Does Barack Obama’s religion matter? [Karl]
Earlier today, Barack Obama gave a major speech, ostensibly to to contain the damage fromÃ‚Â noxious and hatefulÃ‚Â comments made by his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.Ã‚Â The first notable aspect of the speech is how little of the speech was actually devoted to the controversy surrounding Wright, Obama’s church and its theology.Ã‚Â Indeed,Ã‚Â almost everythingÃ‚Â Obama said about WrightÃ‚Â merely repeated Obama’s prior defenses, with a notable exception which will be explored shortly.
The second notable aspect of the speech is how much of the parts of the speech devoted to those topics — and to other race issues — exploited racial division, even as Obama suggested that voting for him would mark a great leap forward in race relations.Ã‚Â For example, Obama referred not once but twice twice to white people being angry about their jobs being shipped overseas.Ã‚Â Apparently,Ã‚Â Obama finds itÃ‚Â acceptable toÃ‚Â stoke grievances against brown and yellow people in other countries to exploit working-class white voters.
Obama’s sense of proportion on racial matters was revealed as well, as he posited a spectrum of divisiveness occupied on one end by his own pastor, who has repeatedly race-baited and made the most vile anti-American comments — and occupied on the other end by former Democratic Veep nominee Geraldine Ferraro, who suggested that Ã¢â‚¬Å“if Obama was a white man, he would not beÃ¢â‚¬Â the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.Ã‚Â Ferraro’s comment is debatable, and seemingly shared by people like Shelby Steele, suggesting the comparisonÃ‚Â is more than a stretch.Ã‚Â
However,Ã‚Â given that Obama placed Rev. Wright at one end of that spectrum, his comments on Wright and his church are all the more telling:
Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, TrinityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the good and the bad Ã¢â‚¬â€œ of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.
This isÃ‚Â grossly condescending to white Americans, who are fully aware that historically black church servicesÃ‚Â may includeÃ‚Â dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting — just as some predominantly white churches do.Ã‚Â What distinguished Trinity was the hateful and paranoid comments of the Rev. Wright and the apparently joyful reaction of his congregation to them. Indeed, Tom Maguire notes that after the speech, MSNBCÃ‚Â presented black ministers who insisted that Wright is way out of the mainstream, and that most black churches preach a more traditional Christian message of love.Ã‚Â That Obama insists on claiming Wright is like part of his family whom he cannot disown, when he self-evidently chose the association — and that he compares Wright to “the entire black community” tells Obama’s audienceÃ‚Â much more about Obama than about Wright or the black community.
In light of Obama’s refusal to disassociate himself from Wright, Obama’s supporters must ask themselves what it is about Wright that drew Obama inexorably into Wright’s orbit if it is not Wright’s most extreme comments.Ã‚Â On this point, Obama said this:
But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than 20 years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor.
He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine, who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth — by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In my first book, “Dreams From My Father,” I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:
“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note — hope! — I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones.
“Those stories — of survival, and freedom, and hope — became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world.
As it turns out, these comments very closely reflect the theology of Rev. Wright and Trinity — a point Obama chose not to make.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â That theology is the subject of this posting.Ã‚Â
In a priorÃ‚Â interview with Sean Hannity, the Rev. Wright objected thatÃ‚Â people were taking his views out of context.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Wright made it abundantly clear that his views must be seen within the context of liberation theology, particularlyÃ‚Â Black Liberation Theology as formulated by Dr. James H. Cone in the 1960s, as well as the writings of Dwight Hopkins (who, as we will see, a member of Trinity and a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School).Ã‚Â The transcript also makes clear that neither Hannity nor his co-host Alan Colmes was at all conversant with those theologies.
It would likely be fair to suppose that the vast majority of Americans are not conversant with those theologies.Ã‚Â Thus, there is a great potential for misunderstanding Wright’s beliefs and his church’s theology.Ã‚Â This is trueÃ‚Â of critics of Wright and Obama, like Hannity.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â It isÃ‚Â also true of Obama’s defenders, like Andrew Sullivan, who asserts that he can find absolutely no evidence thatÃ‚Â Obama believes in Black Liberation Theology, even as he admits his ignorance ofÃ‚Â that theology.
