How Could He?

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In today’s column, Charles Krauthammer asks how Barack Obama could not have left Jeremiah Wright’s church. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Krauthammer is not engaging in agitprop here, that the question he poses is worth trying to answer.
One possibility is that Obama actually embraces the inflammatory things that, thanks to YouTube, we’ve all observed Wright preaching. There’s no actual evidence of that, other than the fact that Obama remained a member of his church. Another possibility is that, while Obama does not embrace those things, he is so morally obtuse that he did not recognize that they obliged him to join another church. Again, the evidence of moral obtuseness on his part consists in the fact that he did not leave that church.
Let us suppose, on the other hand, that Obama has the values and beliefs he appears to have, and that he is not morally obtuse. The only answer to the question, then, is that the benefits of belonging to the church–and of maintaining his relationship to Wright–outweigh the costs of hearing things from Wright with which he profoundly disagreed. We have learned a lot, and not only from Obama, about the good works and uplifting message of the church. We also know, but it has not been sufficiently stressed in this context, that it was Wright who brought Obama to his faith.
It may be easy for people whose religious identity was formed in childhood to pick their places of worship as adults depending on what accords best with their doctrinal beliefs, aesthetic preferences, and social values. Should we assume the same about someone who has come to a faith as an adult, and specifically one who, in his twenties, was brought to an acceptance of Jesus Christ as his lord and savior by a powerful religious leader? Is it easier to separate oneself from such a spiritual parent than from a blood relative? Should we beware of someone who passes judgment by asking rhetorical questions?

  • Asinus Gravis

    Thenks, Mark, for the perceptive response to Krauthammer’s remarks.
    I suspect that Mark continues to look at Krauthammer’s stuff, despite its offensive, irrational, biased, agenda driven nature.
    I have a son who is wedded to some pretty stupid political views. He even regularly watches Fox News and listens to Limbaugh. He also subscribes to some ridiculously indefensible religious views that amount to sheer superstition. Still, I have not seriously considered kicking him out of the family, or even out of my home. We sometimes even manage to carry on a civil conversation about political and religious matters.
    I recall that my father held to some pretty weird religious views too, in addition to being a racist. He helped me get an education that resulted in my moving on to more informed religious views and becoming very critical of his racist perspective. Still, through it all, he didn’t kick me out; and I did not privately or publicly renounce him and reject my family.
    Krauthammer is way off base on this one–as usual.