This Easter Sunday, whites and blacks will flock to church to worship, listen to the words from the same Bible and then go back home to eat food and pluck Easter eggs. In today’s America many more congregations are integrated than when Dr. King made his observation; in some communities black pastors will preach to whites and white pastors will preach to blacks.
Rev. Otis Moss Sr., co-chair of Clergy for Obama, is a 72-year-old veteran Cleveland pastor whose son has taken over Wright’s former post at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, said parishioners must be able to sift out the good and the bad, regardless of the religion.
“Are we going to ask a very devout Catholic to leave the Catholic Church?” Moss said. “You can’t hold the listener or a member of a church to be responsible for every word uttered by his prophet or pastor, if you did, you would have to join a new church every week, you would end up being churchless and homeless in terms of spirituality.”
But as Obama pointed out, race remains a central and uncomfortable reality in American life. So how should clergy address this reality?
Are we living in a time when ministers should just lob spiritual daisy’s from the pulpit? My wife, Taunya described the Obama speech as eloquent and timely: “He addressed the proverbial 900-pound pink gorilla in the room.”
“It is so obvious that race is an issue in this election. Why can’t we talk about it,” she asked. “In order for this nation to heal we must talk about race.”
Wright and ministers of his generation preached their fire and brimstone because they were victims of a racist past filled Jim Crow laws, Colored-Only signs and a government that often worked against them.
For decades, the only sanctuary was the church, where people came not only to do good deeds, but to seek inspiration as well.
But inspiration for African Americans may cause great pain for some whites who can’t understand how Obama could be their president and still sit in the pews with Wright and the other members of Trinity.
It is also likely that many of the young whites who now cling to Obama and fill his campaign don’t understand Jeremiah Wright, or the world that produced him.