by Fran Eaton
CHICAGO – On Saturday, when U.S. Senator Barack Obama officially announces his plans to run for the Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential nomination, he is sure to be asked questions concerning his church and his spiritual advisor. Both the Trinity United Church of Christ and its pastor Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. have sparked heated discussion in the mainstream media and local radio talk shows.
The eight thousand member Trinity UCC’s 12-point “Black Value System” and its 10-point vision is troubling because it is racially divisive and biblically heretical, Mychal Massie, chairman of a black conservative think tank Project 21 said in a phone interview this week.
The church requires its members to minister through finances and resources specifically to the black community, and its doctrine lists allegiance to African history above biblical instruction, something that troubled Massie.
“Trinity has narrowed their scope of God to conform to a ‘god’ that fits their segregational paradigm. One cannot help but question the exact nature of said historical education – is it based on truth and fact, or is it based on opinion?” Massie said. “Trinity has placed god in a box based on color and ethnicity. That is not the God of Scripture, it is not representative of the Triune God born-again Christians serve.”
Trinity United Church of Christ, where Obama and his wife Michelle were married 14 years ago, has been Obama’s home church for twenty years and is where he continues to worship. Trinity is the United Church of Christ denomination’s largest congregation, but boasts that its “Black Value System” is unique among other UCC churches.
Trinity’s unique Black Value System and its focus on African-Americans is drawing critics' attention specifically because the teachings collide with Obama’s emerging presidential campaign platform of unity.
In his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote that shot Obama to political rock stardom, Obama stressed, “[T]here is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there's the United States of America.”
Still, Obama affiliates himself with a church that upholds African history over biblical teachings, according to the church’s 10-point vision statement.
“We reach out to those with an African heritage like others reach out to the Irish, Polish or Latinos,” Rev. Otis Moss III, Trinity’s associate pastor, said in a WVON talk show interview Wednesday. “We focus on the black community where the church is located, there’s nothing unusual about that. We just reach out to blacks in particular.”
Mychal Massie took issue with those teachings, emphasizing that God is no respecter of persons.
“Trinity is obviously a church, but according to their own illustration of same, they are a example of separatism and pan-African theism that has no foundation in the word of God.”
Obama’s announcement is to take place at Illinois’ state capital Saturday morning at 10:00 am CST.