Obama’s Story of Race and Religion


Obama’s Story of Race and Religion

Hoping his religious ties to Jeremiah Wright will go away, Barack Obama quietly announced his resignation from Trinity United. But before we dismiss the issue, a look at Obama’s memoirs provides important context.

After receiving enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination on Tuesday night, Barack Obama said he looked forward to debating John McCain’s very different policies and positions. “It is a debate the American people deserve,” Obama said. “But what you don’t deserve,” he continued, hoping to frame the upcoming presidential debates more narrowly, “is another election that’s governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon—that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize” (emphasis mine).

It remains to be seen how much of a wedge issue Barack Obama’s disturbing association with Jeremiah Wright will be in the upcoming general election. But if it does factor into the outcome, it is he—not his political opponents—who made it a wedge issue.

Suspicious of Racism

Barack Obama began his 1994 memoir, Dreams From My Father—A Story of Race and Inheritance, by describing the events surrounding the day he learned that his father, who abandoned him at the age of 2, had died. Barack was 21 at the time, living in New York. “When the weather was good,” he remembers, he and his roommate would “sit out on the fire escape to smoke cigarettes and … watch white people from the better neighborhoods nearby walk their dogs down our block to let the animals [defecate] on our curbs ….”

Evidently, life wasn’t easy for mixed-race students at Columbia University in 1981—even those who lived on the upper east side of Manhattan.

Before college, while living in Hawaii, Barack describes an awkward incident during his high school days, when he invited two white friends to attend an all-black party. Early on at the party, the whites became noticeably uncomfortable and asked if Barack could return them home early. During the ride home, one of them made the mistake of saying he could now better identify with Barack’s sojourn as a minority living in a mostly white society. The comment angered Barack, but he managed to suppress the urge to punch the guy. The impact of the incident, however, etched a deep, life-altering scar on Obama’s mental makeup. “I had begun to see a new map of the world, one that was frightening in its simplicity, suffocating in its implication,” he explained.

We were always playing on the white man’s court, Ray [his black friend] had told me, by the white man’s rules. If the principal, or the coach, or a teacher, or Kurt, wanted to spit in your face, he could, because he had power and you didn’t. If he decided not to, if he treated you like a man or came to your defense, it was because he knew that the words you spoke, the clothes you wore, the books you read, your ambitions and desires, were already his. … Following this maddening logic, the only thing you could choose as your own was withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage, until being black meant only the knowledge of your own powerlessness, of your own defeat.

Not long after the party, adding insult to injury, Barack was shocked to learn that his white grandmother had what Barack believed were predisposed attitudes that were racially insensitive. The revelation jolted him one morning shortly after his grandmother asked her husband, Barack’s grandfather, for a ride to work. The exchange led to an argument which resulted in her finally admitting that she was afraid to ride the bus to work. She had been harassed by a man the day before, she said—and he was black.

“The words were like a fist in my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure,” Obama wrote.

That night, Barack related the disturbing news to one of his grandfather’s drinking buddies, an elderly black man named Frank. He told Barack that his grandmother’s reaction to the scary incident on the bus indicated that she understood “that black people have a reason to hate. That’s just how it is,” he said. “So you might as well get used to it.”

Just before Barack left for college, Frank passed along his insight regarding the real price of admission.

“And what’s that?” Barack asked.

“Leaving your race at the door,” Frank said. “Leaving your people behind.”

Later, Frank explained, “They’ll train you so good, you’ll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that [nonsense]. They’ll give you a corner office and invite you to fancy dinners, and tell you you’re a credit to your race. Until you want to actually start running things, and then they’ll yank your chain and let you know that you may be a well-trained, well-paid n- - - - -, but you’re a n- - - - - just the same.”

So off to college Barack went, hoping to find his way in this world, while chasing women, smoking pot and occasionally snorting cocaine.

As an undergraduate student at Occidental, located just outside of Pasadena, Calif., Obama was surprised to hear that most of the black community on campus wasn’t interested in revolt and actually didn’t think about race all the time.

“So why couldn’t I let it go?” Obama asks himself.

He chose his friends carefully while at college—befriending the “more politically active black students.” He wanted to avoid the label of being a “sellout.” He enjoyed spending time with the “Marxist professors” and “structural feminists.” He studied Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to help him better understand how white people learn to hate.

After transferring to Columbia in 1981, he gave up drugs and began to take his studies more seriously. Sobering up, however, did little in the way of suppressing his black rage. “I had grown accustomed, everywhere, to suspicion between the races,” he wrote.

“But whether because of New York’s density or because of its scale, it was only now that I began to grasp the almost mathematical precision with which America’s race and class problems joined; the depth, the ferocity, of resulting tribal wars; the bile that flowed freely not just out on the streets but in the stalls of Columbia’s bathrooms as well.”

While at Columbia, Barack decided he wanted to be a community organizer—a profession that would allow him to make use of his college experience as a black activist. After a lengthy job search which turned up no leads, he finally got a call from a white Chicagoan who had recently started an organizing drive.

During the interview a week later, after asking Barack why he wanted to be an organizer, the man said, “You must be angry about something.”

“What do you mean by that?” Barack asked.

“Don’t get me wrong,” the man later explained. “Anger’s a requirement for the job.”

