Barack Obama Unequivocably Cuts Ties to Ex-Pastor

Earlier this morning, Barack Obama closely reviewed excerpts from Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s reckless and freewheeling speech that was given at The National Press Club breakfast on Monday morning in Washington. Deeply and visibly angry, Obama insisted upon holding a second press conference about Wright today in Winston-Salem (NC) in order to unequivocally denounce Rev. Wright’s conduct, as well as to to completely sever himself from his ex-pastor’s tirades. I have waited to post about this matter. In the meantime, mainstream and blogger pundits already have rushed to fill the print and internet media with clairvoyant mind-readings and armchair psychobabble about Obama’s comments today. As for myself, this ongoing affair has bolstered my own conviction that it is not a matter of simple antiquarianism that we should always be mindful of our Founders concern for a separation of Church and State, and of the dangers inherent in allowing that distinction to become more and more obscure.

Marc Ambinder provided an accurate summary of Obama’s Winston-Salem comments this afternoon in The Atlantic Magazine:

The person that I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago,” Obama said. “His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs… If Reverend Wright thinks that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well and based on his remarks yesterday, I may not know him as well as I thought either.”

I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church,” he said. “But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the U.S. wartime efforts with terrorism – then there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced, and that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.”

It is antithetical to my campaign. It is antithetical to what I’m about. It is not what I think America stands for,” he said.

Ambinder concluded his summary by noting that, “Obama has denounced Wright’s remarks before. But in the past, Obama gave Wright “the benefit of the doubt“–i.e., said he considered such remarks aberrations, outliers, deviations not in keeping with the sermons that he himself had heard over his two decades at Trinity. Now, according to Obama, Wright’s willingness to repeat such “ridiculous propositions”–in effect, “caricaturing himself”–has led him to the conclusion that either Wright has changed or that he was wrong about the minister all along. “Based on his remarks yesterday,” said Obama. “I may not know him as well as I thought.” By acting nutty in public, in other words, Wright gave Obama the license to openly say in public, “I now see why all of you think he’s nutty.”

Barack Obama Renounces Ex-Pastor Wright

I strongly encourage viewers to read an article by Peggy Noonan about her overall impressions of the current state of the presidential race, which was published last Friday in The Wall Street Journal and can be accessed here.

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In the Name of Faith and Love: For The Bible Tells Me So

In the Name of Faith and Love: For The Bible Tells Me So

An NPR Audio Discussion of For The Bible Tells Me So:

The Bible is the word of God through the word of human beings, speaking in the idiom of their time, and the richness of the Bible comes from the fact that we don’t take it as literally so that it was dictated by God,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Can the love between two people ever truly be an abomination? Is the schism that separates gay and lesbian persons from Christianity destined to be always too wide to cross? How can the Bible be used to justify hatred? These are the questions that are at the heart of For The Bible Tells Me So, an exploration of the religious right’s use of the Bible to justify shutting gay and lesbian people out of the faiths into which they’ve been born and in which they’ve grown up. One of the central figures in For The Bible Tells Me So is Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first-ever openly gay man to be elected a Bishop of the Episcopalian Church. Robinson’s consecration in 2003 (at which he had to wear a bullet-proof vest due to death threats against him) was a historical occasion, but also one that caused a rift within the Episcopal church. On a more personal level, the consecration was the quintessential moment of the path on which Robinson had first embarked some 20 years earlier when, with the support of his then-wife, Isabella, he came out of the closet after years of attempting to live as a straight man and seeking counseling to rid himself of his “gay feelings.”

The film explores, with various historians and religious figures, including Robinson and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the use of the Bible in the religous right’s attempts to portray gay and lesbian people as being abominations against God and nature. The film seeks to both put a face on the issue of religion and gay life, and to give people dealing with family and friends who rely upon the same old Bible verses about gays a Biblical perspective of their own from which to respond. But at its heart this is a film not about historical Biblical theory, but about the real lives of families with gay and lesbian sons and daughters, and how they have reconciled their faith with their love for their children.

It also narrates the story of Chrissy Gephardt, who finally came out as a lesbian to her family just as her father, former House minority leader Richard Gephardt, was about to embark on his campaign for the Presidency. Chrissy talks about enduring a sexless marriage to a man before falling in love with a lesbian friend, admitting the truth about herself, coming out and eventually joining her father on the campaign trail, with his support and encouragement.

The film also introduces the Poteats, an African-American family in which both parents are preachers still struggling to accept that their daughter, Tonia, is a lesbian. David Poteat, Tonia’s father, says in the film that when his children (a son and a daughter) were growing up, “I said God, please don’t let my son grow up to be a faggot and my daughter a slut.” He chuckles ironically and adds, “And he did not. He did not do that. He reversed it.” The Poteat family story resonates with the unmistakable sounds of truth, love, and pain. These are parents who have struggled to accept their daughter as a lesbian, but still love her immensely and have never cut off their relationship with her. But the Poteats aren’t all the way there yet. Tonia speaks longingly of a day when her parents would willingly and gladly come to her wedding with her partner. But at least they are working on it, and they haven’t rejected their daughter.

The film avoids demonizing the religious right, instead simply holding up the families who are at the heart of the story and saying: Here they are. These are the gay people you so fear, and they are your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters, the neighbors you’ve known for years. It speaks to the central point of the religious right’s objection to homosexuality without attacking those who hold those beliefs.

For The Bible Tells Me So made its world premiere in competition at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The film was also honored with Audience Awards at the 2007 Seattle and Provincetown International Film Festivals and The Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights at the 2007 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. This provocative, entertaining film concisely reconciles homosexuality and a literal interpretation of Biblical scripture. It offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone who desperately feels caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

For The Bible Tells Me So

There were many responses to the classroom killing of Larry King in Oxnard, California, and the ongoing violence against gay people that it so tragically represented, which included the now well-known statement that was made by Ellen DeGeneres on her television program. Be A Voice Against Violence is a Public Service Announcement video calling for all of us to take a stand against violence. The video includes appearances by Ashanti, Andre 3000, TR Knight, and Janet Jackson and was also created in response to the Larry King murder:

Be A Voice Against Violence

Remember The National Day of Silence on April 25, 2008. This year, The National Day of Silence is dedicated to the memory of Lawrence King:

The Day of Silence: Dedicated to the Memory of Lawrence King

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