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Friday, March 14, 2008

On My Faith and Church - Barack Obama

A special guest column by Barack Obama:

The pastor of my church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who recently preached his last sermon and is in the process of retiring, has touched off a firestorm over the last few days. He's drawn attention as the result of some inflammatory and appalling remarks he made about our country, our politics, and my political opponents.

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.

Because these particular statements by Rev. Wright are so contrary to my own life and beliefs, a number of people have legitimately raised questions about the nature of my relationship with Rev. Wright and my membership in the church. Let me therefore provide some context.

As I have written about in my books, I first joined Trinity United Church of Christ nearly twenty years ago. I knew Rev. Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago. He also led a diverse congregation that was and still is a pillar of the South Side and the entire city of Chicago. It's a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS.

Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he's been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.

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. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.

Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.

With Rev. Wright's retirement and the ascension of my new pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, III, Michelle and I look forward to continuing a relationship with a church that has done so much good. And while Rev. Wright's statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States.


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5 Comments:

Blogger Parson said...

Just because you attend a church doesn't mean you always agree with every word the preacher up there is saying. It's just another way the MSM is giving the GOP more mud for the general election campaign.

title="comment permalink">March 14, 2008 9:02 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

John-
Interesting... as I have been infuriated the last few days as people have been attacking Obama for what the pastor of his church has said AND I was just reading tonight in his first book about his first meetings with Reverend Wright and the first service Obama attended at Trinity. These attacks on both sides are just out of hand in my opinion. I'm growing tired before the real fight even begins. The repubs must be loving it. Why are the dems fighting each other instead of the republicans? What's wrong with us?
Also, thank you for the support you've shown me in my quest to become smoke-free (like the bars in the Fort :) and I appreciated the page you sent me on the immediate and long-term benfits of not smoking. I need to print it out and post it all over my house! I'm still struggling, but know I'll get there. Thanks so much!

title="comment permalink">March 15, 2008 1:44 AM  
Blogger Mary Ellen said...

Reverend Wright's sermons, especially the one where he speaks of the "black" Jesus being killed by the "white Italians" was racist. That was only one where he spoke with such dripping hatred for "white" Americans or "white" Europeans.

Now, if Hillary Clinton attended regular meetings of someone who spoke of white supremacy or hatred for blacks, she would be dubbed a member of the KKK. The Obama supporters would be up in arms. You can't separate these sermons and these words from the man who gave them. They weren't written for him, they came from his cold heart. And yet, Obama, after being affiliated with this church for almost 20 years is saying that NONE of that rubbed off on him? If a white person spent 20 years being good friends and calling a member of the KKK a "mentor", that would not bode badly on that person?

No, Obama can't run from this. He said that he didn't agree with some of the things he said. Which things didn't he agree with? Did he agree with the part about white Italians killing Jesus because he was black? Did he agree that America brought on the attacks of 911 herself? The only thing he agreed to is to distance himself from Rev. Wright during this campaign. If he's elected, what role will Rev. Wright have in his office? Will he make him National Head of the Black Christian Coalition, so he can spread more hatred and division in this country? These are questions that should and will be asked. How do you trust a man who calls that horrible Reverend a "mentor" and a friend?

Like I said, if it were Hillary, you guys would be screaming from the rooftops for her to step down from the race, and you know it.

title="comment permalink">March 15, 2008 9:31 AM  
Blogger John Good said...

Mary Ellen - We disagree on this, and I refuse to argue with you over it. I think you choose to refuse to believe anything the man says:

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.

That answers the "which statements" query. Wright would obviously not be given any sort of position in an Obama presidency.

title="comment permalink">March 15, 2008 11:07 PM  
Blogger John Good said...

Angie - I'm glad that my words have been encouraging to you. If my addictive personality can kick the "nic", than there's hope for all of us! =)

title="comment permalink">March 15, 2008 11:08 PM  

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