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I Question The Timing, Part I

Well, Barack Obama has pulled a "Peter" and denied his faith. It's not surprising -- the ongoing scrutiny into both the past and present practices of the Trinity United Church Of Christ has damaged Obama's standing with a lot of Americans, especially those who put hold their own faith as very important.

But I find myself wondering -- at what point did the Church go too far for Obama? When did it change?

Author's note: as an agnostic who's never belonged to any church as an adult, I probably don't have the best perspective on the nuances of church membership. On the other hand, I think of myself eminently qualified to render a truly objective opinion, untainted by my own faith.

Obama joined the church over 20 years ago. He was devoted enough to the church to make it the place where he married his wife, where he had his daughters baptized, and gave them plenty of his own money (as opposed to funneling federal funds) over the years. But now that he's on the cusp of being the Democratic nominee for president, he's finally had enough and is walking away.

The thing that bothers me is, the church has apparently been like this for pretty much all the time the Obamas have been members. Reverend Wright's inflammatory statements (both from the pulpit and from the church's newsletter, which featured Obama on the cover numerous times) go back years and years.

This leaves me with two obvious conclusions: either Obama didn't know about them before now, or he wasn't bothered by them.before now. And neither explanation is overly palatable.

In the first case, Obama actually fits in with a large number of Americans: he went to church, paid his donationss, politely nodded in the pew, and didn't pay much attention to whatever the church said. (Bill Clinton is a great example of this one.) But that doesn't fit in with his profession of a deep, strong, abiding Christian faith -- after all, a church is God's house, and it seems to me that a good Christian would object most strenuously to someone using God's house to so loudly and forcefully espouse things in God's name that he found repugnant.

The other case is even more cynical. It says that Obama was aware of the -- let's say it -- vile things being espoused by his church, from its pulpit, but didn't see them as a big deal. That implies that either he agreed with them, or he didn't think that many people would find them repulsive. Either way, that puts him seriously out of touch with mainstream America, who doesn't think that 9/11 was God's punishment for the US or that the government concocted AIDS or that God's ministers should be calling presidential candidates whiny, racist crybabies from the pulpit.

By standing steadfast with his church -- while denying association with its more unpleasant aspects -- for as long as he did, and then jettisoning it when it grew too tough, Obama revealed that he had no real investment in his association with it. Had he been truly repulsed by its practices, he would have taken a stand -- or walked away -- long ago. Had he been truly devoted, he would have stayed and fought for "hope" and "change" within.

But, instead, he stands exposed as what he was all along: an opportunist. He joined the church because he thought it would do the most good for his political career, and hoped like hell that what played well in Chicago would never go national, where it would go over like the proverbial "fart in church." But we live in an age where pretty much every aspect of a presidential candidate's life is an open book -- especially a 20-year association with a minister to the point where he singled out Reverend Wright for special praise in his autobiography, even borrowing a phrase from him for its title.

The impression left behind is a telling one: Barack Obama is a man of strong beliefs and convictions -- but stronger self-interest. When he makes a commitment, he will stand by that commitment right up until it becomes too inconvenient or costly, and then he will drop it like the proverbial hot potato -- and his sycophants will praise him for making a difficult but principled decision.

This is not a "new" thing in politics. This is not the "politics of hope and change." This is old-school politics, the kind of crass and cynical opportunism that is a large reason why so many people are disgusted with politics.

Here's hoping the Obamas can soon find a new church soon. After all, he has so much invested in his faith (if not personally, then certainly politically); being a generic "Christian" but not going to any particular church doesn't really mean much in many people's eyes.

Including a lot of the people who will be deciding if he will be their next president.


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Comments (18)

Barack knew Father "Flaky" ... (Below threshold)

Barack knew Father "Flaky" Pfleger and had been funneling public money to the "good" Father for at least thirteen years.
The idea that Barack woke up one morning and said, "I never dreamed these people said such things" is absurd.
The problem is that Barack is claiming that he doesn't want to be held accountable for anything anyone in the church says that he may not agree with, when the problem is what the leadership of the church has said from the pulpit and the church's publications. That leadership (and men like Father Pfleger) Barack has embraced for a score of years. He knew the venom they spewed and had no problem bringing his wife and children to sit under that vile hatred, and never spoke a contrary word against it - for twenty years!
Even in his "swan song" he had high praise for the church and Rev. Wright.
The vile theology of the church is what Barack needed to separate himself from, not just the YouTube consequences of it!

This is the pattern of Obam... (Below threshold)
hermie:

This is the pattern of Obama's political history. He never had to fight for what he actually believed in. He simply went along with whatever the party power brokers told him to do; and he was rewarded for his loyalty.

But when he was in a tough spot, where his votes in the Illinois Senate would help determine the fate of a piece of legislation, he summoned up his political courage... and voted 'Present'.

Here again, he has found it too tough to take a stand, and his jelly-like backbone is clearly collapsing under the relatively minor strain. This issue with Trinity is nothing compared to having to deal with a nuclear Iran. If Obama couldn't deal decisively with one, what makes anyone think he could handle the other?

Like many black churches, O... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Like many black churches, Obama's is a social activist gathering. His former "church" does not preach the true gospel or disciple Christians in accordance with the purpose of a real church. It does not even rise to the level of tares among wheat.

He's going to need a bigger... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

He's going to need a bigger bus

In Chicago in his district ... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

In Chicago in his district Obama had a flock of people whose belief in him derives mainly from that church. They are a group inclined to suspension of disbelief and not inclined to question any of things said by Wright, Meeks or Obama. He is one of them- another preacher, steeped in hate.
Now he tries mightliy to distance himself from that hate even though it was the source of his popularity.
It is his hubris and arrogance that affords him the confidence that all of America is as gullible and ridiculous as that congregation in Chicago and will buy into all of his words.

