29 June 2008

What about Obama's other spiritual mentors?

Much was made a few months ago about Barack Obama's connections with the preacher Jeremiah Wright - who had once said that 9/11 was the US reaping what it had sowed and that HIV may have been a conspiracy created by the US government. After first saying he disagreed with him, but that disowning him would be like disowning his grandmother, he then disowned him. Yet this isn't the whole story.

More recently, Obama had been criticised by the lunatic religious right for asking which parts of the bible should people look to for morality, specifically quoting Leviticus. Of course this is a legitimate question to ask, and plays well to secularists and atheists. It shows Obama as being thoughtful. However, Obama is not without spiritual mentors even though he has passed on Jeremiah Wright.

Another controversial figure is Father Michael Pfleger, a Catholic, who said Hilary Clinton had faked crying and felt entitled to be President because she was white - Obama condemned those remarks, but he and Father Pfleger have been friends for 20 years. Pfleger has long had radical associations.

However, Illinois State Senator James Meeks has been a more disconcerting mentor for Obama. A Baptist Minister, he has been a State Senator since 2003. According to the Chicago Sun Times:

"Another person Obama says he seeks out for spiritual counsel is state Sen. James Meeks, who is also the pastor of Chicago's Salem Baptist Church. The day after Obama won the primary in March, he stopped by Salem for Wednesday-night Bible study. "

He allegedly said that Brokeback Mountain was brought to us by Hollywood Jews, (and that wasn't a good thing). Two pieces of bigotry for the price of one. According to GayWired:

"A spring 2007 newsletter from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) named Meeks one of the "10 leading black religious voices in the anti-gay movement". The newsletter cites him as both “a key member of Chicago's ‘Gatekeepers’ network, an interracial group of evangelical ministers who strive to erase the division between church and state” and “a stalwart anti-gay activist… [who]… has used his House of Hope mega-church to launch petition drives for the Illinois Family Institute (IFI), a major state-level ‘family values’ pressure group that lauded him last year for leading African Americans in ‘clearly understanding the threat of gay marriage.'” "


"According to a 2006 Chicago Sun Times article, his church sponsored a "Halloween fright night" which "consigned to the flames of hell two mincing young men wearing body glitter who were supposed to be homosexuals." "

Charming. If it were John McCain with such links, you can be sure that the liberal left wouldn't leave him alone - but it is Obama. It remains odd that a man whose public statements are so liberal seeks guidance from bigots. The real question is, who is the real Barack Obama? Is he stupid and naive? Is he liberal, but gains something from a collection of bigots? Does he share the bigotry? Or is his strongly leftwing past (something many of his policies represent) simply shared by his spiritual friends (all of whom are strongly leftwing on the role of the state)?

Perhaps US voters should ask.

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