Whether it’s fair to Obama or not, I think that’s whistling past the graveyard. David Broder was correct this morning when he said on Meet the Press that many people may legitimately be left wondering why Obama chose to associate, and keep associating with, a pastor who preaches the sort of crazy stuff Jeremiah Wright does, when he could have chosen any number of churches and pastors in South Chicago when he was starting out.
The great problem in this whole mess over Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama is the lack of distinction between the political and the spiritual. Or, more precisely, the wanton political manipulation of the spiritual by all parties.
There are those (this isn’t addressed to Rod) who are pushing this issue because they see in it potential for Obama’s destruction – in Rev. Wright they see a Rev. Willie Horton who can scare whites to the polls by exposing very scary black preachers.
The prospect of this is exactly why Christians need to be standing up for the religious liberty of men like Jeremiah Wright… why it is isn’t acceptable to be saying “Whether it’s fair to Obama or not, I think….”
There is a spiritual dialogue this country desperately needs right now. One between the center city black church and the suburban evangelical church and a dialogue between the left and right wherever they find themselves.
For the reality is that Rev. Wright’s words are far more than choice clips that have been circulating around the world these past days. His words over the past decades address the despair and hopelessness that too many people in the center city feel. They feel disenfranchised and left behind. They live lives as second class citizens. And sometimes that gets expressed in anger – stunner.
No matter how easy Rev. Wright has made it with his ridiculous words, we need to resist the temptation to throw out in depth debates issues of economic, racial, and social justice. In fact, in this holy week, we need them to begin again.