Barack Obama – Trinity United Church of Christ

E-mail describes Illinois senator Barack Obama's church as having a racist, ;non-negotiable commitment to Africa.'

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Claim:   Illinois senator Barack Obama’s church has a “non-negotiable commitment to Africa” that is covertly Muslim and excludes non-blacks.

Status:   False.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, December 2007]

Obama mentioned his church during his appearance with Oprah. It’s the Trinity Church of Christ. I found this interesting.

B-L-A-C-K!!! Doesn’t look like his choice of religion has improved much over his (former?) Muslim upbringing.

Strip away his nice looks, the big smile and smooth talk and what do you get? Certainly a racist, as plainly defined by the stated position of his church! And possibly a covert worshiper of the Muslim faith, even today. This guy desires to rule over America while his loyalty is totally vested in a Black Africa!

I cannot believe this has not been all over the TV and newspapers. This is why it is so important to pass this message along to all of our family & friends. To think that Obama has even the slightest chance in the run for the presidency, is really scary. Click on the link below:

This is the web page for the church Barack Obama belongs to:

Origins:   It is true that Illinois senator (and Democratic presidential hopeful) Barack Obama has been associated with Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ (a single church which is part of the United Church of Christ denomination) for about twenty years, and it is true that TUCC describes its congregation as “an African people” who remain “true to our native land.” However, it is not true that Barack Obama “desires to rule over America” (he’s running for the office of president, not king), or that he is a “covert worshiper of the Muslim faith” (both he and the TUCC are Christian). It is also not true that non-blacks are shunned by TUCC, as Martin E. Marty of the University of Chicago Divinity School related from personal experience:

Trinity is the largest congregation in the whole United Church of Christ, the ex-Congregational (think Jonathan Edwards) and Reformed (think Reinhold Niebuhr) mainline church body. Trinity’s rubric is “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian.” So far as I can tell Trinity shapes a kind of ellipse around these two “centers,” neither of which makes sense without the other. This you would never know from the slanders of its enemies or the incomprehension and naiveté of some reporters who lack background in the civil rights and African-American movements of several decades ago — a background out of which Trinity’s stirrings first rose and on which it transformatively trades.

So Trinity is “Africentric,” and deals internationally and ecumenically with the heritage of “black is beautiful.” Despite what one sometimes hears, Wright and his parishioners — an 8,000-member mingling of everyone from the disadvantaged to the middle class, and not a few shakers and movers in Chicago — are “keepin’ the faith.” To those in range of Chicago TV I’d recommend a watching of Trinity’s Sunday services, and challenge you to find anything “cultic” or “sectarian” about them. More important, for Trinity, being “unashamedly black” does not mean being “anti-white.” My wife and I on occasion attend, and, like all other non-blacks, are enthusiastically welcomed.

As for the (subjective) issue of whether a church with an 8,600-member black congregation that espouses a “Black Value System” and urges commitment to the “Black Community,” the “Black Family,” and “the Black Work Ethic” is a church that is dutifully attending to the needs of its congregation, or one that is advocating a form of separatism or racism, Chicago Sun-Times journalist Monroe Anderson tackled that subject in a piece about TUCC back in March 2007:

If a white presidential candidate’s church had a similar statement and “you substitute the word white for black, there would be an outrage in this country,” [Sean] Hannity preached. “There would be cries of racism in this country.”

True and Catch-22. If a white church plainly and proudly pronounced its whiteness, Hannity, [Tucker] Carlson and company would be right. But if it was the Holy Trinity Polish Church on Chicago’s North Side, proclaiming its Polishness, who’d care? This is how African Americans find ourselves in a trick bag. We’re defined racially even when we’re acting like any other of this nation’s ethnic groups. Issues knee-jerkily become black and white when in reality they may be African American and Irish American. Or Serbian American and African American.

The New York Times also noted:

[The TUCC pastor] preached black liberation theology, which interprets the Bible as the story of the struggles of black people, who by virtue of their oppression are better able to understand Scripture than those who have suffered less. That message can sound different to white audiences, said Dwight Hopkins, a professor at University of Chicago Divinity School and a Trinity member. “Some white people hear it as racism in reverse,” Dr. Hopkins said, while blacks hear, “Yes, we are somebody, we’re also made in God’s image.”

(Trinity’s “Talking Points” page responds to some of the criticisms of the TUCC that prompted Anderson’s article.)

The TUCC has been the subject of criticism because its pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has over the years given inflammatory sermons and made controversial political statements, such as saying that the U.S. started the AIDS virus, maintaining that the U.S. was asking for the 9/11 attacks by supporting “state-sponsored terrorism” against black South Africans and Palestinians, and speaking favorably of controversial Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan. This issue led to Wright’s stepping down from an advisory role in the Obama campaign in March 2008, while the senator himself disclaimed hearing or agreeing with such statements:

I have to confess that those are not statements I ever heard when I was sitting in the pews at this church. These are a series of incendiary statements that I can’t object to strongly enough. Had I heard those in the church, I would have told Reverend that I profoundly disagreed with them. They didn’t reflect my values and they didn’t reflect my ideals.

Last updated:   16 March 2008


  Sources Sources:

    Anderson, Monroe.   “Ethnic Identity Isn’t Black and White.”

    Chicago Sun-Times.   25 March 2007.

    Crouch, Stanley.   “It Will Take a Lot More Than Farrakhan to Smear Obama.”

    New York [Daily News].   21 January 2008.

    Falsani, Cathleen.   “‘I Have a Deep Faith.'”

    Chicago Sun-Times.   5 April 2004.

    Kantor, Jodi.   “A Candidate, His Minister and the Search for Faith.”

    The New York Times.   30 April 2007.

    Marty, Martin E.   “Keeping the Faith at Trinity United Church of Christ.”

    2 April 2007.

    NY 1 News.   “Obama Denounces Comments Made by His Former Preacher-Advisor.”

    16 March 2008.