Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who for 20 years was Barack Obama’s pastor and mentor, delivered three fiery sermons in South Carolina on Easter Sunday. While most pastors focused on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter, Rev. Wright focused on race and politics and said that Muslims, Christians and Jews worship the exact same God. He made the comments during a bizarre tirade against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The controversial preacher also showed no love for Justice Thomas, as he told his audience that, though Thomas “looks like” them, he is “worshipping some other God.” He also made an intriguing comparison about the God of the Hebrew Bible and the Lord depicted in the Quran.
“The god of racists is not the God of righteousness. The god of the greedy is not the God of grace. The god of Wall Street is not the God of Main Street,” Wright proclaimed. “Those are two different gods and I ain’t talking about Allah and Yahweh. Those are the same names for the same God.”
He continued, taking a jab at Thomas and his Christian faith.
“And I’m not talking about black and white…some of ya‘ll think I’m talking about white folk,” he said. “There’s a whole lot of folk who look like you who are worshipping some other God — somebody shout Clarence Thomas. Hallelujah!”
Rev. Wright, who is a convert from Islam and a former black nationalist, has in the past criticized anyone who questions Obama’s Christian faith. But his comments equating Allah and Yahweh are sure to stir up controversy for his former parishioner, a man who borrowed the title of one of his two autobiographies from a Wright sermon.
Rev. Wright’s theology is unusual, to say the least. Most Christians and Jews would argue that Allah found in the Koran represents a different figure from the Yahweh of the Bible. For a pastor to use an Easter sermon to equate them would be even more troubling to most Christians. To single out Justice Thomas for such personal criticism and scorn when the Supreme Court is deciding the fate of Obama’s signature legislation is troubling as well. The question is, does Barack Obama agree with the majority of Christians and Jews, or with the pastor whose sermons Obama credits with leading him to faith?
Obama has long claimed that while he sat in the pews of Wright’s Chicago church for two decades, he never heard his pastor say inflammatory remarks, but one of Wright’s Easter remarks echoes remarks that Obama is known to have heard and reacted favorably to. On Sunday, Wright sayd:
“The ignorance and arrogance of white supremacy have the movers and shapers of world policy living in a different world from people of color all together,” Wright raged on. “And the sooner you realize that the better off you’re gonna be.”
In his autobiography The Audacity of Hope, Obama quotes Wright saying something strikingly similar.
“It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks’ greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere…That’s the world! On which hope sits!”
It was from that sermon that Obama drew the title to the book in which he quotes it. Additionally, one of Obama’s long-time political allies, the late Prof. Derrick Bell, bragged about enjoying harassing “white folks.”