Only days after Barack Obama resumed his presidential campaign wearing the label of “presumptive Democratic nominee,” the Illinois senator invited a number of evangelical leaders to a private meeting with him in Chicago. The off-the-record session grew to include mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics.
Remember Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio), the Democratic presidential candidate who brought a refreshing note of reality to the early primary debates? You don’t remember him? In the memorable words of John Wayne: “Think back, Pilgrim.” It was Kucinich who reminded primary and caucus audiences that Palestinians live under an oppressive Israeli military occupation.
With the added backing of delegates and superdelegates on the final day of primary elections, Barack Obama declared himself the winner June 3 of the hard-fought Democratic presidential campaign, becoming the Democrats’ presumptive nominee and the first African American to be a major party’s choice for the White House.
Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith. Mike Huckabee and his “Christian leader” ads. John McCain and John Hagee. Hillary Clinton and her “prayer warriors.” Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright. The 2008 election has featured an extraordinary emphasis on religion.
In letters sent on successive days, the Internal Revenue Service said it concluded that neither the United Church of Christ, whose national convention heard Barack Obama speak, nor a Southern Baptist pastor, who publicly backed Mike Huckabee, violated tax-exemption provisions prohibiting political endorsements by churches.
Prophets do not always have a balanced view of reality. They are not people who have made a pragmatic adjustment to the status quo. Rather, prophets are people seized by a vision of God’s justice. They speak poetically and act dramatically, trying to move people to face truths that they’d rather not face.
Using some of his strongest language yet about his former pastor, Senator Barack Obama said that Jeremiah Wright’s comments capping the clergyman’s provocative return to the public stage were “destructive” and contradict “everything that I’m about and who I am.”
In a unanimous voice vote, the 90-member Executive Council of the United Church of Christ passed a resolution April 14 supporting Trinity UCC in Chicago and its recently retired senior minister Jeremiah Wright, whose videotaped, politically charged comments stirred sustained criticism of the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama, a longtime member of the congregation.
After weeks of public silence, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. defended the black church and his preaching in a series of appearances, leading political analysts again to ponder Wright’s effect on the presidential campaign of Illinois senator Barack Obama.
I wish Jeremiah Wright had made his point about America’s failings without saying “God damn America.” But not for a moment do I wish he had been less prophetic. The great biblical prophets did and said outrageous, controversial things, which consistently got them in trouble and occasionally landed them in jail.