Rev. Wright & The Opinion Pulpit

It's always tough to tackle the subject of racism. Emotions tend to run high and often statements are misunderstood.

The words of Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. have captured the attention of all kinds of people. It has sparked both good and bad discussions about race, the church and what is being taught in pulpits.

I have spent considerable time looking into information available and I've learned much. I will do my best to share that information in a concise manor. Let me stress, I will keep the political aspect out of this discussion.

Some say that selected comments by Wright have been taken out of context. From all that I have reviewed, I can not agree. Wright himself writes on the church website "To have a church whose theological perspective starts from the vantage point of Black liberation theology being its center, is not to say that African or African American people are superior to any one else. "

Yet a church that replaces the Bible as the center with "Black liberation theology being its center" has strayed from the Word of God and the basis for the church's religious and political philosophies will follow suit. That explains Wright's long history of divisive speech and not just a few comments over 20 years.

We should all be aware by now that sins have been committed against people of color. Sins have also been committed by people of color. We can spend the rest of our days assigning blame to one another and that accomplishes nothing. Let's specifically deal with the thinking behind the comments made by Rev. Wright.

Some have attempted to justify the comments made by Wright. In his defense there is evidence of a few bright spots. Wright ended one particular message with a blessing on all people, saying "All of God's children white, black, red, yellow, male, female, all together". However, the divisive comments are much more numerous. While it may be easier to dismiss his divisive comments, it is also irresponsible. One can not decry racism against blacks and remain complacent when racism against others surfaces.

What Wright preaches and teaches should offend all people alike. At the same time he does have a right in this country to say those things. I'm glad that he does not hide his true beliefs. I'd rather know where a man really stands even if I disagree. However, preaching personal opinion, prejudice and ideology from the pulpit should never be packaged and disguised as the Word of God.

When people begin to believe that they are a victim and society is against them they look for someone to rescue them. Living this way makes a person paranoid and everything thing is suspect. That's how an educated man can preach and get people to believe that we attacked our own country, HIV was invented by the government and the government supplies drugs to destroy black communities. (You can see video posted by the church here.)

Wight has a blog on a website that fights for what they call "reproductive health" being defined on the site this way: "Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so." They oppose pro life groups that promote abstinence including groups such as American Life League, Focus on the Family, Priests for Life and 13 other groups.

While I don't want to impose my own beliefs on anyone, their must be a basic Christian foundation of belief. We can disagree on doctrine but the issue of defending human life and supporting those that do should be the starting point of Christianity and not a point of divergence.

This issue goes much deeper then who was offended by what comment. There is a basic flaw in the understanding of Wright and others like him who claim to teach, preach and know the gospel. Wright has been leading his congregation in this manner for over 30 years! We wonder why people turn away from Christianity. Could it be that within the confines there exists inconsistent messages of hate, division, them vs. us and so fourth?

While it's natural to focus on Rev. Wright as he is tossed into the spotlight, this reaches far beyond one man or one church. Wright has over 8,000 members who attended his church according to his own numbers. That's not a few fringe folks. Wright is also not the inventor of this ideology. He credits multiple people for developing his views. Those names include: Dr. James Cone, Dr. Cain Hope Felder, Dr. Gayraud Wilmore, Dr. Jacqueline Grant, Dr. Kelley Brown Douglas, Dr. Renita Weems, Dr. Katie Cannon, Dr. Dwight Hopkins, Dr. Linda Thomas, and Dr. Randall Bailey.

The ideas that Wright espouses are by no means exclusive to his congregation. It's much more widespread then I ever imagined. That should be the major concern of all Christians. Racism, hate and division is being preached from the pulpit. Once any pastor begins to preach anything without the Gospel as the foundation of the message, they begin to stray into areas where it is easy to confuse our own ideas with the ideas of God.

It's sad that "black theology" and "white theology" even exist. Theology that comes from God is not bound to any ethnic group, skin color or denomination. Every man and women of God should speak out against any attempt to hijack theology for a personal purpose.

I understand that often we hear very different things while listening to the same words. While I might hear divisive anger, others hear righteous anger about oppression that is common in sermons delivered in black churches. That aspect seems to be missing from the conversation.

Time and time again I wonder where the voices of our Christian leaders are? We can put Joel Osteen on CNN for an hour to mangle what it means to be a Christian, yet when uncomfortable issues in the church pop up few respond.

The truth is we all must be liberated. Not from those who oppress us or our ancestors, but from our own sins. The message of salvation is for all. While some may bury their heads in the sand when these tough issues present themselves, we must embrace the moment to speak to the world. To lovingly rebuke those who teach opinion as truth and those who divide instead if unify.

Any person should be welcome to walk into a true Christan church. If you worship race, country, ethnicity, skin color, denomination, or yourself, then you fail to worship the God of us all.

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