Preacher Politics

Great column from E.J. Dionne:

After Wright's bizarre and narcissistic performance at the National Press Club on Monday, Obama would have looked weak and irresolute had he not denounced him. But if there was a moment of courage in this drama, it was not Obama's condemnation of Wright but his earlier and now much-criticized effort to avoid a complete break with his unapologetic pastor. [...]

The catalogue goes back to Bailey Smith, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Speaking at a 1980 religious convention that was also addressed by Ronald Reagan, Smith declared that "God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew." [...]

Two days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Jerry Falwell, appearing on Pat Robertson's "700 Club," declared: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.' " [...]

And, of course, there is the endorsement of McCain by the Rev. John Hagee, founder of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, who has called the Catholic Church "the great whore of Babylon" and "the anti-Christ."

E.J. asks "Do white right-wing preachers have it easier than black left-wing preachers? Is there a double standard?" I think there is a double standard, but it's a double for politicians not for preachers. After all, all those right-wing nutters attracted their fair share of condemnation. The difference is that a white politician is presumptively assumed to be "one of us" so if some religious figures he has a relationship with has wacked-out views, those are seen as his views and not necessarily a problem for the politician. A black politician, however, is expected to constantly prove that he's "one of us" rather than "one of them."