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Every denomination needs one of these...

Be careful what you wish for

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

If nothing else is certain in the Jeremiah Wright controversy, the United Church of Christ's relentless defense of his hate filled sermons demonstrates a level of concern not seen before in the history of our denomination. There are two main targets for the UCC's self defense campaign: the general public and the members of the United Church of Christ.

Polls taken after the surge in media coverage made it pretty clear that an overwhelming majority did not view Wright favorably. A March 17th Rasmussen poll demonstrated that only 8% view Wright favorably while 58% have an unfavorable view of Wright which wasn't far off from the 55% that were disturbed by Wright’s statements according to a March 25th NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

You can pretend that polls don't matter but the reaction from the national office makes it clear that the public response to the Wright controversy justified full page newspaper advertising and a call for "a sacred conversation about race" as part of a broader defense campaign.

To be candid, I'm glad that the controversy has caused people outside and inside our denomination to question our values and our beliefs. Since the formation of the United Church of Christ over 50 years ago, most of our churches have existed in relative obscurity in the broader religious landscape. Insulated by the unique autonomy empowered to our local churches and a discretionary covenant shared with our associations, conferences and national office, local churches have never had a publicly recognizable identity as a denomination - until now.

The consequences of this new attention rightly scares our national leaders. UCC President John Thomas was so concerned that late last month he alerted Conference Ministers to anticipated attacks on "some of our justice commitments". After decades of maintaining a low level of visibility from the local church, Thomas is rightly concerned that the national office, like Wright, will be questioned and publicly castigated for pushing a bizarre political agenda that includes supporting Puerto Rican terrorists and promoting anti-Israel positions that some view as bordering on anti-Semitism.

At one time, the national office was all too eager to ride on fellow UCCer Barack Obama's coattails to generate attention for the denomination... but as the ancient proverb suggests, "be careful what you wish for".
posted by UCCtruths, Wednesday, April 23, 2008


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