So, You Want a Theocracy Now?

Obama wouldn't have this Reverend Wright problem if Americans didn't have the idea that their president has to be a man of faith.
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Lots of people don't like Rev. Jeremiah Wright today. The
blogosphere is full of fear and resentment -- Wright is going to bring
Obama down. Wright is going to remind white people that black people
remember slavery, discrimination, and racism. Wright is going to
remind white people that maybe God is not all that happy with them and
the way they've treated black people. Wright is going to remind white people
how difficult it has been for black people to survive in America. I
don't know what's going to happen to Obama now, but for me, Wright's
problem is not that he remembers and reminds us of the black American
experience, it is that he brings God into the political marketplace.

Wright's expressed reason for speaking out (and possibly
wrecking Obama's presidential bid) is that he feels he must defend the
Black church from criticism. Right here is the trouble with
churches -- they don't like to be criticized, and they don't think they
should be criticized. If you criticize them, they tell you you are
being disrespectful and sacreligious. It is not that the Pastor
disagrees with you, it is that God disagrees with you and therefore
you must be punished. Somehow, people are always more offended when
they are told that God Himself is not on their side.

Isn't it interesting that there are so many churches in America
who all more or less disagree with one another? Hagee hates and fears
Catholics. Falwell hoped to see the end of public schools. Robertson
declared that "Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal
America is now doing to the evangelical Christians." Wright may be
more correct about the history of Americans and black people in
America than any of these pastors, but he is more like them than he is
unlike them in that he sees attacks on him as attacks on the Black
church, and he feels obliged to defend it. If Obama is required to
repudiate Wright, then why isn't McCain required to repudiate Hagee?
Well, only for this reason -- Hagee controls more votes. The fact of the
matter is, all of the candidates have to pander to constituents who
will not admit that in the last 70 years -- to say the least -- US policy
has done a great deal of harm around the world and that that harm has
aroused hatred and vengefulness toward the US. A candidate who won't
admit or doesn't know that is the one who can get elected, but a
president who can't admit or doesn't know that will continue to course
of American destruction that Bush and Cheney have sent us down. Bush
didn't know "why they hate us". Cheney did know, but didn't care.

The crossroads we find ourselves at was an inevitable one. I
always knew some preacher would get some president or some
presidential aspirant into big trouble. I naively hoped that it would
be a rightwinger and his hate-spewing Robertson/Falwell power
mongering hypocrite. I should have known it would someone who actually
knows something about American history. But Obama wouldn't have this
problem if Americans didn't have the idea that their president has to
be a man of faith. If Americans thought
that the president just had to be an intelligent and knowledgeable
person, a competent policy wonk and an inspiring public speaker, Obama
would be home free. But as an atheist, or an agnostic, or even someone
who kept his beliefs to himself, Obama would have never had a chance.
He could be ten times as smart and well-prepared as George W. Bush,
but he would never get the votes. So, what
Obama has been honest about his religious journey in a way that NO
OTHER CANDIDATE HAS, and now even Bob Herbert wants him to abase
himself for it. I'm sure Clinton's and McCain's pastors are going to
come under similar scrutiny (Ha!). They should, because maybe if they
did, the American people (and the press) would wake up from this
madness of making politics about religion.

Update: As a result of Obama's smartly-phrased repudiation of Rev.
Wright, I call upon John McCain to repudiate, in similar terms and at
similar length, his relationship with Rev. Hagee, and for Hillary
Clinton to openly discuss and repudiate her relationship to her
Capitol Hill prayer fellowship led by Doug Coe. Among other things,
According to Mother Jones, "The Fellowship believes that the elite win
power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission
is to help the powerful understand their role in God's plan." God's
plan, according to them, seems to be "'spiritual war' on behalf of
Christ". I, as a patriotic American, am at least as offended and
frightened by anything Doug Coe and Sam Brownback are planning as I am
by anything Rev. Wright is planning. Obama has repudiated Wright as
forthrightly and gracefully as possible. Now I want the same from the
others. The press must hold Clinton and McCain to the same standard as
Obama. Hagee and Coe must go.

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