Accordingly, I have endeavored to research these theologies.Ã‚Â I do not pretend to be an expert in theology.Ã‚Â Nor do I pretend to be an expert in hermeneutics, a field that turns out to be directly relevant to these issues.Ã‚Â Our esteemed host, Jeff Goldstein, is far more knowledgable in that field.Ã‚Â However, I think I can say that I now know more about them — and Obama’s attitude toward them — than any number of Obama critics or defenders in the establishment media.Ã‚Â What follows is some of what I have learned to date about liberation theology (about which I already had some knowledge), Black Liberation Theology, Obama’s church and Obama’s attitude toward his church and its theology.
In order to encourage you to read through the rather lengthy exposition which follows, I will share one conclusion upfront.Ã‚Â The ultimate questions which many rightly ask — is Barack Obama’s church relevant to his candidacy and if so, how — have been almost as obscured as they have been revealed by the establishment media’s focus on the Rev. Wright’s more outrageous comments from the pulpit.Ã‚Â The foundation of these theologies raise a very serious question about Obama’s candidacy which the media cannot address without an effort to understand it.
Liberation theology is a hermeneutics of various faiths, primarily Christianity, though some have applied it to Judaism as well.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Liberation theology is concerned with viewingÃ‚Â one’s faith through a prismÃ‚Â drawingÃ‚Â many elementsÃ‚Â from Marxist socialism (omitting the atheism, obviously).Ã‚Â The term “liberation theology” was coined by Gustavo GutiÃƒÂ©rrez,Ã‚Â a Catholic priest who employed MarxÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s critiques of ideology, class, and capitalism as part of his theological analysis of how Christianity should be used to make peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lives betterÃ‚Â on Earth now,Ã‚Â rather than simply offer them hope of rewards in heaven.
Surprisingly, the Wikipedia entry on the subject is not terrible in its overview:
The main methodological innovation of liberation theology is to approach theology from the viewpoint of the economically poor and oppressed. According to Jon Sobrino, S.J., the poor are a privileged channel of God’s grace. According to Phillip Berryman, liberation theology is “an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor’s suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor.”
Emphasis is placed on those parts of the Bible where Jesus’ mission is described not in terms of bringing peace (social order) but bringing a sword (social unrest), e.g. Matthew 10:34, Luke 22:35-38 and Matthew 26:51-52. These passages are interpreted as a call to arms to carry out what proponents see as a Christian mission of justice — literally by some. Marxist concepts such as the doctrine of perpetual class struggle are also significant.
Liberation theology also emphasizes what proponents describe as individual self-actualization as part of God’s divine purpose for humankind.
In addition to teaching at some Roman Catholic universities and seminaries, liberation theologians can often be found in Protestant-oriented schools. They tend to have considerable contact with the poor and interpret sacred scripture partly based on their experiences in this context — what they label praxis.
Indeed, it isÃ‚Â often said — by supporters and critics alike — that liberation theologyÃ‚Â emphasizes orthopraxisÃ‚Â over orthodoxy.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Those familiar with the history of commuism will recall that Antonio GramsciÃ‚Â called his brand of Marxism a “philosophy of praxis”; there are numerous similarities between liberation theology andÃ‚Â Gramscian thought, particularly the desire to persuadeÃ‚Â Christians to identify themselves according to their economic status.Ã‚Â
Those familiar with our host Jeff Goldstein’s writings on intentionalism will recognize that underÃ‚Â the liberation hermeneutic (which makes praxis the first step, and theology the second), the authority of Scripture no longer derives fromÃ‚Â the plain meaning of the text as commonly understood.Ã‚Â Instead, Scripture takes on whatever meaning an ideologue — or a community of ideologues –Ã‚Â chooses toÃ‚Â give it.
As Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote in a critique:
Initially we said that liberation theology intends to supply a new total interpretation of the Christian reality; it explains Christianity as a praxis of liberation and sees itself as the guide to this praxis. However, since in its view all reality is political, liberation is also a political concept and the guide to liberation must be a guide to political action…
Conversely, any objection toÃ‚Â liberation theology is to be dismissedÃ‚Â as an expression of the ruling class’s determination to hold on to its power.Ã‚Â The Cardinal noted the radical shift in interpretive authority that occurs under liberation theology:
Previously it was the Church, namely, the Catholic Church in her totality Ã¢â‚¬â€ a totality which spanned time and space and embraced laity (sensus fidei) and hierarchy (Magisterium) Ã¢â‚¬â€ that constituted the hermeneutical criterion; now it is the “community”. The experience of the “community” determines the understanding and the interpretation of Scripture.
At this juncture.Ã‚Â an example of how this interpretive approach does violence to Scripture might be useful.Ã‚Â In liberation theology, the Exodus story isÃ‚Â a central paradigm for various revolutionary social movements.Ã‚Â However, the point of the Exodus was not only liberation from slavery under Pharaoh, but also service and obedience to God.Ã‚Â If liberation was the only point, God might have been just fine with the Exodus afterparty featuring Edward G. Robinson and the Golden Calf, but the Bible clearly says otherwise.Ã‚Â Other examplesÃ‚Â abound (positing collective notions of sin and salvation, etc.), butÃ‚Â the purpose here is not to debate specific pointsÃ‚Â as much as to describe the essentially partisan (in the sense that God or Jesus takes the side of the oppressed over that of the oppressor) and political nature of the movement and its method.
Black Liberation Theology is a variation on this basic theme,Ã‚Â seeking to foment a similar quasi-Marxist revolutionary fervorÃ‚Â based on racial rather than class strife.Ã‚Â It is said by those who espouse it that it has existed for as long as Africans have resisted slavery — and it draws upon a history inlcuding theÃ‚Â insurrectionist slave preacher Nat Turner, Henry MacNeal TurnerÃ‚Â and Marcus Garvey — but it did not emerge as a formal, systemized school of thought until the 1960s, influenced not only by the civil rights movement led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., but also by the black power movement led by Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X, which emerged among blacks disenchanted with King’s emphasis on Jesus’ demand to love the enemy.Ã‚Â
It is fair to say that there is no one so identified with Black Liberation Theology than Dr. James H. Cone.
The concept of “blackness” is central to Cone’s work.Ã‚Â In his groundbreaking 1969 book, Black Theology and Black Power,Ã‚Â Cone wrote: “The fact that I am black is my ultimate reality,” andÃ‚Â ”Black Theology knows no authority more binding than the experience of oppression itself.Ã‚Â This alone must be the ultimate authority in religious matters.”Ã‚Â Cone has been ambiguous about the concept of blackness, sometimes referring to “a particular black-skinned people in America,”Ã‚Â at other times asserting it is “an ontological symbol for all people who participate in the liberation of man from oppression.”Ã‚Â People familiar with the past writing of our host, Jeff Goldstein will recognize the latter as the substitution of one pernicious fiction for another.
Cone has also offered varying views of God.Ã‚Â Cone has written that God is “black” in the sense of being identified with the oppressed.Ã‚Â However, Cone later responded to criticism that his work relied too much on that of German Protestant theologianÃ‚Â KarlÃ‚Â Barth by making “the black experience”Ã‚Â central to his theology.
BarthÃ‚Â remains an influence, even in that formulation.Ã‚Â As Ron Rhodes, Th.D.Ã‚Â notes:
From the above, one may immediately suspect that Cone has a deficient view of the authority of Scripture. Indeed, his view seems very close to the neo-orthodoxy of Karl Barth, as when Cone writes: “It is true that the Bible is not the revelation of God, only Christ is. But it is an indispensable witness to God’s revelation.”[James H. Cone, A Black Theology of LiberationÃ‚Â (Philadelphia: J. P. Lippencott, 1970), 66] Moreover, “we should not conclude that the Bible is an infallible witness.”[Ibid., 67] Cone believes the meaning of Scripture is not to be found in the words of Scripture as such, but only in its power to point beyond itself to the reality of God’s “revelation,” which–in America–takes place experientially in God’s liberating work among blacks.
