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UCCtruths

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Religion becoming an election issue

Friday, March 16, 2007

It's becoming apparent that religion is going to be an issue in the 2008 Presidential elections and UCC'er Barack Obama's religion is the center of it. Yesterday's Los Angeles Times ran an article that, again, tried to tie Obama to Islam and the Daily Herald wondered if religious background of the candidates is being blown out of proportion:
On the Democratic side of the ticket, Obama is catching fire from two sides.

First, he had to fend off rumors that he had been educated as a child in a Muslim religious school in Indonesia that has been used by radicals to indoctrinate fellow Muslims. Obama's father was a Muslim, but Obama himself has not been connected to the practice of Islam, let alone radical Islam.

Second, like Romney, Obama's Christian credentials have been called into question. He has been criticized for his membership in a Chicago church, the Trinity United Church of Christ, which has been described as having a black supremacist agenda and of worshipping things African to a greater degree than Christ.

The church's Web site lists 12 concepts that are central to its philosophy, including "Commitment to the Black Community," "Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions," "Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System," "Personal Commitment to embracement of the Black Value System," and "Disavowal of the Pursuit of 'Middleclassness.' "

The Black Value System was written by the Manford Byrd Recognition Committee chaired by Vallmer Jordan in 1981, according to the Web site.

Critics have seized upon the tenets of his church to cast Obama as a divisive candidate who would give preference to blacks over the nation as a whole. Obama has defended the church, arguing that its tenets need to be viewed in context. He said they promote family values, self-discipline and self-respect, virtues that mainstream Americans highly value. As for "disavowing the pursuit of middleclassness," he said that was meant as a reminder for more affluent parishioners not to neglect the poor in their midst.

"As I read it, at least, it was a very simple argument taken directly from scripture: 'To whom much is given, much is required,' " Obama said in an article published in the Chicago Tribune.

Under America's secular constitution, the government may not require a religious test for any public office. But that doesn't mean the people can't require one. Religion is very much in play in American politics. The question is whether it is being blown out of proportion.
The popular blog, Get Religion, sums it all up pretty well:
I know that much more reporting on Obama’s church is inevitable. As Wright said to Kim Lawton in what sounded like a tone of experienced resignation, “You think it’s ugly now. It’s going to get worse. It’s going to get much worse.”

Evaluation, or criticism, of Jeremiah Wright’s theology is not in itself ugliness. Wright is a gadfly, and that’s bound to attract journalistic and political curiosity. Still, the decision about where to attend church always depends on the pastoral realities of a city, a denomination and a congregation.

Barack Obama made a conscious decision to become a Christian while attending Trinity United Church of Christ. For Christians and others who are inclined to vote for him anyway, that probably will be enough reason to allow Jeremiah Wright his political, social and theological hobby horses and not to assume that Obama predictably rides alongside him.
posted by UCCtruths, Friday, March 16, 2007

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