Watching Jeremiah Wright's variety show the past few weeks has been nothing less than painful. With last week's North Carolina and Indiana primary results, thankfully, the spectacle is now officially inconsequential. Wright's antics may have bruised Barack Obama among some but he remains the likely candidate for the Democratic party's nomination for president. It is time to retire Wright and his bad theology back to the obscure theological cave from which they briefly emerged from hibernation.
We can safely lay Jeremiah Wright to rest because he is not the pope of the black church; he speaks only for himself. According to a Selig Center study there are approximately 46,000 predominantly African American Christian congregations. Nearly 86 percent of African American Christians belong to historically black denominations. Jeremiah Wright represents one voice from one congregation. Wright's black liberation theology and "the black church" are not synonyms.
If Jerry Falwell does not represent all white Protestants, then there is no reason to accept Wright's ridiculous assertion that to attack him is to attack the black church. Jeremiah Wright has severely damaged the image of the black church as many will now wrongly associate his extreme separatist views with the black church in general.
We must lay Wright to rest because we now know that he and Obama are not as close relationally as many believed. Wright's confession of his own self-promotion, when he suggested that Obama's distancing was merely political, tells the true story. If Wright really cared about Obama and was close to him, he would have kept his mouth closed until after the Democratic convention. Real friends do whatever it takes to promote the other's success. Wright, however, took the self-aggrandizing bait, appeared on Bill Moyers Journal, and spoke at the National Press Club.
What was most painful about Obama's latest announcement of his official relational divorce from Wright was the realization of Wright's betrayal. Obama's inability to rein in his former friend, during the most important event in Obama's political life, displayed Wright's willingness to let Obama endure painful backlash. Obama, possibly unfamiliar with the kind of person Wright really is, should have used stronger language to distance himself earlier from his former pastor.
Finally, we must lay Wright to rest because he is not running for president and we have critical issues to discuss other than the possibility of Wright's residual effect on Obama's ideology. Can we be honest for once? Most of us do not follow what our pastors teach us either. We only have to look at the profound lack of moral virtue overwhelming American culture for evidence.
Barack Obama is a "New Deal," "War On Poverty," Democrat preaching "change" to a young generation who seem economically naive and historically ignorant, willing to repeat a history of failed programs that tethered generations to intravenous government welfare and intervention. For example, though the minimum wage hurts poor people in the long-run, Obama's website says he plans to significantly "raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing."
Obama also promises that he "will establish a federal investment program to help manufacturing centers modernize and Americans learn the new skills they need to produce green products." A "federal investment program"? Has government proven to be a skilled investor of taxpayers' money? Our government is already running a $9 trillion deficit: why would we trust unaccountable officials with "investing" in anything?
For those who are concerned about the poor being liberated from the shackles of dependence, the minimal standards of wealth creation and real opportunities for the poor, the possibility of at least two Supreme Court retirements during the next presidential term, and the increasingly unchecked power of government regulatory agencies, the chief concern is not whether Obama has been influenced by the spurious worldview of a former friend. It is whether he has embraced the demonstrably futile policies of FDR and LBJ.
Anthony B. Bradley is a research fellow at the Acton Institute, and assistant professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis.