The "Just Peace Church" that Defends Mass Murderers - The Jewish Voice
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The “Just Peace Church” that Defends Mass Murderers

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Obama’s “close spiritual advisor“ in the church was none other than its senior pastor, Jeremiah Alvesta Wright Jr., (pictured above) who served as pastor there from 1972 to 2008. Wright was not merely a radical, but apparently believed and “preached anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, advocated bizarre pseudo-scientific racial ideas, opposed interracial marriage, praised communist dictatorships, denounced black ‘assimilation’ … and really believed that HIV/AIDS was created by the American government to kill black people.“

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a shrinking Christian denomination mainly active in the United States, and “perhaps the most liberal of the Mainline Protestant American denominations.” With just under a million members and 5,000 churches (down from two million members and 7,000 churches in 1957, when it was founded), it still has prominent congregations in the heartland of the American Congregationalist movements, in states such as Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Although the UCC’s membership has included many major U.S. governors, senators, members of the Supreme Court such as William H. Rehnquist; some outstanding theologians such as H. Richard Niebuhr, his older brother Reinhold, and Paul Tillich; and several writers, and academics, it is, however, best known today as the church that President Obama attended for twenty years between 1988 and 2008. For all those years, it was his spiritual home: “Trinity was where I found Jesus Christ, where we were married, where our children were baptized.” He attended Trinity UCC in Chicago, with the largest of the denomination’s congregations, some 10,000 members. Trinity UCC is a black or “Afrocentric” church that bases itself on the pursuit of love and justice. Its black congregation stands out as different from the wider UCC’s mainly white membership.

Obama’s “close spiritual advisor” in the church was none other than its senior pastor, Jeremiah Alvesta Wright Jr., who served as pastor there from 1972 to 2008. Wright was not merely a radical, but apparently believed and “preached anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, advocated bizarre pseudo-scientific racial ideas, opposed interracial marriage, praised communist dictatorships, denounced black ‘assimilation’ … and really believed that HIV/AIDS was created by the American government to kill black people.”

As if this were not enough, Wright harbored deep anti-American beliefs:

In a sermon last September 16 marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11 entitled, “The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall,” Wright seemed to celebrate white America’s comeuppance. … “We supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black south Africans and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards.”

It is clear that Jeremiah Wright has a strange understanding of love and justice. And it is also disconcerting that Barack Obama spent twenty years attending his sermons and called him a close spiritual mentor. But perhaps Trinity Church and Pastor Wright are aberrations in the belief and practice of the United Church of Christ as a whole. It could well be that other churches within the denomination are milder in their views and affiliations. But on one topic, there is clear unanimity between Wright and the wider church. That topic is the Palestinians and Israel. It is there in the above-quoted statement by Wright: “We supported state terrorism against the Palestinians…”

It is even more evident in a speech given by Wright in 2015, in which he declared without blushing that “Jesus was a Palestinian,” and compared young black men and women in Ferguson with the young men and women in “Palestine.” This and other statements were delivered at a Nation of Islam event in Washington D.C. Speaking of the Black Lives Matter movement, Wright said:

“The same issue is being fought today and has been fought since 1948, and historians are carried back to the 19th century … when the original people, the Palestinians — and please remember, Jesus was a Palestinian — the Palestinian people had the Europeans come and take their country.”

The speech was, in short, a farrago of a historical nonsense. He said further, citing the modish notion of intersectionality:

“The youth in Ferguson and the youth in Palestine have united together to remind us that the dots need to be connected. And what Dr. King said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, has implications for us as we stand beside our Palestinian brothers and sisters, who have been done one of the most egregious injustices in the 20th and 21st centuries.”

Really? More egregious than Cambodia or Maoist China or the Holocaust or Stalinist Russia?

He then went on to condemn Israel as an “apartheid state”, and repeated one of the most ubiquitous lies in modern history:

“As we sit here, there is an apartheid wall being built twice the size of the Berlin Wall in height, keeping Palestinians off of illegally occupied territories, where the Europeans have claimed that land as their own. Palestinians are saying ‘Palestinian lives matter.’ We stand with you, we support you, we say God bless you.”

It is hardly a secret that Barack Obama hates Israel; it takes a small leap of imagination to attribute that hatred in large part to the sermons of Jeremiah Wright. There can be little doubt that at least some of Obama’s anti-Israeli stance derives from his close relations with the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam and his earlier experience, as a half-Muslim child in Indonesia.

It appears that “Obama was ‘part of the Chicago scene’ where Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. and radicals would go to each other’s events and support each other’s causes.” Here again, the question arises: was this anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel current simply a part of black Chicago radicalism or did it pervade the UCC as a whole?

The answer is to be found in two overwhelming votes passed on “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) and “Israel-apartheid” resolutions by the UCC on June 30, 2015. According to the New York Times:

“Approval came at the church’s general synod in Cleveland, where delegates voted 508 to 124 in favor of divestment and boycott, with 38 abstentions. It was one of two resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict debated by the church, which has about one million members and more than 5,000 congregations nationwide.”

A second resolution, condemning Israel as an “apartheid” state, received fewer votes (51.4%) and did not pass, but its presence at the synod said a great deal.

Following this vote in 2015, an organization affiliated to the UCC, the UCC Palestine Israel Network (UCCPIN) published a guide to Israel-Palestine affairs in August and again in September 2016. Titled “Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel”, and sub-headed “A Guide for United Church of Christ Faith Leaders”, this toxic document is a desperately one-sided, inaccurate, and counter-factual exercise in futile politics. Legally, UCCPIN operates under the aegis of one of the denomination’s local conferences. Their guide is, therefore, not the direct work of the church’s leadership, but is clearly endorsed by a section of it.

The Guide most certainly does not favor justice or peace in the Holy Land, as its contents show on every page. Some delegates opposed to the resolution identified its one-sidedness. Joanne Marchetto, of the Penn-Northeast Conference of the UCC, said she was “uncomfortable with how this resolution is presented… This is a great injustice to the land, and I think we need to hear both sides of the argument.” But the guide produced by the church rejects any call to hear more than the Palestinian narrative and anti-Israel arguments.

At the end, it has a four-page list of resources, books, DVDs, websites, a reading list, educational material, alternative travel organizations, and films. Not one of the many items on this list is remotely pro-Israel. All are hardline pro-Palestine activist materials and links. The UCC guide does not pay even lip service to the notion of fairness, dual narratives, or a need for mutual understanding. The pro-peace Jewish/Israeli voice is silenced while Palestinian hate speech, genocidal threats, and endless terrorism do not come in for criticism at any moment. (Gatestone Institute)

By: Denis MacEoin

Denis MacEoin is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute. He first graduated with a B.A. and an M.A. in English Language and Literature from Trinity College, Dublin, followed by a second 4-year M.A. in Persian, Arabic, and Islamic Studies from Edinburgh and a PhD in Persian/Islamic Studies from Cambridge (King’s College)

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