UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, BARACK OBAMA, & JEREMIAH WRIGHT:
The Christian church found itself more centrally in the public square in the U.S., last week than ever.. The messages of UCC Minister Jeremiah Wright at first thought by some to be one man's personal issue, brought mainline "progressive" theology under unusual scrutiny.
First, the UCC fully supported Wright, not only as one of their own but in
what he had said, calling Trinity UCC in Chicago a "great gift to the wider
UCC President John Thomas compared Wright to the prophet Jeremiah.
UCC President Thomas
Wright’s well publicized assertions, including that the U.S. government was responsible for the incarceration and death of African Americans based on race, that Hiroshima had been an act of terrorism, that the bombing in places like Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua had prompted terrorist response, and that Zionists were to blame for the Middle East, are all positions taken by the UCC itself.
In its 25th Synod in Atlanta the UCC condemned the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The denomination has long championed those it felt were imprisoned unjustly since the famed "Wilmington 10" to the Puerto Rican liberation group known as the FALN who killed innocent people with bombs in Chicago. At its Synod in 1999, many delegates demonstrated in support of convicted murderer Abu-Jamal, a member of the Black Panthers, who shot a 25 year old police officer to death in Philadelphia in 1981. Wednesday his conviction was upheld by the U.S. 3rd court of appeals. This week Abu-Jamal, who broadcasts and writes from prison, did a piece supporting Wright's views.
The Washington Post picked up on the wider connection with the UCC in a piece this week entitled "UCC IS HAPPILY RIDING OBAMA'S COATTAILS," which begins "for the United Church of Christ, a graying, Cleveland-based denomination that has lost 40 percent of its members since the 1960's, Sen. Barack Obama is a godsend"
Washington Post, UCC
In an interview between Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler and African American Baptist Pastor and Author Eric Redmond, Mohler asked, "ABC News correspondent Donna Brazile said essentially Jeremiah Wright may be shocking to a lot of white America, but the reality is that he's a moderate in terms of African American theologians- he's the mainstream. Now does that make any sense to you?"
Redmond: "It makes great sense to me, Dr. Mohler . . . If you move away from the popular health and wealth movement that characterizes so much of the African American mega-church movement . . . the next largest groups you are going to see are the remnants of the 1960's African American or Black Liberation theology."
The Rev. Kenneth Samuel, Pastor of Victory UCC in Stone Mountain, GA, which recently joined the UCC and with 5300 members became its second largest congregation, said, "Trinity was really one of the churches that inspired me to want to affiliate with the UCC. . .it was the critical thinking that Trinity brought to the justice work that helped me to want to become a part of the denomination . . . there have been two major sins in the Black church that many Black churches will not address - homophobia is one and sexism is another and Jeremiah Wright . . . has not been afraid to address these critical issues."
In a letter to AMERICAN BAPTISTS, National Ministries Executive Dr. Aidsand Wright-Riggins III called for consideration of Wright's "foundational contribution to the prophetic tradition of the black church in America." He claimed that Rev. Wright was being "vilified."
American Baptist Exec.
There have also been numerous testimonies by UCC leaders and members about Rev. Wright’s legacy of pastoral care, inclusiveness and extensive work on behalf of the least of these.
More troubling is the discovery on the Trinity Church website of anti-Semitic material. On the "Pastor's Page" of the site was discovered a letter by Palestinian activist Ali Baghdadi identified on the site as an advisor to Louis Farrakhan, which called Israel an "apartheid" regime which had worked on an "ethnic bomb that kills Blacks and Arabs." In another entry on the same page was printed a Hamas manifesto written by Mousa Abu Marzook, identified by the state department as a Sr. Hamas official responsible for the planning of suicide bombings.
A comprehensive analysis of the mainline churches in the study, "Human Rights Advocacy in the Mainline Protestant Churches (2000 - 2003)" published by the Institute on Religion & Democracy documents how mainline churches have promoted similar ideas in their obsessively negative and biased focus on Israel and the U.S.
A thorough, if critical, thread citing many sources of relevance to the ongoing saga of Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and the UCC can be found at: