So, Barack Obama's decided to quit his church of 20 years.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed that this was done on a Saturday afternoon when not that many people are paying attention to the news. Obama's taking a page from the Clinton playbook and dropping a bombshell over the weekend, hoping that it'll mostly blow over by Monday.
But that's neither here nor there. Let's talk about quitting the church. Why did he decide to quit? Was it because the basic tenets of the church are considered by many to be racist? Because his long-time friend and mentor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, has been preaching hatred from the pulpit for the last 20 years? Maybe because he didn't want his children exposed to the abhorrent prejudice being taught there?
Nope. None of those things bothered him until they were brought forward in the press and made public.
And even now, he refuses to admit that the words screamed from that pulpit were vile and disgusting. He still insists that it's just a "cultural and stylistic gap" that makes it difficult for people to understand the "black church". Whatever the hell that means.
The primary reason he gives for quitting now is that he doesn't want the church subjected to the rigors of a presidential campaign. So, he basically broke up with Trinity United using the old "it's not you, it's me" routine. A little weaselly, I think.
He also stated that he doesn't want the words of the church speakers imputed to him. Boo-hoo, how unfair. The reason the words are imputed to him is because he sat there and listened to those words for 20 years! It's hard to claim that you don't agree with the fundamental beliefs of a church you have voluntarily attended (as an adult) for 20 years.
When this whole mess was dragged into the open, he said he'd never heard any controversial sermons from Wright. Then he said, oops, maybe he HAD heard some controversial sermons, but he couldn't disown Wright because he was like an uncle. Then, when Wright surfaced again, he actually did disown him because Wright disrespected him. Yet another time he claimed that he belonged to the church because he enjoyed the fellowship of the other members, not because of Jeremiah Wright. Well, in the videos we've seen, all of the people in the church are clapping and shouting "AMEN" after these racially charged rants. What are we to make of that?
Throughout all of the flip-flopping and the maneuvering and the squirming of this political Twister game, he's never once just come right out and said that Trinity United Church is a bigoted organization and that he doesn't want to be a part of it's message of hate and victimization.
Many people want to make this about the views of Jeremiah Wright, or about the views of Michael Pfleger as if they are just passing acquaintances. They want to say that Obama can't be held responsible for the words of someone he barely knows. The problem with that argument is that these men aren't distant satellites in the Obamaverse. These are men he has referred to as his spiritual mentors. They were advisers to his campaign. He attended Wright's church for 20 years, donated large sums of his personal funds to Trinity United and funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Pfleger's church when he was a state senator. That makes it hard to believe that he doesn't support the messengers AND the message.
If you can stand it, these three youtube videos contain the press conference in it's entirety. There's lots of talking, but I think it's just as important to note what's not said.
If you'd prefer to just read a transcript of the Q&A, here's a link:
© Jana Ogletree 2008