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Obama’s Race-based Theology?

Posted by Tony Listi on February 8, 2008 

Obama’s church: More about Africa than God?
Chicago congregation has ‘non-negotiable commitment’ to ‘mother continent’

January 09, 2008

By Ron Strom
© 2008

While some election commentators are looking carefully at the level of devotion Sen. Barack Obama has to Islam, it is the strong African-centered and race-based philosophy of the senator’s United Church of Christ that has some bloggers crying foul.

Obama and Wright

Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago is where Obama was baptized as a Christian two decades ago, even borrowing the title for one of his books, “The Audacity of Hope,” from a sermon by his senior pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

The first paragraph of the “About Us” section of the church’s website mentions the word “black” or “Africa” five times:

We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian. … Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain “true to our native land,” the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.
Focus on the African continent continues in two of the 10-point vision of the church:
A congregation committed to ADORATION.
A congregation preaching SALVATION.
A congregation actively seeking RECONCILIATION.
A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA.
A congregation committed to BIBLICAL EDUCATION.
A congregation committed to CULTURAL EDUCATION.
A congregation committed to LIBERATION.
A congregation committed to RESTORATION.
A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY.
Commented Florida blogger “Ric” in discussing vision No. 4: “Commitment to Africa? I thought Christians were to have a commitment to God alone?”

The blogger continued: “First off just by this 10-point layout describing Barack Obama’s church, we see that on some issues they are not clear. Even though it sounds good to the reader, it still leaves one guessing and not knowing where they truly stand as a congregation.

“Second, the church seems to place Africa and African people before God, and says nothing about other races in their community or a commitment to help the people in their community.

“Third, the church seems to promote communism by the term they use called ‘economic parity.’ Is this what Barack Obama truly believes?”

On another page on the website, Pastor Wright explains his theology, saying it 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.”

Wright rebuts those who might call his philosophy racist, saying, “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.

“African-centered thought, unlike Eurocentrism, does not assume superiority and look at everyone else as being inferior.”

The church’s official mission statement says it has been “called by God to be a congregation that is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that does not apologize for its African roots!”

The Jan. 6 Sunday bulletin had an announcement about how to register for the winter Bible study held by the “Center for African Biblical Studies.”

Another page in the 36-page bulletin announced the “Black and Christian New Member Class.” All those wanting to become full-fledged members of Trinity “MUST complete your new member class!” warned the announcement, which included a schedule of class times. There was no mention of what class a prospective member might take if he or she were not black.

Demonstrating the church’s quest toward “economic parity,” one of the associate pastors, the Rev. Reginald Williams Jr., wrote a blurb in the bulletin decrying the powers that be for not making “fresh food stores” available in the black neighborhoods of Chicago.

Wrote Williams in a discussion of infant mortality in the black community: “In West Englewood, one of the five worst areas in the city, McDonald’s restaurants abound, while fresh food stores are lacking. The same resources should be made available in each and every neighborhood in this city.

“This is an issue which we must all attack. We must push our policymakers for programs for health education, good stores for proper nutrition and access to health care.”

The thought for the day on the same page was a quote from former Rep. Shirley Chisholm: “Health is a human right, not a privilege to be purchased.”

Obama recently talked about his faith with the Concord, N.H., Monitor.

“I’ve always said that my faith informs my values, and in that sense it helps shape my worldview, and I don’t think anyone should be required to leave their religious sensibilities at the door,” Obama told the paper last week. “But we have to translate those concerns into a universal language that can be subject to argument and doesn’t turn into a contest of any one of us thinking that God is somehow on our side.”

The candidate told the Monitor he doesn’t buy everything his pastor proclaims, saying: “There are some things I agree with my pastor about, some things I disagree with him about. I come from a complex racial background with a lot of different strains in me: white, black, I grew up in Hawaii. I tend to have a strong streak of universalism, not just in my religious beliefs, but in my ethical and moral beliefs.”

Obama’s popularity has soared in the last several days, with journalists from NBC even admitting to getting caught up in the “feel good” aura of the campaign.

As WND reported, the network’s Brian Williams noted on MSNBC yesterday: “”[Reporter] Lee [Cowan] says it’s hard to stay objective covering this guy. Courageous for Lee to say, to be honest. … I think it is a very interesting dynamic.”

9 Responses to “Obama’s Race-based Theology?”

  1. underdog said

    of course you can look at Dominion theology
    white-o-centric christianity like the KKK

    yep… guilt by distorted association demonstrates your superior intellectual capabilities.

  2. underdog said

    of course you will not un-moderate these commments because the last thing you can stand is the burning light of truth and honest debate

  3. foospro86 said

    Why do people in the blogosphere immediately assume I will delete/unapprove their comments? They don’t even know me. A little humility and composure would go a long way. People post so much junk trying to sell things and spam blogs that I must moderate all comments to make sure the comments are uncluttered.

    The KKK is not Christianity and they are not Christians, no matter what they may claim for themselves. I am a devout Catholic anyway, so I have a very strong opinion of about how Christian certain Protestant denominations are (spectrum).

    Distorted association? Obama went to this church! He admits that his “faith informs [his] values” (a truism that applies to everyone). And thus these values will influence his public policy. The American people have a right to investigate what values Obama has, and if he says his values have been influenced by a certain church or theology, then we have a right to scrutinize that church. This is true no matter what the religion. Religion inescapably influences politics.

