Christian Brotherhood

I attended a white, Southern, fundamentalist church during the Vietnam War years. Having heard preachers who poured out enough fire and brimstone to get the whole church moaning, I was not impressed with all the fuss about Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. In my church I heard the minister say things that were bellicose, callous and misogynistic. By that church’s interpretation of Revelations, the Holy Land was destined to end up as a glass-bottom parking lot. Or maybe a nice, flat landing strip for the Second Coming. If you went trolling through the sermons preached in those years you would have found plenty of sensational statements, especially when they got speaking in tongues. But in all fairness, they spent most of their time telling their congregation to live right and follow the Bible. I left that church not because of what the minister said, but for spiritual differences. I’m just a natural pagan is all.

Contrary to the shocked, shocked impression some commentators have, church members don’t jump up and leave every time the minister says something they disagree with. It’s not a huge aberration for a minister to use strong, or even shocking language. They are preachers, not politicians. It’s not fair to pull some words from sermons and present them without any context of the whole sermon or the whole ministry of the church.

It is disappointing that Senator Clinton seems to want to pull attention back to the Reverend Wright controversy. She’s made it fair to take a look at her own history. Talking Points Memo has posted an opinion by the minister of a church that Senator Clinton attended, Foundry United Methodist. The minister, Rev. Dean J. Snyder, defends Rev. Wright. By the way, Foundry looks like a church where Sen. Obama would feel right at home.

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an outstanding church leader whom I have heard speak a number of times. He has served for decades as a profound voice for justice and inclusion in our society. He has been a vocal critic of the racism, sexism and homophobia which still tarnish the American dream. To evaluate his dynamic ministry on the basis of two or three sound bites does a grave injustice to Dr. Wright, the members of his congregation, and the African-American church which has been the spiritual refuge of a people that has suffered from discrimination, disadvantage, and
violence. Dr. Wright, a member of an integrated denomination, has
been an agent of racial reconciliation while proclaiming perceptions
and truths uncomfortable for some white people to hear…

Check out the website of Foundry United Methodist Church for the whole text, and Talking Points Memo for commentary. Even though I’m just a pagan I have to admire this show of Christian brotherhood.


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