This article from FoxNews has announced that Barack Obama is leaving Trinity United Church of Christ because of distractions to his campaign resulting from controversial sermons preached by Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Rev. Michael Pfleger. If you’ve been paying attention to the campaign, you know what I’m talking about. Pfleger, the cause of the most recent distraction, preached at Trinity UCC as a guest and mocked Obama’s opponent Hilary Clinton, accusing her of white entitlement and feigning emotion.
What does this say about American politics? Obama has not announced his decision to join another church. If it weren’t for his political aspirations, would Obama remain as part of this congregation, or is his decision to depart mainly based upon political expediency? I understand if Obama is disappointed with comments made from Trinity UCC’s pulpit. I am disappointed myself. However, Obama will likely not be the last presidential candidate to rise from a religious community with a controversial pulpiteer, so I ask, is this good for the church, for politics, and for American political discourse?
Will future political candidates choose churches that are more innocuous to American culture? No doubt some candidates have done so in the past–choosing their faith communities based on the measure of influence they could garner from the congregation/denomination/etc. As a final question, has anything similar to Obama’s plight taken place with other persons striving to take hold of public office in a way that it has become newsworthy?
Religious conviction has shown itself important to the American public when choosing a president. I have to wonder how this controversy will shape the future of American politics and religion, for good or for ill.