Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Recommended read: If Obama can throw his pastor under the bus, what will he do to us?

If you're like me, you're still trying to get a handle on Barack Obama's speech yesterday. Was it a "profile in courage" or was it "politics as usual"? As you sort through it all, I encourage you to read this post over at Bilerico Project:
If Obama can throw his pastor under the bus, what will he do to us?
by Rev Irene Monroe

When the religious narrative you tell about your life to the American public is revealed to be vastly different than the one you actually lived, you have more than a credibility problem - you have a dilemma as Obama is finding out.

And the dilemma is not just that Obama's religious narrative is fictitious, but so too is the media spin on his pastor.

While the moral high ground to address the public's shock with Rev. Jeremiah Wright's condemnations on America's foreign and domestic polices appeared to be Obama's address on race, Obama actually ran aground with many African American Christians by anchoring the public's outrage and his fear of losing the presidential bid on the back of one of this nation's most revered African American ministers.

"He's used Jeremiah, and Trinity is his strongest base. He handled the media abysmally, and the uncle reference was demeaning. Many of us said we saw it coming," a member from Trinity told me in anonymity not to have the press come after him.

Rev. Wright was the man who brought Obama to Christ, presided over his nuptials baptized him and his daughters, and was the inspiration for his bestseller, The Audacity of Hope.

And while Obama has now denounced Rev. Wrights' incendiary remarks, after twenty years of hearing them, suspicion nonetheless still surfaces about his professed faith as a Christian.

As a central, powerful and revered institution within the African-American community, the Black Church captivated Obama's attention. He says he came to understand "the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change." However, how much Obama really covets the power of the Black Church for his own political aggrandizement, rather than for its religion, now raise questions in the minds of many black Christians since his address.

While MSNBC talk-show host Tucker Carlson was the first to publicly suggest Obama's faith is "suddenly conspicuous," suggesting that Obama has only recently begun addressing his religious background as part of "a very calculated plan on the part of the Democratic Party to win" religious voters in the 2008 presidential race, the suspicion is now looming even larger.

If Obama, however, is indeed using religion to win votes, he unfortunately placed himself in a difficult quagmire - not only with LGBTQ and liberal voters, but also by still being a member of Trinity. Why? Because he worships in a conservative black church within a liberal denomination. And Trinity is provisionally opened to the idea of same sex marriage.

In July 2005, the UCC General Synod overwhelmingly passed a Resolution of Marriage Equality. But in August 2005, Wright spoke against the Synod's position causing many LGBTQ parishioners to leave.

Read the rest of the story here.

So, while yesterday's speech was a glorious example of Sen. Obama's oratorical skills, I still don't know where he stands on issues of basic equality for all Americans. In stating that Rev. Wright provides him with spiritual guidance, Obama only undercuts his message of unity and hope for all Americans, and adds further murkiness to his positions.

The more I find out about Barack Obama, the less I know what he stands for.


Sara said...

see? I think I'm sending you something fresh and new and there you already have it!

I think the Rev. made a few good points.

Sue J said...

What can I say, Sara, that's just how cutting edge Nailing Jello to the Wall truly is ....

I agree, Rev. Monroe made a lot of good points. And I think it's important to listen to voices from all over the spectrum on this issue. We all have our own experience, but it's crucial that we try to understand the many different aspects of this conversation.

Mary Ellen said...

I know...this whole thing just stinks to high heaven. Wait until you see what I have planned for tomorrow's post...Rezko rears it's ugly head. I just got wind of something very interesting that was said in the trial today. I have the feeling that the main stream media are just going to let it go.

I'm hoping to have the post up first thing tomorrow morning. I decided I'd just let my blogswarm post be the only post today.

What is really upsetting to me is that I know if I put up anything that is anti Obama, I am offending my regular bloggers who are Obama supporters. But I just can't let this stuff slide while I look at other blogs that are singing his praises.

Sue J said...

Mary Ellen! I can't wait to read your blog tomorrow!

Mauigirl said...

Sue, I did not actually watch the speech so I am not being influenced by Obama's oratorial skills. I read the whole speech, which was posted on another blog. I thought it was actually a pretty heartfelt, fairly well-balanced analysis of racial relations in America and was able to point out the nuances and differences on both sides, without professing to be above it all.

Since I am a non-religious person, I too find it a little hard to understand how he could continue to go to that church with a pastor whose views he did not agree with.

