Inflammatory rhetoric and other content in the weekly bulletins of the Trinity United Church of Christ have the credibility of the claims by Barack and Michelle Obama that they have not been aware of the objectionable beliefs of their pastor and of his theology for the 20 years they have been church members hanging by a thread.
- (link) “The TUCC Bulletins: â€˜European Dominanceâ€™ and the Churchâ€™s Black-Power Roots.” The quick answer to the question, “Is TUCC another mainline denomination with just a smidge of ethnic emphasis, or, as Mark Steyn described it today, the home base of a “a neo-segregationist huckster?” Uh, it’s the latter.
- (link) “Selected History and Economics Lessons from the Wright-TUCC Bulletins.” Highlights include “the most heinous act of terrorism since chattel slavery (was) the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” “Pat Buchananâ€™s ancestors did not build this country; they stole this country,” and other gems.
- (link) “MORE Selected History and Economics Lessons from the Wright-TUCC Bulletins.” Includes “lack of respect given to Black people is still Americaâ€™s pastime,” “Since 1619 …. not much has changed either when it comes to the rights of Africans living in this country,” and much more.
- (link) “Selected Quotes from Others in the Wright – TUCC Bulletins.” Features “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” “the firestorm of racism is far from over,” and other choice items.
(If you are on the home page, click on “more” to get to the body of this post, which is about the motivation for it and provides some background.)
This is for the 30% of those polled by Rasmussen last week, and other Americans who agree with them — folks who have somehow bought Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s April 29 statement, in reaction to Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s appearance the previous day at the National Press Club, that the Illinois senator was “outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday” — as if Obama, and by inference his wife Michelle, had never heard them, or comments like them, while attending services at Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) in Chicago.
But this is also for the 58% who told that same Rasmussen poll, and other Americans who agree with them, that Obama “denounced the Pastor for political convenience.” The forthcoming reinforcement of just how correct you likely are will be very helpful.
It is a different relationship. Hagee deserves a lot of criticism. But, you know, he’s gotten it. McCain deserves more criticism for embracing Hagee and going after his endorsement, but he is not his pastor. So, I really don’t think it’s comparable.
Yes, this is for Reverend Wright himself — “furious” as he might be. It is for the pastoral staff at TUCC, most especially Wright’s successor, Rev. Otis Moss III (March 19 NPR audio, where he would not repudiate the Wright claim that the government has been involved in spreading AIDS in the black community, is here; HT WND), and the recently
ordained promoted Rev. Reginald “To Do Justice” Williams. Each appears to be proceeding even further down the ugly road Wright has paved.
It is also for the Rev. Wright’s backward-looking “pastoral,” racial-opportunist brethren at other churches and in civil-rights leadership positions — important positions of national visibility and leadership that they continue to abuse. This is in the remote hope that when all of them they see the assemblage of awfulness just one of the so-called “Black Liberation Theology” churches has authored, fostered, and engendered, they will realize what they have done to poison African-American hearts and minds and to inflame racial relations, rethink what they have been doing, and reevaluate what they believe in. Perhaps these folks will consider the possibility that it’s not about what it is to be a black Christian in America, it’s about what it is to be a American Christian who happens to be black.
And finally, this is for Barack (“The fact heâ€™s my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue“) Obama and his wife, Michelle (“We’ve got to move forward“) Obama. Both of them seem to believe that this is 1992 — that letting the sympathetic press run interference for them when things get tough, and that wrapping themselves around their kids (not even “the children,” but THEIR children) will successfully put any and every controversy behind them within a few days.
I don’t think so, or at least I have the audacity to hope not. Not in 2008.
As noted, the candidate himself has acknowledged that this is “a legitimate political issue.” His supposed “repudiation” Tuesday, and the charm offensive that followed it, did nothing to eliminate the questions about the previous 20 years.
* * * * * * * *
On March 14, Barack Obama said this to Fox News’s Major Garrett about his church attendance:
GARRETT: As a member in good standing, were you a regular attendee of Sunday services?
OBAMA: You know, I won’t say that I was a perfect attendee. I was regular in spurts, because there was (sic) times when, for example, our child had just been born, our first child. And so we didn’t go as regularly then.
