Lehrer News Hour: Election Draws Attention to Race, Religion in U.S.

Posted by Kendall Harmon

JEFFREY BROWN: Dean Lind, respond to that. You come from a progressive ministry tradition. Is there a context in which we should think about Reverend Wright and his language and rhetoric?

REV. TRACEY LIND: Yes, I think we need to consider Rev. Wright in the context of the historic black preaching tradition and in the historic tradition of the prophets. The biblical prophets, Amoz, Isaiah, Jeremiah, used harsh language.

And furthermore, I don't think we can suggest that a presidential candidate or any other person agrees with everything that their minister says. Moreover, I think we've got to be careful about taking Rev. Wright's comments out of context.

JEFFREY BROWN: Bishop Jackson?

BISHOP HARRY JACKSON, JR.: Well, I don't like his comments. In our book, "Personal Faith, Public Policy," we talk about one of the issues we can solve as a people of faith.

The language that Rev. Wright uses will not bring people together. This is a unique opportunity we have to heal the racial divide, so I don't want to let us off the hook.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture

19 Comments
Posted March 28, 2008 at 2:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Philip Snyder wrote:

Pastor Wright is not speaking in the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament.  They always spoke of “us,” not “them.”  “We” were the ones would would suffer.  Amos, for example, starts out talking about the problems with Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, and the Amonites - that’s chapter 1.  The rest of the book deals with Judah and Israel.  That should show Pastro Wright the proper balance in condemning “them” and condemning “us.”

Is racism a problem in the United States?  Yes.  Can we do better?  Yes.  But the issue is not helped by telling people that the US government created AIDS or imports crack to keep the african-american population down.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

March 28, 3:48 pm | [comment link]
2. Vincent Lerins wrote:

After hearing all of the discussions in the past weeks about Obama and Rev. Wright, I finally had the opportunity to watch the news clips of Rev. Wright’s comments earlier this week. As an African American, I am perplexed at the media storm behind Rev. Wright’s comments. As an African-American, there is nothing he stated in the news clips that I would disagree with. Everything he stated has been factually proven. However, as a Christian, I am very disappointed that these comments are coming from a supposed minister of the Gospel. For me, Church and State are to be separate. Wright’s comments should have been made by a political leader, not a churchman. The church is in the world, but not of the world. What SHOULD separate the church from the world is its unity and love. As Paul told the Galatian church, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” In the church, the Body of Christ, there should be no racial/ethnic division (Jew nor Greek), no gender division (male nor female), nor any class division (slave or free). The church should be that example to the world. The church’s mission is evangelism, not politics.  The church should be reconciling formerly adversarial people/groups because in the church we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not the message of Rev. Wright and black liberation followers. It also isn’t the message of most white, black, Hispanic or Asian churches. Churches shouldn’t be divided by race, gender or class-PERIOD. It is antithetical to the central theme of unity that supports baptismal, eucharistic and salvation theology.

The church needs to stay out of politics and focus on evangelism. That’s how we are going to change the world. One soul at a time.

-Vincent

March 28, 5:11 pm | [comment link]
3. Philip Snyder wrote:

Vincent - can you show me where it is “factually proven” that the US Government created AIDS or that Israel and the US are working on a bomb to kill Arabs and Africans (but not Europeans or Jews)?  Can you show me where it is “factually proven” that the government created and imports crack to keep the African American community impoverished and dependent on the drug?

