Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C.
Is it mere happenstance that the Obama campaign has once again (“unknowingly”) allowed an anti-gay, African-American minster to endorse the presidential hopeful?
With an Obama endorsement coming from the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, longtime spiritual adviser to President George W. Bush and senior pastor of one of Houston’s black mega-churches, Windsor Village United Methodist Church, it’s like déjà vu all over again.
Why is Obama, a supposed healer and consensus builder, continuing to do this?
One response: Perhaps he’s unaware of Rev. Caldwell’s background and views regarding LGBTQ folks.
A better response: How many sides are there to a politician’s mouth?
Obama’s cavorting in a highly competitive field for black evangelical votes and this is as calculated as when he had gospel mega-star Pastor Donnie McClukin, poster boy for African-American ex-gay ministries, participate in his “Embrace the Change!” gospel series in October 2007.
Caldwell has always been a player in Obama’s campaign, and he played a vital part behind the scenes of Obama’s South Carolina gospel tour featuring McClurkin.
In fact, Caldwell does a lot of the behind the scenes stuff. His church ran an ex-gay ministry, “Metanoia Ministry,” supposedly unbeknownst to him. The ex-gay ministry’s welcoming words stated the following until the website was recently taken down:
“We are pleased to announce the creation of ‘The Way, The Truth and The Life,’ a program created to provide Christ Centered instruction for those seeking freedom from homosexuality, lesbianism, prostitution, sex addiction and other habitual sins.”
Caldwell may have just come out of the closet too soon with his endorsement of Obama — right on the heels of Obama’s MLK speech to the African-American community at the church King pastored, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
“If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community. We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them.”
But if the truth be told, Obama plays the LGBTQ community as a political pawn. He dangles a carrot our way every once in a while like his mentioning of us in his MLK speech, but Obama has no accountability to us. Obama will talk the talk but he won’t walk the walk.
Case in point: His campaign refuses, at the continued request of the African-American LGBTQ community and our straight black cleric allies, to speak out against the black church’s homophobia.
And Obama will advocate for us as long as it doesn’t run afoul with his race for the White House. When Obama gets called on the carpet for his homophobic dalliances with anti-gay ministers like McClurkin, he gets defensive. Obama haughtily told a reporter from The Advocate, “If there’s somebody out there who’s been more consistent in including LGBT Americans in his or her vision of what America should be, then I would be interested in knowing who that person is.”
Well, duh! The answer, of course, is Dennis Kucinich.
But Obama knows the political power the black bible-thumping church plays in every major election. Why else would he get into this unfortunate triangulation with LGBTQ voters and black Christian conservatives?
H. Alexander Robinson, CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, said that Obama is “too inexperienced at playing at [this] level. He’s stubborn and he refuses to back off because he wants it both ways.”
And because Obama wants it both ways, he speaks from both sides of his mouth. Obama’s playing us all.
“It’s a piece of rhetorical wizardry, this conjuring of hope from the grounds of despair, the oldest trick in the preacher’s book, but [Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah] Wright carries it off with exhilarating command, and one sees immediately how much Obama has learned from him,” writer Jonathan Raban states in an article published in The Stranger: “The Church of Obama: How He Recast the Language of Black Liberation Theology into a Winning Creed for Middle-of-the-Road White Voters.”
“While Wright works his magic on enormous congregations, with the basic message of liberation theology, that we are everywhere in chains, but assured of deliverance by the living Christ, Obama, when on form, can entrance largely white audiences with the same essential story, told in secular terms and stripped of its references to a specifically black experience,” observes Raban. “When Wright says ‘white racists,’ Obama says ‘corporate lobbyists’; when Wright speaks of blacks, Obama says ‘hard-working Americans,’ or ‘Americans without health care’; when Wright talks in folksy Ebonics, of ‘hos’ and ‘mojo,’ Obama talks in refined Ivy League.”
Obama is too intelligent to be stuck stupid on the gay issue. His “homophobic mishaps” are calculated moves to win an important voting bloc — black, church-going, homophobic Christians.
You might think that with one of Obama’s top LGBTQ advisors being black, that someone is asleep at the wheel. Truth be told, Obama’s campaign isn’t asleep. We are.