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The Marxist Roots of Black Liberation Theology
April 1, 2008
What is Black Liberation Theology anyway? Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright catapulted black liberation theology onto a national stage, when America discovered Trinity United Church of Christ. Understanding the background of the movement might give better clarity into Wright’s recent vitriolic preaching. A clear definition of black theology was first given formulation in 1969 by the National Committee of Black Church Men in the midst of the civil-rights movement:
Black theology is a theology of black liberation. It seeks to plumb the black condition in the light of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, so that the black community can see that the gospel is commensurate with the achievements of black humanity. Black theology is a theology of ‘blackness.’ It is the affirmation of black humanity that emancipates black people from White racism, thus providing authentic freedom for both white and black people. It affirms the humanity of white people in that it says ‘No’ to the encroachment of white oppression.
In the 1960s, black churches began to focus their attention beyond helping blacks cope with national racial discrimination particularly in urban areas.
The notion of “blackness” is not merely a reference to skin color, but rather is a symbol of oppression that can be applied to all persons of color who have a history of oppression (except whites, of course). So in this sense, as Wright notes, “Jesus was a poor black man” because he lived in oppression at the hands of “rich white people.” The overall emphasis of Black Liberation Theology is the black struggle for liberation from various forms of “white racism” and oppression.
James Cone, the chief architect of Black Liberation Theology in his book A Black Theology of Liberation(1970), develops black theology as a system. In this new formulation, Christian theology is a theology of liberation — “a rational study of the being of God in the world in light of the existential situation of an oppressed community, relating the forces of liberation to the essence of the gospel, which is Jesus Christ,” writes Cone. Black consciousness and the black experience of oppression orient black liberation theology — i.e., one of victimization from white oppression.
One of the tasks of black theology, says Cone, is to analyze the nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ in light of the experience of oppressed blacks. For Cone, no theology is Christian theology unless it arises from oppressed communities and interprets Jesus’ work as that of liberation. Christian theology is understood in terms of systemic and structural relationships between two main groups: victims (the oppressed) and victimizers (oppressors). In Cone’s context, writing in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the great event of Christ’s liberation was freeing African Americans from the centuries-old tyranny of white racism and white oppression.
American white theology, which Cone never clearly defines, is charged with having failed to help blacks in the struggle for liberation. Black theology exists because “white religionists” failed to relate the gospel of Jesus to the pain of being black in a white racist society.
For black theologians, white Americans do not have the ability to recognize the humanity in persons of color, blacks need their own theology to affirm their identity in terms of a reality that is anti-black — “blackness” stands for all victims of white oppression. “White theology,” when formed in isolation from the black experience, becomes a theology of white oppressors, serving as divine sanction from criminal acts committed against blacks. Cone argues that even those white theologians who try to connect theology to black suffering rarely utter a word that is relevant to the black experience in America. White theology is not Christian theology at all. There is but one guiding principle of black theology: an unqualified commitment to the black community as that community seeks to define its existence in the light of God’s liberating work in the world.
Black Liberation Theology as Marxist Victimology
Black Liberation Theology actually encourages a victim mentality among blacks. John McWhorters’ bookLosing the Race, will be helpful here. Victimology, says McWhorter, is the adoption of victimhood as the core of one’s identity — for example, like one who suffers through living in “a country and who lived in a culture controlled by rich white people.” It is a subconscious, culturally inherited affirmation that life for blacks in America has been in the past and will be in the future a life of being victimized by the oppression of whites. In today’s terms, it is the conviction that, 40 years after the Civil Rights Act, conditions for blacks have not substantially changed. As Wright intimates, for example, scores of black men regularly get passed over by cab drivers.
Reducing black identity to “victimhood” distorts the reality of true progress. For example, was Obama a victim of widespread racial oppression at the hand of “rich white people” before graduating from Columbia University, Harvard Law School magna cum laude, or after he acquired his estimated net worth of $1.3 million? How did “rich white people” keep Obama from succeeding? If Obama is the model of an oppressed black man, I want to be oppressed next! With my graduate school debt my net worth is literally negative $52,659.