However, as Edward Antonio notes in The Cambridge Companion to Liberation Theology, inasmuch as Cone still acknowledges that the doctrine of God must precede the doctrine of man, the gospel and blackness are ultimately equated with each other, with Cone converting the gospel into an ideology for a black political cause.Ã‚Â (Indeed, in a paper titled “Black Power, Black Theology,” Cone wrote, “Black Theology is the theological arm of Black Power, and Black Power is the political arm of Black Theology.”)Ã‚Â As Antonio writes, after quoting Cone on the essentially subjective nature of his worldview: “Because truth arises out of the historical situation of blacks, and because [Cone believes truth] is subjective, truth is black; it has no objective content other than that given to it by blacks.”
The influence of Barth on Cone is ironic beyond the fact that Barth was white.Ã‚Â Barth’s messianic theology was a reaction to the collapse of 19th Century “liberal theology” in Germany after World War I.Ã‚Â Prof. Mark LillaÃ‚Â explains:
In modern Britain and the United States, it was assumed that the intellectual, and then institutional, separation of Christianity and modern politics had been mutually beneficial Ã¢â‚¬â€ that the modern state had benefited by being absolved from pronouncing on doctrinal matters, and that Christianity had benefited by being freed from state interference. No such consensus existed in Germany, where the assumption was that religion needed to be publicly encouraged, not reined in, if it was to contribute to society. It would have to be rationally reformed, of course: the Bible would have to be interpreted in light of recent historical findings, belief in miracles abandoned, the clergy educated along modern lines and doctrine adapted to a softer age. But once these reforms were in place, enlightened politics and enlightened religion would join hands.
Protestant liberal theologiansÃ‚Â dreamt of a third way between Christian orthodoxy and the Great Separation, but this liberal theology failed to inspire younger generations, who ultimately turned fully against it because so many liberal theologians had hastened the arrival ofÃ‚Â World War I, confident that God was guiding history.Ã‚Â Yet the liberal theologians, by reviving the idea of biblical politics,Ã‚Â had primed the German people forÃ‚Â even more messianic and apocolyptic theologies.
For example, Barth’s contemporary,Ã‚Â Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch, was an atheist Jew whoÃ‚Â used the Bible to extol the utopia then under construction in the Soviet Union.Ã‚Â Bloch would ultimately be a great influence on liberation theologists like GutiÃƒÂ©rrez.Ã‚Â Yet Cone chose Barth, who ultimately proved an exception among his fellow German Protestants.Ã‚Â As Prof.Ã‚Â Lilla recently noted:
[I]t was among young Weimar Protestants that the new messianic spirit proved most consequential. They were led by the greatest theologian of the day, Karl Barth, who wanted to restore the drama of religious decision to Christianity and rejected any accommodation of the Gospel to modern sensibilities. When Hitler came to power, Barth acquitted himself well, leading resistance against the Nazi takeover of the Protestant churches before he was forced into exile in 1935. But others, who employed the same messianic rhetoric Barth did, chose the Nazis instead…
All of which served to confirm HobbesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s iron law: Messianic theology eventually breeds messianic politics.
Cone’s theology oftenÃ‚Â bears more resemblance to Barth’s fallen contemporaries, as noted by “Spengler” in the Asia Times:
Theologically, Cone’s argument is as silly as the “Aryan Christianity” popular in Nazi Germany, which claimed that Jesus was not a Jew at all but an Aryan Galilean, and that the Aryan race was the “chosen people”.
