On June 3, Senator Barack Obama became the first contender for the U.S. presidency to launch a religious outreach website, faith.barackobama.com. On this website, Obama lists the testimonials of three controversial clergymen: Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago; Rev. J. Alfred Smith Sr., senior pastor of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California; and Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic Chicago priest.
On February 10, Rev. Wright was scheduled to give the invocation at the forum of Obama’s presidential announcement, but the night before the event Obama rescinded the bid: the Illinois senator knew that his spiritual advisor was so divisive that he would cloud the ceremonies. The black liberation theologian has a record of giving racially inflammatory sermons and has even said that Zionism has an element of “white racism.” He also blamed the attacks of 9/11 on American foreign policy.
Rev. Smith was honored by the notoriously violent Black Panther Party of Oakland in 1975, and in 1990 was given a community award by the Nation of Islam, an anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic and anti-gay group.
Rev. Pfleger has allowed Nation of Islam chief Louis Farrakhan to preach in his church; he has been arrested for defacing billboards; he has paid prostitutes to worship at his church; and in late May he staged an anti-gun rally in front of a gun store where he exhorted the crowd to hunt down the owner “like a rat” and “snuff” him.
While Obama is not responsible for the records of these three clergymen, he is responsible for giving them the opportunity to prominently display their testimonials on his religious outreach website. If Wright, Smith, and Pfleger are the kinds of clergymen Obama admires, perhaps it’s best he shut down his faith outreach website and start all over again. It will take more than “God talk” to get Obama out of this jam.