http://cometothewell.wordpress.com dsrtrosy

    Marcy, I would argue that the sexual revolution hurt all races equally in the ways you mentioned.

    On to the race issue:

    I lived for 8 years in the panhandle of Texas, one of the great bastions of continuing racism in this country. In 1998 I moved to a small town that had, only ten years earlier, removed from its city laws one regulation that stated "all colored people must be outside of the city limits no later than 7 pm." Japanese families were persecuted openly–in 1998!–and not one black or African-American person (read Whoopie's book to understand the semantic difference) lived there at all.

    Until 2000. One Sunday I was singing a special and looked at the people sitting to my right. I almost choked to see an entire black family beaming up at me. As I sang, I prayed, "God, please let these people be passing through." In the nearly 3 years I had served at this particular church, I had heard a great many racist comments from the older members. And while this was not tolerated by the leadership in any overt form, they were finding it difficult to eliminate. I did not want any spiritual or emotional harm to come to that family I saw sitting there that morning.

    Well, the family was not passing through, and in a few weeks they placed membership at our church. About two weeks later, our wonderful, loving pastor preached a King-esque sermon against prejudice that would have wrung the heart of any civil rights activist. It was Biblical and it was political and it was powerful. I have never been more proud to be a follower of Jesus than I was in that moment.

    And let me tell you how powerfully God worked through that sermon. Starting in our church and radiating out in waves, the community began disallowing prejudicial acts of any kind to be perpetrated against its citizens. More black families moved in. The Japanese families began sleeping safely at night and socializing freely with their neighbors. God used one sermon to make real, radical social changes in that town.

    Can I condone the words of the Reverend Obama was defending (and not defending) in his speech? No. Can I understand them? Yes. His anger has nothing to do with me, personally. But I feel that Obama's strong response does. Thanks for posting this, John.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Freetobe: The reality of racism isn't a "political opinion." It's a moral failing. And the pulpit is the perfect place from which to address moral failings.

  • thereisnogray

    Fine! Address moral failings from the pulpit – all of them. Don't just pick and choose. Do we know if Rev. Wright ever tackled all of the moral failings faced by his congregation? We probably never will. I know this: In a black church on the south side of Chicago, a philosophy like that of Rev. Wright puts people in the pews. A person in the pew means money in the plate. How many of those parishioners wanted to hear about each and every one of their sins every Sunday? How many would be there week after week when they started to hear about their sexual immorality, their drunkenness, their hatred, their bitterness…pick your sin! You know…. the same sin that we all deal with every day?

    Right now, this speech was reactionary. If Senator Obama wants to talk about racism, I applaud him and encourage him to do it more. But, Mr. Obama: Don't you dare talk about it after you've sat under the hate-filled philosophy of Rev. Wright. Don't come and do it when it looks like you are putting out a fire. It tells me you are "reactive" and not "proactive" It shows me that you are unable to exercise proper judgment. It turns out that good judgment is essential to being President of the United States. May God Bless the United States of America!

  • Mona

    WHOA! Hold on a minute! The anti-American words of Rev. Wright was not contained in a few speeches or sound bytes or videos. It is the theolgy of the church.

    I wrote an entire article on it at Helium.com. If you can commend Rev. Wright's words and the churchs theology after reading what is posted on their church website- we live in different worlds.

    I am an American Indian – I don't spout hate talk about this country though I often disagree with how history was written concerning indigenous people and even what is occuring in a federal court to day in a class action suit.

    Let's call Rev. Wright's words what they are – political extremism and lets make no mistake that Obama knew of them years ago and has sat under the theology for many years. He touched on some of them in his book, Audacity of Hope!!

    I'm not posting my link, but if anyone wants to read the article, email me and I will give you the link to my article. Piica@aol.com

  • http://witorwisdom.wordpress.com washedandforgiven

    I hate to say it, John, but Rev. Wright's philosophies have nothing to do with addressing moral failings. It has to do with bitterness and hatred, which is not commended ANYWHERE in the Bible. The treatment of blacks in the history of this country is inexcusable, but you cannot expect to gain a first right by a second wrong of bitterness and condemnation towards those who themselves have had NOTHING to do with the oppression of blacks in America.

    While Obama made some good points in his speech yesterday, he by no means made any sort of history. Politicians have said such things before and will say them again. What Barack Obama did in his speech yesterday was merely prove that his campaign IS about race, even if the people who oppose him are not opposing him on the basis of race.

  • Shell

    Amem. From a white lady.

  • http://thestateofamerica.wordpress.com/ Daniel

    It seems to me that the problem of racism is political economy and those who preside over it. Since blacks won the divine war of freedom, all of the so-called anti-discriminating and poverty elevating government programs have not actually solved the problem because the ultimate goal is not to solve the problem but rather to enhance power and the wealth of the chosen few.

