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Obama’s Dubious God Whisperer

"Interested in the world beyond his own" might have been a cute double entendre for a preacher if it didn't actually refer to cuddling up to dictators and Jew-baiting demagogues:  Mr. Obama was entranced by Mr. Wright, whose sermons fused … Read More

By / April 30, 2007

"Interested in the world beyond his own" might have been a cute double entendre for a preacher if it didn't actually refer to cuddling up to dictators and Jew-baiting demagogues: 

Mr. Obama was entranced by Mr. Wright, whose sermons fused analysis of the Bible with outrage at what he saw as the racism of everything from daily life in Chicago to American foreign policy. Mr. Obama had never met a minister who made pilgrimages to Africa, welcomed women leaders and gay members and crooned Teddy Pendergrass rhythm and blues from the pulpit. Mr. Wright was making Trinity a social force, initiating day care, drug counseling, legal aid and tutoring. He was also interested in the world beyond his own; in 1984, he traveled to Cuba to teach Christians about the value of nonviolent protest and to Libya to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, along with the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Mr. Wright said his visits implied no endorsement of their views.

Might I offer a word of fraternal advice to black civil or political leaders who make faith inextricable from their supposed liberalism? It is not quite enough to say that you don't necessarily or always agree with the vile Louis Farrakhan, among whose more memorable animadversions are, "It's the wicked Jews, the false Jews that are promoting lesbianism, homosexuality, [and] Zionists have manipulated Bush and the American government," and, "White people are potential humans — they haven't evolved yet." You should unequivocally repudiate him. (In Wright's case, a few unkind words for Qaddafi and Castro would also be nice.)

This past Martin Luther King Day I attended a service at the New York Synagogue, presided over by Rabbi Marc Schneier, the co-founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which aims to repair any cultural breach that may have developed between the black and Jewish communities. Russell Simmons, the other founder as well as Schneier's friend, was an invited speaker. Simmons isn't known for being the savviest velor tracksuit-wearing mogul alive, but please believe me when I tell you that it was value for money to hear him mention the name Farrakhan as an admirable civil rights leaderamidst a packed house of davening Reform Manhattan Jews. I'm not sure if the congregation misheard him or was just too polite to raise a fuss (itself a sign of just how far black-Jewish relations have improved). But Farrakhan's enduring prestige within ostensibly progressive black quarters is a disgrace, and it should be a bigger one that no amount of race sensitivity or political correctness mitigates.

Rep. Keith Ellison, he of the Thomas Jefferson Koran oath-taking cleverness, lied about his affiliation with the Nation of Islam and its sordid bowtied poobah, and when Ellison was found out on it and offered a feckless and deceitful apology to Minnesotan Jewish groups, which calmly let the matter go and in some cases even endorsed him.

Any national candidate's religion is always legitimate grounds for inquiry but much has been made recently of Mitt Romney's Mormonism. Given that religion's 19th century cult origins and, shall we say, financially informed theodicy, there's good reason to expect the Republican candidate to be taxed on his real thoughts about Joseph Smith, polygamy and the revelations of the Angel Moroni. Romney's evasiveness or attempt to have it both ways will be used against him as evidence that he's loyal first to the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints, second to the U.S. Constitution. Also, that he's easily taken in by hucksters, rogues and con-man — not the most encouraging sign of one's soundness for high government.

When asked what he thinks of his own reverened and baptizer and spiritual enabler, Obama lamely states that Jeremiah Wright is a "child of the sixties." That may well be true, but even reconstructed hippies should be held responsible for their meretricious alliances. So should candidates for the White House. 

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