Thursday, March 01, 2007

Barack Obama’s Leftist, Afrocentric Church

Barack Obama has certainly been willing to use his religious beliefs, and his affiliation with the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, to try to appeal to religious voters.

Thus, since Obama himself has chosen to make an issue of it, it’s entirely fair to ask what sort of church this is.

Trinity doesn’t make any attempt to conceal its orientation, posted on its web page.
We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian . . . Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain “true to our native land,” the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.
Some of this sounds just fine. “Unashamedly black.” Absolutely. “Unapologetically Christian.” Right on.

But was sub-Saharan Africa the cradle of civilization?

And how about remaining “true to our native land?” Does this suggest more loyalty to Africa than to the United States? It doesn’t have to, but it sure doesn’t sound very patriotic.

Then there is the claim that:
We believe in the following 12 precepts and covenantal statements. These Black Ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered. They must reflect on the following concepts:
  1. Commitment to God
  2. Commitment to the Black Community
  3. Commitment to the Black Family
  4. Dedication to the Pursuit of Education
  5. Dedication to the Pursuit of Excellence
  6. Adherence to the Black Work Ethic
  7. Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect
  8. Disavowal of the Pursuit of “Middleclassness”
  9. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing
    and acquired skills available to the Black Community
  10. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions
  11. Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System
  12. Personal commitment to embracement of
    the Black Value System.
While there is much here that is fine, we aren’t keen on the notion of “Black Ethics” or a “Black Value System.” So far as we are concerned, there is only “ethics” and “values.”

The Civil Rights movement, during its heyday, insisted that the same ethics and the same values applied equally to everybody; that moral standards are universal and applicable to regardless of race.

And what is so bad about “Middleclassness?” Isn’t Obama wanting the votes of millions of middle class whites? And while we are at it, blacks who have fallen into the trap of “Middleclassness?”

All of this should raise at least as many questions about Obama as Mitt Romney’s Mormonism raises about him.

If one goes deeper into the Trinity Church website, one sees a lot of ministries and activities that are little different from what one would find at a large, non-denominational suburban megachurch.

But one also finds some fairly strident leftist stuff.

For example, the February 25, 2007 number of the church bulletin contains a column by Associate Pastor for Social Justice Reginald W. Williams attacking American detention of unlawful enemy combatants (read: terrorists) at Guantanamo. Williams fumes:
This law undermines the writ of habeas corpus which empowers a prisoner to challenge the legal basis of his/her detention in court. This law also further displays the hypocrisy of a government which claims a banner of freedom for all while policies and procedures ensure that real freedom is only for a few.
Williams is apparently unaware that the protections of habeas corpus apply to U.S. nationals, and not terrorists captured fighting American forces abroad.

The same column features “Action Items” that include:
  • VOTE!
  • Contact your Senator and/or Representative and demand that they fight to restore habeas corpus in order to preserve the rights of people to challenge their detention.
  • Boycott Wal-Mart & Sam’s Club.
This last is close to bizarre, given that poor black people (like poor white people) especially benefit from the rock-bottom prices at those stores. But then, if one attains the dread “Middleclassness” one can scoff at the concept.

And of course, the leftist politics that is standard in the United Church of Christ (reflecting the agenda of white liberals and leftists) is plain. For example, the February 18th bulletin’s “Pastor’s Page” implores readers to “Support Justice for Farm Workers Picking Tomatoes for McDonald’s!” and touts the “Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ April 2007 Truth Tour.”

But the leftist politics get even more strident. The February 18th bulletin contains the following blurb under a listing of community events:
BLOOD DIAMONDS AND WAR IN CONGO

Maurice Carney, co-founder and executive director of Friends of the Congo, Washington, D.C., speaking on the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, driven by U.S. interest in Congo’s vast minerals, Thursday, March 8, 7:00 p.m., DePaul University, Schmitt Academic Center, Room 254.
Admittedly, this program isn’t staged or even sponsored by Trinity Church, but the inclusion in the bulletin is a sort of endorsement. It clearly implies this is a worthwhile event that somebody in the congregation might want to attend.

None of this necessarily proves that Trinity Church is a bad place. Plenty of fine churches are saddled with some arcane creedal statement that they either ignore or interpret in a perfectly benign way. And plenty have a political extremist or two -- even on the ministry staff.

But if the religious commitments of George Bush were a fit topic for consideration in 2000 and 2004, and if the Mormonism of Mitt Romney is a fair topic for 2008, the religious views and affiliations of Barack Obama should be looked at too.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Marquette Student said...

Blood Diamonds is an issue only concerning leftist extremists?

Barack Obama's Christianity an issue now just months after your conservative colleagues at Fox "News" make a huge issue about Barack's middle name, Hussein.

Having pride about your ethnicity within and your Church is suddenly bad?

Conservative attack machine is defiantly an overstatement, but it's funny how we are still months before the election and you are slinging more mud than the hippies at Woodstock '94.

Give me a break.

10:40 AM  

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