This past week Rev. Jeremiah Wright emerged again from the ashes of obscurity to the spotlight. Like the mythical phoenix rising again from the fires of death, Wright is still politically alive after becoming a symbol of racism and division for mainstream America. His actions mirror his friend, Louis Farrakhan, who has recently attempted to malign Jews worldwide. The question I would like to answer here is, “How can such vehement hate mongers like Wright and Farrakhan survive so long in a land that longs so much for racial and religious equality?” Let's explore the answer as we look at the current status of Rev. Wright. How did he arise again?
Wright recently taught a weeklong course at the Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS). The school is a 150-year old institution affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC). As many may not remember, Rev. Wright’s former church (Trinity United Church of Christ) is the largest church in the UCC denomination. This denomination supports Rev. Wright's assessment of America’s moral condition and motivations. CTS represents institutions that have continued to embrace the famed Chicago minister long after he dropped off the national radar.
The Website of CTS carries this revealing description of their mission and worldview: “Since our beginning, Chicago Theological Seminary pushes at the growing boundaries of the church in order to make our faith relevant and transform our society in the image of justice.” It seems that this school’s understanding of “biblical justice” is very different from the views of other mainstream Protestant or evangelical churches. Groups with a socialistic view of politics and an affinity towards liberation theology are seemingly the only ones that have thrown their arms wide open to Jeremiah Wright.
The New York Times and Fox News carried several stories this week that have exposed Wright’s incendiary language. For example, the news outlets related his assessment of the civil rights movement; it “was always about becoming white,” Wright opined. Another quote was “White folk done took this country. You’re in their home and they’re going to let you know it.” Rev. Wright also compared the United States with apartheid South Africa during his CTS seminar. Finally, the former pastor told the class that they will never “be a brother to white folk.”
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.