  4. underdog said

    very well

    I apologize for the crassness.

    i simply suggest you go to the Obama website. Take time to read, contemplate and digest his actual positions on key issues. Perhaps read his open profession of faith in the redemptive blood of jesus christ. accept that indeed there may be other points of view, that some may feel, rightly or wrongly that they ahve a different perspective of life – and thus have other points of priority.

    it is not necessarily bad to take pride in your irish heritage, your polish great great grandmother, your scottish half uncle, your german great uncle grandfathers brother twice removed.

    perhaps dumping green die in the chicago river on that white festival known as st. patricks day should be outlawed by constitutional ammendment as being…

    irish-‘o-centric (hey that kinda works with the ‘o in there eh)

    If afrocentric preachers want to cheer their ancestral heritage from the pulpit exactly why do you need to be so disturbed by that as to rant on about it and heap dung upon the Junior Senator just because he attends.

    Hey … I grew up a Lutheran. Chaticism and all.. Then I went to the holocause museum in Washington DC. You should go there sometime.

    Before we draw swords, and ready our slings and arrows against the evil afrocentric, liberal demons….

    We should examine the skeletons in our own closets.

    Generally you might then just keep your mouth shut.

  5. Editor said

    Newsweek did an investigation on Obama’s church and found nothing racist or separatist. The congregations is part of the larger United Church of Christ, but the one he attends happens to be the largest congregation and also happens to be predominantly black. Is it bad when Jewish people encourage history, education and links with Israel or other Jews? Is it bad when Greeks send their children to Greek School? Or when Hispanics have services in spanish and enourage Hispanic associations? This is often an unspoken rule. This church tells it publicly and does NOT exclude other races from joining. But, why is that a bad thing?

  6. foospro86 said

    I take a little pride in my Italian heritage. I have pride in being an American. I have pride in being a political conservative. There is nothing wrong with this. But I try my utmost not let these other elements of my identity influence or dominate my most important identity as a Christian, a Catholic. Rather, my Catholicism guides and influences every other part of me.

    I don’t think Christianity has anything to do with race or racism, and this is clear from the Bible (Gal 3:26-29). To add Afro-centrism or Black Power to Christianity is to destroy Christianity. Within the context of Christianity, there are no children of Africa, only children of God. There is no black value system, only the Christian value system. There is no black (or white) anything, only the Christian everything. And all these heretical and perverse beliefs have political implications.
    Mr. Wright claims that the TUUC is inspired by James Cone and his book “Black Power and Black Theology.” But what exactly does Cone espouse? In order for the oppressed blacks to regain their identity, they must affirm the very characteristic which the oppressor ridicules–blackness. Black people must withdraw and form their own culture, their own way of life. He writes, “There is, then, a desperate need for a black theology, a theology whose sole purpose is to apply the freeing power of the gospel to black people under white oppression.” Sounds pretty separatist to me. Did Newsweek bother to study this intellectual godfather of Obama’s church? How about doing some of your own research rather than believing the mainstream media on faith?

    Also, race aside, this church espouses economic beliefs. “Economic parity” sounds like communism to me. Indeed, liberation theology is merely Marxism behind a pseudo-Christian facade. Hopefully, one day the Left will run out of euphemisms for its failed policies, or at least people will finally stop falling for them.

  7. Genevieve said

    IF the United Church of Christ does promote Afro-Centric beliefs of Christianity to the detriment of other races, then and only then is it cultish.

    I am a Catholic. The Catholic Church in the past has made many mistakes with other faiths. It has made two milleniums of mistakes, but after Vatican 1 and Vatican 2 we created strong ties to the Jewish, Islamic, and other Christian faiths.

    We state that we believe in only one Roman Catholic and Apostalic Church, but we NEVER state in the Mass any hate or debasement of any other faith.

    Nor do we place one race above another. The Roman Catholic Church by number has more blacks, then any other Christian Faith (I am of course including Africa and South American blacks).

    If the United Church of Christ does indeed write papers and makes statements of this nature then I call into question any political leader who attends this type of religion and I would not want his or her to represent me.

  8. Genevieve said

    Newsweek did an investigation on Obama’s church and found nothing racist or separatist. The congregations is part of the larger United Church of Christ, but the one he attends happens to be the largest congregation and also happens to be predominantly black. Is it bad when Jewish people encourage history, education and links with Israel or other Jews? Is it bad when Greeks send their children to Greek School? Or when Hispanics have services in spanish and enourage Hispanic associations? This is often an unspoken rule. This church tells it publicly and does NOT exclude other races from joining. But, why is that a bad thing?

    Hispanics have services in Spanish? You mean as part of the Catholic Church well of course. We have services in almost all the languages of the world. We are over 1.1B and after Vatican 1 we no longer require the Mass in Latin. In African, we have the Mass in every local language. I don’t understand what you are trying to allude to with that statement.

    Having the Mass in a language you can understand is not placing one cult over another it is so the people can understand the Mass and participate.

  9. foospro86 said

    Genevieve, thanks for your comments. But why say “IF”? I’ve provided evidence that the TUCC does in fact promote an Afro-centric perversion of Christianity. Are you reluctant to make up your mind about the TUCC?

    Also, this post is not about Catholicism, but you’ve helped me recognize another point, which is: Christianity is super-cultural, above all cultures. It cannot be contained by culture. It may accomodate culture with regard to language, certain customs, and local circumstances. The Catholic Church exemplifies this. But Christianity is also fundamentally meant to break down culture where there is conflict between culture (including American culture in some respects) and Christian doctrine. Therefore, TUCC, which seems to ESSENTIALLY incorporate race, a certain culture, and a political ideology (Marxism) into its very doctrine, cannot be Christian. And this has political implications because, of course, the addition or admixture of political racial ideology with Christianity is the very source of the heresy!

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