Indeed, in addition to places the primary emphasis on Christ’s humanity, Cone applies the liberationist dialectic relationship of the black experience to Scripture toÃ‚Â conclude that the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus of the black experience.Ã‚Â Indeed, Cone believes that it is important to the psychic and to the spiritual consciousness of black people to see Christ as black, “with all of the features which are so detestable to white society.”Ã‚Â Conversely, inÃ‚Â Black Theology and Black Power,Ã‚Â Cone wrote, “Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man ‘the devil.’”Ã‚Â
As with other forms of liberation theology, Cone is not much concerned with eternal salvation, which he views as an idea fed to slaves to make the unconcerned about their plight: “The most corrupting influence among the black churches was their adoption of the ‘white lie’ that Christianity is primarily concerned with an other world reality.”Ã‚Â As for sin, Cone wrote in A Black Theology of Liberation:Ã‚Â ”If we are to understand sin and what it means to black people, it is necessary to be black and also a participant in the black liberation struggle… Sin then for black people is the loss of identity.”
When Cone is asked where his theology is institutionally embodied, he always mentions Obama’s church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.Ã‚Â Dwight Hopkins, a member of Trinity and a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School,Ã‚Â told Jayson Byassee of The Christian Century magazine that the church is within the mainstream of black churches, socially conservative, and not strongly activist.Ã‚Â Byassee might not have known that the Rev. Wright appears to have been openly campaigning for Obama from the pulpit.Ã‚Â But ByasseeÃ‚Â could have informedÃ‚Â his readers that Hopkins — who is vouching for the church — believes that Christianity was historically used as a tool to oppress blacks.Ã‚Â Hopkins also told PBS:
One of the incentives for Africentricity is to pass on the positive, holistic black values, African values to a younger generation. A lot of people who were part of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and early ’60s and part of the Black Power and black consciousness movement of the 1960s and 1970s are now all middle-age and older adults, and we have children.
The American electorate is beginning to learn that this is no small part of Trinity’s mission, though few grasp its underlying theology.
Viewed in light of that theology,Ã‚Â the Rev. Jeremiah WrightÃ‚Â does not appear to haveÃ‚Â gone wildly off-script in: damning America; calling itÃ‚Â “white America, the U.S. of KKK A”;Ã‚Â comparing the the enslavement of the Hebrews in Egypt and the enslavement of blacks in America, suggesting that “criminal justice system, the ‘miseducation’ system andÃ‚Â the inadequate health care system” were part of a “subtle plan of genocide”Ã‚Â (when the factÃ‚Â that biblical Egypt had neither an education orÃ‚Â healthcare system tells you the identity of Wright’s real target); claiming that the US deliberately infected black men with syphilis (exaggerating the Tuskegee Syphilis StudyÃ‚Â that needs no exaggeration to be horrific), which is likely the foundation for his insane claim that the US created the HIV virus, presumably for deliberate infection of certain populations, and so on.Ã‚Â Certainly, the joyful reaction of Wright’s congregation in those videos suggest his hateful and paranoid messages were warmly received.
Barack Obama has claimed:
When I saw these statements, many of which I had heard for the first time, then I thought it was important to make a very clear and unequivocal statement.
None of these statements were ones that I had heard myself personally in the pews. One of them I had heard about after I had started running for president, and I put out a statement at that time condemning them.
The other statements were ones that that I just heard about while we were Ã¢â‚¬â€ when they started being run on FOX and some of the other stations. And so they weren’t things that I was familiar with.
However, whenÃ‚Â FNC’s Major Garrett asked Obama whether he wouldÃ‚Â have quit the church hadÃ‚Â he heard them personally, his firstÃ‚Â answer was not “No.”Ã‚Â Rather, he defended Wright and suggested these statements were unusual:
He is somebody who is a biblical scholar, has spoken at theological seminaries all across the country, from the University of Chicago to Hampton. And so he is a well- regarded preacher. And somebody who is known for talking about the social gospel.
But most of the time, when I’m in church, he’s talking about Jesus, God, faith, values, caring for the poor, family, those were the messages that I was hearing.
