Obama's church printed pro-Hamas, anti-Israel editorial
Two days after delivering a much-publicized speech on race, Democrat & presidential candidate Barack Obama once again found himself distancing himself from his church -- this time the congregation's publication of a pro-Hamas, anti-Israel op-ed in a church bulletin, reports Baptist Press.
As first reported by the website BizzyBlog, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago last July republished an editorial from The Los Angeles Times in which Mousa Abu Marzook, an official with the Palestinian group Hamas, defended the group's refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist. The United States officially views Hamas as a terrorist organization. A headline above the column in the bulletin read, "A Fresh View of the Palestinian Struggle."
The column was first published in the L.A. Times July 10 and then republished in the bulletin July 22. It was posted on controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright's "Pastor's Page."
"I have already condemned my former pastor's views on Israel in the strongest possible terms," Obama said in a statement to the Jewish news website JTA.com, "and I certainly wasn’t in church when that outrageously wrong Los Angeles Times piece was re-printed in the bulletin. Hamas is a terrorist organization, responsible for the deaths of many innocents, and dedicated to Israel's destruction, as evidenced by their bombarding of Sderot in recent months. I support requiring Hamas to meet the international community's conditions of recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and abiding by past agreements before they are treated as a legitimate actor."
Last November, when President Bush led a peace conference between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas led an anti-Abbas protest of upwards of 100,000 people in the Gaza Strip with people chanting "death to Israel, death to America" and calling Abbas a "traitor," Reuters reported at the time.
In the editorial, Marzook laid out the goals of Hamas and said the organization's "struggle has always been focused on the occupier and our legal resistance to it."
"Why should anyone concede Israel's 'right' to exist, when it has never even acknowledged the foundational crimes of murder and ethnic cleansing by means of which Israel took our towns and villages, our farms and orchards, and made us a nation of refugees?" Marzook asked.
One of the goals of Obama's speech on race March 18 was to distance himself from the remarks of Wright, whom Obama has known for some 20 years. Wright is retiring from the church. Among his more controversial statements, Wright has blamed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America's past actions, called America the "U.S. of K.K.K.A." and said that instead of singing "God Bless America," black Americans should sing "God d--- America." The speech was the subject of Sunday talk shows, with some commentators suggesting Wright could be a problem for Obama for months to come.
"You can see now a more plausible way that Republicans or Obama's opponents can talk about how he, Sen. Obama, is outside the mainstream without appearing to go too far, because there's no question that … Reverend Wright's remarks are outside the mainstream," Newsweek's Jon Meacham said on NBC's "Meet the Press.
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, in a March 21 Washington Post column, said Obama's speech left one question unanswered: why he remained in the church.
"Obama ... waxes rhapsodic about the hope brought by the new consciousness of the young people in his campaign," Krauthammer wrote. "Then answer this, Senator: If Wright is a man of the past, why would you expose your children to his vitriolic divisiveness? This is a man who curses America and who proclaimed moral satisfaction in the deaths of 3,000 innocents at a time when their bodies were still being sought at Ground Zero. It is not just the older congregants who stand and cheer and roar in wild approval of Wright's rants, but young people as well. Why did you give $22,500 just two years ago to a church run by a man of the past who infects the younger generation with precisely the racial attitudes and animus you say you have come unto us to transcend?"
WRIGHT TO SPEAK AT BRITE -- Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, will honor Wright at a banquet Saturday with a black leadership award. Brite, which receives money from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, is situated on the campus of Texas Christian University.
"Rev. Wright is a superb preacher, minister of the Gospel and self-giving servant of the Christian community who attempts to speak the truth about justice and peace from his perspective and experience as an African-American religious leader," Mark G. Toulouse, professor of American religious history at Brite, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Nancy J. Ramsay, dean of Brite Divinity School, and Eugene Brice, a trustee of Brite Divinity School, co-wrote a column for the Star-Telegram explaining why the school is honoring Wright.
"As is the case with all persons recognized by Brite, we do not endorse all of Wright's statements, but we honor the accomplishments of a man who has had a remarkable career as an effective pastor and preacher," they wrote. "He has led a ministry that has touched the lives of thousands with the power of God's love, mercy and grace.
"All speeches, sermons and documents need to be understood through the setting, historical moment, issues and audience they address. Religious leadership always includes the prophetic responsibility to speak and act in behalf of God's justice. As a religious leader, Wright's preaching is clearly in the broad stream of scholars and preachers who stand on the biblical foundation of prophets such as Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Jesus who also spoke words of God's judgment to the political and religious community of their day."
Father Luis MontesAn Argentinian priest caring for the Catholic community in Baghdad says the faith of persecuted Iraqi Christians is moving and will continue inspiring future believers for generations. “The number of martyrs the Middle East is giving to the world is amazing. It is not well known but it will be in many years, and we will speak of them like we do of the acts of the martyrs of the early years of Christianity,” Father Luis Montes told Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need. “The faith they have despite the persecution is moving, as well as their sensitivity towards others,” he added, noting their profound devotion to the Virgin Mary. Christians and other minorities in parts of Iraq are being strongly persecuted by ISIS, a Sunni Islamist group that calls itself the Islamic State. After emerging earlier this year as one of the rebel groups fighting in the Syrian civil war, ISIS spread its operations to Iraq, taking control of Mosul and swaths of territory in the country's north and west. ISIS has imposed a strict version of Islamic law in its territory that mandates conversion, payment of a jizya tax, or death for Christians and other minorities who refuse to submit. Hundreds of thousands have fled due to the violence. Despite the terror that has overtaken their lives, Fr. Montes said the Christians in Iraq have remained firm in their faith. He cited the example of a Christian family in Qaraqosh harassed by jihadists and unable to flee. “The terrorists pressure them every day to convert to Islam. Their very neighbors insult them and treat them with scorn, and they can’t even leave their own home to buy food, which they are running out of. They cannot leave because they won’t let them, or because they are afraid the mother will be killed.” “One day, a group of terrorists entered the family’s home and they told them directly that they were going to take the mother away and make her some soldier’s slave. This is the frightening and terrible reality these people are experiencing and yet nevertheless they remain firm in their faith,” the priest explained. In his post on the website Friends of Iraq, Fr. Montes also discussed his own commitment to serving the people of the country. “The phrase I always say is: ‘I am not worthy to serve these people’,” explained the priest, who is a member of the Institute of the Word Incarnate. “This nation is giving martyrs. Almost all the people I know in Iraq and in other countries of the Middle East know a family member killed out of hatred for the faith,” he said. “Others have suffered direct persecution or discrimination. For us it is an honor to serve these people.” “Lord knows what He will ask of me in the future but as for me I would like to serve here my entire life.” Fr. Montes also expressed the appreciation of the faithful in Baghdad for Pope Francis, who recently sent his personal envoy Cardinal Fernando Filoni to convey his closeness to them. “This is very important to the Christians in Iraq. He conveyed the Holy Father’s care for these people and for us it is a great consolation. We pray for him.” The priest said the solution to the current crisis will require “humanitarian aid on a grand scale,” as the aid sent so far has been insufficient, as well as through intervention from the international community to stop the jihadists and cut off their financial sources. “If this is not done urgently, the cruelty, the murders and the deaths are going to go on for a long time,” he warned. More information about Friends of Iraq, the organization that Fr. Montes works with, can be found on their website, as well as their facebook page.,