Obama’s Other Pastor Problem
By Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | 1/2/2009
A venerated veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, Lowery followed the leftward trajectory of many civil rights colleagues, whose political alliances with white liberals yanked them away from the theological conservatism of traditional black churches. Although his United Methodist denomination prohibits it, Lowery supports same-sex unions. And he affirms abortion rights. Lowery has joined Cindy Sheehan’s anti-war demonstrators outside President Bush’s Crawford ranch, opining that Iraqi mothers believe U.S. troops are “terrorists.” He once linked arms with PLO terrorist Yasser Arafat and sang “We Shall Overcome.” He believes that the U.S. Government was complicit in Martin Luther King’s assassination, and that the CIA has imported drugs from Central America. When Daniel Ortega headed the Sandinista Marxist dictatorship in Nicaragua, Lowery hosted a reception for him in Atlanta. He apparently was a formal advisor to the now defunct Christic Institute, a 1980’s era litigator that alleged that the Iran-Contra episode was merely the cog of a 30 year long “secret team” conspiracy governing U.S. foreign policy.
In 2006, Lowery created media waves by exploiting Coretta Scott King’s funeral to declare with his usual political banality: “We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor!” Such verbiage has been common for Lowery, now age 87, at United Methodist and other church functions over the years. His oratorical blasts are always vapidly left-wing and assume America has only degenerated since 1968.
“You could get away with anything as long as you said you were fighting communism,” Lowery exclaimed at a 2000 banquet of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society in Cleveland. “We demonized the saints and canonized the Devil!,” is how he described America’s role in the Cold War. “We’ve sown the seed and now we’re reaping the whirlwind.”
Dismissive of the then recent forcible return of little Elian Gonzalez to Castro’s Cuba by the Clinton Administration, Lowery scoffingly asked: “What if Reagan had ordered the raid in Miami!” And he sarcastically complained, “We’re still fearful of the great empire of Cuba.” Lowery claimed conservatives would make God “male, white [and] racist,” that affirmative action was “born in the New Testament, not the Nixon Administration,” that America sends “smart bombs on dumb missions,” that America’s criminal justice system in 1999 was “almost a replica of the system of 1909,” and that capital punishment by lethal injection was something the “Nazis started.” Of America’s military and its “don’t ask, don’t tell policy,” he asserted: “If you deceive you can be a general, but if you’re honest you can’t serve.”
Four years later, Lowery again spoke to the same United Methodist audience, this time in Pittsburgh, speaking just as incorrigibly as ever, urging the church to take a sinful America “down by the riverside.” Repeating the usual bromides about the poorer getting poorer at the hands of the rich, he called low minimum wages and the absence of socialized medicine “weapons of mass destruction.” And he urged beating missiles into “morsels of bread” and tanks into tractors. “Don’t we have something better to offer the world than swords and missiles and smart bombs on stupid missions?” he asked. “The God I serve loves the motherless child in Baghdad as much as he loves the motherless child in Boston,” he declared, implying that his targets do not care about Iraqi children.
Lowery blamed America’s supposed “re-segregation” on “these judges appointed by [Presidents] Reagan and Bush.” The 2000 election in Florida proved that some Americans are still denied voting rights, resulting in Bush’s being “selected” rather than elected, he claimed. Denouncing the U.S. War on Terror, Lowery asserted: “We’ve have done more to help Bin Laden in his demagoguery than anything I know of” by killing and outraging Muslims. After sarcastically asking if President Bush were a fellow United Methodist, Lowery smilingly responded to the left-wing crowd’s audible disapproval: “Don’t blame me; I didn’t let him in!” And he incomprehensibly compared Bush to segregationist George Wallace.
Such high-toned comments earned Lowery the Robert O. Cooper Peace and Justice Award from the Human Rights Center at Southern Methodist University (SMU) earlier this year, which he received at Munger Place United Methodist Church in Dallas by delivering his usual rambling and politicized sermon. According to the Dallas Morning News, United Methodist and SMU reports, he was dismissive of Christians who affirm traditional teachings about marriage and the sanctity of life, preferring ostensibly more important causes, like opposing the Iraq War. “We have lost too many Americans (in the Iraq war),” he proclaimed. “There are too many Americans who have been injured … millions of Iraqis have been killed, (and) you are worried about someone’s sexuality?
“We have to find out what really matters,” Lowery insisted. “Too many of our people believe that propaganda of looking for weapons of mass destruction. Creating weapons of mass destruction keeps us from focusing on major issues like feeding the hungry and poverty.” He condemned the Bush administration for making “God the god of war, and the god of the rich and powerful.” Lowery evidently shares the typical Religious Left emphasis on political correctness over personal morality. “We need to be discerning about the major issues. Abortion — that’s a minor issue. I’m all for life, but I’m also for freedom of choice. We can’t be the judge of what a woman does with her body. We have too many distractions.”
Naturally, Lowery defended his kindred spirit, Jeremiah Wright. “What’s wrong with Jeremiah Wright’s preaching?” he wondered. “Prophetic preaching has been around in the black church for years. That’s all I do. The only reason why no one says anything about me is because I don’t have a member who is a presidential candidate.”
Of course, Lowery did not then know he would serve prominently in Obama’s inauguration. But rather than become the object of deserved controversy for his leftist theology and paranoid politics, he has been overshadowed by Rick Warren’s conventional views on same-sex marriage. Perhaps the public will awake to the reality that it is Lowery and not Warren who is the clerical oddity.