Obama accepted the job and moved to Chicago in 1985. He worked within several black neighborhoods around Chicago—Roseland, West Pullman and Altgeld Gardens—communities that had been hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs. “I started working with both the ministers and the lay people in these churches on issues like creating job-training programs, or after-school programs for youth, or making sure that city services were fairly allocated to under-served communities,” Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2004. “And it was in those places where I think what had been more of an intellectual view of religion deepened.”

Obama’s Spiritual Mentors

In Dreams From My Father, we first meet Jeremiah Wright a little over halfway into the book. But right away, we notice that Pastor Wright is quite unlike all the other deeply flawed male role models who played parts in Barack’s upbringing and education.

Barack has nothing negative to say about his pastor. After meeting him in his office to discuss community organizations, Barack decided to come back for a service one Sunday. As it happens, Wright’s sermon that day carried the same title Obama would borrow for his second best-selling book—“The Audacity of Hope.” In the midst of his message, undoubtedly delivered with the same bombastic style of some of his later, more controversial, sermons, Wright decried the evils of a world “where white folks’ greed runs a world in need.”

The message brought tears to the eyes of Barack Obama. It marked the beginning of an intimate and enduring bond between these two, who seemed to be perfectly matched.

According to the 2004 Sun-Times profile, Barack attended Trinity’s Sunday service every week—“or at least as many weeks as he is able.” The article also identified another long-time associate of the senator’s, a spiritual adviser who helped establish Obama’s moral compass—Michael Pfleger, who, until this week, pastored the St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church on Chicago’s south side.

“I don’t think he could easily divorce his faith from who he is,” Pfleger said of Obama in 2004.

The Anger Is Real

Less than three months ago, when Barack Obama attempted to distance himself from his spiritual mentor and close confidant Jeremiah Wright, the junior senator said his pastor had been misunderstood and unfairly characterized. He said the fact that so many people are “surprised” by Jeremiah Wright’s anger reveals how segregated whites and blacks are during the church hour on Sunday mornings. “[T]he anger is real—it is powerful,” he said in response to Wright’s diatribes. “And to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”

In his speech, hailed by many in the major media as the best speech on race relations since Martin Luther King, Obama condemned the “controversial” statements of Wright, while maintaining his close personal relationship with the man. “He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children,” Obama said. “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.”

Two months after that comment, Obama’s other spiritual adviser, Michael Pfleger, mocked Hillary Clinton’s campaign during a message delivered at Trinity United, accusing the New York senator of believing she deserved the nomination simply because she is white.

In response to yet another religious wedge issue, no doubt sensing that his disturbing associations with Trinity United might undermine his political ambitions, Obama did last week what he should have done in March—what he should have done long before that, in fact—he disowned Pastor Wright and Trinity United. Michael Pfleger’s remarks, he explained disingenuously, had caught him by complete surprise.

One commentator tried to brush aside Obama’s disavowal of Wright’s theology as nothing more than politics as usual. It was political opportunism that prompted him to join the church in the first place, just as it was politically expedient for him to leave the church last week, he explained.

But while political opportunism undoubtedly motivated his departure from Trinity United in 2008, Dreams From My Father reveals an altogether different motivation for Barack heeding Jeremiah Wright’s altar call in 1988, and then maintaining a close, father-son relationship with his pastor for the next 20 years.

Ideologically speaking, the two couldn’t have been more perfectly suited for each other.

How the Anger Will End

“[T]he evidence is overwhelming by now that Trinity United is a front for the hard left,” writes James Lewis, “which is trying to turn American blacks into another angry proletariat …. Radical leftists have been teaching ‘race consciousness’ to black people, just as the old left taught ‘class consciousness’ to impoverished people. The stated goal of Black Liberation Theology is to create racial strife, just as the stated goal of Marxist class propaganda was to whip up class war. This is preaching of race hatred for selfish political ends.”

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote of the same issues back in 1968, when student rebellions and racial violence were rampant on American campuses. In the November 1968 Plain Truth, he wrote:

Look, now, at these sudden emotional flare-ups of student revolt and of race consciousness, prejudice, resentments and hatreds. Why the sudden inflaming of student rebellion? Why have both exploded into violence? …The underlying cause is, simply, human nature. … Human nature is the underlying cause of the strife, the revolt, the violence. But what has triggered it? …[I]n most cases I can tell you definitely that these riots and student uprisings have been deliberately planned, intentionally provoked, well organized. …Today Communists appear on college and university campuses, under the guise of “the new leftist movement.”

That old Marxist movement, he explained, worked to inflame blacks with “emotional resentment against whites,” reminding them of every possible “injustice”—fanning the flames of discontent, bitterness and hatred.

We see the same thing happening today.

As much as Obama might claim to disown Trinity United, and to whatever degree his contentious relationship with Jeremiah Wright affects his campaign, the bitter results of today’s movement to stir racial hatred in America are bound to lead to a racial explosion, just as it did during the 1960s. (Read Chapter Four of Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet to see that this is indeed prophesied.)

Mr. Armstrong, however, went on to give the solution: “These problems will be solved! Our generation shall see world peace!

“But not until human nature is changed! Not until people quit hating one another!”

That time will soon come, he went on to explain, when Jesus Christ returns to this Earth and, by supernatural power and force, brings peace, prosperity and happiness for all!