Sunday, June 01, 2008

Farewell Trinity UCC: Barack Obama and the Ravening Wolves

"But somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked. Part of it's because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who've been all too eager to exploit what divides us." - Barack Obama, June 23, 2007

I certainly hope that Barack Obama, when he gave a speech to the UCC, the denomination of Trinity United Church of Christ last year, didn't think that the Christian Left was the great uniter . Today, we have news that Barack Obama has broken-up with his church after a series of what he has often termed "distractions," the latest being a mocking sermon of Father Pfleger's preached from Trinity's pulpit. Obama's UCC well wishers at the Daily Kos, who seem mostly unaware that Father Pfleger is a Catholic, not a UCC minister, and also unaware that both Pfleger and Rev. Wright have long been active politically on Chicago's South Side, are sorry that they let Obama down.

When Obama gave his speech to the UCC late last June, it became clear that religion was going to emerge as a major issue in the Obama campaign. While I made the the call wrong about Mr. Obama being his party's standard-bearer, I am re-running last year's blog post on Obama's speech at Hartford.

Obama at Hartford: the Last Hurrah?
Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's my impression that the Obama campaign is over, finished, toast. Why? I cannot remember any other candidate running for president who insulted the religion of the American people and was given the privilege of heading his party for the general election.

At a speech before the UCC, his church denomination, Obama made charges that some people have hijacked Christianity. That doesn't play well with me, it won't be liked by the general public, and it won't be liked by many Congregationalists, nationwide, who still believe that each person receives his own insight on religion through a relationship with God, earnest study of scriptures, and discussion with others.

Obama is missing the traditional respect that candidates show for all of America's many religions--we have something like 600 Protestant denominations alone. This is serious stuff.

Obama gave his speech in the city of Hartford, Connecticut, founded by the Rev. Thomas Hooker in 1636. Hooker was a Congregationalist minister and a tremendous religious and political thinker, whose many writings are still important today. Hooker once wrote "there neither is, nor never was any mere naturall man absolutly rightuous in himself" and hence "voide of all unrightuousnes, of all synne." Somehow I find that quote important, and I will leave you to ponder that thought.

Update: Oops! Re-reading this post makes me realize that I was quite unclear. The Obama campaign is not about to fold its tent and disappear in the night; what I meant was that the Obama campaign--through ill-chosen remarks--has already lost his party's nomination, although it will likely be months before that is evident.

Further Update: Atheist Austin Cline has written a tremendously insightful article on Obama's speech at Hartford in front of the UCC and I recommend it highly. Obama's speech troubles him, in particular he questions Obama's commitment to the separation of church and state. Two worthwhile quotes: "Doing 'the Lord's work' is a thread that runs through Christian churches; in secular politics, however, politicians are expected to do the work of the people," and "If a politician cannot use evidence and reason to justify their positions and must resort to private religious revelation, they should give up politics and enter the ministry."


Anonymous John Austin personal training said...

"The Obama campaign is not about to fold its tent and disappear in the night; what I meant was that the Obama campaign--through ill-chosen remarks--has already lost his party's nomination, although it will likely be months before that is evident."

Normally I would say this is a hasty prediction, but I had an interesting conversation with a solid Obama supporter.

Some people are reaching the conclusion that if Barack's belief system was not in line with the church he's attended for 20 years and his spiritual advisors, then he would have quit this church years ago. My friend is a rabid Obama fan. She traveled an hour and then waited five hours in line to see him. She ha been a broken-glass Democrat for half a century. Today she expressed serious doubts about BHO. I was shocked.

Jun 1, 2008, 5:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment, John. For about a year and a half I've been talking about the fact that I believe that Obama's campaign campaign was too hasty. He should have sat in the Senate a while (and spent some time representing Illinois) which would have moderated and expanded his viewpoint. I do believe if he had been willing to put his ambition on the back burner a bit, he would have been a likely unbeatable candidate.

Unfortunately, with almost all of Obama's experience in Chicago and Springfield, I do believe that he is genuinely surprised to emerge from little corner of the world to find out that there is far greater diversity of view throughout the country than ever occurred to him. Obama moved comfortably from one of the most liberal states (Hawaii) to one of the most liberal educational institutions (Harvard) to the most liberal (ok, maybe radical) areas of Chicago. There's a big world out there, very different from what he has known,and he seems bewildered.

Jun 1, 2008, 9:14:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

I goofed. Anonymous didn't post the above comment, I did.

Jun 1, 2008, 9:16:00 PM  

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