Senator Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech was political rhetoric at its finest. While skillfully denouncing the words of his pastor and spiritual mentor, Barack Obama left intact a tacit endorsement of the philosophical worldview that fuels the incendiary rhetoric of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Rev. Wright is not merely ranting when he says things like the following:
The government gives them [black people] the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing “God Bless America?” No, no, no! Not “God BLESS America,” God DAMN America. That’s in the Bible. For killing innocent people. God damn America for treating her citizens as less than human ….
These words betray a commitment to a dangerous political theology. Rev. Wright’s worldview is a poisonous mixture of Marxist socialism and a distorted view of the gospel of Jesus Christ which has as its chief goal the obliteration of Anglo/European influence on American life, culture and politics. Rev. Wright’s worldview comes across loud and clear:
… [Jesus] cares about what a poor black man has to face every day in a country and a culture controlled by rich white people … Jesus was a poor, black man who lived in a country, and who lived in a culture that was controlled by rich, white people. The Romans were rich. The Romans were Italian, which means they were European, which means they were white. And the Romans ran everything in Jesus’s country.
Senator Obama has a two-decades-long association with Rev. Wright and his church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. In the mission statement at its Web site, Trinity’s commitment to Black Liberation Theology is clearly outlined. Furthermore, in an interview with Sean Hannity, Rev. Wright confirmed the work of James Cone, considered by many the founder of Black Liberation Theology, as a primary influence in the shaping his worldview. Evangelical blogger Joe Carter, in a recent post, quotes Cone:
Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community ... Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.
The media, both conservative and mainstream, is focused on the incendiary rhetoric of Jeremiah Wright while totally ignoring the political/religious philosophy fueling the words. Obama skillfully (and successfully) convinced us that he repudiates the words of his mentor and spiritual advisor, but what politician wouldn’t? The more important question we should be asking the Senator is, Do you repudiate the philosophy of Black Liberation Theology espoused by your church?
Obama can distance himself from Rev. Wright, referring to him twice in his speech as his “former pastor” (the Rev. Wright retires at the end of March), but the fact remains that Obama is a member of a church whose mission is rooted in Black Liberation Theology.
Christian apologist Robert A. Morey characterizes the goals of Black Liberation Theology as, “… to turn religion into sociology, Christianity into a political agenda, Jesus into a black Marxist rebel, and the gospel into violent revolution. They are more interested in politics than preaching the gospel.” Morey points out that ministers like Jeremiah Wright who espouse this worldview seek to, “… manipulate embittered young blacks by turning their feelings of inferiority, alienation, jealousy, hopelessness and self-hate, into racist rage against whites, Orientals and affluent blacks who are conveniently blamed for their lack of personal initiative to better their lot in life.”
If you are bewildered as to why an up-and-coming politician would remain a member of a church whose pastor preaches hate against whites and Europeans, the answer is probably not because he agrees with the rhetoric. He rightly condemns the rhetoric. The only logical answer has to be because he agrees with the church’s particular theological worldview. Senator Obama has yet to publicly denounce the political theology that inspires the rhetoric. And, in fact, Obama’s “A More Perfect Union Speech” bears the marks of Black Liberation Theology in at least two parts.
First, the call for a merging of spirituality and political philosophy:
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand: that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
By the way, nowhere does Scripture command us to “be our brother’s keeper.” On the contrary, it was Cain who, after killing his brother, justified the killing on the grounds that he was not his brother’s keeper. It is this kind of Scripture twisting that is used to justify wealth redistribution and to condemn the capitalist system in which our democracy is rooted.
Second, his veiled assertion that the private creation of wealth is “the culprit” in racial tension in America:
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze—a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.
There is no question Senator Obama repudiates his pastor’s hate speech. However, still unanswered is whether or not he repudiates a political theology that calls for the suppression of more than half of the American population and is fundamentally at odds with American democracy?