Obama's Faith: Rumor vs. Reality

Beliefnet answers your questions about Barack Obama's faith, including rumors about Islam, his church, and his upbringing.

Continued from page 1

 Obama's Church and the Farrakhan Factor

Q: I've heard that Obama attends a black supremacist church.

A: Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, the fifth largest mainline Protestant denomination in the U.S. The church’s website describes it as “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian….We are an African people, and remain 'true to our native land,' the mother continent, the cradle of civilization."

The United Church of Christ’s general minister and president, Rev. John H. Thomas, has called emails that claim the church is racist, “absurd, mean-spirited and politically motivated.” He says the church is proud of its Afrocentric heritage: “This is no different from the hundreds of UCC churches from the German, Evangelical and Reformed stream that continue to own and celebrate their German heritage, insisting on annual sausage and sauerkraut dinners and singing Stille Nacht on Christmas Eve.” Prominent religious historian and University of Chicago professor Martin Marty, who is white, has said publicly that he and his wife have worshipped at the church and have always been made to feel welcome. “[F]or Trinity,” Marty has said, “Being ‘unashamedly black’ does not mean being ‘anti-white.’”

Q: But hasn’t Trinity United’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, supported Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan?

A: Trumpet Newsmagazine, which Wright founded 25 years ago as a church publication but which now exists separately--his daughters serve as publisher and executive editor, according to the Washington Post--last year gave its Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Trumpeter Award to Louis Farrakhan, who has been strongly criticized for his anti-Semitic statements. Wright, who praised Farrakhan in Trumpet for “his integrity and honesty,” also accompanied Farrakhan on a 1984 visit to Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi and said last year that when Obama’s enemies learned of the trip, “a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell.” When the Washington Post reported on the Trumpet award this year, Obama said in a statement, “I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan.” He characterized the award as “not a decision with which I agree.”

Earlier this year, Farrakhan praised Obama in a public speech, calling him “the hope of the entire world.” The incident came up at a February debate, when Hillary Clinton remarked that she’d rejected support from an anti-Semitic group in New York. Obama noted that he’d denounced Farrakhan earlier but told Clinton: "I’m happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce [Farrakhan]."

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Dan Gilgoff and Ansley Roan
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