The resignation from the church puts all of this back into play politicially.

This demonstrates that Obama stands for nothing, will fight for nothing and is nothing more than a crass political animal.

His judgment is now in grave question.

"It Is Time To Move On...Ya... (Below threshold)

"It Is Time To Move On...Ya Beat This Horse To Death."

I think there is one other ... (Below threshold)
paul:

I think there is one other possibility why Obama decided to get out now.....he knows soemthing else is coming out and hopes to avoid the issue.

In the first case,... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:
In the first case, Obama actually fits in with a large number of Americans: he went to church, paid his donationss, politely nodded in the pew, and didn't pay much attention to whatever the church said

Been there. The reason most attendees simply sit there simply waiting for the service to be over is because most of what is said is said over and over, again and again so you tend to half tune it out. Now, most of those people are just alert enough to pick up on something like a "God damn America" snuck in there and that would've got the average person's attention.

The only coherent conclusion is that Obama is now trying to conceal who he really is because the average voter would never vote for that guy.... which is why we hear his mealy mouthed speeches with wonderfully flowery style which say nothing. The hope is that you'll be so enthralled with the flowery presentation that you won't notice the huge void of substance. And it's worked well so far...

Wait for the Michelle Obama... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Wait for the Michelle Obama "I hate Whitey" speech that will soon come out. Racists, all of them. ww

I am pleased whenever anyon... (Below threshold)
jp2:

I am pleased whenever anyone leaves church, but as far as this goes politically, it's a bad move.

And I only say this because lame bloggers and reporters and TV personalities will cover this for the next few weeks and think it provides some sort of insight or that it matters one iota in the grand scheme of being a President. I sure wish actual issues were covered more often. We'd have a lot better leaders.

Barack Obama has pulled ... (Below threshold)
Clay:

Barack Obama has pulled a "Peter" and denied his faith.

I respectfully disagree. He refused to denounce the church. He knows well the doctrines under which the church is taught. He knows that it's a very high likelihood that more racially tainted soundbites will come before November. After that he will return from his backslidden state and say "Hey, I never denounced the church."

But, okay, let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Let's just say that he slept through twenty years worth of services, and didn't hear a word of what Wright and others have said. But now he is confronted with overwhelming evidence of the church's doctrines, along with the rest of the country. Shouldn't a denunciation of the church be the only appropriate answer for someone who is disgusted with these doctrines, as he says he is?

Jay, I really think you are wrong. And it's wrong to allow people to believe that he did anything but fall very short of denying his faith. He hasn't denied it. He's just taken it underground.

Obama is a far left radical... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Obama is a far left radical and has associated himself with far left radicals for over 20 years. Obama is to liberals what David Duke is to conservatives; a hate spewing nut case who has cleaned up his act and hidden his agenda to get elected to public office. This will all come out in the general election in spite of McCain's myopic views on how to win elections. Good thing for McCain the democrats are ignoring Hillary's warnings that Obama will lose to McCain.

In the first case, Obama ac... (Below threshold)
Brad:

In the first case, Obama actually fits in with a large number of Americans: he went to church, paid his donationss, politely nodded in the pew, and didn't pay much attention to whatever the church said.

**For one who admits not belonging to a church, I think this is a sweeping assumption, and a little arrogant.

JP2 -"And I onl... (Below threshold)

JP2 -

"And I only say this because lame bloggers and reporters and TV personalities will cover this for the next few weeks and think it provides some sort of insight or that it matters one iota in the grand scheme of being a President."

Actually, it provides a lot of insight into Obama's character. He's not willing to take a hard stand on issues - preferring to waffle like crazy, he's been going to a very bigoted, racist church for 20 years (but he didn't listen - which makes you wonder about his attention to detail ) and he's very quick to cut and run away from a subject whenever he's criticised.

What's not to like? Aren't those wonderfully Presidential qualities?

jp2 - "And I only say t... (Below threshold)
marc:

jp2 - "And I only say this because lame bloggers and reporters and TV personalities will cover this for the next few weeks and think it provides some sort of insight or that it matters one iota in the grand scheme of being a President."

Funny that!

This comes from one member of a large segment of the voting public, admittedly a far, FAR left segment, that has spent the better part of the last seven years whining, crying and having DNA samples run down their legs about every Bush association from Cheney, to Rove, to Halliburton and have those connections result in everything from climate change to excessive numbers hurricanes and the price of apples in Washington.

jp2, are you trying out for Last Comic Standing? Or just being a disingenuous buffoon?

It was only weeks ago that ... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

It was only weeks ago that Obama specifically stated in his speech that he could not leave that church.

Judgment to lead? Obama can't get himself to follow his own leadership.

You know what's even worse?... (Below threshold)

You know what's even worse?

If the candidate for President is supposed to exemplify the ideals of the party he/she represents... then the Democratic Party is really, really screwed.

One of the worst things, from a politcal standpoint, that has come along in the last 8 years is Youtube. The internet's pretty good as a memory repository - but with Youtube, you've got an eye that NEVER forgets. And that's going to be a KILLER for the folks who were 'against it before they were for it' in Congress.

Obama joined a black church... (Below threshold)
Bev:

Obama joined a black church for political, not religious reasons. He has gathered the max black vote now, so he's left to gather the white vote. Not about religion.




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