    The problem is not one of opportunity or equality it is one of equity and justice. If 'we the people' quit believing the gospel of free market that is severely regulated and controlled by legislatures and corporate management and stop bowing to the socialist baloney of secular egalitarian tolerance (another name is the totalitarian fairness) and demand of both a livable wage to afford the command from on high to consume, consume, consume, much of our social problems we be solved.

    If the janitor, receptionist, dish washer made what ihe/she needed to be an obedient tax paying consumer, then blacks would have little reason vent frustration out on others in their communities mainly because more blacks are steadily employed than whites. Enough money enough of the necessary stuff of life plus enough to fund good schools, government services, etc., etc.

    In light of all that, most, if not all, legislators and council members are tied at the hip to the status quo political economy based on a pyramid -like hierarchy of wealth and power who millionaires and near millionaires by maintaining the a discriminatory political economy. That includes those who wear black robes and sit on high to judge our lives and behaviors and create unconstitutional laws.

    Heck, the justice who adjudicated for secularism's high wall of Religion and Public Separation–and its legal sacrament now administered by ACLU–was a member of the KKK.

    Again, the political economy thrives on discrimination. Welfare hurt everyone–yellow, black, and white–because it was based on enhancing political power at the expense of freedom and independence. If it were not so, welfare payment would never have been given directly to individual citizens except for the truly disabled and elderly infirm. Instead, welfare tax dollars would have been given to small- and medium-sized business and maybe set-asides for start-ups to enhance business productivity, the economy, and move citizens toward economic independence. Government would have paid welfare dollar onto top of minimum (welfare) wages to enable business to train and pay individuals a livable income no matter what the job.

    In other words, welfare is not merely charity. It is a mean toward socialist totalitarianism. Replace it with what the founding generation envisioned for all and much discrimination and injustice will come to a holy end.

  • Ingrid

    Okay John,

    First, let me say thank you. You are one of the few blogs I can count on consistently to offer unbiased opinion on many of the issues that face us today. I applaud your ability to see past not only race and color, but also religious barriers. I live in Youngstown, OH where race is quietly swept under the rug while in the kitchens and behind closed doors racist rhetoric is allowed to flow unchecked.

    That said, as a black woman, I want to address the Black church experience and say that often times a Black pastor not only teaches biblically sound lessons, but also serves as a political commentator to his parishioners. It must be understood that while other commenters find it easy to condemn this pastor because his sermon snippet deviated from what one may consider an applicable bible based sermon the truth of the matter is that many Black preachers come from a tradition where their congregations got everything they needed from the church, because community resources were not at their disposal. This is part of the legacy Obama discusses.

    While those of us who access information and information technology are more aware of the world around us the black church is truly a hodgepodge of people. It is one of the few places you can go as a poorly educated person and still be given a place of dignity and honor. When you walk into most black churches on Sunday morning it is difficult to tell who works in a mill, is on welfare, is a CEO or on Social Security. Honestly, most times you can only barely tell by the parking lot.

    The Black church experience is a level playing field. I disagree wholeheartedly and vehemently with any of the comments who look at this on the surface and then make a value judgment against this man or his former pastor.

    This was not Obama's way to win votes. This was a candid and open conversation about the truth of race relations in America. Youngstown is not the only place where we put on a public face to hide private verbal bile. The only way to actually move forward in America is to admit that we all come with some preconceived notion about other races and cultures. I don't care how saved you are, if you were born in the USA there is a certain level of racism inbred in all of us that we must own up to, address and overcome.

    For anyone to say that everyone opposing Obama is NOT doing so based on race is a fallacy. While some may have honest concerns with his potential presidency there is the very real and active group who seek to spread fear by playing on the very subtle racial stereotypes we all hold. You may not personally vote for him because of issues but there is a group of people in this country who choose a more sinister reason. Just like there is a group of Black Americans who will vote for him simple because our pride in his accomplishments says we should support him. That is not every black person, but we do exist.

    This speech is ground breaking because in it he has said all the things we know but are to afraid to discuss amongst ourselves. Rather than look at the political ramification of his message, like the divisive pundits would prefer, we should instead have an open and honest discussion about the truth in his speech and may that speech can be the door that opens the floodgates of racial healing because it opened our ears to the voice of reason.

    Sorry to blog in your comments.

  • http://witorwisdom.wordpress.com washedandforgiven

    The people who oppose Obama that do so on the basis of race are a very small minority (or perhaps Clinton supporters). Think about it for a second… if Obama were white with the exact same policies, do you honestly think that 99% of the conservatives who will vote against him in the general election would vote for him in that instance? You harm only yourself if you say that this is the case.

