September 2, 2010
Beck's 'Obsession' with Black Liberation Theology Thoroughly Justified
You know liberals are scared whenever they use the O-word -- "obsession" -- to smear a conservative's effectiveness in an important argument. So when the Los Angeles Times published an editorial yesterday by Tim Rutten called "Glenn Beck's Liberation Theology Obsession," I was quite intrigued.
Since I spent a whole year studying James H. Cone's Black Liberation Theology in the context of Latin America's liberation theology developed within the Catholic Church, I was quite curious to see what an esteemed LA Times columnist had to say about Beck's so-called "obsession."
After reading Tim Rutten's column, I must admit I was completely flummoxed. How could someone with such an impressive bio write such errant tripe and get paid big bucks for it? Only in Obama's America, folks.
So, in the interest of public enlightenment, I'll just throw a few substantiated facts into this little fray, which will demonstrate to anyone with a grain of Christian education exactly why Beck's "obsession" with Black Liberation Theology is indeed thoroughly justified.
First off, our esteemed Mr. Rutten makes the astonishing claim that there is no "evidence" that ties our current president to Black Liberation Theology. It's an astonishing claim because the only theology to which Barack Obama has ever been exposed (outside the Muslim training of his youth) is indeed Black Liberation Theology.
Wise observers already know this. But for the record, let's remember that Barack Obama was raised by an anthropologist mother who openly disdained the "bitter clingers" of religion.
In Barack's own words, from his chapter on "Faith" in The Audacity of Hope (page 204), speaking of his mother's teachings on religion:
Religion was an expression of human culture, she would explain, not its wellspring, just one of the many ways -- and not necessarily the best way -- that man attempted to control the unknowable and understand the deeper truths about our lives.
Writing on "Faith," in The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama went to great lengths to explain that his own "conversion" was enabled not by orthodox Christian awakening, but by the explicitly political nature of the Black Liberation Theology preached by Jeremiah Wright, Jr. And the thrust of Obama's entire chapter on faith in his own book was to show how his own liberation theology should not frighten secular progressives because it bore little to no resemblance to the religion of those Bible Belt "bitter clingers." And as observant Americans know well, Barack Obama was so ardent a follower of Jeremiah Wright's brand of Christianity that he named his book after a Wright sermon, The Audacity of Hope. While it is true that Barack Obama never (that I know of) used the explicit words "Black Liberation Theology" in his speeches or his books, everything about his claims to faith in his writing, his speeches, and his current actions as president is filled with the tenets of this fringe system of beliefs.
And what was that "hope" to which Wright referred? It was not the hope of individual salvation, which is the bedrock of orthodox Christian belief. No, Wright's hope, the same hope where Barack Obama found his "conversion," was in "collective redemption" through a political, material redistribution of power and wealth from the "white oppressors" to the "black oppressed." Quite contrary to Mr. Rutten's assertion that no "evidence" ties Barack Obama to liberation theology, Obama himself has used the phrase "collective redemption" regularly.
When Jeremiah Wright, Jr. was a guest with Sean Hannity in March 2007, the Reverend Wright waxed eloquent on his devotion to Black Liberation Theology. When Hannity asked Wright to explain the "black value system" to which his congregants were asked to pledge allegiance, Wright used Black Liberation Theology as his explanation:
If you're not going to talk about theology in context, if you're not going to talk about liberation theology that came out of the '60s, (inaudible) black liberation theology, that started with Jim Cone in 1968, and the writings of Cone ...
Wright went on to badger Hannity about his apparent lack of familiarity with Cone's Black Liberation Theology, saying that if anyone wanted to understand Trinity United Church of Christ and its particular brand of "black value system" Christianity, then a thorough understanding of Cone's writings was necessary.
Well, I was so intrigued that as Barack Obama was about to seal the Democrats' nomination for the presidency, I went to Chicago and visited Trinity myself, heard Jeremiah Wright, spent time in the church bookstore, and returned home with my own stack of Cone's books. If only Mr. Rutten had done likewise, he might have wisely steered clear of the topic altogether. Instead, he has dug himself into a pit of theological quicksand.
