Barack Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright wrapped up a weekend of appearances this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. After the somewhat comical and seemingly drawn-out import given to the Wright controversy at the last Democratic debate, I imagine some are ready to retire this topic.
Jeremiah Wright doesn't seem to want to retire it, as much as rebrand it — from a political discussion concerning the beliefs of Barack Obama to a cultural and racial discussion about the state of faith. In his response today, he said this:
I stand before you to open up this two-day symposium with the hope that this most recent attack on the black church is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright; it is an attack on the black church.
Yesterday he spoke to this notion saying, "I come from a religious tradition that does not divorce the world we are living in with the world we are headed to. The black religious tradition is different. We do it a different way."
Throughout his remarks today he kept a wink-wink rapport with the almost entirely supportive audience. I'm ready to move on from the Obama/Wright connection, but his new tact made me bristle. To see why, read more. In his rebranding of the national debate about his remarks, including the "God damn America," statement, and the "chickens coming home to roost" sermon, as an attack on a way of worship, he's hinting that if one's not involved, one certainly couldn't understand. It's as though he's treating us as a nation of rubes who've just pulled the shrink wrap off a VHS of Sister Act and realized, "Aw, shucks! They sure do faith real different!"
My problem with his "chickens coming home" sermon, was never that he delivered it, or the way he preached, or what he was wearing or any of those trappings that Wright might be labeling as "different" — my only objection is the date on which he said those words. On the Sunday after 9/11, that a spiritual leader would use incendiary language to a shocked congregation seeking solace is entirely inappropriate — and if that's what Wright calls "different," I'd have to say he's right. As for an "attack on the black church?" I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.
Do you think the recent reactions to Wright's sermons are an attack on the black church?
Here's Wright answering questions this morning at the National Press Club.