Rev. Rob Schenck, your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, reporting:
Until Rev. Jeremiah Wright came to Washington, I was busy doing the following:
- Working the National Bible Reading Marathon on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol
- Developing legal strategies for the two big cases surrounding the public display of the Ten Commandments and the impending ruling against “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Continuing our efforts at ministering to the Supreme Court justices
- Prayerfully framing my talk for next month’s huge Creation Music Festival in Mt. Union Pennsylvania where I’ll speak on the Sanctity of Marriage
But now, in the Post Wright world everything is overshadowed by his much too memorable theological and polemical thunder. (Though all the above projects continue apace.) Jeremiah Wright has indeed taken the country by storm. He was the leading news story for more than a week, an absolute eternity by journalistic measure.
I have received hundreds of E-mails on Wright and his liberation theology. Dozens of reporters, editors and producers have called me. I’ve done several interviews about both for television, radio and print media.
Of course, if this were simply about theology the story would have quickly been relegated to the dusty, musty halls of academia. What’s really keeping this story alive is the question surrounding Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s relationship to Wright. This is a legitimate question, but for me it takes a little bit of a different turn.
I do think this is all about theology, the church and specifically, the black church. From my vantage point, these are the things that really matter. Partisan politics is predictably tempestuous, rancorous and filled with combat. Any weapon is fair to use, including one’s church affiliation, but for me, the critical questions are what Wright actually preaches and teaches and how that affects those formed under his religious tutelage.
I explore a lot of this in a series of recorded phone conversations with experts on the subjects of theology and the black church. They are posted at http://www.faithandaction.org/ and http://www.nationalclergycouncil.org/. (More installments will go up soon.) Please listen to these brief exchanges; I think you’ll find them enlightening.
As far as what we will do going forward on this: 1) We will continue to track and expose Reverend Wright and liberation theology, 2) We will continue to counter this “poison” (as one African-American scholar called it) and 3) We will continue to put forward the positive message of Christian faith.
My essay, “Why We’re Concerned About Wright and His Theology” (again, at http://www.faithandaction.org/ explains the reasons behind giving so much attention to this subject. Please read it and pass it along to concerned family, friends and fellow church members.
While I’m on this, let me set one thing straight: I do not disrespect Jeremiah Wright. He is an obviously intelligent, accomplished individual who is extraordinarily savvy about dealing with the media. He is also a man my senior in years and in ministry experience, so I will continue to be be deferential and civil in my challenges to him. I will also pray for him, his family and all those affected by him.
I do believe Wright is wrong. (I love that play on his name!) He is wrong on his understanding of God, the Christian faith and biblical religion. He is also supremely wrong on the paramount moral issues: The Sanctity of Life (he is for wholly unrestricted abortion and passionately defends Roe v. Wade) and the Sanctity of Marriage (he performs so-called “same-sex” weddings).
Barack Obama’s inexplicable long and continued close association with Wright will keep interest in liberation theology alive for a long time to come. Should Obama win the presidency, it will light Wright’s afterburners. The result will be an ever-greater interest in his peculiar brand of theology and ultimately a wider embrace of it—including here on Capitol Hill. This takes Wright, his black liberation theology and his ultra-liberal church from a religious sideshow to the religious main stage.
The concerns of others about Wright and the danger of his theology have led to some unlikely back-room conversations among Christian leaders concluding it would be better for Democrat-leaning Evangelicals, Catholics and other religious conservatives to vote for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming primaries. The reasons they give me for saying so: She doesn’t help propel Wright to national religious stardom and his heresy with him.
I never thought I’d hear pro-Hillary talk in religiously conservative circles, but I am now. I think I’m having a Roger Poger upside down day!
Be back . . .
Rev. Rob Schenck
109 2nd St, NE
Washington, DC 20002