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UCCtruths

Every denomination needs one of these...

Sometimes a candidate's religion does matter

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I have a confession: I'm not going to be voting for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon.

It's not because I think Mormons are a nutty polygamous cult whose "still speaking" God informed Joseph Smith that the Garden of Eden is located in Missouri. No, I can accept that his faith is different than mine and still respect his leadership abilities. What I cannot accept is that during his early adult years, Romney was a member of a racist religion that prevented blacks from holding leadership positions. It's one thing to hold this faith as a child... but it's entirely different to be a well educated 30 year-old knowingly maintaining this racist faith. Short of evidence that he actively and openly oppossed this discrimination, I can't vote for him.

Some have argued on the UCCtruths message board that voter discernment based on a candidates religion is wrong and contrary to The Bill of Rights. While our government cannot establish a religion, voters certainly have the right to chose a candidate based on any value they choose and there is no reason that membership in a racist organization isn't a reasonable criteria to judge a candidate.

This confession, however, makes me a complete hypocrite.

When questions arose in the media nearly a year ago about Barack Obama and his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ (and his connection to Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.), I claimed:

There is another reality here that should concern UCC members. There is an attempt by some in the media to wrongly connect the views of UCC leaders and specific churches to Obama.
and...

As a Presidential candidate, Obama certainly exposes himself to questions about his beliefs, but shouldn't he be judged by what he says and how he acts?
If I can't apply that standard to my decision about Romney, I can't expect others to hold their decision about Obama to that standard.

This was crystalized in my mind this morning when I read Richard Cohen's column in the Washington Post. Cohen is by no means a conservative crank with an axe to grind, he's one of the more liberal columnists at the Post. From The Washington Post:

Barack Obama is a member of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. Its minister, and Obama's spiritual adviser, is the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. In 1982, the church launched Trumpet Newsmagazine; Wright's daughters serve as publisher and executive editor. Every year, the magazine makes awards in various categories. Last year, it gave the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award to a man it said "truly epitomized greatness." That man is Louis Farrakhan.

Maybe for Wright and some others, Farrakhan "epitomized greatness." For most Americans, though, Farrakhan epitomizes racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism. Over the years, he has compiled an awesome record of offensive statements, even denigrating the Holocaust by falsely attributing it to Jewish cooperation with Hitler -- "They helped him get the Third Reich on the road." His history is a rancid stew of lies.

It's important to state right off that nothing in Obama's record suggests he harbors anti-Semitic views or agrees with Wright when it comes to Farrakhan. Instead, as Obama's top campaign aide, David Axelrod, points out, Obama often has said that he and his minister sometimes disagree. Farrakhan, Axelrod told me, is one of those instances.

Fine. But where I differ with Axelrod and, I assume, Obama is that praise for an anti-Semitic demagogue is not a minor difference or an intrachurch issue. The Obama camp takes the view that its candidate, now that he has been told about the award, is under no obligation to speak out on the Farrakhan matter. It was not Obama's church that made the award but a magazine. This is a distinction without much of a difference. And given who the parishioner is, the obligation to speak out is all the greater. He could be the next American president. Where is his sense of outrage?

There's a ton of junk floating around the internet about Obama and his faith. This isn't junk. Contrary to United Church of Christ President John Thomas' recent defense of one of the largest financial contributors to our denomination, Trinity UCC deserves every bit of scrutiny it receives for its praise of Louis Farrakhan.

To give Obama the benefit of the doubt, we would have to assume that his allegience to Trinity United Church of Christ is a balance of priorities. Unfortunately for Obama, so are the decisions of voters.

Update: This video from Trinity United Church of Christ sums up the problem:

Another update: For a different opinion, check out Pastor Dan's comments at Street Prophets
posted by UCCtruths, Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2 Comments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXS_YrYp07Q
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:48 AM  
Pastor Dan asserts that we need to understand Black Liberation Theology before we condemn Jeremiah Wright's support for Minister Farrakhan, who has made undeniably racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments.

That's his argument.

Where have we seen that before?
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 4:03 PM  

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