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

March 28, 5:20 pm | [comment link]
4. tired wrote:

From Wannabe Anglican is this interesting quote from an issue of Rolling Stone Magazine over year ago:

“Wright is not an incidental figure in Obama’s life, or his politics. The senator “affirmed” his Christian faith in this church; he uses Wright as a “sounding board” to “make sure I’m not losing myself in the hype and hoopla.” Both the title of Obama’s second book, The Audacity of Hope, and the theme for his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 come from Wright’s sermons. “If you want to understand where Barack gets his feeling and rhetoric from,” says the Rev. Jim Wallis, a leader of the religious left, “just look at Jeremiah Wright.”“

March 28, 5:49 pm | [comment link]
5. Jody+ wrote:

Taking a step back from the issue of the biblical prophets (and, from what I’ve heard, Wright is not in their tradition), does anyone else think it is ironic or find it odd that it is the white Episcopalian talking about taking Black liberation theology in context while it is the African American pastor rejecting—if not BLT in its entirety—at least Wright’s version of it?

par for the course…

March 28, 11:07 pm | [comment link]
6. Now Orthodox wrote:

It is rather disconcerting to hear Sen. Obama speak about his relationship with Wright.  Either Sen. Obama is naive or he is lying IMHO.  He cannot be attending a church with leadership this anti-American without recognizing it (naive or stupid) or he recognizes the sentiment, then ignores,  minimizes, approves or fails to confront the sentiment.  I think Sen. Obama will spin himself into the ground on this issue in spite of his marvelous oratory skills.  I’m   disappointed that he didn’t say he was wrong to remain at that church.  Much better to have confronted Wright or left that church.  He did neither.  Politically, this is a time bomb for it calls into question his integrity or intelligence.  Which do you think folks will believe is lacking?

March 28, 11:46 pm | [comment link]
7. Katherine wrote:

Vincent, like Phil #3, I disagree with the idea that the Rev. Wright’s political statements are proven true.  But I entirely agree with the rest of your comment.  Wright’s calling is to build the faith of his parishioners, which will of course result in positive changes in their lives if any negative behaviors they may have are erased.  Teaching them to hate and distrust others will not help, nor is this appropriate Christian preaching.

March 29, 3:17 am | [comment link]
8. Dave B wrote:

Vincent Lerins (#2) This is a quote from the article and a response to your commment about church and state. MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, I mean, again, part of what’s extremely important to remember here is that the separation between church and state is not only to protect the state, to protect the government from the influence of the church, but also incredibly importantly to protect the church, to protect that free and open space for dialogue.  It is my understanding that this is the EXACT opposite of what was intended in the constitution.  The church is very much responsible to inform and influance government and to bring moral guidance to the activities of government.  That is why one of George Washingtons first acts was to establish a chaplians corpe.  The whole civil rights movement was the church influancing the government.  I think it is sad for christians to willingly vacate this area of public life and not fulfill thier obligations under the constitution!

March 29, 10:23 am | [comment link]
9. Irenaeus wrote:

“REV. TRACEY LIND: Yes, I think we need to consider Rev. Wright in the context of the historic black preaching tradition and in the historic tradition of the prophets. The biblical prophets, Amoz, Isaiah, Jeremiah, used harsh language”

Would Tracey Lind accept the same language from Nigerian prophets?

March 29, 12:38 pm | [comment link]
10. Vincent Lerins wrote:

#8 - Dave B:

Individuals who are members of the church should do their civic duty, however the church should remain free from political entanglement. That’s NOT the job of the church. The church’s job is evangelism. Jesus was very clear about this in his final words to his disciples. We are to make disciples through baptizing and teaching, not political action.  It’s through transformation by the gospel that we can affect people’s actions, not legislation. You can enact morality laws, but in some ways that’s worse spiritually. People can be deceived into thinking they are believers because that lead moral lives, but they haven’t believed the gospel and repented of their sins.  They may led a moral life, but still are eternally lost.