    No, there is no "racism" inbred within us. The tendency to sin, yes. But being born in the U.S. does not make you racist any more than being born in Germany makes you agree with Nazi beliefs about the supremacy of the "Aryans" over the Jews.

    I don't believe we're stereotyping when we (by we, I mean conservatives) condemn the remarks made by the Rev. Wright. Do you really think that God would condone a man who purports to preach in His Name calling for Him to "Damn" America for the faults of SOME Americans from the past, and even fewer Americans from the present. How come it is that people like you leap to defend Rev. Wright when he blames America for 9/11, but react with anger at the "Baptist" church that protests at the funerals of American soldiers and claims that America is being punished for gay marriages?

    Barack Obama's speech was all about politics. It is necessary to have political debate, for when there is no opposing voice, dictatorship WILL result and we WILL lose our freedom as Americans. I commend Obama for making the speech, and I commend him for strongly disagreeing with his Pastor's remarks. But it was about politics, and disagreement IS open and honest discussion.

  • Ingrid

    And to Mona, you are very right that there is a culture in many black churches that pastors say things that are racially charged and at some points outright racist. I am positive to the untrained ear of the outside eye it would appear like a bunch of black folks preparing for war, but the truth of the matter is that whether you agree of disagree with his sermons, this is his experience and the experience of many men like him, like my father, my uncles, my ex husband and the list could go on forever. Rather than do a blanket condemnation on the man for being extreme lets look at his reality and try to find a way to bridge that gap with him and men like him.

    As Christians it is our duty to look past their failings and try to bridge that gap that has left them so angry and frustrated to begin with.

  • http://witorwisdom.wordpress.com/ washedandforgiven

    In above comment, the word you I left without a clear antecedent. I meant Ingrid in that instance.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian

    I think he's speech was excellent. I think he may have made a political mistake by not disowning Wright – at least that's what the pundits are saying- but to do the right thing as opposed the politically expedient thing is very refreshing to behold.

    I believe everything he said is true. I think that the church in America has been, and still is, generally, racist. Perhaps not deliberately anymore but more in a passive way. Just look at the congregational make up of most (not all churches). And not very long ago, in Wright's lifetime, not many white Christians supported Dr. King – in fact most fought him.

    I think theologically conservative preachers (from which Wright appears to have his roots) are generally full of bombastic rhetoric and hyperbole. Fire and brimstone exaggerations. Even though there is no doubt that what Wright said was taken out of context but there has been plenty of cause at times to replace God bless with God damn when talking about some of America's actions.

    Besides – what this guy is saying is no worse (or even as bad) as some of the things pastors have said about God's vengeance being wrought in events like 9/11 and Katrina.

  • RockLock

    dstrtrosy, thank you so much for being honest and telling the truth. I'm a black woman who had a half-white/half-mexican roommate. She was so enraptured with her prejudice she didn't even know how racist she was. Today, she's one of my best friends in the world but it took a lot of time, prayer and eye opening to come to terms with her own black heart in regards to this issue.

    What non-racist Whites don't seem to understand is that America never meant to include the rights of black people. I am not represented by the forefathers of this country. The history of blacks in America, even when other ethnic groups receive apologies and monetary reparations, is largley overlooked. Most people don't understand unless you've lived in a society of being a minority. You don't ride buses being the only white on it, you don't go to job interviews being the only white person in the building, the only white person in your class at school. You have no idea the mental toll it takes of feeling powerless and not represented in a society. To some extent, neither does Obama because he's just as much white as he is black.

    Many pastors spoke about 9/11 being punishment due to excusing abortion and homosexuality in this country. White preachers didn't mention the moral issue of racism because they don't deal with it. I don't agree with what Pastor Wright said or even the amount of times he's spoken about it, let's not make the mistake of thinking only whites are racist. Let's also not make the mistake that being a Rev of a United Church of Christ means he and his congregation are bible believing Christians.

  • Mona

    I take it most of the posters have not bothered to go and read what Rev. Wright says on the Trinity United Church of Christ website – http://www.tucc.org

    Look at the bottom for the link to Talking Points <if it's still there.

    Ingrid – I grew up in the 50s and 60s too. As a Cherokee in that time I faced discrimination, namecalling and humiliation. You're not telling me anything I don't know about- but a Christian Church is not a place for hate theology. No eloquence can convince me otherwise.

    Again, I would advise people to read the words on the church website. I've said my piece – and I wish you all peace.

