Obama & McCain's Spiritual Advisors
Robalini's Note: It's telling that when Obama's religious advisor states some uncomfortable truths, Obama predictably betrays and denounces him, while when McCain's advisor feeds intolerance and hatred, McCain doesn't say anything (nor is he expected to.)
March 15, 2008
Obama Denounces His Pastor’s Statements
By JODI KANTOR
In the handful of years Senator Barack Obama has spent in the national spotlight, his stance toward his pastor has gone from glowing praise to growing distance to — as of Friday — strong criticism.
On Friday, Mr. Obama called a grab bag of statements by his longtime minister, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., “inflammatory and appalling.”
“I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue,” he wrote in a campaign statement that was his strongest in a series of public disavowals of his pastor’s views over the past year.
Earlier in the week, several television stations played clips in which Mr. Wright, of Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago, referred to the United States as the “U.S. of K.K.K. A.” and said the Sept. 11 attacks were the result of corrupt American foreign policy.
On Friday, Senator John McCain’s campaign forwarded a Wall Street Journal opinion piece to reporters in which Mr. Wright was quoted as saying, “Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run,” and accusing the United States of importing drugs, exporting guns and training murderers.
Later in the day, Rush Limbaugh dwelled on Mr. Wright in his radio program, calling him “a race-baiter and a hatemonger.”
In the statement he released a few hours later, Mr. Obama, known for his uplifting messages about national unity, professed a certain innocence about his pastor’s most incendiary messages.
“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,” he said.
The eight-paragraph statement, first posted on the Web site The Huffington Post, did not recount Mr. Wright’s claims but addressed concerns about whether Mr. Wright’s beliefs reflected Mr. Obama’s. “He has never been my political adviser,” Mr. Obama wrote. “He’s been my pastor.”
Mr. Obama has belonged to Trinity for two decades. He was married by Mr. Wright and his two daughters were baptized by him.
Mr. Obama credits a sermon of Mr. Wright’s, “The Audacity of Hope,” with drawing him to Christianity, and he used those words as the title of his second book.
But the evening before he announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Obama started to distance himself from Mr. Wright, canceling an invocation he had asked the minister to give at his presidential announcement.
Mr. Wright, 66, who last month fulfilled longstanding plans to retire, is a beloved figure in African-American Christian circles and a frequent guest in pulpits around the country. Since he arrived at Trinity in 1972, he has built a 6,000-member congregation through his blunt, charismatic preaching, which melds detailed scriptural analysis, black power, Afrocentrism and an emphasis on social justice; Mr. Obama praised the last quality in Friday’s statement.
His most powerful influence, said several ministers and scholars who have followed his career, is black liberation theology, which interprets the Bible as a guide to combating oppression of African-Americans.
He attracts audiences because of, not in spite of, his outspoken critiques of racism and inequality, said Dwight Hopkins, a professor at University of Chicago Divinity School, in an interview last year.
But Mr. Wright’s blistering statements about American racism can shock white audiences.
“If you’re black, it’s hard to say what you truly think and not upset white people,” said James Cone, a professor at Union Theological Seminary and the father of black liberation theology, who has known Mr. Wright since he was a seminary student.
Mr. Wright is no longer on Mr. Obama’s African American Religious Leadership Committee, though Mr. Obama’s aides would not elaborate on the circumstance of his departure, and Mr. Wright did not answer a message left on his cellphone requesting an interview.
The minister’s defenders say the statements that have been playing this week on television are outliers, taken out of context, and that he is not anti-white. The United Church of Christ, the denomination of the Chicago church, is overwhelmingly white. And Mr. Wright is an equal opportunity critic, often delivering scorching lectures about black society, telling audiences to improve their educations and work ethic.
“I can remember Jeremiah saying in probably half his sermons: Everyone who’s your color ain’t your kind,” Richard Sewell, a church member, said in an interview last year.
One of the statements that has been most replayed this week comes from the sermon Mr. Wright delivered following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards,” he said. “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
Asked in an interview last March to explain the sermon, Mr. Wright said he had been questioning the country’s desire for vengeance against the perpetrators, counseling his congregants to look inward instead.
Immediately after the attacks, the country’s response was “to pay back and kill,” he said. But before it got “holier than thou,” he said, the nation should have considered how its own policies had led to the events of that day. (Last year, Mr. Obama said, “The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification,” and added that he and his wife were at home on the day of the sermon, tending to their new baby.)
In the interview last spring, Mr. Wright expressed frustration at the breach in relationship with Mr. Obama, saying the candidate had already privately said that he might need to distance himself from his pastor. But perhaps the two could repair things, said Mr. Wright, pointing out that Mr. Obama’s opponent, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, had faced worse.
“At least there are no semen stains on any dresses,” Mr. Wright said, one of several digs he has taken at Mrs. Clinton.
“That kind of frankness scares people in the campaign,” he added.
McCain advisor: Destroy Islam
Thu, 13 Mar 2008
Televangelist Rod Parsley, a key McCain ally in Ohio and his spiritual adviser, has called for eradicating Islam as a 'false religion'.
Senator John McCain hailed Parsley, as the Ohio megachurch pastor called upon Christians to wage a "war" against Islam to destroy it.
On February 26, McCain appeared at a campaign rally in Cincinnati with Reverend Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus. During the rally McCain called the evangelical minister a "spiritual guide."
The leader of a 12,000-member congregation, Parsley has written several books outlining his fundamentalist religious outlook.
Parsley in his book "The 2005 Silent No More" in a chapter titled "Islam: The Deception of Allah," warns there is a "war between Islam and Christian civilization."
He also calls Islam an "anti-Christ religion", urging the US to launch a new crusade to eradicate Islam.
In the past Parsley's church has been accused of engaging in pro-Republican partisan activities in violation of its tax-exempt status.
McCain's relationship with Parsley is politically significant. In 2004, Parsley's church was credited with driving Christian fundamentalist voters to the polls for George W. Bush.