Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Barack Obama's former pastor.

Responses to Reverend Wright's 'radical' sermons

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.

However, I have also watched his more recent sermons attacking Bill and Hillary Clinton, which are beyond the pale. One in particular is so offensive that I cannot fathom how anyone can seriously claim that such a misogynistic sermon is "liberation theology." If it is, then I want nothing to do with that movement.

Paul Roesler
Saint Peters, Mo.

Regarding the recent article on Reverend Wright's style of preaching: I really appreciate the article's response to the suggestion of "hate speech" when referring to a few of Wright's quips offered during his sermons.

The article brings a truly fair and balanced evaluation to the matter, and it would be my prayer that the rest of us would accept its assessment and move on.

Many years ago, a wise man offered the following advice to me: "Take care not to repeat the words of an evil person, as that would be tantamount to embracing the evil that prompted them."

Sherwood Macrae
Cookeville, Tenn.

In response to the recent article on Reverend Wright's preaching: Thanks for such a well-balanced article that can serve to inform whites, such as myself, about the many reasons we should not see Pastor Wright's speech as threatening. I'm sure Wright is basically a very nice, although dramatic, man.

Molly Miller-Davidson
Los Angeles

In response to the recent article, "Obama's pastor preaching hate?": A simple one-word answer to the article's question should've been a resounding "yes."

There is no comparison to the eloquence, majesty, and hope Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed in many of his sermons – sermons that can be quoted in or out of context and still uplift the reader.

Doug McHargue
Benicia, Calif.

Regarding the recent article on Reverend Wright's sermons, which cites video clips of him saying "God damn America": To be damned is to receive the most hateful of all curses possible in all Christianity. May God bless the pastor in spite of his hatefulness and lead him to love. It is never too late.

Miles Beacom
Tijuana, Mexico

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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