Heaven forbid Barack Obama goes to church. A church with a black Reverend no less.
Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his black rights activist speeches have made headline news recently. Because his sermons are something new? Or untrue? Or especially decisive? No; Rev. Wright has been publicly scrutinized because he is the spiritual leader of presidential hopeful, Barack Obama.
And on to the age-old argument of Church vs. State.
The sermons most scrutinized of Wright’s are those publicly supporting Obama and denouncing Hillary Clinton and her easy life, “Hillary Clinton was not a black boy raised in a single parent home.” (CNN) In addition Wright has been recorded criticizing America’s actions regarding terrorism and our country’s racist history.
But Jeremiah Wright is certainly not the first American to speak out against the hypocrisy that has ruled our nation for years. And he is definitely not the first religious leader to push his political views on a congregation. (Four years ago, my church handed out pamphlets reminding the community how “good Catholics” are supposed to vote.)
The issue is that Barack Obama has admitted his devotion and following of Wright’s church. He even went so far as to credit one of Wright’s sermons for the title of his novel, The Audacity of Hope. (CNN) And as a presidential hopeful, Obama’s religious affiliations are everyone’s business. No one claims to separate every action and decision from their values and we can only assume that Obama has shaped some of those values by the words of Jeremiah Wright.
So what does this mean for the future of our country? If elected, is Obama going to shape public and foreign policy around the notion of black supremacy? Denounce the founders of our nation because they were rich white men? I doubt it. Despite some of the more controversial beliefs of his Reverend, Barack Obama is still the levelheaded, inspirational leader he has been since the beginning of this presidential campaign. And in his defense, he has announced his disagreement with a number of Wright’s beliefs, including Wright’s political advocacy of Obama in his sermons.
All of this being said, it now resides in the hands of the voting public as to whether Obama’s “spiritual guide” remains a news headline and an influential factor in this primary campaign. People have to decide if they believe that Obama can differentiate between the radical religion and rational beliefs.
I, for one, don’t know anyone who agrees full-heartedly with his or her religious leader. I go to a Catholic church that believes abortion is murder and the Republican Party part of the religious right. On the other hand, I am very much pro-choice and a full-fledged, liberal democrat. And as much as I enjoy attending church, I remember to take everything my priest, and the man who baptized me, says with a grain of salt.
It is undemocratic that Reverend Jeremiah Wright touts his support of Barack Obama at religious gatherings. By doing so he crosses the line between religious leader and political advocate and for that, he deserves the scrutiny of the people. But Obama is not at fault. He has maintained the wall between Church and State throughout his campaign, mentioning religion only when it comes to his values and inspiration. Not once has Obama used religion as a reason or as a means for pulling out of Iraq, for remodeling our nation’s health care, for revamping our education system.
The backlash that Obama has suffered because of Wright is unjustified. And this recent attack appears to be more of a strategic political move against Obama than a valid critique of his character.
I have no doubt that an investigation into the religious leaders of past and present politicians would reveal some startling and radical beliefs. And know that every Catholic politician has listened to countless sermons classifying abortion as murder and the use of contraception as sinful. However that does not mean that every Catholic yearns to see Roe v. Wade overturned. And certainly the majority of American Catholics use some form of contraception in the current day and age.
And so, ultimately the State wins. Religion, while important to one’s belief system, cannot govern a country so racially and culturally diverse as ours. Any politician who attempts to use religion has such will commit political suicide. And while Barack Obama is free to attend any kind of spiritual gathering he so desires, people can be comforted in the fact that he is not an idiot. Obama will not run our country from a pulpit.