The overall result, says McWhorter, is that “the remnants of discrimination hold an obsessive indignant fascination that allows only passing acknowledgement of any signs of progress.” Jeremiah Wright, infused with victimology, wielded self-righteous indignation in the service of exposing the inadequacies Hilary Clinton’s world of “rich white people.” The perpetual creation of a racial identity born out of self-loathing and anxiety often spends more time inventing reasons to cry racism than working toward changing social mores, and often inhibits movement toward reconciliation and positive mobility.
McWhorter articulates three main objections to victimology: First, victimology condones weakness in failure. Victimology tacitly stamps approval on failure, lack of effort, and criminality. Behaviors and patterns that are self-destructive are often approved of as cultural or presented as unpreventable consequences from previous systemic patterns. Black Liberation theologians are clear on this point: “People are poor because they are victims of others,” says Dr. Dwight Hopkins, a Black Liberation theologian teaching at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Second, victimology hampers progress because, from the outset, it focuses attention on obstacles. For example, in Black liberation Theology, the focus is on the impediment of black freedom in light of the Goliath of white racism.
Third, victimology keeps racism alive because many whites are constantly painted as racist with no evidence provided. Racism charges create a context for backlash and resentment fueling new attitudes among whites not previously held or articulated, and creates “separatism” — a suspension of moral judgment in the name of racial solidarity. Does Jeremiah Wright foster separatism or racial unity and reconciliation?
Is Black Liberation Theology helping? Wright’s liberation theology has stirred up resentment, backlash, Obama defections, separatism, white guilt, caricature, and offense. Preaching to a congregation of middle-class blacks about their victim identity invites a distorted view of reality, fosters nihilism, and divides rather than unites.
Black Liberation Is Marxist Liberation
One of the pillars of Obama’s home church, Trinity United Church of Christ, is “economic parity.” On the website, Trinity claims that God is not pleased with “America’s economic mal-distribution.” Among all of controversial comments by Jeremiah Wright, the idea of massive wealth redistribution is the most alarming. The code language “economic parity” and references to “mal-distribution” is nothing more than channeling the twisted economic views of Karl Marx. Black Liberation theologians have explicitly stated a preference for Marxism as an ethical framework for the black church because Marxist thought is predicated on a system of oppressor class (whites) versus victim class (blacks).
Black Liberation theologians James Cone and Cornel West have worked diligently to embed Marxist thought into the black church since the 1970s. For Cone, Marxism best addressed remedies to the condition of blacks as victims of white oppression. In For My People, Cone explains that “the Christian faith does not possess in its nature the means for analyzing the structure of capitalism. Marxism as a tool of social analysis can disclose the gap between appearance and reality, and thereby help Christians to see how things really are.”
In God of the Oppressed, Cone said that Marx’s chief contribution is “his disclosure of the ideological character of bourgeois thought, indicating the connections between the ‘ruling material force of society’ and the ‘ruling intellectual’ force.” Marx’s thought is useful and attractive to Cone because it allows black theologians to critique racism in America on the basis of power and revolution.
In 1979, Cornel West offered a critical integration of Marxism and black theology in his essay, “Black Theology and Marxist Thought” because of the shared human experience of oppressed peoples as victims. West sees a strong correlation between black theology and Marxist thought because “both focus on the plight of the exploited, oppressed and degraded peoples of the world, their relative powerlessness and possible empowerment.” This common focus prompts West to call for “a serious dialogue between Black theologians and Marxist thinkers” — a dialogue that centers on the possibility of “mutually arrived-at political action.”
Perhaps it is the Marxism imbedded in Obama’s attendance at Trinity Church that should raise red flags. “Economic parity” and “distribution” language implies things like government-coerced wealth redistribution, perpetual minimum wage increases, government subsidized health care for all, and the like. One of the priorities listed on Obama’s campaign website reads, “Obama will protect tax cuts for poor and middle class families, but he will reverse most of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers.”
This article was originally published on the newsletter of the Glen Beck Program. Watch Bradley’s guest appearance on Beck’s CNN Headline News show here.
