divorce.jpgWhen Barack Obama announced he was resigning from Trinity United Church of Christ this weekend, God-o-Meter was surprised to learn that the decision was born as much out of sympathy to the church as out of anger with recent remarks from Trinity’s pulpit by Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Rev. Michael Pfleger. Wouldn’t leaving out of sympathy with the church (for bringing it under such national scrutiny) open Obama up to criticism that he should have quit as a rebuke to Wright, Pfleger, and perhaps current Trinity senior pastor Otis Moss III, who praised Pfleger after his recent sermon about what he called Hillary Clinton’s white superiority complex?
But Obama’s expressed sympathy for his church as he left it may have gotten him something important: a degree of good will from churchgoing voters. Certainly, press reports from Trinity UCC on Sunday suggested that Obama’s former fellow parishioners were more understanding of Obama’s decision than they were angry about it. And as the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life scholar John Green told Bloomberg recently: “Even in the evangelical community, it’s very common for people to move from one church to the other.”
Compare Obama’s ever-so-careful departure from Trinity–he was in discussions with Moss for weeks before he formally resigned–to McCain’s clumsy public divorces from John Hagee and Rod Parsley. The reaction among evangelical leaders to McCain was much less forgiving, with the influential Christian Right activist Harry Jackson telling the Washington Post:

“He wants us to support him, but as soon as his back was against the wall, he overreacted. He is now less likely to get the evangelical vote and will have a difficult time getting strong endorsements from other ministers.”

Even in resigning from his church, Obama displays sensitivity to religious voters.


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