Sunday thoughts of the Obamas
Romans 2:11: "For God shows no partiality."
It is early Sunday morning, and in reading my Bible, my thoughts turn to my fellow Christians, Barack and Michelle Obama and their little girls. Like them, I am a churchgoing Christian. Like Barack, I had a conversion experience that changed my life. Like the Obamas, for years I have been taking my children to Sunday school and to church and church functions so that we can enjoy the fruits of fellowship in a community of Christians, take advantage of opportunities to serve the needy, and learn more about God and Jesus Christ, faith and salvation, and the way to abundant and eternal life as promised and shown in the Bible. I have discovered that there will always be more vivid lessons to learn when it comes to what God wants for us. There is no graduating from this class.
Like the Obama family, I have tried to follow the teachings, wisdom, and inspiring examples of my pastors and my fellow Christians in challenging myself to move closer to God and to do more and better good works for Him in this world. Despite what seems like some possibly opportunistic political reasons for the Obamas to have chosen Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's Southside in particular as their place of worship for the past 20 years, I cannot know for certain what was or is in their hearts. And I do not doubt for one minute the sincerity or the seriousness of their Christian faith, expressed in churchgoing for 20 years. That is not for me or anyone else but God to judge.Their professed Christian faith makes the Obamas my brother and sisters in Christ, and it behooves me to consider them with Christian love this morning and every day. On that basis right now I feel sorry for them that Barack's choice to run for the Presidency has put them, thanks to their association with their particular church, and their evidently much-loved pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in a very uncomfortable hot seat. Barack's very human loyalty in continuing to stick up for and try to excuse or minimize the perverted teachings of the pastor he has looked up to for so long is touching--even as it drives him into telling evident lies and continues to damage his Presidential prospects. I see him now humanly fumbling as he tries to be compassionate in excusing the inexcusable. But the bald fact remains that the Obamas joined this church and stayed there for so long, assimilating such teachings without repudiating them until the spotlight of national politics forced them to acknowledge what they were living with and, by their presence, their prayers, and their contributions of money, time, and talent, supporting.
I would rather not be thinking of the church lives and religious beliefs of politicians and electoral candidates at all. I was raised on the notion of the separation of church and state, and the idea that religious beliefs are a private matter for each individual to resolve in his or her own heart (insofar as one's actions do not cause harm or constitute illegal behavior). For most of my life I believed that a candidate's personal faith or religion--like gender and skin color--should have no bearing on his or her performance in elected office. I was raised to be a big "Mind Your Own Business" advocate when it comes to religion, thinking that attitude, sprung from Article 6 ("no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States") and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"), to be one of the finer tokens of being both a good American and a decent person.
Unfortunately I see now that that is a fine ideal that really doesn't float well in the caustic brew of real life. Religion, if not a test, has been a factor in U.S. politics from the start, to one extent or another. We should not fool ourselves that this Presidential race is any different, nor are we inquisitive and caustic postmodern Americans any different in character or human frailities than earlier generations.On the basis of evaluating personality and character, a candidate's religious beliefs and actions, offering evidence of with whom he voluntarily associates, what he believes, and how and why he will make decisions in future, all become part of his resume to be mulled over by the voters.
Gender and skin color, however, being unchosen, remain unpredictive of past, present, or future beliefs or actions, contrary to what proponents of "identity politics" want us to believe these days.
From the Trinity United Church of Christ website:
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.Does this make you as queasy and sick as it makes me? Imagine the substitution of a few adjectives:
The Pastor as well as the membership of Trinity United Church of Christ is committed to a 10-point Vision:
- A congregation committed to ADORATION.
- A congregation preaching SALVATION.
- A congregation actively seeking RECONCILIATION.
- A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA.
- A congregation committed to BIBLICAL EDUCATION.
- A congregation committed to CULTURAL EDUCATION.
- A congregation committed to the HISTORICAL EDUCATION OF AFRICAN PEOPLE IN DIASPORA.
- A congregation committed to LIBERATION.
- A congregation committed to RESTORATION.
- A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY.
We are a congregation which is Unashamedly White and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the White religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are a Caucasian people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. ...We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a White worship service and ministries which address the White Community.
I just don't see how such a creed could be promulgated as in any way desirable or civilized, let alone extolled in any sense as Christian or Godly--not in keeping with the Bible I know. And it is certainly not in keeping with the goals of the United States where "all men are created equal" and people are to be judged not "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Don't people--especially Christians--know by now that two grievous wrongs do not make things right?
It is my observation that the Obamas and indeed their entire "black church" and all the "black churches" in our country have been found out to be promulgating a racism so deep that even educated and compassionate and well-meaning people like the Obamas are not even aware of it. I am reminded of how many educated, compassionate, and well-meaning Southerners justified and felt completely comfortable in their all-white churches prior to the 1960's. Thanks to giants like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., so much progress has been made, and so many hearts and minds have been opened that very few white people in America would ever think to hold, let alone publicly excuse or attempt to "contextualize" or minimize such racist sentiments today. Yet "black churches" like Trinity United Church of Christ seem unaware of how inappropriate such racism inside their own walls still looks today.
None of us is perfect or perfected. I see Barack Obama resisting, fumbling, and struggling with this realization of his church's inherent racism, as well he may. I hope I see his heart opening to a larger truth of what Christianity is. I hope I see many hearts in the "black churches" of America opening because of all this (no thanks to leaders like Rev. Jeremiah Wright who continue to demonize whites, push a victimization mindset and the Marxist-socialist black liberation theology on blacks, and polarize the races by telling lies and inflaming hate while wearing the robes of Christianity).
For many reasons, almost all of them having nothing to do with his religion, I do not think Barack Obama is qualified to be President. But I am wondering if he will in the end become an even more significant "change agent" for the betterment of all Americans in how his experiences and leadership may revolutionize and ultimately eliminate the need for any "black church."
UPDATE: If journalists did their jobs, these are the questions we would hear being asked.
UPDATE: Here's a very interesting interview of Obama that appeared in the Chicago Reader in 1995 (via Nice Deb at Ace). Gives great insight into how the guy's a longtime collectivist, eager to use his sophisticated talents to incorporate black churches into his masterplan to provide the community that all black people hunger for, according to him. "We must unite in collective action!" Gee, it worked for the Russians in 1917--why not on the Southside of Chicago? Why not in American with Obama as President?
UPDATE: "Buh-bye Obama"
UPDATE: Obama: a "basically decent person" or a politician? That's the question, isn't it? Will he have the integrity to change his ways and stand up against racism from blacks as well as from white--or will he pander for votes?
UPDATE: Okay, that does it. I no longer feel sorry for Barack Obama. I've learned what I need to know about him, and it just ain't pretty. But he's more to be censured than pitied, that's for sure.