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Enlightening Form Letter: Barack Obama’s Church

Related post 6/1/2008: What is Obama thinking?: In support of Trinity Church

I am for the Green Party presidential candidate. Though, I believe that all candidates deserve respect and a fair shake. And, with recent attacks on Barack Obama and the reverend of his church, I wrote the church to show my support. Racism is a problem in America, and no one should be attacked just for admitting that racism is a problem.

Below is the form letter I received back from the church. I thought it was a good statement about the church’s beliefs, its right to hold those beliefs, and Barack Obama’s right to belong to the church.

E-mail from Trinity United Church in Christ:

Thank you for your interest in Trinity United Church of Christ and for your consideration of our member, Sen. Barack Obama, in the Democratic primary election. Due to the high volume of emails and inquiries, we are unable to respond to each one personally. We were overwhelmed with “hits” after Senator Obama’s historic victory in the Iowa
democratic caucus.

Barack Obama has been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ for
nearly two decades. As a young community organizer, new to Chicago,
Barack met with Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Trinity’s Senior Pastor,
seeking advice. He received good counsel about the complexities of life
in Chicago and the challenges faced by residents in poor communities
like South Chicago’s Altgeld Gardens.

The United Church of Christ (http://www.ucc.org), Trinity’s
denominational affiliation, is “a community of faith that seeks to respond to
the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed.” It was founded in
1957 through the union of several different Christian traditions. Not
only does Trinity not exclude anyone from membership or attendance based
on race or ethnicity, but: The majority of UCC members are white; the conference minister of the Illinois Conference of the UCC (Rev. Jane Fisler Hoffman) and her
husband (both white) are members of Trinity (You can watch a video of Rev.
Hoffman speaking at Trinity about her positive experiences there.);
Trinity has been instrumental in working with and lending financial and
staff support to the development of new UCC churches in Gary, IN (with
the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the UCC, Milwaukee, WI (with the
Wisconsin Conference of the UCC), and Benton Harbor, MI (with the Michigan
Conference of the UCC). There is no anti-American sentiment in the
theology or the practice of Trinity United Church of Christ. To be sure,
there is prophetic preaching against oppression, racism and other evils
that would deny the American ideal. Trinity is “Unashamedly Black
and Unapologetically Christian.”

Trinity was founded in 1961 and had 87 families when Dr. Wright
started his tenure in 1972. Currently, as Dr. Wright anticipates a 2008
retirement, there are more than 8,000 members, 70 ministries, and three
Sunday worship services. You and your family can watch these services
online at 7:30am, 11:00am and 6:00pm CST…

Yours in Christ!

4 Responses

  1. The problem is this church cannot afford to have public scrutiny of their THEOLOGY. See:
    http://miraclesdaily.blogspot.com/

  2. I must heartily disagree with the commenter above. I checked out the link, and it is to a web-site that says: “Our Conservative Spirit vs. the insane fantasies of modern ‘liberalism'” So, I probably wouldn’t agree with much of this commenter’s politics.

    Funny enough the Miracles Daily/Conservative web-site digs into the phrase “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” While that phrase is considered to be traced back to Marx, it is also goes back to the Bible, in Acts, Book 2 and Book 4). Below is a piece from Wikipedia (I checked the Bible references, they are accurate.)

    Origin of the phrase

    The complete paragraph containing Marx’s original statement of the creed is as follows:

    In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly — only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

    Although Marx is popularly thought of as the author of the phrase, it has been widely speculated that he merely co-opted a term earlier used by other leaders of the communist movement. The slogan was first used by Louis Blanc in 1840, in “The organization of work”, as a revision of a quote by the utopian socialist Henri de Saint Simon, who claimed that each should be rewarded according to how much they work. Despite the secular nature of Marxism, inspiration for this creed may have been drawn from the early Christian communism of the 1600s.

    An earlier exposition of this idea, however, is found in the Bible, in Acts of the Apostles. Luke describes the organization of the first Christian congregations following the death of Jesus:

    And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (Acts 2:44-45)

    Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:34-35)

    This passage is important to Christian leftists. For further information see Christian communism, Christian socialism, Christian anarchism.

  3. I’m unclear what “Christian Prophet” is trying to say with his suggestion to visit the above website. I’m an Obama supporter, although I have followed and admired the positions of candidate McKinney, as well. I also admire that, in distancing himself from the statements of Rev. Wright, Senator Obama did not throw his mentor under the proverbial bus (the Senator refers to Rev. Wright as being “like an uncle” to him). In response to the reverend’s comments, however, and his assertions that he is a practitioner of liberation theology, I would direct the reverend to the works of Christian scholar Jacques Ellul, most particularly as stated in “The Presence of the Kingdom.” With this as a foundation, I suggest that the comments of the reverend as indicated in the media are devisive, and the reverend’s attempts to validate his statements by referencing revolution theology stem from a misguided interpretation of Christianity.

    That being said, the statement from the Church as printed above is clarifying, to say the least. Additionally, I believe the media attention to the reverend, notwithstanding his relationship to the Senator, to be, in itself, divisive and, indeed, racist. Unless the media has strong evidence to link the Senator’s past actions or current platform to what is suggested by the reverend’s statements as portrayed in the media, then the introduction of these statements into the current presidential debate is improper. Proper journalistic ethics suggest that greater care be taken by the media than has been displayed with the barrage of videos and superficial commentary we have witnessed in this instance. Without the application of those principles, the “reporting” of the reverend’s statements and the suggestion that they represent the Senator’s own philosophy suggests an attempt to subvert the Senator on the part of the media (something, I think, that candidate McKinney can relate to very well in her own career).

    Thank you for printing the response of the Church.

  4. Wright was offensive. If you think otherwise, you didn’t listen to him. He damned America. That has a meaning. Leave your white world and grasp why so many of us are offended by what he said.

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