#3 - Philip & #7 - Katherine:

I can’t speak for all the people who believe as Rev. Wright does on these issues, but I can speak to why I agree with him on these issues. I don’t remember from the news clips that Wright mentioned that Israel and the US are working on a ‘bomb’ to kill Arabs and Africans. However, they already have bioweapons that are race specific and they have them for white populations as well.  In the Truth and Reconciliation commission in South Africa, it came out that the scientists were working on bioweapons to kill the Africans in that area.  In ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses’ the leading policy “white paper” for the Project for A New American Century, they called for the use of race specific bioweapons.  On page 72 of the paper, at bottom of 1st paragraph, it states: “... the art of warfare ... will be vastly different than it is today ... “combat” likely will take place in new dimensions ... advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” Here is a link to their website. The page is a link to their statement of principles, but I want you to see the names of the people who compose PNAC. It speaks volumes. http://www.newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciples.htm

Philip and Katherine, you have to look at the big picture and how things/event are interrelated.  You should google “race specific bioweapons’ and spend some time researching the articles, video clips and websites.

As for AIDS and drug importation, there is so much documentation, it’s mind boggling. You should google ‘AIDS and bioweapon’ or ‘AIDS truth origins.’ Youtube and google video have many video clips and films that address the true origin and dissemination of the AIDS virus (via vaccination). Drs. Boyd Graves, Len Horowitz and the Stecker Memorandum are excellent resources on this issue.  These researchers and resources use military and medical documents to show the true origin of AIDS and how its being used against populations.  On the subject of drug importation, many DEA agents, politicians, soldiers and police officers have come forward on the fact that criminal elements in the government ship in the drugs and the fake war on drugs.

When I was in high school in the mid 1990’s, my church had an annual black history lecture series when local doctors, lawyers and historicans gave presentations. I clearly remember after one of the lectures, a former Vietnam vet, told us that the government shipped in the drugs and that he saw them ship the drugs in the caskets of the dead soliders. I thought that was very creative, so that always stuck in my memory.  Then, a few months ago, I saw Denzel Washington’s movie, American Gangster. Guess how he trafficked the drugs in the country from Vietnam? The movie confirmed that vet’s story from a decade earlier. This is also how a lot of “theories” are passed around in the black community. I didn’t believe nor discount what the vet told us. I simply stored it away. Years later it was comfirmed.

Again, do a google search. I don’t want to throw websites and articles at you. There is so much evidence, there isn’t enough space or time on this website to fully vet the these issues.

African Americans are right to be concerned about the above mentioned issues. We have been the target of much medical experimentation. However, where I would disagree with Wright’s presentation of the facts is that I would say ALL races and groups of people are under attack, not blacks only. Poor and middle class whites are under attack as well. Due to the ‘elites’ eugenics racial mindset, they must dumb down the white population as well, because they have the capacity to challenge the elites hegemony. So, what’s being tested on minority populations will be used on whites as well.

-Vincent

March 29, 4:10 pm | [comment link]
11. Words Matter wrote:

the church should remain free from political entanglement.

So the Catholic bishops need to shut up about abortion and gay marraige?

March 29, 5:13 pm | [comment link]
12. Jeffersonian wrote:

I think we need to call someone with a net for Vince.

March 29, 5:26 pm | [comment link]
13. Vincent Lerins wrote:

#11 Words Matter:

All ministers should preach and teach why issues like abortion or gay marriage are theologically wrong. The ministers of the church should address the issues of the day from the pulpits. They should focus on teaching the theology behind marriage and reinforcing those values in members of the church. If individual members of the church want to be active in politics, that’s great! The church as a whole should not be involved in politics. That’s not our “job.” We will have plenty of time to rule and reign with Christ when he returns and establishes his eternal kingdom. As Jesus told Pilate, ‘My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

-Vincent

March 29, 9:51 pm | [comment link]
14. Katherine wrote:

No, Vincent; just because you can find it on Google doesn’t mean it’s true.  The Tuskegee experiments were horrifying.  That doesn’t mean HIV is the same thing.  It’s not.  In the same vein, I wondered why people were crazy enough to think that Bush had the levees dynamited in Hurricane Katrina.  It turned out it was because the New Orleans city government actually did this in 1927, but there’s not a shred of evidence for it during the hurricane.