  • http://witorwisdom.wordpress.com/ washedandforgiven

    We deal with racism all the time in my church, which is predominantly white. Most of the people we minister to outside in our community are black, however. Does that make us racist, passively or otherwise? We also have a black man out of our church who has started our sister church in the same area, who is working primarily with black people… does that make us segregationist?

    Christian, did you know that Jesus preached on hell more than he did heaven, as well as more than the Old Testament mentions it?

    RockLock, you might do well to re-check your American history. The truth is, most of the Founding Fathers wanted to get rid of slavery, but the southern states would not have joined the new government if that had been the case. So they made compromise whereby they would have to deal with slavery later, but when the later dates came, they kept compromising. You're fooling yourself if you think that nobody wanted to deal with slavery long before the Civil War. Yes, what happened is regrettable, but it is completely inaccurate to say that blacks were not meant to have rights in America. Did you know that some blacks even fought for independence with the rest of the forefathers? They reasoned that if they could not have all of their freedom, they would fight for what they could get at the moment, and continue to reach for more later. Are you saying that they were misguided? I think they would tell you that it was worth it.

  • Ross

    I'm starting to think this guy might actually be the Messiah (not really) as some have purported if he can give a speech about race and have people forget that:

    1. His pastor has said, from the pulpit, that the white man invented Aids to kill the black man.

    2. Gave a life time achievement award to L. Farrakhan

    3. Said, from the pulpit, all of the things that have already been reported…GD America, blah, blah

    4. That he never repudiated this racist in twenty years of attendance.

    5. Attended a church that espoused Black Liberation Theology which from what I have read is from the pit of hell (one of it's founders, James Cone, had this to say, "If God is not for us and against white people," writes Cone, "then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill gods who do not belong to the black community.")

    The fact that this guy is still viewed as a viable candidate just shows how much this country is NOT racist, as a whole.

    Imagine the reverse situation. A white candidate who's pastor frequently spewed anti-black venom along the lines of pastor Wright but in reverse. Not only would he be toast as pres. candidate, the masses would denounce that he step down from the senate, as would be appropriate.

  • Ross

    This whole thing about "houses divided on Sunday" is so tired and overblown. Look, there are probably hundreds of different Christian denominations in this country. This is because people have different ways of expressing worship, different views on certain biblical issues, gravitate towards a particular style of preaching the Bible (expository or topical), etc. Nothing racist about it. A particular demographic will always, for the most part, congregate with people they know and are comfortable with and this is true both ways.

    If a black church and a white church are both serving Jesus, who cares that they're not integrated? As long as both have love for the other, it makes no difference where people decide to go. If a church is multi-racial then great and if not, as long as there isn't a discriminatory element to it then that's ok as well.

  • FreetoBe

    “In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination — and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past — are real and must be addressed.”

    Absolutely. I agree—however, not in God’s house. Not the anger that was displayed towards America, and Americans.

    “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.” 1John2:9

    A place of worship should never be used to further political opinions.

  • http://shushnow.wordpress.com shush

    This may go down in history as one of the MOST IMPORTANT speeches of this century.

    Barack Obama speaks words of tremendous power.

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    Right on and to the point. First-century Christianity appeared to have overcome the “moral failing” of discrimination – but currently Christians are mired in it. Discrimination, especially racism, won’t go away without being addressed head-on and recognized.

    Have to mention a favorite song addressing this – “Legacy” by “Pierce Pettis. An excerpt:

    You are a black man

    l am a white man

    We both come from the Southland

    Both doing the best we can

    Where the grim reaper was my brother’s keeper

    The way my brother was kept

    Small wonder Jesus wept…

    …We learned the golden rule

    in separate Sunday schools

    In a house long divided against itself.

  • Pastor Sabrina Walton

    God Bless Everyone,

    I agree with most of the opinions stated here, that Mr. Obama gave a history making speech regarding racism. As an African American Woman and Pastor, I also agree that there have been sermons preached over the decades that voiced the hurt that many of my race endured due to racism. Airing our hurt over the pulpit doesn’t make us any less godly or called to ministry. It simply makes us human. The black church, as all churches do, act as a family and when one of us is hurt, we all hurt. We try to be there for everyone, not just our own race, and embrace them in any state they may be. When someone displays their hurt, whether we agree with them or not, we take the time to listen and offer comfort whenever possible.

    That being said, how do we know that everyone in the church agreed with that Pastor’s sermon? How do we know that he didn’t repent to the congregation after preaching the sermon? How do we know that he didn’t make an attempt to reconcile things with God after evoking so much emotion and controversy among people? We don’t know.

    The best thing for all concerned to do is pray. The word of God does state to touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm, so whether we agree with that Pastor or not, he is still called by God to do a work and will have to answer to HIm accordingly.

