Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Obama's UCC membership could be thorny issue

Barack Obama is turning Cleveland into the center of the religious struggle for the hearts and minds of voters in the 2008 presidential race.

From visits to evangelical megachurches in South Carolina to special appeals to black churches in Ohio, the most prominent member of the Cleveland-based United Church of Christ has been up front about his faith in ways few Democrats have been in recent years.

In a close election, the denomination with headquarters on Prospect Avenue downtown may put Obama into the White House by giving him the religious credibility to sway moderate faith-based voters to the Democratic ticket.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

12 comments on “Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Obama's UCC membership could be thorny issue

  1. KevinBabb says:

    If any Obama wins the votes of any Christians because of his membership in the UCC, it will show that labels, not ideas, are what matter to people.
    The Democrats have DINOs.
    The Republicans have RINOs.
    With the inclusion of the UCC, the Christian community has CINOs (ChINOs).

  2. yohanelejos says:

    All right, I give up — what are RINOs and DINOs?

  3. APB says:

    2. Republicans/Democrats In Name Only. That is, they talk, act, and most importantly vote in ways which are typical of the opposite party.

  4. Dilbertnomore says:

    KB, Amen, brother.

  5. John Wilkins says:

    KevinBabb, unfortunately, it goes both ways. Plenty of liberal christians think conservatives are ChINO. Only God knows.

    But perhaps that’s just an example of our own sin, our lack of charity toward one another. UCC people are Christians, whether you approve it or not.

  6. Irenaeus says:

    “[The UCC] may put Obama into the White House by giving him the religious credibility to sway moderate faith-based voters”

    On the contrary, UCC membership will be of little use to Obama in gaining “faith-based” support. It may well become an embarassment once the general election campaign heats up.

  7. KevinBabb says:

    Father Wilkins:
    Help from the instruction manual:

    Matthew 7:21 (King James Version)–Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    Not all UCC congregations are theological wastelands. In my part of the country (Southern?Central Illinois), most of the UCC congregations are former Evangelical & Reformed congregations who, over great (and, in retrospect, justified) suspicion, went along with the merger with the Congregationalists. Many of these congregations have left, or are contemplating leaving, the denomination.

    An interim pastor at a local UCC congregation decided to hit the ground running, and on his first Sunday, talked about the “justice” issue of ecclesiastical sanction of homosexual relationships. The ensuing flood of “curious newcomers” briefly mystified the other Protestant clergy in the area, and has the UCC congregation on the financial ropes.

  8. Christopher Johnson says:

    Actually, John, I’d go with universalists with pseudo-Christian professional jargon but to-may-to, to-mah-to.

  9. Katherine says:

    There are, or were, some majority-black UCC congregations in the South who have had great difficulty with the UCC’s approval of same-sex behavior. Some of these congregations are leaving the denomination.

    Obama’s church is a racialist congregation — that is, it is centered on black identity and black group empowerment. It may not only be a negative for the “faith-based” vote, but it may be a negative in general, since most Christians and most Americans today do not believe in racial separation or racial exceptionalism.

  10. John Wilkins says:

    Katherine, Obama’s church does not believe in racial separation or racial exceptionalism. It does believe, however, that black identity is important, and is a source of liberation – through the power of Jesus Christ.

    Lots of white are offended by that, for some reason. I wish they were more offended by racism or our responsibility for slavery.

  11. Chris Molter says:

    I try to imagine the reaction to a church where “the white identity is important, and is a source of liberation”

    why is it these distinctions are made as positives when we talk about women, gays, or racial minorities, but in the reverse it’s always “neither man nor woman, slave nor free”? You can’t have it both ways.

  12. John Wilkins says:

    re #11 – that would be most churches. Churches are still generally segregated. In fact, I would submit that most of the churches actively involved in Republican politics are predominantly white. And not just 80% white. We’re talking 99% white. Not all, of course.

    Black identity is always one sort of response to white racism and the general desire for most white people to live along other white people. This is a numbers game. Generally, when a neighborhood has about 5% black people, whites move. The response of blacks is to find power in their own communities.

    Being color blind is a great idea. but your blithe comment seems to pretend that racism doesn’t have any sort of impact upon black people. Granted – its only been 50 years since Brown v Board of education. but our schools are still predominantly segregated.

    Last, black liberation is not based on excluding white people. Nor is it based on segregation. There are white members. But instead of say, Celtic Christianity being its roots, or the like, they intentionally choose Africa.

    Nothing wrong with that.