The Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago is a raucous place. Not long ago, during the Christmas season, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright—stepping back from his repeated proclamation that “God d--- America!”—paused to damn the former president of America: As he gyrated and thrust his hips about the pulpit, Wright mocked Bill Clinton for “riding dirty!” with Monica Lewinsky. It was a curious way of expressing the spirit of the season.
With the good reverend having taken permanent leave of absence, the new pastor—who, we have been assured, is no Reverend Wright—last week called upon Father Michael Pfleger, a radical Catholic priest from Chicago’s Southside, to mock not the former president but the former first lady. The priest gave his own version of “God d--- America” when he proclaimed, “I also believe that America is the greatest sin against God.” Yet, like Wright, denouncing America was not enough for Phleger. He had a Clinton who needed mocking as well. Thus, he pursed his lips, rubbed his finger into his eyes, and imitated a sobbing Mrs. Clinton, eliciting howls of laughter from the congregation.
I’m familiar with Father Pfleger, having profiled him among various Catholics supporting Obama in an article for the current Catholic World Report. In the past, Pfleger took aim at Republicans like President Bush, of whom he protested: “I have no interest in living in a theocracy.” Now, suddenly, Pfleger has turned on a Democrat—Hillary Clinton.
For both Clintons, such treatment, in a house of God no less, must be quite a shock—and especially for Hillary, given that she learned her lifelong religious sensibilities at a church in nearby Park Ridge, Illinois. Both the Clintons took to the Christian faith in large part as a reaction to racism, which had appalled them as young folks.
Bill Clinton fondly recalls how Billy Graham—cut of a different cloth than Rev. Wright and Father Pfleger—played a pivotal role in his spiritual formation during the de-segregation struggles in the 1950s. Clinton remembers a moment in 1958 when his Sunday-school teacher took a few of the boys to Little Rock to attend a Billy Graham crusade at the University of Arkansas football stadium. Authorities had just closed Little Rock’s schools in a last-ditch effort to prevent integration. Segregationists from the White Citizens Council recommended that Reverend Graham restrict admission to whites only. The preacher said no, stating that Jesus loved everyone, and all people of all ethnicities needed to hear the word of God and were invited to his crusade.As Clinton remembers, Graham was “the living embodiment of Southern Baptist authority, the largest religious figure in the South, perhaps in the nation.” What he said carried enormous weight, and the segregationists backed down. “I wanted to hear him preach even more after he took the stand he did,” said Clinton, “and the Reverend Graham delivered a powerful message…. I loved Billy Graham for doing that.”
Hillary had similar experiences in her youth, starting at Park Ridge United Methodist Church. She has never forgotten the moment in April 1962 when her youth minister, Don Jones, took her class to Chicago to hear a rousing speech by a man named Martin Luther King, Jr. at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, where the civil-rights pioneer preached a sermon titled, “Sleeping Through the Revolution.” In his talk, King said that too many Americans were like Rip Van Winkle, snoozing through the historic changes happening all around them.
That night was one that Hillary would never forget, particularly because Jones stunned the teen and her friends by arranging to have them briefly meet King.
As Hillary moved from high school to college, the civil-rights struggle became an enduring cause of her social, political, and spiritual life.
Now, alas, after lives molded by such experiences, the two Clintons are forced to endure humiliating video clips from the pulpit of the man who will likely deny Hillary her dream of the presidency. Such moments did not impel Barack Obama to leave the church at anytime over the past 20 years—only now does he distance himself because of the political fallout. Obama’s responses to this outrageous behavior are obviously not believable, and would be comical—akin to the antics of Rev. Wright and Father Phleger—if so much were not at stake.
The Clintons must be beside themselves. This is their reward for lives spent fighting racial injustice? They now understand what it’s like to be a conservative Christian Republican. They should have a chat with George W. Bush.
The left, it seems, is like Saturn: it eats its own children. The Clintons stand in the way of the anointed one, and they are thus being devoured by their erstwhile allies. They are, in the end, expendable.