In fact, for a brief period of time I did get swept up in the whole "born-again" movement in the 70s and attended a fundamentalist Baptist church in a neighboring town for about 6 months. I left the church because they were praying for the success of Anita Bryant's crusade against gay people (if you recall this, it was about not letting gay people teach in the schools among other ridiculous things). I never went back and was completely disillusioned with the whole thing.

But I think perhaps that is because underneath it all I didn't truly believe, and was trying to believe in order to "belong" to something as I was kind of lost at the time.

I have a friend now who considers himself a born-again fundamentalist Christian but has pretty liberal views politically. I asked him about some of the things that he may disagree with that are said at his church, and he says that he considers Jesus' sacrifice and his own faith a gift, and that if someone gives you a gift you don't throw it back just because it isn't perfect. This may be a similar feeling to what Obama has. I don't feel he "threw his pastor under the bus." I feel he was expressing honest, conflicted feelings.

For truly committed believers I think it is harder for them to reject the church that brought them to this transcendant believe in Jesus that they feel, or to reject the person who brought it to them.

Life is never black and white (no pun intended). There are always shades of gray. And I think that is what Obama was saying in his speech, and that we have to deal with some of those shades of gray if we ever hope to solve this country's problems.

Yes, perhaps we may find out later that he is being disingenuous, or that he is tied up with Rezko and not squeaky clean. I don't know.

But I do think his speech was fair and whether or not he lives up to it is a separate issue that we may not know the answers to yet.

Mauigirl said...

BTW, Mary Ellen, I will read your post about Rezko with interest and it won't offend me! ;-)

(As you see, I still comment about Obama even if I don't post about him anymore, LOL! I can't hold it ALL in!)

Suzi Riot said...

SueJ, I've added you to my blogroll. Great stuff you've got going on here!

Sue J said...

Mauigirl, you make a lot of good points. And to be fair to him, I don't know what Obama could have said in this speech that would have made everyone happy. It's too big a topic to address completely in one speech.

My biggest concern with him is and always has been in his portrayal as a uniter. I don't buy it. God knows we need one, but I look at his actions, such as this spiritual alignment with Rev. Wright for 20 years, and I just don't think he's the man so many people believe him to be.

And as Rev. Wright says later in her post, I too find him to be courting the LGBT community in a very calculated way that does not feel genuine to me.

I also want to say that I am SO glad that you are still commenting on the primaries, even if not posting on it at your blog. You always bring up excellent points, and we need to hear different opinions! The biggest downfall of any blog is when it becomes an insulated little microcosm of commenters reinforcing one strict point of view.

Blinders off, people! Yay for different opinions!

Sue J said...

suzi riot, thanks! I see that you're not posting on the primaries either, but I hope you'll stop by here regularly to join the conversation. I'm going to try to keep posting on it occasionally as long as everyone here plays nice, and I must say, so far everyone really has.

Must be those virtual jello shots!

Mauigirl said...

Thanks, Sue J! I agree, it's very important to have intelligent discussion about the issues and the candidates. Otherwise no one ever learns anything - much like our current president who only hears what he wants to hear from people inside his little insulated bubble.

I am hoping Obama is what he seems to be but all politicians are politicians so it is certainly possible that he's not. And since Mary Ellen, who is from Illinois, definitely has a lot of feelings against him, that makes me nervous about him. It's like when Guiliani was running and everyone around here in the metry NY area was saying "Huh??? He has to be kidding! He'll never get elected, he's an arrogant little tin horn dictator!" But that was because we knew him and the rest of the country didn't. So Mary Ellen's opinion does concern me (I'm heading over there to read her Rezko post now). I am open to understanding everything I can about both candidates, warts and all. I've said all along my main concern is, which of them can beat McCain?

Mauigirl said...

Oh, by the way, did anybody else see the huge article in the NY Times about Obama's mother? If you didn't read it, google it and try to find it because it was really interesting - she sounded like an amazing person. If she really did rub off on Obama, it would be a good thing!

Sue J said...

Mauigirl, I did see that article, and I agree completely, I was really impressed with his mother. I wondered why we haven't hear more about her.

Reading that article was kind of like peeling away another layer of Obama, which, as I said above, is a little worrisome to me. I don't meant to take anything away from his mother, because she sounds like an incredible person, but he is usually portrayed as the black son of a single mother. Rev. Wright called him a "brother from the hood raised by a single mother." When in fact, his mother was a PhD in anthropology who took him around the world.

He's an enigma, that's for sure ....