Beyond Politics: Black Liberation Theology, America and the Question of Race
RFFM.org Commentary by Daniel T. Zanoza
For a while, I had decided not to write anything on the Jeremiah Wright/Barack Obama controversy. After all, it's all been said, hasn't it? Every newspaper had the story on its front page and the commentary sections overflowed with all too wise speculation on the issue. Why would Barack Obama attend a church where such hate was fomented from the pulpit for 20 years? Did Obama allay concerns many had with him, after the junior senator from Illinois gave his speech on the issue of race?
The responses were typical. After Obama's speech, the Left fell all over itself in praise of the Democratic presidential frontrunner almost to the point of hilarity. Conservatives said Obama left many questions to be answered regarding the hateful words of Rev. Wright. The fact is, I'm uncomfortable even referring to the man as a Reverend. After all, the word reverend is a noun and an adjective. I'll leave this debate for linguists and philosophers, but I do know what a man of God should be saying from a Christian pulpit.
That's why I decided to write this column. The controversy over Wright introduced me to a new phrase, black liberation theology. I did not know there was such a thing. I was fully aware that ministers, or supposed men of God of all colors, use their position in God's church to spew hatred. After all, the Ku Klux Klan claims it is doing the Lord's work in the evil that organization has espoused for nearly 150 years. However, I didn't know men like Jeremiah Wright were spreading their anger in African-American churches and, to this point, I don't know how many men like Wright there are across America.
But Wright certainly answered some questions I had about why the issue of race never seems to go away in the United States. Well, let me take that back. Among most Americans, race has become less of an issue of contention than it was forty years ago. Most Americans are not racist. They see discrimination as an ugly thing and the people of our nation, for the most part, would like to see racial unity become a reality and not just a dream.
But imagine for a moment, it is 1988 and you are sitting in a church where black liberation theology is coming at you in waves from the dais. Now imagine you are five years old and you hear this hateful rhetoric every Sunday for the next 20 years.
Suddenly, things became clear to me. No wonder we cannot get over the race issue in this country. Individuals like Mr. Wright continually throw gasoline on the simmering embers of racial hatred which does exist in this country in dark, dank places. These fires burn into the minds of thousands of African-Americans. Or is it millions of African-Americans? What is the answer? How many Jeremiah Wrights are out there? I don't know, but I shudder when I think about the possible answer.
Christ taught us to love and sacrifice for our neighbor. He told us to damn no one and forgive everyone, especially our enemies or those who have done us wrong in the past. These hardly sound like the words of Mr. Wright or perhaps a better name for the man would be Mr. Wrong.
I cannot blame African-Americans if they have a deep underlining mistrust for whites, if this is what they have been taught weekly, since childhood.
Sen. Obama has used a number of excuses regarding his attendance at Mr. Wright's church. First Obama said he wasn't aware of Wright's controversial statements. Then Obama said he was never present when Wright took off on one of his hate-filled tangents. Next the Illinois Senator said he was aware of the controversy surrounding his minister, but leaving the church would have been like leaving a family member, an uncle to be exact.
I have attended many churches in my life. There have been numerous times where a preacher or church has held views which were not Scriptural. My first obligation as a Christian was to address these issues with the minister or with the church on the whole. If the answer to my question did not conform to God's word, my family would leave that church. Indeed I have left churches before, though never because a minister was damning America or blaming another race for anything.
The Obama's are an intelligent couple. They have educations most people in America can only dream about. But it took 20 years for Sen. Obama to understand that Wright's words were hateful? Many have written about the issue of Obama's judgment concerning this matter, but is it possible Obama believes in Wright's teachings? Did Obama stay at the church because Wright's message spoke to him? After all, Obama's wife, Michelle, claims she had never been proud of her country until recently. These are some important personal questions which Obama may or may not address. Yet the bigger issue is whether America can ever come to a state of racial healing, if there are thousands of so-called preachers like Wright across the U.S.
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. did not preach black liberation theology, Louis Farrakhan does.
Obama's speech about race was important, but he had a daunting task in front of him. Just days after the debate over Wright came to a boil, Obama used the words "typical white person" in reference to his grandmother and the bigotry he has assigned to her. Perhaps Sen. Obama has bought into the "Reverend" Wright's philosophy. If Obama has, he should tell us and then Americans could decide whether a man holding these views could be a uniter or a divider. Indeed, if he believes in Wright's teachings, is Obama qualified to be President of the United States?
You see, the flap over Wright goes much deeper than politics or race. It speaks to the future of our nation. From this debate, we get an idea of whether that future will be filled with real hope and change or a never-ending racial divide which will only perpetuate distrust and hate. This is what's at stake for us all.
Anyone wishing to receive RFFM.org e-mails should contact Dan@rffm.org