Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Religion and America

Barack Obama's understanding of Christianity has been fed for the last twenty years by a strange and controversial church. Perhaps you've seen videos of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the longtime preacher at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, spouting hatred for white people and for America. Sen. Obama claims that this happened so infrequently that he always missed it when he attended church.

But the church itself has a very strange theological foundation. It is a form of Marxism called "Black Liberation Theology." This is from the church's website, though the information there seems to change in response to media attention, as it did after Sean Hannity probed the issue on Fox's Hannity and Colmes. In his interview with Sean Hannity, Wright directly and explicitly associates his "black value system" with the "liberation theology movement" in Nicaragua "26, 28, 30 years ago," i.e. during the time of the Marxist revolution there.

The vision statement of Trinity United Church of Christ is based upon the systematized liberation theology that started in 1969 with the publication of Dr. James Cone’s book, Black Power and Black Theology. Black theology is one of the many theologies in the Americas that became popular during the liberation theology movement. They include Hispanic theology, Native American theology, Asian theology and Womanist theology. ... Black liberation theology defines Africans and African Americans as subjects – not the objects which colonizers and oppressors have consistently defined “others” as. ... To have a church whose theological perspective starts from the vantage point of Black liberation theology being its center, is not to say that African or African American people are superior to any one else [though in the second video clip linked above, Wright says they are]. ... African-centered thought, unlike Eurocentrism, does not assume superiority and look at everyone else as being inferior.
Wayne House, professor of theology at Faith Evangelical Seminary, in "An Investigation of Black Liberation Theology" (Bibliotheca Sacra, 139:554, April 1982), gives this summary of Black Liberation Theology:
The modern liberation movement often combines biblical liberation themes with Marxist ideology and methodology. Wolfhart Pannenberg (Lutheran), Jüren Moltmann (Reformed), and Johannes Metz (Roman Catholic) represent the theology of hope movement from which more radical political theologians such as Rubem A. Alves, James Cone (black theologian), and Camilo Torres (Roman Catholic), and Gustavo Gutiérrez have developed a theology of violent revolution. Pulling from Marxism more than from Scripture, they pursue a forceful overthrow of oppression and see this as God's method of working in the world today.
The Questions for Obama

It is harder for Obama to distance himself from this because, according to his pastor, it has been the clearly stated and operational theology of the church for the last 26 years. It would be like attending Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church for 20 years and being unaware of the church's emphasis on believer baptism and family values.

In light of this information, it is reasonable to ask: Behind all this "hope" rhetoric, is Barack Obama really a black separatist? Given the correspondence between Michelle Obama's evident hatred for America and that of the Obamas' preacher, Jeremiah Wright, does "hope" for "change" in Obama's rhetoric mean hope for America to go from presently despicable to something of Obama's making? Would that America be shaped more by the liberation theology of Gustavo Gutierrez than by the liberal constitutionalism of James Madison? What role does Black Liberation Theology play in his thinking?
Does Barack Obama believe, as his church apparently would, that James Madison and John Locke (the greatest theorists of the American political tradition), or Jonathan Edwards and John Calvin (the greatest theologians of the American religious tradition) were "Eurocentric" and thus racist? Is Barack Obama in a cult? (In addition to other troubling indicators, his church has honored Louis Farrakhan, a cult leader, with a lifetime achievement award.)

Of course, it would yield nothing simply to ask the likely Presidential candidate these questions. Answers must be culled from the record of his speeches and deeds. Get going, press corps!

Just below the surface of all the lovefest in the Obama campaign and all through Obama's record is a scary and bitter hard-left radicalism. His Sunday religious training explains a lot of it. The mainstream media didn't give any attention to Eliot Spitzer's demons until the crash came. They would do well to give serious attention to Obama's demons. Then if he wins, the people elected him with full knowledge of what they were getting.

Lastly, Mitt Romney came under a lot of scrutiny and criticism for his somewhat bizarre and cultish religion. But Mormonism is far more compatible with the best of the American political tradition that this stuff. If Mitt Romney got a hard time over his religion, Barack Obama should get at least double.

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