Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Division over Rev. Wright

Linking the story to divergent reactions by black and white people to the O.J. Simpson trial verdict more than a decade ago, Dallas Morning News writer Jeffrey Weiss writes that the controversy surrounding Chicago pastor and Barack Obama mentor Jeremiah Wright reveals a continuing, deep divide between the races. That is true, but it is doubly discouraging to see the hateful, conspiracy laced screeds of Rev. Wright defended by so many black church leaders. White Christian fundamentalists on the fringes sometimes display abominable excesses in their rhetoric, but rarely are they defended by academic and cultural leaders.

As in most controversies, some allies of Rev. Wright resort to ambiguity -- for example, speaking of him as "prophetic." However, pointed fingers and screams of condemnation do not by themselves a prophet make, and, as one might expect those on the left to understand, not all forms of judgementalism are created equal. In the above referenced article, Mr. Weiss attempts to soften the radicalism of the reverend by noting that some of his statements are either true or partially true. However, a fact check fails to account for the impact or intentions of rhetoric. If words mean anything, then Rev. Wright has appealed to God to send America to Hell. He has trafficked in disreputable and discredited conspiracy theories. For those hateful excesses, any portion of the Christian world that knows him and believes other aspects of his ministry to have value should not be defending him; they should be calling him to repentance.

One wonders why people such as Rev. Wright resort to ridiculous claims when the universally accepted truth is bad enough. If the pastor had sought to highlight and condemn bigotry, goodness knows that there is sufficient material to fill volumes of sermons. By instead taking a more radical route and more hateful tone, he has harmed his own cause and given aid to those who practice real forms of racism that merit condemnation by all decent people.


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