Barack Obama’s speech in Philadelphia yesterday was an attempt to distance himself from the inflammatory rhetoric of his black liberation theology pastor, Jeremiah Wright. The pundits are still busy dissecting the speech, but this analogy from Michael Gerson in the Washington Post pretty well sums up the crux of the matter.
What if a Republican presidential candidate spent years in the pew of a theonomist church — a fanatical fragment of Protestantism that teaches the modern political validity of ancient Hebrew law? What if the church’s pastor attacked the American government as illegitimate and accepted the stoning of homosexuals and recalcitrant children as appropriate legal penalties (which some theonomists interpret as biblical requirements)? Surely we would conclude, at the very least, that the Republican candidate attending this church lacked judgment, and that his donations were subsidizing hatred. And we would be right.
It really doesn’t matter what Obama says now about Wright’s theology. The fact that he sat in the man’s pew for twenty years and supported his church with his money means they are joined at the hip. He can’t just wave that history aside now that it’s inconvenient to his campaign.