More Ministers Like Obama's Should Speak Their Piece

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Below is an excerpt from "On Faith," an Internet feature sponsored by The Washington Post and Newsweek. Each week, more than 50 figures from the world of faith engage in a conversation about some aspect of religion. This week's topic: "How should Barack Obama have responded to inflammatory remarks made by his former pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright? Are you responsible for what your spiritual leader says from the pulpit?"

I am a 75-year-old white male, a proud veteran of the Marine Corps, a retired Episcopal clergyman, and I speak as one who loves this country. Oh how I wish the congregation my wife and I attend had a minister like Dr. Wright. For the past 14 years I have been a sermon listener rather than a sermon preacher. Only once in those 14 years have I heard a sermon that was clear enough and strong enough that real disagreement was even possible. I got so excited I made the mistake of expressing my vociferous disagreement at the door of the church rather than waiting for a more opportune occasion.

Has Dr. Wright used language which I consider needlessly inflammatory and divisive? Of course he has. Has he made statements with which I am in strong disagreement? Seemingly he has done so on many occasions. I am also sure that Dr. Wright cares deeply about the people to whom he has ministered and works hard to relate the Christian message to the community and nation.

-- James Anderson, co-founder, Alban Institute

To read the essay and see more "On Faith" commentary, hosted by Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn, go to

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