wright3.jpgOne of the key arguments Jeremiah Wright has advanced in defending himself against charges of radicalism is that criticisms of him by the news media and by conservatives represent an attack on the entire black church. God-o-Meter, though, has been struck by the number of religious experts who’ve noted that Wright’s Church, Trinity UCC, is not a typical black church–that it’s much more progressive, intellectual, and affluent.
Quoting from an Obama biography, The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber argues that those qualities–at least the first two–are what drew Obama to Wright in the 1980s:

Wright remains a maverick among Chicago’s vast assortment of black preachers. He will question Scripture when he feels it forsakes common sense; he is an ardent foe of mandatory school prayer; and he is a staunch advocate for homosexual rights, which is almost unheard-of among African-American ministers. Gay and lesbian couples, with hands clasped, can be spotted in Trinity’s pews each Sunday. Even if some blacks consider Wright’s church serving only the bourgeois set, his ministry attracts a broad cross section of Chicago’s black community. Obama first noticed the church because Wright had placed a “Free Africa” sign out front to protest continuing apartheid. The liberal, Columbia-educated Obama was attracted to Wright’s cerebral and inclusive nature, as opposed to the more socially conservative and less educated ministers around Chicago. Wright developed into a counselor and mentor to Obama as Obama sought to understand the power of Christianity in the lives of black Americans, and as he grappled with the complex vagaries of Chicago’s black political scene.

That helps explain why Obama grew close enough to Wright to consider him family. But it also sheds some light on Wright’s fierce iconoclastic streak, which has come back to haunt Obama. Rather than exemplifying the black church, Wright seemed to have rebelled against it. He did the same thing to Obama this week.


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