Most of the guidance I’ve read tells me that the people who study church attendance define “frequent” or “regular” attendance as once a week. Let’s give Obama the benefit of the doubt on this, and assume that his definition of “regular” was, on balance, close to half the time.
If that’s the case, you would have to expect that:
- There is a 50-50 chance that both Barack and Michelle Obama received or shared each of the church bulletins, as those bulletins are, according to a TUCC person I spoke to who claimed to be in a position to know, distributed to attendees before services.
- There is a reasonably high likelihood that Barack Obama opened the bulletin at each service he attended to take notes in the blank “Sermon Notes” pages provided in each. That’s because, as reported in March 2007 by then-New Republic reporter Ryan Lizza, Obama was indeed seen taking notes (backup link here; bolds are mine; more background here):
On this particular Sunday, the sea of black worshippers is dotted with a few white folks up in the balcony, clutching copies of The Audacity of Hope they’ve brought for Obama’s book-signing later. Obama, sitting in the third row with his wife and two daughters, Malia and Natasha, stands, claps, prays, and sways along with the rest of the congregation. During the sermon, he watches the preacher carefully and writes notes. When asked by Wright to say a few words, Obama grabs the microphone and stands. “I love you all,” he says. “It’s good to be back home.” The 150-person choir breaks into a chorus of “Barack, Hallelujah! Barack, Hallelujah!”
The first bolded item should disabuse people of the notion, bought into by, among others, Hugh Hewitt, that Barack and Michelle Obama had their kids safely spirited away at Sunday school while services were being conducted, and that they were thus shielded from Wright’s rants. Apparently, not so.
The unanswered question in the second bolded item, of course, is where Obama was taking notes. It seems reasonable, and therefore reasonably likely, that he was taking notes in the convenient “Sermon Notes” page or pages provided. Three separate phone messages left for Lizza, who is now with the New Yorker, over the past three weeks, have gone unreturned.
* * * * * * * *
I have obtained and reviewed over 125 of the roughly 200 TUCC church bulletins issued between May 30, 2004 (the earliest issue I have seen) and March 23, 2008 (as I understand it, the last bulletin issue TUCC has published in digital form).
In those bulletins, I found over 150 items that I believe many, if not most, would consider either racially inflammatory, politically divisive, historically inaccurate, and/or theologically questionable. Jeremiah Wright was the author or writer in roughly 1/3 of the cases. Reginald Williams was responsible for a bit more. Guest writers and columnists made up the rest. While many bulletin issues had little or nothing of controversy, quite a few others had multiple instances. Many items that others might consider controversial didn’t make my “cut.”
If Barack or Michelle Obama actually read the TUCC bulletins they received when they attended services, the idea that they were not aware of TUCC’s generally outrageous outlook and Wright’s over-the-top statements — things that supposedly and suddenly became unacceptable on April 29 — verges on the absurd.
But you may not even need to prove that Barack or Michelle Obama opened up the TUCC bulletins, or that if they did, they looked at pages other than those containing those blank “Sermon Notes.”
What if, on any given Sunday, TUCCâ€™s bulletin content has generally supported or mirrored sermons delivered that same day by Wright, and perhaps others?
After all, at many churches, it is not unusual for the cleric who gives the homily or sermon to work to ensure that Saturday or Sunday bulletin content reflects or supplements what he or she will say from the pulpit. As multimedia message reinforcement, it makes sense that Wright would have done this.
As noted above, TUCC bulletin content is often consistent with the hostile tone of the worst of Wright’s known sermons — often enough, I contend, that if Wright made the effort to have his sermons, and those of others, in sync with bulletin content each Sunday, the likelihood that the Obamas heard objectionable sermons — sermons the candidate claim not to have heard — increases significantly. This is the case, even if the Illinois Senator and his wife rarely looked at bulletin pages other than the blank ones for taking notes, or for that matter even if they never cracked open the bulletins at all.
* * * * * * *
The fact is that a lot of people don’t believe that Barack and Michelle Obama didn’t know what was going on in their church. What will be revealed in posts throughout the day Monday will provide quite a few more reasons not to believe.