I suspect you've all heard the sermon excerpts from Barak Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. If not, I'm sure they're on YouTube.
I heard them (again!) today, and upon the 20th hearing, something new jumped out at me. Something I hadn't really noticed before. Today, I noticed the congregation's reaction to Rev Wright's comments.
In a nutshell, they loved it. They cheered, applauded, and generally were quite vocal with their approval. They didn't sound shocked. They didn't sound like they were hearing something uncharacteristic or new or surprising. I get the impression this was the sort of thing a) they were expecting and b) they'd heard before. I say that because they were agreeing with him before he was even finished - they apparently knew where he was heading. This was not unusual rhetoric - this stuff was apparently part of his standard message. I could be wrong, but I don't think so...
My point? Senator Obama's choice of pastor is one thing. But his choice of congregation is also a relevant factor. Even the best pastor can sound a little crazy upon occasion, particularly when a long sermon is reduced to a handful of soundbites. I get that. But Sen Obama wasn't just led by a pastor who occasionally said crazy stuff (hey, we've all been there, right?). He was part of a larger group of people who cheered, clapped and shouted Amen to those crazy, inappropriate comments. That's the most disturbing part to me - that the congregation reacted the way it did, and that this is the church family Senator Obama was a part of. That's got to mean something.
Sen. Obama seems like a nice guy. But I think the world has enough people in political leadership who enjoy listening to spiritual leaders give hateful, angry sermons (and the "God damn America" sermon certainly fits in that category). And political leaders who surround themselves with lots of people who like that stuff, well, that's a dangerous combination.