Published on March 23, 2008
SAC Officer Rev. Aubrey Wallace
Social Action Commission
Greater Bibleway Church International
Louisiana Ministerial Alliance Of All People
Several months ago, early in the Democratic race for the nomination to run for president of the United States Of America, conservative radio pundits began attacking Senator Barrack Obama by playing a small snippet of a sound bite from one of the sermons delivered by his pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright who was the spiritual leader of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
Some of Dr. Wright`s critics loudly declared that his prophetic preaching style of denouncing white racism was in fact, "reverse racism."
By repeatedly broadcasting 20 second sound bites from some of the powerful sermons delivered by Rev. Wright, media pundits from all of the major media, right wing, moderates and left-wing broadcasters have repeatedly shaped a distorted view of the black church and as a result, the news coverage has reflected negatively upon Senator Barrack Obama.
On March 18, 2008, Senator Obama made a brilliant defense of himself and his membership at Trinity Church, as well as, his personal relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. He disavowed and denounced the "words" Rev. Wright in the video-sound bite that was played over and over in broadcasts in the United States and perhaps, all over the world. Senator Obama also addressed the destructive nature of racial oppression and the resultant anger and resentment left in its wake. For many Mr. Obama`s speeches was on-target, for others it was not enough. Senator Obama needs no one to defend him; however, beyond the attacks on Senator Obama, there is a greater concern.
The attacks on the media; so-called conservative, and liberal or "moderate" critics have not only attacked Senator Obama, but much more significantly, have attacked the traditions of preaching, the black religious traditions; the cultural and spiritual traditions that have encouraged and helped black Americans for over 375 years of racial and economic oppression.
White and some black commentators have expressed shock and dismay because of a few brief video sound-bites. Newscasters are critical of Dr. Wright, express dismay that a pastor would condemn the United States, even though the U.S. supported racist policies of apartheid in South Africa that kept Nelson Mandela imprisoned. These in the media express shock that a black pastor would question whether we should sing "God Bless America" while remembering the injustices against people of color, the lynching of black men for decades without serious intervention by the government, and using black Americans as medical guinea pigs as the government did with its syphilis program in Tuskegee said Bishop Toris T. Young who is a friend of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Rev.
James T. Meeks of Salem Baptist of Chicago House Of Hope in Chicago IL another Obama pastor who was criticized by the media for his sermons.
Many broadcaster and whites fail to understand that black pastors are expected the moral authority of the U.S. government in a world in which the wealthy are allowed to benefit because of their wealth and political connections. Black preachers are expected to vehemently speak out when America allows genocide to be perpetrated by dictators who support U.S. policies, said Bishop Young. Like the so-called liberal ministers in Alabama who chastised Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he sat imprisoned in Birmingham jail, these news pundits charge Rev. Wright, and by extension the black church, with "mixing politics with religion" and misleading "ignorant black people" into an adversarial relationship with "their government." And like those so-called "liberal" white preachers in Alabama who attacked Dr. King, several have even quoted various biblical texts as evidence that Rev. Wright and Trinity United Church of Christ are not following biblical principles.
It is our responsibility to understand that God does not sit outside the walls of human history and it is our responsibility to stand up in defense of, not only Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Rev. James T. Meeks but also in defense of the best prophetic biblical traditions. The words and actions of some media pundits seem to imply that Senator Obama and black people should renounce our historical and religious heritage, our culture and our faith before we can be accepted into American "mainstream". Those who criticize appear willing to accept black Americans, only if we do not remind America of the struggles we, as black people, have had to overcome.
To ask black clergy, and laity, to remain silent in the face of a continuing racist reality is no different than Pharaoh demanding that Moses and Aaron be quite in the face of Egyptian cruelty. It is no different than the Old Testament elite demanding that Isaiah remain silent about the treatment of the widows and orphans; and no different than Jesus remaining silent at the exploitation of the poor.
The black preacher and black Christians, in the prophetic tradition of Black Liberation Theology, from Richard Allen, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bishop Toris T. Young, Rev. T. J. Jemison, Rev. Andrew Jackson Young, Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Bishop Morris Brown, Bishop Paul Quinn and Rev. Dr. E.K Bailey all walk in proud tradition.
In the past, as well as now, we sit surrounded by great men and women who have refused to bend down to a "state religion".
The so-called conservatives who demand that we separate ourselves from our prophetic tradition are doing nothing less than calling on us to deny our God.
This is a time of testing, not only for America, but for us, as black and white Americans, and many of us have decided that we will not bow down to the God of an American "state religion".
We have the biblical lessons of Daniel; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. We have the lessons of John, the Revelator, on the Isle of Patmos, and we have the example of Jesus.
We, the members of Greater Bibleway Church International, Louisiana Ministerial Alliance Of All people, Bishop Toris T. Young and Rev. Aubrey Wallace and all of our partners, proudly embrace the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Rev. James T. Meeks and the Trinity United Church Of Christ as well Salem Baptist Church Chicago IL. as walking well within the best biblical traditions and the best traditions of black prophetic preaching and a faith that has brought us, "This Far By Faith", because we have come too far to turn around now.