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The Politics of Religion

I am sure we are all looking forward to the end of the Democratic Primaries. I hate that I’ve become obsessed with exit polls and CNN, but I guess it’s a necessary evil if I want to remain informed. In the grand tradition of mud slinging and hidden scandals uncovered, something new has hit the fan for Barack Obama. Video of some of his pastors sermons have recently “surfaced” *I use that term loosely* and threaten to cost him a lot of support.

            For those of us that attend predominantly black “progressive” churches comments in the pulpit regarding issues of race are the norm. In the last eight years many pastors have commented on the ill effects the policies of George W have had on people of color here and abroad. Some of our more informed and liberated pastors probably had a lot to say about Bill Clintons policies *Rwanda , 3 strikes, welfare reform et al* but that’s neither here nor there right now. My point is the politics of race often find themselves stirred into the sermon. Now that Barack is leading in the polls and pretty much changing the landscape of American politics, video footage from 2001and 2003 have surfaced. In these videos Barack’s pastor delivers sermons that pretty much put America on blast. Whether you agree or disagree with the messages of Jeremiah Wright do they equate to a pastor that “hates America”?  Is it me, or is do you notice the trend of any and every person that speaks intelligently about the misdeeds of the United States is automatically labeled a “hate monger”?  Why is a man trying to liberate his congregation deemed Anti-American?  Side bar: are members of the Klu Klux Klan considered Anti-American?  I mean why is it okay to demoralize the people that pretty much built this country based on their race, but a black man speaking truth to power equates to hating this country?????

            The point of this blog is not to debate the merits of Reverend Wright’s speech.  Whether we agree on his words is neither here nor there, my question is SO WHAT!?!?!?!?  Why are sermons from 2001 and 2003 now a thorn in the proverbial side of the Obama campaign?  I think part of it is desperation on the side of his opponents.  I won’t blame this one solely on tiny tears, as the conservative Republicans probably stand to gain more by this than anyone.  Barack was painted into corner when these speeches suddenly became headline news.  Someone wanted to slow Barack’s roll.  No one cared about these speeches when Barack ran for the United States Senate.  No one cared about these speeches when Barack gave the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, but now that he is poised to beat the Clinton machine, and is predicted to probably beat McCain the words of his pastor somehow equate to his presidential viability. 

            Some black people were disappointed, as they thought Barack threw his Reverend under the bus when the media attacked.  Some white people were disappointed as they thought Barack’s membership in this church showed evidence that he is anti America, and thus anti white.  A few days ago Barack gave a speech that some say was the most eloquent speech ever given by a Presidential candidate.  Some say it’s too little too late, but what do you say?  Was Barack’s response acceptable to you?  In the grand scheme of things, do you think his most recent speech (which can be viewed below in the Wednesday Wind-UP), was too little too late and hence he should kiss the White House goodbye?


March 19, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Race, religion | 4 Comments

Pulpit Prosperity

I’m sure most of you have heard the brewing controversy over the pastors of some “Mega Churches” and their alleged financial impropriety.  Regardless of how this all ultimately plays out, the headlines have already stirred the pot about prosperity and religion.  Some feel that these ministers preach a message about prosperity in an effort to convince people to give more money to their church.   

When I see a pastor more concerned about his own prosperity than the souls in his congregation, no he can’t get my money, but more importantly he can’t get my ear!  I can’t sit in a church and listen to someone spew a message that contradicts how I feel in my heart.  When I see people that are more enthralled by the outfit the pastor was wearing, I am naturally going to give them a side glance. (If you can’t tell me what the message was about on Sunday, but you can tell me what color gators and what color cufflinks the preacher was wearing I’m gonna say you are the one with the problem!) 

I give my offerings to the church in good faith that the money is going towards doing God’s work.  None of us have the time to really police how every dime is being spent, but personally I believe that God will deal more harshly with anyone that steals from the church than I ever could.   

Two of the pastors mentioned in this probe are based out of Atlanta.  I am not a member of either church, so I am not an expert on their particular message.  I’ve attended World Changers a couple of times, but it was not for me.  Creflo Dollar could not meet my spiritual needs, so I could never call his place of worship my church home.  I do know several “World Changers”, and they love it, so I guess he gives a word that they need to hear.  I have never heard Eddie Long preach, but I know his church stays packed so he must be giving a word someone needs to hear as well.

My biggest concern in all of this is it’s propensity to put the black church under so much scrutiny, especially because our culture has always been rooted in the church.  Once upon a time, preachers lived off of love offerings and the helping hand fund.  Now that we are a more prosperous people, we give more money to ministry.  Currently our churches provide bigger outreach programs to our communities, and the demands on pastors are a lot greater than they were twenty years ago.  I guess it’s natural for “poor preachers” to be the exception not the rule in 2007.  Are poor preachers more reputable?  Should we naturally assume the preacher that can afford custom tailored suits is stealing from the building fund?   

There is a good argument to be made for each side here, but is it really our (me, you, the media, congress’s) argument to make?  Those of us that go to church should do so to hear a word from God.  Chances are if your spirit is not being nourished at a particular place, you’ll leave.  The question should then be, what are people looking for from their church, and is that need being met.   

They say you should never discuss politics or religion, so I guess I am really asking for it with this blog.  And before you ask: yes I do go to church.  No, I do not attend a “Mega Church”.   Yes, I do attend the congregational meetings, so I know how my church is disbursing money. Having said all that, what is your take on prosperity in the pulpit?


November 8, 2007 Posted by | Faith, religion, Society | 3 Comments