Why a Spiritual Advisor to President Bush Supports Obama

The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell explains his bond with Bush, his donations to Obama, and his defense of Jeremiah Wright.

BY: Dan Gilgoff


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Can you give an example of something Wright said that was “blown up” by the news media?


This whole G.D. America piece, that’s a great example. First of all, right after he says that, the next sentence, which they never play, says, “And that’s in the Bible.” Now, it’s not written that way in English, but the Hebraic expression basically says this: if America makes itself and views itself as God, and not Yahweh, or the Lord God Almighty as God, then America basically is committing adultery, and then America is darning itself.


He never said “I would D. America.” He was saying that when the government begins to worship itself, then there is a price to be paid, and you basically fall into that category whether you want to or not.


It sounds like you agree with the point he was making.

It’s not my role to agree or disagree with him, but I think it is my role to contextualize what, in fact, he was actually saying. No Christian that I know would agree that idolatry is acceptable to God, and clearly that’s a breach of the Ten Commandments, among other things. So, as I understand it, the point that Pastor Wright was making is that when America places itself--its own self in an idolatrous position, then you are basically positioning yourself for bad news….

Whenever you take a snippet here or a snippet there of anybody’s sermons or messages over a 20-, 30-year period, it’s real easy to mischaracterize them, including Jesus. If you just looked at part of his ministry and him hanging out with the so-called prostitutes, if you would, and saying, "Woe to the Pharisees," and, "The first shall be last, the last shall be first," you just pick up a lot of those snippets and miss the "Love your neighbor as yourself." You can pretty much pick and choose sayings of Jesus that present him any way you want to, going all the way back to his very birth. I mean, you could make his mother look like a woman of ill repute. You know, who is this 13, 14, 15-year-old girl running around here walking the streets at night by herself, talking about the Lord gave her a baby?


Let’s talk about your relationship with President Bush. He’s widely perceived to be an evangelical, but he joined a Methodist church when he married Laura. As a Methodist minister, which do you consider him?


He’s a Methodist by membership. He’s probably evangelical by philosophy.


You’ve been described as his “spiritual advisor.”


That may be a bit of a misnomer… You know, the president and I have surely talked about matters of faith throughout his eight years. But it’s not as if he calls me seeking policy advice, political advice, or even personal advice. But we have a very solid relationship


How often have you been in touch during his second term?


Eight or nine times a year…. I typically call him. He seldom calls me. I may just call and leave a scripture with him. I may just call just to holler at him. I may call and say, "Hey, that was a great speech." I may call and say, "I disagree with this."


He’s the kind of guy, you know, you don’t have to kiss his behind. You can call him and tell him what you disagree with, and he will tell you why he says what he says and does what he does. He’s real good about that.


When’s the last time you called him to disagree?


I was up there for the Pope’s visit, actually. I can’t really go into it. Let’s just say we had a discussion about the economy. It was an interesting dialogue, because I assumed he had some influence that, in point of fact, he really does not have. He would say, “Well, wait a minute... you can’t lay that at my feet, because I don’t have any influence over that." But, contrary to some folks’ opinion, he is keenly aware of the challenges that Joseph and Josephine America are going through right now.


As an Obama supporter, you must have some serious policy differences with the President.


Our politics do not impact the integrity of our personal relationship... Folks think I’m a Republican because I basically supported the president... But, I have voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates as opposed to Republican candidates. I view myself as an Independent.

Continued on page 3: 'I happened to have been in DC before the war began...' »

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