Today Senator Obama posted at the Huffington Post in an attempt to address remarks made by his former Pastor that have caused a great deal of controversy. Remarks that have a some people questioning their fealty to Senator Obama’s campaign for President of the United States of America.
I’ve made no secret of my apprehension toward Mr. Obama. While he has indeed made many inspirational claims and tapped into some great sentiments shared by a weary nation, statements he has previously made regarding Iran and Palestine have kept me wary even before now.
Senator Obama has previously indicated that he would be willing to meet with the leader of Iran without any preconditions. While that statement was noted by the media, and addressed by other democratic candidates, it was the cable pundits on and online personalities that pushed this story aside as “no big deal.” And by itself, perhaps it was not.
Michelle Obama, the senator’s wife, has made controversial statements herself. Just last month she indicated that she was just now, for the first time in her life, proud of her country.
What we’ve learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback and let me tell you something, for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.
Now comes the news of the Reverend Wright’s rousing sermon that damns America, damns her for the Atomic Bomb, damns her a third time.
Take, now, Senator Obama’s post today, and let’s examine it a bit:
The pastor of my church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who recently preached his last sermon and is in the process of retiring, has touched off a firestorm over the last few days. He’s drawn attention as the result of some inflammatory and appalling remarks he made about our country, our politics, and my political opponents.
Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.
Alright, I’m listening . . .
Because these particular statements by Rev. Wright are so contrary to my own life and beliefs, a number of people have legitimately raised questions about the nature of my relationship with Rev. Wright and my membership in the church. Let me therefore provide some context.
Okay, here comes the interesting part:
As I have written about in my books, I first joined Trinity United Church of Christ nearly twenty years ago. I knew Rev. Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago. He also led a diverse congregation that was and still is a pillar of the South Side and the entire city of Chicago. It’s a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS.
Okay, stop here. I’d like to address this. The congregation in the video shown of Rev. Wright making these statements was extremely enthusiastic in their support of what he was saying. This congregation did not denounce the Rev. Wright or his statements. And in Obama’s opinion, this congregation is still a pillar of Chicago. These are the people with whom Obama and family associated on a regular basis. A congregation that appears to support the tenor of the Reverent Wright’s sermon. If you take that into account when regarding Obama’s previous statements about Iran, as well as Michelle’s statements about being finally proud of America, a picture begins to paint itself of the mindset behind the public facade–of how the Obama’s think.
Hold onto that thought, and let’s continue:
Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he’s been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.
The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.
Let me repeat what I’ve said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.
With Rev. Wright’s retirement and the ascension of my new pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, III, Michelle and I look forward to continuing a relationship with a church that has done so much good. And while Rev. Wright’s statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States.
And that last is what it’s really all about, isn’t it? Obama’s values, judgement, and experience. While I am absolutely certain that Obama is at heart a patriot who wishes nothing but the best for America, the pattern I see emerging is one that makes me wonder if what he thinks is best for America is what I think is best for America. Change is good, but not merely for change’s sake. And the fact that his core Christian belief system was nurtured by such a man as Rev. Wright only helps to call Obama’s values, judgement, and experience all into question.
Eight years ago all of this wouldn’t have made such a significant impact on my vote. Today, however, it was the initial statement about negotiations with Iran that gave me pause, and anything indicative of a similar attitude since that statement have only served to increase my worry. Because I no longer trust the office of the President as much as I did. We all know whose fault that is. I do hope for better, and I do believe this nation can change to a better path, but I have seen too much in the last eight years to trust in hope alone.
Last time it killed too many people.