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  • 29


     
    "That They May All Be One"
    Religion; Posted on: 2008-05-08 11:02:12 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Examining the United Church of Christ

    Meet one of Jeremiah Wright's white enablers

    By Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom

    In his recent incendiary remarks, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. claimed that attacks on his views are nothing less than "an attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African-American religious tradition." Can it really be that millions of black Americans regularly choose to listen to viciously anti-white and anti-American rants on Sunday mornings?

    Happily, Chicago's Trinity Church is an outlier in that regard. Most black churchgoers belong to congregations that are overwhelmingly African-American and are affiliated with one of the historically black religious denominations such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) or the National Baptist Convention. Rev. Wright's Trinity Church, on the other hand, is a predominantly black branch of a white denomination that is not part of "the African-American religious tradition." The United Church of Christ (known until 1957 as the Congregational Church) has a little over a million members; a mere 4 percent of them are black. Fewer than 50,000 blacks in the nation worship at a UCC church.

    In contrast, 98 percent of the National Baptist Convention's 4 million members are African Americans. Add in black Methodists and Pentecostals, as well as other black Baptists, and the total comes to more than 14 million members of an organized, predominantly African-American church. These churches include a substantial majority of all black adults today. In terms of sheer demographic weight, they clearly represent the "African-American religious tradition"-as Rev. Wright's branch of a overwhelmingly white denomination does not.

    These churches vary in many respects. Some-by no means all-played a crucial role in the civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s. The civil rights movement, as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "came not from secular forces but from the heart of the Negro church." The movement's glory days are long gone but black churches remain more politically engaged, on the average, than their white counterparts. A 1998 study found that 35 percent of them had projects to increase voter registration, five times the rate of white congregations. Almost half informed their congregants of opportunities for political activity, double the white rate. They were also far more likely to have had political candidates and elected officials as guest speakers.

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    News Source: realclearpolitics

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