    How many of us have made racially inspired jokes? Classified an entire race of people because of the failures of a few? How many of us have preconceived ideas of what each race is like because of what we’ve been taught by our parents? At some point in our lives, we have all been guilty of racism on some level, our prejudiced wasn’t revealed through mainstream media.

    I am not saying that we should overlook any wrong doing in the body or condone ungodly behaviour but I am saying that we need to make sure that our won lives line up with the unadulterated word of God before we make any comments, suggestions, or judgement calls about someone that we know absolutely nothing about, except what has been afforded us through the media.

  • Allmixedup

    As the white father in a bi-racial family I see racism in America fairly frequently. As a person that lives abroad, I see racism in my host cultures very frequently. It is real where ever we go. The tendency is to cling to those that are like us. All too often we are not comfortable with what is different from us, and unfortunately esteem it less. There's no beauty in this form of life. We must look beyond the familiar and see the beautiful Mosaic that God has created. Racism is not just an American experience. It is a human experience. It is evidence of the depravity of man.

    However, as Christian we are to seek reconciliation with those we have wronged and those who have wronged us. We are to forgive the those who have offended us even if they are unwilling to repent, and repent even if the offended are unwilling to forgive. Rev. Wrights message was inexcusable. Especially the comment of, "God D**** America." I cannot see how on earth a Pastor of a Christian church could wish Damnation on a person much less an entire country. That being said, If we have offended our brother we must seek reconciliation where the offense is real or felt. The fact is there is much to be angry about in the black community. History has been horrible. Politically they have been played too only for votes, and church wise the vast majority are still even more segregated than our schools ever were. Racism is alive and well. I often look at my two small mixed race sons and wonder what life will be like for them. They are beautiful, but different. My pray is that we can all start seeing others beauty and not just the difference.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian

    Who is running for president, Obama or his pastor. Perhaps Kennedy should have been held accountable for Vatican policies?

    Personally, my vote is not with Obama (if I were a Democrat) because I don't think we have the resources to pay for some of his wonderful ideas. But that race and religion are not the issue.

    Washed – what does heaven and hell have to do with this? Did I miss something? And your response to Rocklock is off a bit. Most did not want to get rid of slavery. Many did. But at least half did not. Hardly something to crow about.

  • http://www.considerjesus.wordpress.com Michelle

    Being in Texas most of my life, I have grown up seeing racism and have personally dealt with family members I feel are bigots. It's always necessary to stand against prejudice, no matter the cost. I have left more than one church because of racist views. The most recent wanted to move further north because the demographics weren't conducive to the type growth they wanted – I believe this is called "white flight."

    Obama stayed in that church 20 years – sorry, I don't see the congruency with his speeches and the integrity of the man is at stake.

  • http://witorwisdom.wordpress.com/ washedandforgiven

    Christian, merely making repudiation to your statement about conservative "hellfire and brimstone exaggerations."

  • Ross

    Please let me know the passage where the Bible COMMANDS inter-racial worship. When a church is multi-racial that's awesome, but a Church that is not isn't necessarily bigoted or somehow deficient.

    Racism has been an ugly part of this country's past…no doubt. But at what time does an ethnic group collectively decide to put it in the past and move on? I'm currently reading "Time Immemorial" which details the history of the Holy Land. What I find interesting is that you will not find a group more discriminated, hated, or oppressed than the Jews have been. Whether in the Arab world or Europe, yet as a people they just keep on keeping on and move ahead without letting the past embitter them.

    Besides the fact the Wright's sermons are not Biblical, does anybody really believe that the things he preaches about are leading people to a deeper relationship with Jesus?

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    I’M YOUR CANADIAN NEIGHBOUR IN VANCOUVER. WE ARE FOLLOWING YOUR NATIONS POLITICS CLOSELY ‘CAUSE WHAT AFFECTS YOU EVENTUALLY AFFECTS US. I LISTENED TO OBAMA’S SPEECH AND WAS THRILLED TO HEAR HIM ACKNOWLEDGE A BELIEF IN JESUS. AS FOR PASTOR WRIGHT I WAS HORRIFIED AT HIS ANGRY OUTBURSTS AND STATEMENTS. I PERSONALLY THINK HE IS NOT AGING GRACEFULLY LIKE ELDER STATESMEN IN THE CHURCH ARE EXHORTED TO BECOME. HE HAS NOT BEEN A GOOD EXAMPLE TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION. OUR CHURCHES ARE PRAYING FOR YOU AS A NATION THAT THE RIGHT PERSON WILL BECOME YOUR NEXT PRESIDENT.

