Senator Obama’s speech was not heroic; it was an attempt to prevent a complete nose dive of his campaign. Political survival was his goal. Therefore, the Senator took the safest route in this national discussion--- he educated the masses about race relations---but he did not let the nation into his private world or inside of his head. What Obama did not do was take enough personal responsibility for the chasm between his unity message and his personal life. Some may even have seen his relationship with Dr. Wright as a kind of spiritual adultery---just as dangerous to the nation’s health as Governor Spitzer’s or Governor McGreevy’s sins.
Obama missed a huge opportunity to reach out and connect with the broader evangelical, faith community. Many non-black, Bible believing Christians have questioned the orthodoxy of the Senator’s faith. Evangelicals are troubled by the senator’s position on abortion and traditional marriage.
Though brilliant on the surface, last week’s speech wrongly characterized the problem with his minister’s preaching as solely a problem of race. In my view this controversy is more a matter of personal honesty and faith. I agree with Ken Blackwell’s critique of liberation theology. He wrote the following statement last Tuesday, “Liberation Theology... is a belief system about political agendas, socialistic economic policy, and redistribution of wealth.”
The fact is that neither the Senator nor his pastor is qualified to solve this race question in our nation. At the risk of sounding impractical, let me remind everyone that racism is a spiritual problem. It is a matter of the heart, first of all. And because it is truly a spiritual problem, it will require the involvement of a unified, emotionally focused church to lead us toward racial reconciliation.
The time is right to heal America! I’m ready. What about you?
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.