Contrary to Mr. Rutten's assertion that Cone is not, as Beck has stated, "one of the founders of Black Liberation Theology," the truth is that Cone credits himself with being "the founder." When NPR (perhaps Mr. Rutten has heard of this outfit) interviewed James H. Cone in March, 2008, as the founder of Black Liberation Theology, Cone was attempting to put a genial spin on Jeremiah Wright's "G*d-damn[ing]" America from his "Christian" pulpit. Cone's books belie that spin, however.
As Wright was never coy in his hate for "white oppressors" in America, neither is Wright's mentor, James H. Cone.
Cone, writing in Black Theology and Black Power:
Whiteness, as revealed in the history of America, is the expression of what is wrong with man. It is a symbol of man's depravity. God cannot be white, even though white churches have portrayed him as white (p. 150).The coming of Christ means a denial of what we thought we were. It means destroying the white devil in us (p. 150).Negro hatred of white people is not pathological -- far from it. It is a healthy human reaction to oppression, insult, and terror. White people are often surprised at the Negro's hatred of them, but it should not be surprising (p. 14).
Cone, writing in God of the Oppressed:
Black people must be aware of the extreme dangers of speaking too lightly of reconciliation with whites. Just because we work with them and sometimes worship alongside them should be no reason to claim that they are truly Christian and thus part of our struggle (p. 222).
Cone, writing in Speaking the Truth:
Liberation is not simply a consequence of the experience of sanctification. Rather, sanctification is liberation. To be sanctified is to be liberated -- that is politically engaged in the struggle of freedom. When sanctification is defined a s a commitment to the historical struggle for political liberation, then it is possible to connect it with socialism and Marxism, the reconstruction of society on the basis of freedom and justice for all (p. 33).
And Cone, writing in A Black Theology of Liberation:
What need have we for a white Jesus when we are not white but black? If Jesus Christ is white and not black, he is an oppressor, and we must kill him. The appearance of black theology means that the black community is now ready to do something about the white Jesus, so that he cannot get in the way of our revolution (p. 111).
Now, Mr. Rutten rightly asserts that the original liberation theology sprouted within Catholicism during the 1960s in Latin America, but he strangely omits the fact that both Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI have strenuously denounced all liberation theologies as purely political perversions of the Catholic faith, which are inherently intertwined with Marxism (as Cone's quote above reiterates).
Mr. Rutten claims that Glenn Beck has condemned liberation theology as "demonic." While Rutten gives us no Beck source for his claim, I happen to know the source of the "demonic" quote quite well, since I'm the first person to have unearthed it, and I used it in a column I wrote in February 2008, "Obama's Politics of Collective Redemption."
Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes, not divine, but demonic.
The original quote comes from the book Truth and Tolerance, p. 116, written by Pope Benedict XVI when he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (2003). Writing under a sub-heading, "The Crisis for Liberation Theology," the Cardinal is expounding upon the failure of Marxism and all the liberation theologies that came from it. He goes to great length explaining Marxist liberation theology as man's eternal quest to grapple with real "poverty, oppression, unjust domination of every kind, the suffering of the righteous and of the innocent" as these are "the signs of the times -- in every age."
In man's attempt to make sense of a suffering world that seems not "to correspond to a good God," there arose in the 20th century a political ideology which joined itself to Christian language and seemingly Christian precepts. The only thing Cone did -- and he admits this himself -- was to join Latin American liberation theology with the black power political movement in the United States.
And anyone who had taken the trouble to visit Trinity United Church of Christ would have known all about it prior to the election of 2008. But as we know now, liberal journalists actually conspired to hide this story from public view and do all they could to help Barack Obama bamboozle the American public, using his Wright-mentored "Christianity" in a bold gambit to close the God-gap among voters.
That Glenn Beck is now reviving this issue and spreading a little truth on Obama's bold religious claims makes liberals understandably nervous. And it would take a ninny living under a rock in Los Angeles not to have noticed that the only church at which Barack Obama has ever -- before or since -- regularly worshiped was the one that unabashedly preached nothing but Black Liberation Theology.
Kyle-Anne Shiver is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. She welcomes your comments at www.kyleanneshiver.com.