  • Dan Cartwright

    Good point Ross, since if we are pre-destined to anything as Christians, it's to be conformed to the image of Christ.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian

    Gotcha Washed, I was using ‘hellfire and brimstone’ as an adjective for a stereotypically type of ‘over the top’ preaching style.

    I’ve had the same type of experiences as Michelle when it comes to family members. In fact, I was thinking that Wright’s rhetoric is not that much different than my 80 year old father’s, and although we vehemently disagree when it comes to matters of race, I have yet to disown him.

  • http://andychristensen.wordpress.com Andy Christensen

    We need to be willing to examine ourselves and try to understand and sympathize with those different from us, rather than make excuses for ourselves and sit back with our arms folded across our chest and vilify “the other side.”

    Race relations in America is a complex and difficult subject. Racism is everywhere. But God’s people, allowing the love of Christ to flow through them, are also everywhere, and we can make a difference and glorify God in the process! Thank you dsrtrosy for your story. There are churches in Kenya which cross tribal lines who are working for reconciliation there. I know there are white racists, but also white people who are thrilled when a black family comes to our church. We are just not used to living and playing together. But with God anything is possible. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:19)

    “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

    I recommend the following, “Tribalism in America”, not exactly pertaining to race but relevant to our conduct as believers. Go to http://www.icmusa.org/, it is a PDF file about halfway down the page.

    Second what Allmixedup said.

  • http://www.considerjesus.wordpress.com Michelle

    I won’t disown my family members or friends, but I do speak the truth in love. As far as supporting a church with such hateful theology, Jesus NEVER taught us to hate. Wrights’ words are antithetical to Jesus’. When we continue to give our support through tithes or attendance we are not living with integrity.

  • Ingrid

    Mona, First let me say that while I am sure you give the link to Trinity’s website as a way to somehow prove what you say is true, let me be blatantly transparent.

    Trinity’s politics and views are not out of sync with that of many black churches. The black experience is varied, and some of that variation comes in the form of bitter and angry people who feel disenfranchised. Say what you want about right and wrong, but the hurt, anger and frustration men like Rev. Wright feel is real.

    There is a legacy of racism that in the US. And while it does not make us “Nazi” or “KKK’s” by association it is so ingrained in our way of life that the sometimes subtle ways it exposes itself do need to be addressed just as much as the less frequent overt instances.

    Sunday morning is the most segregated time in the US. By definition if you go to a church that is predominately white and I go to a church that is predominately black then we are both segregationists. The only truly integrated churches I have ever seen are the mega ministries.

    There are some who are more enlightened and who have transcended to a place of non color, but the truth of the matter is that many have not. I agree the church should not spout “hate theology” as you put it, but the reality of life in the black church community is where do you draw the line between hate (as Rev. Wright’s “God Damn America” comments obviously show) and the truth (as Rev. Wright’s comments about missing co-ed in Aruba vs the lack of concern over murdered and raped Black co-eds). Many who want to denounce this man say that is the exact same thing. I on the other hand see the truth in his latter statement. Does that make me racist, maybe. Does that mean I condemn all non blacks in America? No. I really like John. Does my really liking John, my co-worker Shari and the other white folks I know mean I should forget that in the 1950′s slavery was still running rampant in the South and a system of peonage was finally being challenged in Federal court 90 years after the emancipation proclamation freed the slaves. (don’t believe me Google “peonage Fred Oscar Dial” and see what you come up with)

    The point I am trying to make to everyone (including washed) is that there is a very real racist legacy in America. Whether your personal moral compass buys into it or not it is an individual victory/failure but until we can admit that the US has failed in race relations. I am what I like to refer to as a Fundamental Christian liberal. I have never condoned protests outside of a Soldiers funeral. I think they are tacky and offensive, but in my opinion so are the pictures of slaughtered babies outside the Abortion clinic. I don’t have anything against gay marriages. as a Christian I think it is biblically unsound but as a member of Society I recognize that somethings should be left into God’s hands to deal with how he sees fit.

    Living in America exposes us to a unique experience whereby our better nature is constantly at odds with the reality of the world in which we live. I will leave this with an anecdote. A lesbian white woman graduated from college with her BS and decided to move into the inner city. Her rationale was that inner cities need her income for their tax base and she wasn’t willing to pay suburban prices to live over an hour from work. She moved in and immediately her neighbors cursed her, calling her foul anti-gay and white names. Fearing for her safety she moved to the suburbs withing a years time. Was she a racist? Of course not. Does she hate black people? Nope. She prays. Go figure. A gay woman doing exactly what Jesus expects us to. That is the contradiction of America. Maybe we should all try it whether its ghetto youth or skinheads or extremist sermons from a pastor.

