Friday, January 19, 2007

Barack Obama's Church

The Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago is the church in which Barack Obama claims membership (although he's not an active parishioner) (whatever that means). I went to the 'net to check this place out and find out whether the claim that Obama is "an evangelical Christian" is accurate. Here's what I found:

We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.


Trinity United Church of Christ adopted the Black Value System written by the Manford Byrd Recognition Committee chaired by Vallmer Jordan in 1981.

Huh? Okay, with a little digging around, I find this "Black Value System" also on TUCC's web site:

Statement of Purpose

We honor Dr. Manford Byrd, our brother in Christ, because of the exemplary manner in which he has thrice withstood the ravage of being denied his earned ascension to the number one position in the Chicago School System. His dedication to the pursuit of excellence despite these systemic denials has inspired the congregation of Trinity United Church of Christ. We have prayerfully called the wisdom of all past generations of suffering Blacks for guidance in fashioning an instrument of Black self-determination, the Black Value System.

And we shall, beginning in 1982, institute an annual Black Value System - Educational Scholarship in the name of Dr. Byrd.

This year, 1981, however, we recognize Dr. Byrd as the first recipient of the Dr. Manford Byrd Award which will be given annually to the man or woman who best exemplifies the Black Value System.

These Black Ethics must be taught and exampled in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered. They must reflect the following concepts:

Commitment of God

“The God of our weary years” will give us the strength to give up prayerful passivism and become Black Christian Activist, soldiers for Black freedom and the dignity of all humankind.

Commitment to the Black Community

The highest level of achievement for any Black person must be a contribution of substance to the strength and continuity of the Black of the Black Community.

Commitment to the Black Family

The Black family circle must generate strength, stability, and love despite the uncertainty of externals, because these characteristics are required if the developing person is to withstand warping by our racist competitive society.

Those Blacks who are blessed with membership in a strong family unit must reach out and expand that blessing to the less fortunate, especially to the children.

Dedication to the Pursuit of Education

We must forswear anti-intellectualism. Continued survival demands that each Black Person be developed to the utmost of his/her mental potential despite the inadequacies of the formal education process. “Real education” fosters understanding of ourselves as well as every aspect of our environment. Also it develops within us the ability to fashion concepts and tools for better utilization of our resources, and more effective solutions to our problems. Since the majority of Blacks have been denied such learning, Black Education must include elements that provide high school graduates with marketable skills, a trade or qualifications for apprenticeships, or proper preparation for college.

Basic education for all Blacks should include Mathematics, Science, Logic, General Semantics, Participative Politics, Economics and Finance, and the Care and Nurture of Black minds.

To the extent that we individually reach for, even strain for excellence, we increase, geometrically, the value and resourcefulness of the Black Community. We must recognize the relativity of one’s best: this year’s best can be bettered next year. Such is the language of growth and development. We must seek to excel in every endeavor.

Adherence to the Black Work Ethic

“It is becoming harder to find qualified people to work in Chicago” Whether this is true or not, it represents one of the many reasons given by businesses and industries for deserting the Chicago area. We must realize that a location with good facilities, adequate transportation and reputation for producing skilled workers will attract industry. We are in competition with other cities, states, and nations for jobs. High productivity must be a goal of the Black workforce.

Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect

To accomplish anything worthwhile requires self-discipline. We must be a community of self-disciplined persons, if we are to actualize and utilize our own human resources instead of perpetually submitting to exploitation by others. Self discipline coupled with a respect for self, will enable each of us to be an instrument of Black Progress, and a model for Black Youth.

Disavowal of the Pursuit of “Middleclassness”

Classic methodology on control of captives teaches that captors must keep the captive ignorant educationally, but trained sufficiently well to serve the system. Also, the captors must be able to identify the “talented tenth” of those subjugated, especially those who show promise of providing the kind of leadership that might threaten the captor’s control.

Those so identified as separated from the rest of the people by:

Killing them off directly, and/or fostering a social system that encourages them to kill off one another.

Placing them in concentration camps, and/or structuring an economic environment that induces captive youth to fill the jails and prisons.

Seducing them into a socioeconomic class system which while training them to earn more dollars, hypnotizes them into believing they are better than others and teaches them to think in terms of “we” and “they” instead of “us”.

So, while it is permissible to chase “middle-incomeness” with all our might, we must avoid the third separation method-the psychological entrapment of Black “middleclassness”: If we avoid the snare, we will also diminish our “voluntary” contributions to methods A and B. And more importantly, Black people no longer will be deprived of their birthright, the leadership, resourcefulness, and example of their own talented persons.

--Pledge to Make the Fruits of All Developing and Acquired Skills Available to the Black community

--Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions.

--Pledge Allegiance to all Black Leadership Who Espouse and Embrace The Black Value System.

--Personal Commitment to Embracement of the Black Value System - to Measure the Worth and Validity of All Activity in Terms of Positive Contributions to the General Welfare of the Black Community and the Advancement of Black People towards Freedom.


The Pastor as well as the membership of Trinity United Church of Christ is committed to a 10-point Vision:

1. A congregation committed to ADORATION.
2. A congregation preaching SALVATION.
3. A congregation actively seeking RECONCILIATION.
4. A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT
5. A congregation committed to BIBLICAL EDUCATION.
6. A congregation committed to CULTURAL EDUCATION.
7. A congregation committed to the HISTORICAL
8. A congregation committed to LIBERATION.
9. A congregation committed to RESTORATION.
10. A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY

I find this stunningly racist. Why is it okay to follow a "Black Value System" but not a "White Value System?" I honestly don't see the difference.

As for the document itself, I don't know where to begin. I want to get this post published, however, because I don't know if there've been many other bloggers making people aware of this.

"African People in Diaspora?" "Commitment to Africa?" What, do they want to go back? And where would they go? Why are these people not now Americans? If they're committed to Africa and to the freedom of mankind, what have they been doing to help further the cause of anti-slavery movements in Africa? Are they actively working to free their Christian brothers and sisters enslaved by Muslims there?

"Economic Parity?" I'm not seeing much about that in the teachings of Jesus... or perhaps I'm just not enlightened? If so, enlighten me.

This really doesn't have much to do with Obama at all, except that he claims membership here -- and one would then make the intellectual leap that he agrees with the statement of faith. Perhaps he doesn't. Perhaps he only agrees with some parts of the statement of faith. Would he be willing to share with us those he does and doesn't agree with? I'd be curious.

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