I don’t care that Barack Obama had a fiery pastor who, if you go by the sound bites, hates Mom and apple pie and thinks the government gave everyone the mumps. What pisses me off is that I even know Obama had a pastor.
Like Obama, John McCain has had to distance himself from a pesky preacher, John Hagee of Texas, and he says he’s never even been to Hagee’s church — he just “won” his endorsement.
I know it’s hard to tell politicians apart, but can’t the media find anything more substantive than this? In a country where we at least pretend to separate church and state, we sure are obsessed with the candidates’ religious backgrounds. That’s because the candidates’ faith and the religious company they keep are a quick way for us to judge them. There’s no need to get to know the candidates’ goals for the country when there’s an easier way to whittle down your list: His pastor’s a kook! He thinks the Rapture’s coming! Hillary’s part-Jewish! Dismissed!
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright could go on a multi-state killing spree and it wouldn’t change my opinion of Obama. Why should the behavior of someone’s pastor reflect poorly on him? I mean, my church had two priests with a thing for little boys (guess what thing) and another who told us — during Christmas Mass, no less — that AIDS was God’s punishment for being gay. So, does that mean I can’t run for office?
But this is what religion does — it divides us, makes us afraid of one another, and blinds us to what’s really at stake in this election. And that’s a thousand times scarier that anything Wright or Hagee has to say.