    I accept that there are those who are not open to my views. I respect that. This will be my last comment on this topic. Just remember Romans 2:1

  • http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com Byron Borger

    John,

    As I said over out our small blog, I am feeling raw and tired from speaking about this so much these past weeks, but it is so important. I thank you for your bold link to O’s speech, and am glad to see your readers chiming in. It is good to talk about this stuff, although I would hope readers would think carefully before blasting.

    For instance, why call Pastor Wright’s prophetic denunciation of social sin “hateful.” He regularly talks about loving one’s opponents! Well, maybe Jeremiah was called angry, and they arrested any number of Hebrew prophets when they said ugly things about the government that the religious folk thought was ordained by God but, as we know, wasn’t usually very faithful. And God raised up prophets and poets to use very strong language against them! It just seems to me that if we were immersed in the Scriptures, we’d have a somewhat better balance about this. Those who take offense to strong talk must not be reading the same Bible I see, which is often wild and controversial and passionate and complicated.

    Somebody said, above, that it may not matter if we don’t have integrated churches. On one hand, I understand that writer’s hope that we love one another, and that deep and respectful relationships are more important than just attending worship together. Except, of course, the Bible commands inter-racial worship, and much of the New Testament is about Jews & Gentiles being reconciled. It seems like God intends for ethnic diversity to provide what Brenda Salter McNeill calls in her new book, “a credible witness.”

    I list a handful of other helpful Christian books on this topic at the BookNotes blog which you have on occaions been kind enough to commend. Many some of your readers might want to study this a bit more, with teachable spirits, from authors who can guide us wisely into deeper conversations.

    Check out http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com/blog/

  • Dan Cartwright

    Good article here. . .

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?pageId=59340

    Some interesting information from Obama’s first book – a rather ‘inconvenient truth’ since it is autobiographical.

  • Dan Cartwright

    I think what people called ‘hateful’ was, well, hateful……

  • Sabina

    Ingrid, I appreciate your comment.

  • Shell

    Ingrid, ditto on appreciating your comment. I'm tuned in to Trinity's Maundy Thursday service right now, to see what it's all about.

  • Ross

    Hey Byron…nice post. If that's you're "quick answer" then you need to write books.

    I hear what you're saying and agree entirely that the future kingdom will be totally multi racial unless the new bodies the Lord gives us are somehow race neutral. If church's are deliberately separating themselves from other races (not sure how that could be done) then I also agree that it would grieve the Lord. But the way I see it is that most Church's are in an area that is dominated by a particular race hence the predominance of that race at a particular church. Be it a white church or a black church, I don't think church's bar people from attending based on race. Usually people self segregate based on stylistic differences. Black church's are usually more emotive and white church's could be thought of as stodgy to someone used to a black church.

    A week ago my pastor, who by the way is marrying a black women, invited a friend of his who is a pastor in Boston to give the sermon. He is a black man who was originally from Ghana. I was first aware of his presence during worship. He was loud and enthusiastic which was great. He inspired me to transend my whiteness and take it up a notch. His sermon was what you would expect from black preacher in terms of his "can I get an amen", etc. It was a great sermon so I was giving him his amens. But I knew that the audience he was preaching to was very different than what he was probably used to. We're not accustomed to being so interactive. That being said, everybody I spoke to (all white) loved him.

    The only way racial animosity will cease in this world is if we stop talking about this chimera of "racism." I refuse to use the word racism or racist, because I know of no people that actually believe that they're race is superior to another. I know they exist, but they're such a small minority as to be irrelevent. But the charge of racism is a powerful weapon and those that wield it are un-likely to stop doing so.

    I

  • http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com Byron Borger

    Ross: Hey, thanks for the inquiry about whether the Bible commands inter-racial worship. I think I overstated that, and want to clarify. Thanks for calling me on it.

    Here’s my quick answer: I don’t think it is wise to try to base everything on just one passage. So we study the whole counsel of God, and get the big picture. For instance, at the big moment in redemptive history when the story began to include non-Jews, when the gospel went out to “the nations” (the greek word might better be translated ethnic groups) it became clear (as hinted at in Genesis) that God’s heart wanted to include into His people an ethnically diverse, trans-national People. We call it now the “Great Commission” and it a pivotal moment to invite into God’s Body, those of other racial and religious backgrounds. His Body was, by design and intent, to be multi-cultural, and we get a glimpse of how that is to happen in the miracle of Pentecost, the Spirit un-doing the curse of Babel. If you do a study of the ethnic groups there (Acts 2:5-12) in that earliest inauguration of the Church, they were, in fact, people from all over, different races (Ethiopians, for instance, were very dark skinned, of course) and cultures. God’s earliest expression of the church was notably multi-cultural, and that surely shows some indication of His plan. It’s not a command, I admit, but it is an picture that is worth immitating, wouldn’t you agree?

