RELIGION
09/01/2011 05:52 pm ET Updated Nov 01, 2011

Gardner Taylor Defends Obama

By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

(RNS) In a new book, the Rev. Gardner Taylor, a retired pastor known nationally as the dean of African-American preachers, decries the treatment of President Obama by his critics.

Taylor, 93, was particularly disturbed when Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., declared "you lie" as Obama addressed a 2009 joint session of Congress.

"When you call the President of the United States, who happens to be black, a liar, you are insulting the United States in the halls of Congress," wrote Taylor in "Faith in the Fire: Wisdom for Life."

"What does that mean for the future of the country, for the confidence in the nation's elected offices?"

Taylor added that Republicans labeled the outcry over Wilson's words "a witch hunt" but "did not say that the witch has been found and now reprimanded by Congress."

Taylor said he hopes the book demonstrates strong African-American support for the nation's first black president.

"I disagree with those who are so critical of the president and yet I'm firmly of the belief that they have a right to differ," he said in a Wednesday (Aug. 31) conference call with journalists. "Mr. Obama is moving the country in a new direction and the very fact that he is there in the White House means there is a new direction and a great majority of black people support Mr. Obama."

The Progressive National Baptist Convention, which Taylor founded with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., also recently decried comments against Obama.

Citing slurs and remarks such as "you lie," "boy" and "tar baby," the denomination called for the ouster of elected officials who have made such statements about Obama and his family.