But I do think that the church should stay out of politics with the exception of issues on which Christian teaching is very clear:  abortion and marriage, for instance.

March 30, 1:41 am | [comment link]
15. Words Matter wrote:

I, on the other hand, think the bible has very clear teaching on matters of social justice and that’s fair game for preaching. My problems with Rev. Wright aren’t with his topics, but his arguments.  We can (and often do) argue about the means to achieving a just society, but the end is a a fundamentally Christian vision.

What I can’t figure out is how:

The ministers of the church should address the issues of the day from the pulpits.

isn’t “political”.  And I can’t figure out what “the church as a whole” might consist of, and how that whole avoids political statements, since politics and morality overlap. Obviously, ministers (not Catholic priests!) might enter the political arena as candidates, but are hardly “the church as a whole”. The U.S. Catholic bishops have spoken out on any number of issues, as have the Episcopal House of Bishops, and various other protestant bodies (maybe Orthodox as well, I’m not sure).  Is that “political”? When a Catholic bishop tells a pro-choice candidate to abstain from Communion, that’s seen as “political” (I would argue that it’s not, btw). 

It seems to me that at the level of basic principles, politics and morality are pretty much the same. Not, of course, in temporal governmental structures or specific policy issues, but in stating “this is right” and “that is wrong”.

March 30, 2:33 am | [comment link]
16. Katherine wrote:

Words Matter, yes, the Bible has teachings on social justice.  The religious left, however, when it preaches “social justice,” is talking extensively about means as well as ends, and that’s where the difficulty lies.  Reasonable Christians can differ on what public policies will result in the most good for the most people, and on to the extent the government can or should confiscate property from some people to benefit others.

March 30, 3:16 am | [comment link]
17. Dave B wrote:

10. Vincent Lerins I believe that collectively christians are the church and we are the salt of the earth and we are to witness to the ends of the earth of the goodness of God and Jesus Christ, that is why we must speak in the public square about the wrongs of government.  If Rev Wright feels eating to many cold breakfast foods causes aids he has a responsiblity to speak out no matter how looney it seems.  I think threatening the tax status of churches is wrong. In the constitution the government is prevented from interfering in church and worship NOT the other way around.  The governament shall make no laws establishing a religion OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THERE OF. That is not hard to understand.  Only in liberal speak does the government have a say and christians are prevented from voicing thier opinion.  Equally as old a black church tradition as the prophetic sermon is the voter list.  Again this is the shepherds of God’s church guiding the flock.  When we stand for what is right we are evangalizing.

March 30, 9:22 am | [comment link]
18. Dave B wrote:

The witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer still resonnates today because of his strong christian witness against Hilter

March 30, 9:28 am | [comment link]
19. John Wilkins wrote:

Churches are called to hold governments accountable for their actions.  But they recognize that states are different than churches.  I think the state should care for the poor:  if it doesn’t, as an American, I think it’s not doing its job:  and it intrinsically encourages violence and despair. 

Phil, I think you get to one of the crucial points in the matter:  Wright is condemning Americans - and he is an American.  That you don’t see him as an American is exactly what most blacks fear: that they are in hostile territory.  In fact, this was the attitude of most white Americans for most of our history - blacks were a blight upon this nation.  This nation, for most of us, is European in culture.  That’s America.  Until we acknolwedge that we have some African at our very core, we implicitly say that blacks are ... not American.  Wright WAS critiquing American as an American:  and that most people don’t here it simply evinces the different languages people are speaking.  Personally, what I heard was not that Wright hates America.  Wright was simply saying, if American doesn’t take care of the poor, God damns America.  Does he want it?  Well, itsounded like it:  but is that rhetoric?  or is it desire?  Personally, I think Wright would much rather we care for the poor.  Did he really want the “chickens coming home”?  that wasn’t the point of the sermon.  His point is that even faithful people justify the killing of innocents, and that it is really easy to do.

March 30, 7:38 pm | [comment link]
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