The Washington Post has a front-page story about Barack Obama’s religious faith. It goes on for 20 paragraphs without ever mentioning Trinity Church and its long-time pastor Jeremiah Wright. This doesn’t mean that Post reporter Jonathan Weisman and his editors at the Post are biased in favor of Obama. They probably just didn’t think that the church Obama attended for two decades (until earlier this year), and the minister who was Obama’s spiritual mentor, had any relevance to a story about his religious faith.
The Post’s story covers with great seriousness Obama’s recent “highly personal account of his spiritual journey” and how he “let Jesus Christ into [his] life.” The true nature of Obama’s spiritual journey (if any) is a bit different from the one he presents and the Post takes at face value. It is undisputed that Obama was a non-believer until the latter half of the 1980s. After that, it is undisputed that Jeremiah Wright (irrelevant though he may be) inspired Obama to join his church. Joining that church was a smart political move, given its influence in the community where Obama had set up shop as a community organizer.
From this point on, there are two possibilities. First, Obama may have joined Wright’s church, and remained in it, for purely pragmatic political reasons. In this scenario, Obama is still a non-believer, and the story of his “spiritual journey” is an invention. Second, Obama may actually have been a genuine convert to the version of Christianity preached at Wright’s church. In this scenario, Obama embraced black liberation theology and had a spiritual journey, though not quite the one he would like voters to imagine. Either way, Obama is distorting his religious views, either by pretending that he is a believer or by obscuring the radical nature of his religious beliefs.
On its face, it seems audacious for someone who has been revealed as the follower of a fanatical, hate-mongering minister to be touting his religious faith. But with powerful spin machines like the Washington Post to cover for him, Obama isn’t really being all that audacious as he reinvents himself on yet another frontt.
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