Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman


Why Obama’s Church Isn’t Actually Christian

posted by swaldman

Some very interesting comments on my post about whether the Internet is to blame for a rising number of people believing Obama is Muslim.
A few of them help me understand something that’s been puzzling me. Remember that whole Jeremiah Wright controversy, which dominated the news for about a month? It almost killed Obama’s candidacy but, I figured, well, at least this will teach people Obama isn’t a Muslim. He may have sat in the pews listening to a zealot but at least it was a Christian church and a Christian zealot.
Apparently not. Writes “Ricky Pickles”:

“Obama as an adult joined the a Black Liberation UCC church. There is decidedly nothing Christian about this religion.”

For what it’s worth, here’s a statement from the United Church of Christ website:

“The United Church of Christ embraces a theological heritage that affirms the Bible as the authoritative witness to the Word of God, the creeds of the ecumenical councils, and the confessions of the Reformation. The UCC has roots in the “covenantal” tradition–meaning there is no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members. Christ alone is Head of the church.”

I’m no theologian but that statement sounds Christian-ish.
“Sara” makes a slightly different argument for why Obama’s church wasn’t really Christian:

“Obama may not be a Muslim but he settled in a ‘Christian’ Black Nationalist church that sounds like the Nation of Islam. In addition his “mentor”, Rev. Wright, gave an award to the Nation of Islam leader and traveled to meet Quadifi with Farrahakan.”

There’s all sorts of reasons to complain about Wright; his church’s honoring of Farrahakan showed moral obtuseness. But it does not mean that all those people who showed up every week in that church to praise Christ were weren’t actually Christian.



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Michael

posted September 25, 2008 at 5:47 pm


Mocking the UCC as “non-Christian” is actually pretty standard fare in certain parts, Obama notwithstanding. The not-so-subtle message is that they may be Christian, but they aren’t “Christian” or “good Christian” or “the right kind of Christian.” If you read conservative blogs–including some you link favorably and even here at Beliefnet–you see this kind of comment often.
Add to that the idea that Obama attends a UCC church that follows Black Liberation Theology–which is a foreign concept to many “Christians”–and suddenly you have a lot of room for the UCC being considered non-Christian.



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David Ashton

posted September 25, 2008 at 7:20 pm


As an Australian evangelical it seems to me that in the US there are so many versions of what is “christian” I think anyone would be confused.
Many of the so-called evangelicals do not have an evangelical theology – I deduce this from their public statements – and seem more influenced by conservative ideology than Christ and his word.
However, I find the statement that the UCC affirms “the Bible as the authoritative witness to the Word of God, the creeds of the ecumenical councils, and the confessions of the Reformation” as contradictory. Generally, ecumenical thinking and Reformation theology contradict one another, as ecumenism is dominated by theological “liberals”.
What I think is a real problem is that you guys have a choice between two conservatives, when you need someone like Abraham Lincoln or FDR! Your country has fallen into a moral and economic abyss, and you need a leader not a politician to lead you out of it. If I ahd to choose it would be Obama, as the Republican party is so riddled with corruption and self-interest and has brought your country virtually to it’s knees.



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Warren Cheswick

posted September 25, 2008 at 7:34 pm


“Sounds like.”
Sarah Palin “sounds like” George Bush. John McCain “sounds like” my senile grandpa. Someone who maintains Obama isn’t a Christian “sounds like” Pat Robertson.



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Charles Cosimano

posted September 25, 2008 at 7:36 pm


While Sarah Palin has the excuse of temporary mental incompentence (the tongue/endorphin thing) her supporters are clearly in need of retesting to find out if they even have an IQ.



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D. Heran

posted September 25, 2008 at 11:12 pm


You can read some honest commentary about the United Church of Christ at UCCtruths which is written by a UCCer and does a good job sorting out the truth and fiction about the UCC. The message board there has over 450 participants from all over the theological spectrum.
Go to http://www.ucctruths.com



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jestrfyl

posted September 26, 2008 at 12:06 am


I am an unashamed, unabashed pastor of a UCC church. We are mostly (but not entirely) anglo, skewing older, and decidedly middle class. Our services of worship are incredibly traditional, and we read the Bible every week, and I do an intensive Bible study for a class of 10 to 30 every week. My background is middle class New England suburbs. I am middle aged and have the prototypical family of a wife, 2 kids, a dog, and the usual debt load.
So anyone who is whining aloud, wringing their hands, and gnashing their teeth about the wild-eyed radicals threatening the very existence of Christianity as it has been know for hundred of years ought to come by our church. I will warn you – I am also liberal, loud, and proud – and glad to explain to you why I think this is the better Way. My congregation may not agree with everything I believe, but we get along well and manage to counterbalance our political difference with worship and fellowship. Go to ucc.org and learn more – we are pretty cool!



