THE BLOG
10/26/2007 12:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Controversial Merlin To Obama's Would-be Arthur

The following piece is produced by the Huffington Post's OffTheBus.

As Barack Obama kicks off his "Embrace the Change" Gospel Tour in South Carolina, his recent declaration on Wednesday that he would "take up arms" to prevent another 9/11 draws focus to an element of the Senator's religious background that he likely won't be campaigning on.

On the Sunday after the terrorist arracks of 9/11, Obama's highly publicized pastor and confidant, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the man who led the Senator from skeptic to self-described Christian, said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies, and put the blame at the feet of "White America."

Four years later Wright wrote that the 9/11 terrorist attack upon our nation was a "wake-up call" to White America," reminding it that "people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just disappeared, as the Great White West went on its merry way of ignoring Black concerns."

Such statements are indicative of "a certain deeply embedded Anti-Americanism," said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative group that studies religious issues and public policy. "A lot of people are going to say to Senator Obama, are these your views?"

Obama says they are not. "The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification," he said in a recent interview. He was not at Trinity the day Rev. Wright delivered his remarks shortly after the attack, the Senator said, but "it sounds like he was trying to be provocative."

Little wonder that conservative bloggers and pundits have raised concerns about Obama's spiritual ties to a man who espouses a form of Christianity which depicts America as deeply and intractably racist, and who believes there are two types of white Christians - those "who lynch people in the name of Jesus" and those "who ain't got time to lynch people." After a fiery sermon about the injustices which white America has promulgated on blacks, the good Reverend announced, "God is tired of this shit!"

Rev. Wright is no stranger to controversy. As the senior pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's south side, where Obama is a well known member, Wright's self-described "self-determination" views have been called divisive by many. Wright himself was installed as a chief in Ghana in August 2003, after years of building relationships with that country.

The son of a Baptist minister from Philadelphia, Wright started to teach what became known as Africentric theology.s. "Are we going to be a black church in a black community?" the budding preacher asked. "Or are we going to be a white church in blackface?" The answer is in the congregation. Under Wright's leadership, Trinity has grown to 5,000 members, the largest congregation in the predominantly white United Church of Christ.

Still, this is a large source of controversy for Obama who says he has been deeply influenced by his church and considers Wright a "spiritual father." Rev. Wright also performed Barack and Michelle's wedding ceremony, baptized their two daughters, and dedicated their house in Chicago. The title of Obama's second best-selling book, The Audacity of Hope, which is also the theme of his presidential campaign, was lifted from a sermon preached by Rev. Wright, who says his celebrated parishioner often turns to him in moments of frustration.

However, in an interview with PBS's "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" recorded just before Obama's February announcement, Wright said he warned the senator that their association could pose political problems, partly because of his history of supporting Palestinian causes.
Wright is a long-time friend and supporter of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. In 1984, Wright accompanied Farrakahn on a trip to visit Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who was not only our sworn enemy, as well as Israel's--our staunchest Middle Eastern ally---but also a known supporter of international terrorism.

As Wright told The New York Times in a March 6 interview, "When Obama's enemies find out I went to Tripoli with Farrakhan to visit Gadhafi, a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell."

With 9/11 still weighing heavily on many Americans, and the primary only a few months away, the snowballs may already be melting. In the meantime, Rev. Jeremiah Wright remains the cleric, counselor and confidant of the senator who hopes to become the next President of the United States of America.