Raphael Warnock: Jeremiah Wright’s ‘God Damn America’ Sermon ‘Very Thoughtful, Compelling’

Jeremiah Wright, senior pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, speaks d

In his 2014 book titled “The Divided Mind of the Black Church (Religion, Race, and Ethnicity),” Georgia Democrat Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock compares far-left hate-preacher Rev. Jeremiah Wright to biblical prophets and describes his infamous “God damn America” sermon as a “very thoughtful and compelling discussion on how a Christian should view government.”

After claiming that the difficult “existential reality” of blacks in America had debunked the notion of a “postracial America,” Warnock sets out to defend Wright, whom he refers to as “a preacher in the African American prophetic tradition,” while likening Wright’s words to “prophetic speech.”   

Wright led the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago from 1972 to 2008 and has been accused of racism, anti-Americanism, and anti-semitism.

In his infamous 2003 speech, Wright described America as having failed in regards to African Americans.

“When it came to treating her citizens of African descent fairly, America failed,” he stated before listing grievances suffered by blacks at the hands of the government.

“The government gives them drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strikes law, and then wants us to sing, ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no. Not ‘God Bless America’; God damn America!” 

“That’s in the Bible, for killing innocent people,” he adds. “God damn America for treating her citizens as less than human. God damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme!”

Referring to a 2008 clip that publicized Wright’s infamous “God damn America” speech, Warnock writes that the clip drew much attention because Wright “happened to be the pastor of Barack Obama” who was then the nation’s only black senator and seeking the presidency. 

Warnock writes that in the period leading up to the 2008 elections, the sermon, whose segments were broadcast on cable television, prompted many to question just what black theology was and why Obama attended a church that “teaches a decidedly race-conscious ‘Black Values System’ and whose mantra is ‘Unapologetically Christian, Unashamedly Black.’”

Warnock goes on to describe the “disconnect between black and white Americans” as the latter caught a glimpse of preachers who are expected and encouraged to “‘tell it like it is,’ with clarity, creativity, and passion.”

Warnock also claims that Wright was justified in depicting condemnations of himself as condemnations of the black church. 

“In that sense, Jeremiah Wright was right when he proffered that the vicious caricature and political attack on him was, in a real sense, an attack on the black church,” he wrote. 

Warnock then claims that media “distortion” of the sermon is what prevented the public from grasping its true nature.

“The media’s own caricature and distortion, made it virtually impossible for the general public to know that his actual sermon, heard in its entirety, was a very thoughtful and compelling discussion on how a Christian should view government,” he writes.

Warnock even goes so far as to claim the sermon “presented the critical reflections of a serious theologue,” before comparing it to the works of Augustine, Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Blasting the confusing of God and government, Warnock claims Wright “counseled against this dangerous yet pervasive heresy,” and did so “in the best tradition of the Christian Church and Christian theology.”

Warnock describes the sermon as Wright arguing that the US “will have to answer for its treatment of the most marginalized members of the human family,” and that “America’s moral and spiritual failure to seriously address itself to what Martin King called ‘the triplet evils of racism, poverty and war’ could not be answered or assuaged by simply saying or singing ‘God Bless America.’”

Comparing Wright to the biblical Jeremiah and “other Old Testament prophets,” Warnock claims that Wright, “after listing a litany of wrongs including the mistreatment of Native Americans, Japanese Americans, and African Americans,” cautioned that “while our songs and political pronouncements may say ‘God bless America,’ our actions may say ‘God damn America.’” 

Warnock concludes by blaming America’s “original sin” of “racism” for Wright’s frustrations.

“Wright was as disillusioned in 2003 as King was in 1968 by the intractable character of America’s original sin: racism,” he concluded.

Warnock has defended Wright on many other occasions as well.

Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported that Warnock had previously defended Wright in 2008, saying that “we celebrate the truth-telling tradition of the black church, which when preachers tell the truth, very often it makes people uncomfortable.” 

Warnock defended Wright again in March. 

Even after the defense was covered by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Warnock continued to stand by his defense of Wright.

During an interview in November, Warnock pushed back against accusations that he was anti-Semitic, as his opponent, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), attempted to tie him to Wright.

Wright previously blamed Jews in 2009 for keeping him from talking with Obama after winning the White House. 

After the September 11 attacks, Wright said: “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

Warnock’s controversies don’t stop at the defense of Wright. 

In 2019, Warnock signed a letter comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa, Jewish Insider reported.

Warnock is also listed as a delegation member on a Progressive National Baptist resolution that called on the United States to cease all military aid to Israel and urged Israel to stop building “illegal Israeli settlements, checkpoints and apartheid roads in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Fox News reported.

In a resurfaced video of a 2018 sermon, Warnock falsely accused Israel of shooting non-violent Palestinian protesters, stating “We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey.”

Stephen Lawson, communications director for incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler’s (R-Ga.) campaign, told Fox News that “Warnock has a history of anti-Israel positions, from embracing anti-Zionist Black Lives Matter and defending anti-Semitic comments made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to calling Israel an ‘oppressive regime’ for fighting back against terrorism.”

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


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