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joan z

posted September 26, 2008 at 3:48 pm


I dont want to belong to a Christian-ish church?



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jestrfyl

posted September 26, 2008 at 6:27 pm


joan-z
Why the question mark. Are you not sure if you want to go Church-regular or Church-lite? Or are you saying you are already in a Christian-ish church and you just realized there is another possibility? Try a UCC congregation and you will find we take our last name very seriously. Maybe we don’t treat JE-sus like he is another celebrity waiting for his agent/apostle to call with his next mega-stadium booking. But you can be sure that we take Christ – and the rest of the Trinity seriously, and we have fun/learn something/discover new ways to live doing it.



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Robert Davidson

posted September 27, 2008 at 1:49 am


If only it was truly Christian – ie atheist. It’s about time you Americans elected a nonbeliever as president, and give up the superstition so rife in the society.



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Chuck Barlow

posted September 28, 2008 at 11:03 am


First of all, there are so many Churches out there that are not of Christ!
Putting up a cross, setting at pews, attending every Sunday and Wednesday, and reading your bible does not make you a man of Christ, what does is handing you life over to Christ and following him and not the Opinion of J. Wright, Joesph Smith, Charles Tazz Russel, or any other man who creates church doctrine from his opinion and follows it instead of Gods word!
Any church that is primarly pro-black or pro-white is not a Church serving God, Christ says come all as you are and does not put down or blame any race for suppression, as a matter of fact Christ says to forgive all and love thy enemies and not to create your enemies.
Throw away Church Doctrine and follow the holy scriptures only and pray whole heartly.
J Wright, Al Sharpton, Jess Jackson, Luis Farrakan, Joseph Smith, Charles Tazz Russel, David Koresh, Jim Jones are not men of God, these are men who financially profitted from spreading hate and keeping men divided!
Obama followed Wright and denounced him only for political reasons, Obama is a racist, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson cannot be men of God by supporting a man who is for Abortion and Gay Marriage which is an abomination of God!
These pastors support Obama because he is Black, atleast in their minds, Obama is only 6% black, the point is support a man because of what he stands for not his skin color, The only Black man I see worthy of the White House is Colon Powell because of what he stands for and he served this Nation!!



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marie

posted September 28, 2008 at 5:55 pm


I don’t know how after hearing Rev Wright’s sermons, we can call him a pastor spreading Christianity. I don’t buy Obama’s argument he went to church with Rev Wright preaching for 20 years and never heard his preachings. I don’t like the Rev Wright’s connection with Farrakhan. I don’t like Obama’s connection with Wm Ayers, Tony Rezko, Mahdi Auchi, Alsammarea, Rashid Khalidi, Odinga Obama, and Raila Odinga. The connections are not christian connections.



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jestrfyl

posted September 29, 2008 at 12:03 pm


Mr barlow wrote “The only Black man I see worthy of the White House is Colon Powell because of what he stands for and he served this Nation!!”
I suppose the mispelling of the name for your black candidate of choice was a simple mistake. Colin Powell is an excellent guy and I think he may find himself receiving a call from the White House if/when the election is over.
Check your genetics – Mr Obama is 50% black – and so 50% white. His father is black, his other is white. Your notion of 6% is odd and misleading.
Clearly a whole lot of people have heard only the snippets of the J. Wright’s sermons provided by the internet media. Anyone who knows the body of his work has a very different view of him. But then how many of us want our lives to be judged by snippets chosen by someone who wants to show us in the worst possible way? I recommned seeking our a wide selection of Wright’s sermons and then form an opinion. Forming an opinion first then believeing what you want is lazy and careless.



