When Senator Barack Obama faced the cameras in a nationally televised speech in mid-March, he was caught between his roles as politician and parishioner, forced to condemn his pastor’s words as he tried to advance his own campaign for president.
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.
If you were to visit Trinity United Church of Christ, a predominantly African-American congregation on the Chicago’s South Side, you would be warmly welcomed. You’d experience spirited singing that comes deep from the soul.
Jeremiah Wright needs no defense from me. Anyone who has built a congregation from 87 members to some 8,000 and whose congregation has created models of ministry in one of the poorest areas of Chicago has a body of work that speaks for itself.
Richard Lischer, professor of preaching, Duke Divinity School: “It’s been 40 years since we have heard redemptive language in the political arena. Like Martin Luther King Jr., Obama did not flinch from addressing the lingering pain and anger of racism in America. Like King, Obama understands how questions of race are bound up with religion.
One of the bright points in Barack Obama’s rising political star is his ability to talk about Jesus without faking it. But his enemies, including right-wing bloggers and TV pundits, are complaining that Obama’s church—Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago—embraces an Africentrism that is separatist or even racist. Just what is this Africentrism?