***A MUST WATCH VIDEO**
Wright, Wallis, Rathke at Gamaliel 2005
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**Note WHAT Jim Wallis says from 2:00 to 2:35. “You are the ones we’ve been waiting for”
Now LISTEN to words from Obama’s own mouth:
Rev Michael Pfleger at Trinity UCC, Hillary thinks “I’m white I’m entitled”
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May 29, 2008
Chicago Catholic pastor Dr. Rev. Michael Pfleger, speaking Sunday at Trinity United Church of Christ.
Domestically, President Barack Obama’s speech at Notre Dame has to be understood in the context of his hiring and training by Jerry Kellman, an apostle of Saul Alinsky at the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). Kellman “led a group, the Calumet Community Religious Conference, that had been created by several local Catholic churches,” noted National Review writer Byron York. Tyson had noted that Saul Alinsky, an organizer and socialist, originally had the support of Catholic Bishop Bernard J. Sheil and was facilitated in the San Antonio, Texas, area by the Catholic Diocese there. It became a center for support for Liberation Theology and opposition to the Reagan policy in Central America. A documentary, “The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky and His Legacy,” noted that, “Alinsky envisioned an ‘organization of organizations,’ comprised of all sectors of the community — youth committees, small businesses, labor unions, and, most influential of all, the Catholic Church.” The Citizen’s Handbook notes that, “Much of IAF organizing occurs through Christian churches particularly the Catholic church.”
Over the last 10 years, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has given millions of Catholic-donated dollars to the Industrial Areas Foundation and the Saul Alinsky-style ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). ACORN, which has reportedly received more than $53 million in federal funds, has been implicated in voter fraud on behalf of the Obama presidential campaign.
One protester’s sign said that Notre Dame, the most clearly recognizable Catholic institution in the U.S., had spiritually “sold out”1 by giving President Barack Obama an honorary doctor of laws degree. But this was the candidate who won a majority of the Catholic vote in the 2008 presidential election. There certainly is a split within America’s Catholic community, but Obama and his fifth column leftist or “progressive” supporters and handlers seem to be winning.
What lies behind this confrontation is a decades-long assault on the Christian religion, the Catholic Church and its “Culture of Life” in particular, which are regarded by modern-day Marxists as a major impediment to their plans for a complete takeover of American – and global – institutions. These Marxists are guided by Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci, whose writings were introduced to the United States in the mid-1950s by Carl Marzani, a publisher and Soviet KGB agent whose publishing house was subsidized by the KGB. Marzani published The Open Marxism of Antonio Gramsci in 1957. 2
Gramsci’s Marxist theory of cultural revolution stressed that dominance over the existing order in the West, including religion, was rooted in education, the media, law, and a mass culture of beliefs, values, and traditions. He said that it was through these elements that the “ruling class” exercised mind-control or “hegemony” over ordinary people. Hence, to overturn the existing order and “Marxize the inner man,” one must create a subversive program of “counter-hegemony” against its supporting culture. The war against the existing culture would leave nothing outside of the struggle, especially Christianity, to negate the established modes of thought and ways of doing things.
Christianity is considered a prime target in preparing the way for a “Marxized America,” since religion, as an independent center of societal values, stands in the way of creating a new culture based on what is deceptively called “social justice” and “change.” Religion, in the Gramsci view, is the foundation for the Western values of individual liberty, private property, and the traditional family, and must be abolished in order for the new communist society to emerge.
By Danny Duncan Collum
Congregation-based community organizing has its roots in the work of Saul Alinsky, who, 38 years after his death, remains a controversial figure. But, as one community organizing leader told me, “I don’t think Alinsky would recognize community organizing today.”Beginning in the 1930s, Alinsky had great success building neighborhood organizations founded on the democratic principle that the people of a community should have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. He founded the IAF to train organizers and spread the organizing gospel. One of the organizers trained in Chicago was Ernesto Cortes Jr.
