December 27, 2008
The Unitarian Church and Obama's Religious UpbringingBy Andrew Walden
With the media carefully pretending not to notice, Barack Obama's choice to hold a memorial service December 23 for his late grandmother Madelyn "Toot" Dunham at Honolulu's First Unitarian Church underlines one part of the story of Barack Obama's leftist religious upbringing.
What is First Unitarian Church? Their website describes counter-recruitment efforts intended for "deconstructing the myth" ... "used in propaganda for the military (as with ads for Marine recruitment)."
Another set of clues come from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin February 8, 2003 description of First Unitarian's 2003 golden anniversary celebration -- complete with "Liberal Religion for 50 Years" T-shirts. The Star-Bulletin explains:
Obama hid his Unitarian connections during the campaign. In a 2006 speech, Obama explained:
But Obama's 2006 speech contradicted his own memoir Dreams from My Father (p17) in which he writes of his grandfather:
Stanley and Madelyn Dunham in 1955 picked up and relocated 2,000 miles from Texas to Seattle. The next year they relocated to Mercer Island specifically so their daughter, Obama's future mother Stanley Ann Dunham could attend Mercer Island High School. Another attraction: The East Shore Unitarian Church, also a hotbed of leftist activism.
One year earlier, Mercer Island schools had distinguished themselves in a way which might have caused others to avoid them. The Chicago Tribune explains,
After intense debate, Stenhouse decided not to resign from the school board according to an April 11, 1955 account in Time Magazine.
Stenhouse was not the only leftist connected to the school. The Seattle Times explains:
The Chicago Tribune mentions a description of the Dunham's chosen church as "The Little Red Church on the Hill". According to its own website, East Shore Unitarian Church got that name because of, "Well-publicized debates and forums on such controversial subjects as the admission of ‘Red China' to the United Nations...." Mercer Island's John Stenhouse, according to his 2000 obituary, once served as church president possibly contributing to the ‘red' label.
The Dunhams moved to Honolulu in 1960 after Ann graduated and quickly became friends with leftists such as now-Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) and Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis. Obama's mother-to-be enrolled at the University of Hawaii and soon met Barack Obama Sr. in a Russian language class. She would remain affiliated with the University for most of her life.
The December 24, 2008 Honolulu Star-Bulletin describes the memorial for Madelyn Dunham:
Konrad Ng, a Chinese-Canadian, is an associate professor at UH. Soetoro-Ng, who also lectures at UH, was born in Indonesia in 1970, and teaches at the exclusive La Pietra--Hawaii School for Girls, across the street and four decades out of synch from the same Kapiolani Park in which Obama mentor Frank Marshall Davis described cruising for male and female sex partners in his 1968 book, "Sex Rebel: Black (memoirs of a gash gourmet)".
In a January 20, 2008 New York Times interview, Soetoro-Ng explains, "Philosophically, I would say that I am Buddhist." But she describes her car in a way which fits in perfectly with the crowd at First Unitarian: "I have a bumper sticker on my car that says: ‘1-20-09. End of an Error'...that's just one bumper sticker. I have three others on my car...."
Soetoro-Ng also describes her mother's beliefs in a way which very closely matches Unitarian pantheistic theology:
Asked about the Koran, her reply is reminiscent of Bill Clinton's famous "but I didn't inhale" line:
Soetoro-Ng is able to make that last claim based entirely on Obama's 1988 decision to join Jeremiah Wright's Black Liberation Theology Trinity United Church of Christ in 1988. Dr James Cone of Union Theological Seminary invented Black Liberation Theology. Explains Cone, "If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him."
But Obama resigned from Trinity after a May 25, 2008 sermon by Rev. Michael Pfleger worsened political problems caused by exposure of Wright's "God damn America" sermons. Has Obama's "skepticism of organized religion" been rekindled by the damage done to his political aspirations by Trinity?
At the time of his resignation Obama told reporters:
Obama discarded the mushy Unitarian agnosticism to work as a community organizer on Chicago‘s Southside.
Obama discarded the angry anti-Americanism of Trinity UCC as a presidential candidate.
What kind of religion does Obama need to act as a President?
Honolulu First Unitarian was the first woman-led Unitarian congregation. But that kind of gesture--now demanded by his gay political base -- is Obama‘s past. Obama's political needs as President have led him to invite Rick Warren, Pastor of Orange County California's Saddleback mega-church, (and a favorite of Oprah Winfrey) to deliver the inaugural invocation.
Many on both left and right wonder who is co-opting whom? Given Obama's life history, there really should be little doubt.