Saturday, April 30, 2011

President Obama, Reverend Wright, and My Dad

During the last presidential election, Republicans tried to make political hay over the fact that Barack Obama spent many years attending a church whose minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is prone to using extreme language. My personal favorite Wright line: he denounced December 7 as the day Americans killed millions in Hiroshima. I was appalled no one in the congregation laughed: doesn’t that moron know that’s when the German bombed Pearl Harbor? (my favorite line from Animal House).

I’ve never met President Obama, nor have I met Jeremiah Wright. However, people who question how our president could attend a church whose minister is such a race-baiting extremist should consider the story of John B. Mitchell Jr, my father.

My dad has been a member of the First Communion Church (associated with the United Church of Christ) for slightly over a half century now. He has been an usher and a member of the Board of Governors. He has also been an atheist for his entire adult life. Many years ago, he even saw fit to serve on a search committee to find the church a new senior minister. I indignantly asked him why he doesn’t offer his services to local synagogues. “Because I’m not Jewish,” he replied. I then pointed out he wasn’t Christian either. Dad always wore a look of complete incomprehension when I called him a hypocrite.

With regard to President Obama, is he a) a wild-eyed, racist extremist like Wright, b) a narcoleptic in the habit of sleeping through sermons, or c) an opportunist who wanted connections? Take your pick.

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