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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Barack Obama's former pastor.

April 2, 2008

Responses to Reverend Wright's 'radical' sermons

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Regarding the March 28 article, "Obama's pastor preaching hate?": The article makes the case that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.'s speech was not hateful because it was "radical" and its style did not lend itself to be interpreted correctly by the rest of us.

I love Reverend Wright's social justice message, and Barack Obama gave an inspiring speech in addressing Wright's "problem" messages. My biggest problem with Senator Obama's speech was that I sat there waiting for him to say how he had shown leadership in pulling Wright aside when he heard what could surely be interpreted as hateful speech. When we sit and listen without protest or without follow-up, then we are complicitous in supporting those words.

We have to decide how tolerant we will be of what is perceived as hate speech, and my preference is intolerance. I do expect that those who wish to be the leader of the free world show some leadership when they hear hate speech, and not later when it is politically expedient.

Margie Medrano
Austin, Texas

In response to the recent article on Reverend Wright, Barack Obama's former pastor: While I'm not an expert on this theology, it seems that, in general, it preaches that Christ Jesus was a social activist and, from the viewpoint of most Bible scholars, nothing could be further from actuality. Indeed, the fact that Jesus didn't advocate the forceful overthrow of the Roman government was one reason many Jews did not accept him as the Messiah. In fact, when put on the spot by Jewish leaders about his loyalty to the government in an attempt to have him arrested, Jesus responded, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." His instruction to visit the fatherless and widows was directed to those individuals who followed his teachings, as was his most forceful admonition, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils."

While it is reasonable for an individual who professes to be a Christian to follow Christ Jesus' example, it does not necessarily follow that a church must advocate social activism to be a Christian church – or that this type of ministry is even the most true to Jesus' own ministry.

Elizabeth Hinnant
Pebble Beach, Calif.

Regarding the recent article on Reverend Wright's sermons: As a member of another United Church of Christ congregation, I have spent numerous hours reviewing Pastor Wright's sermons. Many of them are powerful and thoughtful. While I would not be comfortable with the anger expressed in some of his sermons, he addresses important social issues. The problem with using anger when preaching is that you can get carried away and say hateful things. Most of his controversial sermons are of this type: over-the-top statements that have an element of truth that is carried too far. I could almost see the point that the article makes.