James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama Was Right to Stay

I suppose some people are upset about Barack Obama attending a church with a racially hostile preacher because, if a white Presidential candidate attended the church of a segregationist pastor, his career would be over.

I'm guessing that Obama initially chose Trinity Church in part because the networking opportunities would be good for his political career on Chicago's South Side. Should he have left the first time he heard extreme words or hyperbolic rhetoric? Or the hundredth time?

Why should it matter?

Leaving the church would have damaged friendships and created other problems for Obama - personal, and career-wise. White people leave churches in a huff all the time, but I don't think this is so in the black community. And even if one doesn't agree with anything said in the sermons, there are other aspects of church life that can retain a person's loyalty.

And besides, is racial resentment the only form of "hate" that is so un-PC that it deserves separation and public condemnation? What about when preachers announce their support of the war in the pulpit? Or some tax-and-redistribute scheme? Or some law against vice that will throw non-violent people in prison and ruin their lives? Any word from a pulpit that would empower the State is in fact a call for violence and coercion - which are grounded on hate, not love.

Imagine, in 2020, a white Democratic Presidential candidate was found to have attended an ultra-conservative evangelical church. Should he be asked to renounce his longtime pastor because the candidate differed with the pastor on the war? Why would this be different? It seems to me that to support the war is worse than anything Jeremiah Wright says or believes.

Unless your own conscience forces you to withdraw from one church after another because of differences with the pastor, then don't judge Obama. But leaving a church leads to broken friendships, disrupts a child's Sunday School education, and a whole lot of other hassles. It usually isn't worth it.

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