    Paul teaches often, clearly in Ephesians, that the “wall of separation” the divides Jew & Gentile comes down, and in Christ, we are “brought near” to one another. Much of the narrative subtext, the story behind the scenes, even in theologically dense books like Romans, is how the local body can get along when there is ethnic diversity present.

    In fact, resistance to the inclusion of others who are different than the early Jewish followers is what riles Paul the most, as he sees it (in Galatians) as falling back upon “another gospel.” Uniform (in that case legalistic Jewish) worshipping bodies didn’t suit him, and he commission others to be “agents of reconciliation.” To be cross-culturally active, to bring a diversity of folk to faith, to live in proximity so the world can see how we are reconciled, is part of the model of the early church. I was wrong to say we are “commanded” to have multi-ethnic worship. I think it is undeniable. though, that God desires His people to be witnesses (living examples) to His reconciling work. I suppose various races, ages, classes and cultural styles don’t have to worship together, but we sure better be showing the world that we are in community together, reconciled and united, or we are failing to show the watching world what the Body truly is. We are commanded to be reconciled, to God and each other, and that clearly, especially in this time and era when racial antagonisms seem to be so prevalent, means somehow working on racial reconciliation, to point to what God intends, and to illustrate the beauty of His ways.

    Many think that we get clues to God’s desires from our imagination of what the final consumation is like, and clearly, the end is multi-cultural. In Revelation 5:9-10 & 13, there is a multi-ethnic choir, drawn together from among the tribes. I don’t think it is a cheap shot to say that since we will be in close worshipping proximity with multi-cultural, trans-national peoples for all of eternity, we ought to start practicing now! Or, to put it differently, if that is God’s heart, His holy intent, the way He wants it to be in His perfect, everlasting Kingdom, then is that not some indication of His heart, now? We may not be directly commanded, but a heart that burns with the things of God’s reign, the way He wills it to be, it seems to me, would make this a priority. I don’t know if the multi-national choir of Revelation is normative for every church here and now, but it is clue, a pointer, an insight into what the goal is. We dare not be cavalier about something His Word has revealed as important to His plan! Agreed?

    To be clear, I did not disagree with the first post that said that just because a such is mono-cultural doesn’t mean it is discriminatory or bigoted. I said that, on one hand, I understood what I thought he meant. My church is not terribly multi-racial, although I am sure it grieves the heart of God and hinders our claims about being a reconciled body. Still, although there may be issues of hospitality and lack of friendliness in any church that keeps folks who are different from feeling God’s grace in that place, I would never assume that about any congregation about which I have no right to judge. I just see the trajectory and overall weight of the gospel call to be reconciled, and to be interested in cross-culturally outreach, peacemaking and ministry, and to stand against the sins of racisms, in such a way that it just makes theological sense to say that diverse bodies in proximity living out an observable friendliness is the goal. Commanded? Maybe not. But it is the way of the coming Kingdom, so you might as well get with the program now, lest we be uncomfortable when the King of the nations returns and brings us together, forever healed of worldly divisions.

  • RockLock

    Washedandforgiven, I did check my history…Turns out the Bill of Rights applied only to Americans which, legally, Blacks were not until the 14th amendment which was three years after the 13th amendment which abolished slavery, both coming 90 years after the American Revolution. Sure, there are plenty of people who wanted to "deal" with slavery before the civil war but the very fact they "compromised" the rights of millions of humans as a political move shows the lack of importance they had for slaves. I did know blacks fought for independence, some where forced, some where clueless and some Blacks fought for the British and left to Canada and back to Britain in hopes of freedom.

    Ross, I wished I lived in your world where "no people actually believe the're race is superior to another" there are entire philosophies and sciences and social constructs based on this belief.

  • Ross

    We don't live in 1930 Rock. The only place I'm aware of anything like the above you mention existing is some African countries such as present day Zimbabwe.

  • Aggie Bird

    Mr. Wright, I ask your forgiveness for all the times you have been made to feel less than anyone else. Please forgive us all.

    I taught school and always noticed that the black children were so hungry for acceptance and my hugs. Some would stand on the playground during recess while the others played. My heart ached for them. Parents need to teach and show their children that the same Person made All of us and He loves All of us (JUST AS WE SHOULD)

    Mr. Wright let us all know what it is like to feel less than. Read what he has said and listen to the hurt. He speak for a lot of black people who are treated with little or no respect.

    Let's change America people – reach out and treat ALL PEOPLE the same. See if we can do something to change these hurts and little by little our Nation will love as we have been called to do by the Creator of Us All.


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