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UTDMasterR

posted September 30, 2008 at 3:08 am


Did you even know that most Americans could not even name all of the ten commandments? In other words “religious” United States is going to fall a basic test on Christianity. Here is one link that proves my point:
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071003/survey-more-americans-familiar-with-big-mac-ingredients-than-10-commandments.htm
Then I suppose, Obama is just like the majority of people: not-so-Christian as advertised on the outside… Obviously, it’s much easier to judge others’ religiosity rather than your own, and I don’t think God has a double standard for politicians.
http://thereligionofpolitics.blogspot.com/



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AMERICAN

posted September 30, 2008 at 1:40 pm


THE MUSLIMS ARE GOING TO TAKE OVER AMERICA, WITHOUT FIRING A SHOT
SECRET FOREIGN MONEY FLOODS INTO OBAMA CAMPAIGN
More than half of the whopping $426.9 million Barack Obama has raised has come from small donors whose names the Obama campaign won’t disclose. Unlike the McCain campaign, which has made its complete donor database available online, the Obama campaign has not identified donors for nearly half the amount he has raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Eight watchdog groups have asked both campaigns for more information on small donors, The Obama campaign never responded, whereas the McCain campaign “makes all its donor information, including the small donors, available online. America sends hundreds of Billions of dollars to Muslim countries for our oil. Apparently hundreds of millions of dollars are finding their way back here to elect their pawn. Remember the survey of how all the Muslim countries want Obama to win the election. … AND, foreign Muslim fund raising has been actively bringing in millions more for Obama. Obama does not want any opposition, so he already is trying to stop Freedom of Speech, with the NRA. Then, to make any opposition defenseless, he wants to take away our right to bear arms. Next, he wants a Civil National Security force to put down any oppositioin. The Muslim ‘caliphate’ of infiltrating and taking over America from within has already begun. Furthermore, Obama wants to defang our military … send Billions overseas … meet with Islamic terrorist leaders … and further weaken our country in the international community. If Obama gets elected, America will become a third world country, with no way to defend itself.



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Rob

posted October 3, 2008 at 12:55 am


Having been a member of a UCC congregation that mostly votes Republican, I can answer emphatically that Obama’s former church most assuredly is Christian–although many of us humbly pray for Brother Wright’s conviction of sin and enlightenment of grace. Which one of your denominations doesn’t have one or more leaders who lead for worldly gain, even if most don’t?



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Joe-

posted October 8, 2008 at 10:41 am


To claim that unidentified donations must be coming from terrorists is irresponsible at best. It is slander and bigotry. I am sickened by the fear and hate being spread by the Republican party. Where are the Christ-like members of this campaign?



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Staggslaw

posted October 8, 2008 at 5:40 pm


It’s always seemed to me, as a Christian, that what really matters is if you believe in Christ, his example, and his teachings. It also seems to me that a whole lot of Christians never say a word about the example and teachings of Christ. Indeed, I’ve sat in many a pew listening to sermons seeking to explain away why Christ didn’t really mean what he did or said when it came to the sick, the poor, throwing stones, or our enemies. Most un-Christian-like of all, to me, is one Christian explaining why another is not a Christian, when both profess a belief in Christ. I guess I’m just too dense to understand.



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Clayto

posted October 27, 2008 at 11:51 am


If the Church is saying that Jesus or Christ is the head of the Church alone. They are correct, this means that its not suppose to be a black church or a white or muslim church. It states in the Bible that Christ is the Head of the Church and they and anyone else or members of his Body. Its sounds like to me that they are going with the correct doctrine that was preached and written in the Bible.
Now I am not a muslim but I do know that they take their believes serious, unlike the majority of those that claim to be christians, they will not never ever claim Jesus or “Christ” being the head of the Church, that is not their beliefs nor nature. They believe that Jesus was just a prophet that did not die on the cross for anyone’s sin, they believe that God switched Jesus and Judas and it was Judas that actually died on the cross, not Jesus. Obama said he was a borned again and was a Christian now and that is Faith and Trust is in Jesus Christ. A true muslim would never ever say that, they stand on their Beliefs in Allah not Christ and consider that blasphemy to say the Trust and have Faith in Christ or that he died for their sins.



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elisha

posted October 28, 2008 at 12:12 am


Please forgive my lack of tact. Is everyone nuts? I see in no uncertain terms that Trinity United Church of Christ dose NOT fit as an orthodox christian church. By orthodox in mean following the basic tenets of christianity. I don’t see a lot of good news in their gospel unless you are black. Don’t believe me go to their website. Read their statement of faith. Read the THE BLACK VALUE SYSTEM. I will not judge a man’s soul, but I will judge their theology. We all have been called to do this.( see Matt. 7:15-20) God is not a respecter of persons. (James 2:1-13,Job 34:19, 2 Chronicles 19:7, Acts 10:34-35)



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