Cortes worked in the 1970s with the San Antonio organization Communities Organized for Public Service. From that experience emerged a few key insights that revolutionized community organizing. The first was that there was often no community to organize anymore. Long before Bowling Alone, community organizers knew that the ties that once bound us to lodge, civic club, union, or political party were all but dissolved. So the job of the organizer wasn’t just to equalize power within what Cortes calls “the civic culture.” The job was to rebuild civic culture itself.
Also, as cities devolved into collections of suburbs, the geographic community that was the focus of Alinsky’s neighborhood organizing became less relevant. Today organizers strive to create federations of member organizations that span an entire metropolitan area or region, and thus bridge the inner city-suburb divide.
Cortes and other organizers also saw that it was futile to knock on doors, as they had once done, trying to recruit atomized individuals. Hence the move to building “organizations of organizations,” unearthing the remnants of civic culture where they still existed. It turned out that the most important institutions in which people still met face to face to consider questions of value and meaning were churches, synagogues, and mosques.
When organizing moved into churches, it also started to lose some of the rough edges that were hallmarks of the Alinsky style. For instance, Alinsky’s method called for “personalizing” the issue, making one individual the face of the enemy. Today organizers are more likely to talk in terms of building relationships, even with public officials or business leaders who might be the current adversary.
What remains from the Alinsky playbook is the basic goal of building organizations that have the power to bring low- and moderate-income people to the table where big public decisions are made.(Source: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj1009&article=why-does-glenn-beck-hate-community-organizers)
[A]lliances of congregations (which sometimes include other institutions such as schools or unions) generally reflect the racial, ethnic, and religious makeup of their area. They are practical models of interracial and interreligious cooperation and, as another IAF organizer told me, they are “universities of public life.”
In 2001, a study by Interfaith Funders found that 3,500 congregations with 3 million members were involved in organizing, and 24,000 of those members were committed activists. Back then, there were 133 local congregation-based organizations. Today the four national organizing networks—PICO, DART, IAF, and Gamaliel—claim 167. This makes congregation-based organizing (or “institution-based,” as IAF prefers) one of the largest social movements on the American scene. But for the most part only people directly touched by it even know it exists. At the most, the average informed citizen might know that Barack Obama started out as an organizer for Gamaliel.
The process usually begins when a religious body—say a council of churches or a Catholic diocese—invites one of the networks to send in an organizer. Next comes a long, painstaking exploratory stage in which interested congregations are identified.Congregations, not individuals, become members of the federation and an organizing committee is established in each member congregation.
During this first phase, clergy and lay leaders are trained and hundreds of one-on-one meetings are held with congregation members in which issues are raised and more potential leaders are identified. This is a slow process. Says Cortes, “A lot of people don’t like the time that we take to translate this conversation into public action.” But this investment of time in building relationships and forming leaders is the foundation of all that will follow.
When groups are ready to act, an issue that has emerged from that long conversation is identified and members do research to, as Dutschke puts it, “cut the issue down to something you can win.” In Louisville, for instance, research on the problem of school violence led to a focus on the school-to-jail pipeline and a proposal for restorative justice that had worked in other school systems.
Finally, public action begins to bring the issue to the attention of decision-makers. “Organizing is all about getting people into a position to negotiate,” Cortes told Sojourners. Meetings and dialogue may do the job, but if they don’t, noisier tactics such as street demonstrations or direct confrontations with public officials may be used to media attention and generate pressure on those with power. The culmination of a campaign comes when the decision-maker is summoned to a mass meeting where, in front of several hundred, or even a few thousand, people, and sometimes the glare of TV lights, he or she is required to give a simple “yes” or “no” answer to the organization’s proposal.
An Obama Spiritual Advisor:
Jim Wallis Interviews
The Gamaliel Foundation: Radicalism hidden behind FAITH BASED INITIATIVES:
Gamaliel Foundation Vision Statement
The Gamaliel Foundation is a community of people living out our faith and values to collectively transform our society and bring about justice locally, nationally and globally. Gamaliel exists to form organizations that empower ordinary people to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives.
Religion has often played a mixed role in our society. Religion has been used to foster the evils of racism, poverty, violence, and intolerance as a powerful force to divide people with fear and hatred of one another. Still, the deepest values of our faith must unite all people through hope, acceptance and a deep desire for justice.