Obama ultimately claimed he would have quit the church had he heard such statements repeated.
Of course, since that interview, it has been pointed out that Obama fibbed in claiming Wright was never a political — as well as spiritual — advisor.Ã‚Â It also has been noted thatÃ‚Â Obama was well aware of the controversies surrounding WrightÃ‚Â from the outset of his campaign.Ã‚Â Indeed,Ã‚Â Obama wrote about hearing similar statements in the first sermon Obama heard from Wright, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Audacity of HopeÃ¢â‚¬Â — in the book he named after the sermon.Ã‚Â Obama further touched on his attraction to the church in a lengthy essay for TIME magazine:
I was drawn to the power of the African American religious tradition to spur social change. Out of necessity, the black church had to minister to the whole person. Out of necessity, the black church rarely had the luxury of separating individual salvation from collective salvation. It had to serve as the center of the community’s political, economic, and social as well as spiritual life; it understood in an intimate way the biblical call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and challenge powers and principalities. In the history of these struggles, I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death; rather, it was an active, palpable agent in the world.
And perhaps it was out of this intimate knowledge of hardship, the grounding of faith in struggle, that the historically black church offered me a second insight: that faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts, or that you relinquish your hold on this world. Long before it became fashionable among television evangelists, the typical black sermon freely acknowledged that all Christians (including the pastors) could expect to still experience the same greed, resentment, lust, and anger that everyone else experienced. The gospel songs, the happy feet, and the tears and shouts all spoke of a release, an acknowledgment, and finally a channeling of those emotions. In the black community, the lines between sinner and saved were more fluid; the sins of those who came to church were not so different from the sins of those who didn’t, and so were as likely to be talked about with humor as with condemnation. You needed to come to church precisely because you were of this world, not apart from it; rich, poor, sinner, saved, you needed to embrace Christ precisely because you had sins to wash away–because you were human and needed an ally in your difficult journey, to make the peaks and valleys smooth and render all those crooked paths straight.
It was because of these newfound understandings–that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved–that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized. It came about as a choice and not an epiphany…
Strip that passage of Obama’s usual flowery rhetoric and what remains is Obama’s declaration of commitment to his church and its theology.
The question is thus squarely presented as to whether Obama’sÃ‚Â belief in the theology of his churchÃ‚Â matters.Ã‚Â One might have thought that Obama’s speech today would recall John F. Kennedy’s famous speechÃ‚Â to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his Catholicism.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â In the key passage of that speech, Kennedy remarked:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
However, the nature of the theology at issue largely foreclosed that option.Ã‚Â Black Liberation TheologyÃ‚Â is not a standard theology like Catholicism, as Cardinal Ratzinger made clear with respect to the plain Marxist version of liberation theology.Ã‚Â It is at its very coreÃ‚Â a marriage ofÃ‚Â religion and politics.Ã‚Â As with all liberation theology, it takes a kernel of truth about most churches’ concern for the poor and wraps it in a pernicious quasi-Marxist hermeneutics that generally inverts the function of faith, placing politically correct activisim above personal salvation.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â It is the heir to messianic and apocalyptic schools of thought that run directly contrary to the America’s intellectual andÃ‚Â institutional, separation of Christianity andÃ‚Â politics.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Its founderÃ‚Â converts the gospel into an ideology for a black political cause.Ã‚Â And Obama was drawn to Trinity precisely because he is attracted to the idea of this church as the center of the community’s political, economic, and social as well as spiritual life.
In short, even giving Obama the benefit of the doubt regarding his statements condemning Wright’s worst comments,Ã‚Â Obama’s own words mark him as a follower of Black Liberation Theology or its standard Marxist version.Ã‚Â As such, Obama’s election would mark a triumph for the Religious Left on a scale never attained by the Religious Right.Ã‚Â Yet those who never hesitate to decry the threat of Theocons or Christianists in American politics are not only silent about this turn of events, they seem to be rooting forÃ‚Â the election of our first Theolib orBlack Christianist president.