Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

obamawright.jpgThis isn’t the first time Barack Obama’s church family has gotten him in hot water. Remember when his campaign caught flack from the gay community for staging a Gospel music tour of South Carolina that featured “ex-gay” singer Donnie McClurkin? Now it’s Obama’s longtime minister, Jeremiah Wright, who’s in the spotlight. Yesterday, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen blasted Obama for declining to criticize Wright after his church’s magazine gave an award to Louis Farrakhan and said he “truly epitomized greatness”:

For most Americans, though, Farrakhan epitomizes racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism. Over the years, he has compiled an awesome record of offensive statements, even denigrating the Holocaust by falsely attributing it to Jewish cooperation with Hitler — “They helped him get the Third Reich on the road.” His history is a rancid stew of lies.
It’s important to state right off that nothing in Obama’s record suggests he harbors anti-Semitic views or agrees with Wright when it comes to Farrakhan. Instead, as Obama’s top campaign aide, David Axelrod, points out, Obama often has said that he and his minister sometimes disagree. Farrakhan, Axelrod told me, is one of those instances.
Fine. But where I differ with Axelrod and, I assume, Obama is that praise for an anti-Semitic demagogue is not a minor difference or an intrachurch issue. The Obama camp takes the view that its candidate, now that he has been told about the award, is under no obligation to speak out on the Farrakhan matter. It was not Obama’s church that made the award but a magazine. This is a distinction without much of a difference. And given who the parishioner is, the obligation to speak out is all the greater. He could be the next American president. Where is his sense of outrage?

Today, The Baltimore Sun reports that Wright took took some shots at Hillary Clinton in last Sunday’s sermon:

Some argue that blacks should vote for Clinton “because her husband was good to us,” [Wright] continued.
“That’s not true,” he thundered. “He did the same thing to us that he did to Monica Lewinsky.”
Many in the crowd were on their feet, applauding – amazed, amused and moved by the fiery rhetoric of their preacher, who is about to retire….
In a statement released by his campaign last night, Obama responded to questions about Wright’s comments on Sunday.
“As I’ve told Reverend Wright, personal attacks such as this have no place in this campaign or our politics, whether they’re offered from a platform at a rally or the pulpit of a church,” he said. “I don’t think of the pastor of my church in political terms.
“Like a member of my own family, there are things he says at times with which I deeply disagree,” he said. “But as he prepares to retire, that doesn’t detract from my affection for Reverend Wright or appreciation for the good works he has done.”

What’s interesting to God-o-Meter is that the Obama campaign distanced itself from Wright’s attack of Clinton even as it has stayed mum on his embrace of Farrakhan. With the Jeremiah Wright stories piling up, God-o-Meter will keep watching closely for Obama’s reaction. It doubts Obama will run too far from the man who game him the title to his latest book, The Audacity of Hope. For one, Obama is by all accounts a true believer whose life was changed by Wright. And after more than a year of establishing his religious bona fides, is Obama really going to throw his pastor under the bus?


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