We claim the value of unrelenting hope over numbing fear.
We hold that all people are part of a sacred community,
intended by God to realize their own dignity, worth, power and voice.
A great disparity of wealth and poverty exists in the world today. The “haves” in our global society enjoy enormous advantages and the capacity to continuously protect and expand their interests, while the “havenots” are often powerless and victimized.
We live in a society where geographic place confers privilege through spatial racism, classism and segregation of opportunity. Too often environmental distress occurs in communities of the least represented. The resources of water, land, air, oil, and minerals in the world are unevenly distributed and inadequately conserved.
We defy raw greed for the benefit of few and
We claim the value of sustaining abundance for all.
We live in a world where famine, disease and genocide destroy generations of people, and yet very few are outraged. Due to mobility, consumerism, nationalism, militarism, television, electronic gadgetry, racism, sexism, time constraints, and fear, people are less and less able to build enduring, strong and meaningful relationships with one another. Throughout the world there are millions of undocumented residents with little chance of being integrated into the political and legal structure of our communities.
We claim the value of a sacred community over isolating individualism.
We further claim that each person has the right and responsibility to
make the sacred community a reality.
The concentration of money on political decisions corrupts democratic processes, excluding the vast majority of people from having any meaningful input into political decisions.
We affirm equal opportunity for all and abhor all forms
of injustice flowing from racism, poverty, and intolerance.
Therefore, Gamaliel has structured itself to effect the systemic changes necessary to advance the values we have claimed. People with faith in a good and just God andpeople who share these values will organize through Gamaliel to bring about shared abundance, sacred community, unrelenting hope, equal opportunity and justice within our communities and throughout the world.
Gamaliel and the Barack Obama Connection
by Gregory A. Galluzzo
President elect Barack Obama has throughout his political career made repeated references to his time as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. It is important that we all understand the connection between Barack and Gamaliel. In l980 Mary Gonzales and I created the United Neighborhood Organization of Chicago.
In l982 we decided that we needed some expertise from someone who had done faith based community organizing. A person who had worked as such an organizer in Illinois and in Pennsylvania approached me about joining our organizing team. His name was Jerry Kellman. Jerry helped Mary and myself become better organizers. While he was working for us, he connected with a group called the Calumet Community Religious Conference (CCRC) operating on the South Side in the South Suburbs of Chicago, and in Indiana. CCRC had been formed in response to the massive shut down of major industry and the resulting job loss and all of the concomitant social tragedies.
Jerry and I reached an understanding that we would support his work in the South Suburbs so that he could become director of his own project. It was Jerry Kellman who put an ad in the New York Times about an organizing position in the Chicago area. Barack responded; Jerry interviewed him and offered him a position. Barack accepted. Almost at this very time, Jerry propositioned an old friend of his to return to Chicago from Texas and work with him in this new organizing venture. His friend was Mike Kruglik.Mike and Jerry were the first mentors of Barack in organizing.
CCRC, which spanned communities in Northwest Indiana, the South Suburbs and parts of the City of Chicago proved to be unwieldy. Jerry and I decided to split it into three parts. Barack would work to found a new independent project in the South side of Chicago, Mike Kruglik would be the director of the South Suburban Action Conference and Jerry Kellman would develop organizing in Northwest Indiana. At that point Jerry asked me to become Barack’s consultant.
And at this time we were just creating the Gamaliel Foundation. I met with Barack on a regular basis as he incorporated the Developing Communities Project, as he moved the organization into action and as he developed the leadership structure for the organization. He would write beautiful and brilliant weekly reports about his work and the people he was engaging.
When Barack decided to go to Harvard Law School, he approached John McKnight, a professor at Northwestern and a Gamaliel Board member for a letter of recommendation. When Barack was leaving he made sure that Gamaliel was the formal consultant to the organization that he had created and to the staff that he had hired.
Barack has acknowledged publicly that he had been the director of a Gamaliel affiliate. He has supported Gamaliel throughout the years by conducting training both at the National Leadership Training events and at the African American Leadership Commission. He has also attended our public meetings.