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Black pastors back Wright

“As leaders within our community, African American pastors stand united in our support of Dr. [Jeremiah] Wright and the points he made in his message,” said two leaders of the Gamaliel Foundation in a statement today.

“Unfortunately, the interest in characterizing the style of Dr. Wright’s message has not been matched by a willingness to converse either about the substance of his message (all of it, rather than ten-second sound bites) or the passion that gives rise to the remarks,” said Rev. Dr. Kevin M. Turman and Rev. Dr. John Welch, leaders of the Gamliel Foundation, a national network of grassroots faith-based community organizations based in Chicago.

It was under Gamaliel’s auspices that Sen. Barack Obama worked as a community organizer for the Developing Communities Project in Roseland in the mid 1980s.

Turman, of Detroit, heads Gamaliel’s council of presidents of associated organizations, and Welch, of Pittsburgh, heads the group’s African American Leadership Commission.

“The African American pulpit does not believe that the flutes of pacification and comfort are sufficient when the trumpet of justice and agitation need to be sounded,” they said in a statement released by Gamaliel.

“Whatever passion, anger and frustration voiced by Dr. Wright only scratches the surface of those same emotions within his congregation and the larger African American community. He speaks with the voice of a ‘free man,’ unafraid of the political or economic repercussions which constrain so many others who labor within the larger community. Yet what we have witnessed through the media is an attempt to silence the … prophetic voice of African American pastors and religious leaders.”

Addressing the media, the two leaders said:

“If there is a desire to speak to the assertions of Dr. Wright, there are many among us ready to speak.  If there is an authentic desire to address African American anger over centuries of discrimination, there are plenty of African American clergy ready, willing and able to meet with representatives of any medium and carry this conversation forward.”

Gamaliel’s national clergy caucus holds its annual gathering April 15 to 17 at St. Mary University in Mundelein.

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Category: faith, organizing, race

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