Obama, Black Liberation Theology, and Karl Marx
By Kyle-Anne Shiver
What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.
Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time.”
– Karl Marx; essay, The Jewish Question; 1844
Not having a theology degree, nor even a Ph.D., and being, too, a bit naïve regarding matters of high-brow philosophical currents throughout the ages, I have to admit that when I first read Karl Marx’ essay, The Jewish Question, I was actually stunned by its contents.
First off, my rather cursory education in various philosophies and in Marxism, particularly, did not prepare me for the bitter thrust of old Karl’s potent anti-Semitism. In fact, until reading this particular essay, I would have never, in a million years, connected much of anything whatsoever Marxian with Jew hate.
After all, Karl Marx, himself, was a Jew. Hitler and many others blamed the Jews for Communism, thanks to the number of Jews who played prominent roles in the Russian Revolution. I naturally associated twentieth century Anti-Semitism with Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.
Ironically, if Karl Marx had still been alive and residing in Germany or any of the Nazi-occupied countries during WWII, he would have perished along with his brethren, despite his own “self-loathing-Jew” status.
Marx envisioned a society “which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering,” because this classless society “would make the Jew impossible.”
Personally, I find the opinion of some that Marx was a genius, to be downright laughable. Regarding his opinions on the Jews, one is left to ponderously consider which ones were dumb, and which were dumber.
Evidently Karl Marx was as utterly ignorant of the true tenets of Judaism (Self-sufficiency does not equate to “huckstering.”) as he was of the diabolical possibilities inherent in his own words, once they were in the hands of one Adolph Hitler.
This atrocious irony might be merely a historical oddity if old Karl’s words were not still bouncing around in the heads of those who wish to lead new revolutions based upon them. But Marx’ words still dominate much of what happens on the world stage today, even in our own republic.
The word emphasis has changed a bit. The industrial proletariat is no longer the focus. But as a newly prominent American politician is wont to remind us: words do matter.
Yes, of course, words matter, as many leaders of ambitious movements have mightily declared.
…the power which has always started the greatest religious and political avalanches in history rolling has from time to immemorial been the magic of power of the spoken word, and that alone.
Particularly the broad masses of the people can be moved only by the power of speech.
– Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf.
The Oppressed Vs. the Oppressors
But where do they come from, and what do they mean in America today?
I might never have delved into the subject of the oppressed vs. the oppressors if I had not gone to Chicago in January seeking answers about a man who would be president.
When I visited Obama’s church, still under the directorship of Jeremiah Wright, I came away with far more questions than answers, and one thing leading to another, have spent the last several months trying to fathom how Marxist political philosophy wound up emblazoned with a cross and a pulpit, and pretending to rely on the Bible for its authority.
It is somewhat difficult to imagine a more contorted blasphemy, with the single possible exception of Hitler himself claiming to be acting by divine decree in the interests of Christianity. Which is precisely what Hitler did do, while hoodwinking the German people into electing him Chancellor.
Hitler sprinkled Mein Kampf with Christian language, most likely to fit with the predominantly Christian German population, and appealed to voters on the strength of his Christian “calling”:
“I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord..”
As most junior-high Sunday schoolers know, however, a Christian is judged on actions, not words, and Hitler was no Christian. He was a bamboozler of the lowest imaginable order.
Jeremiah Wright is the tiny tip of Obama’s spiritual iceberg
The phenomenon that raised so many questions for me in January, when I visited Trinity United Church of Christ, was not Jeremiah Wright’s sermon, which turned out to be just a call for all good congregants to support Barack Obama for President. It wasn’t the sermon that caught me off guard; I was prepared for that. I had watched video of Wright, giving five of his fiery sermons.
The thing that really got me to thinking, reading and searching for answers was the church bookstore.
Having been a practicing Christian for more than 40 years now, and a practicing Catholic for 26 of those years, I have visited perhaps 100 various Christian bookstores, both Protestant and Catholic. In all of those places, one thing tied together the books for sale: Christianity.
Not so in Obama’s church bookstore.
I spent more than an hour perusing available books, and found as many claiming to represent Muslim thought as those representing Christian thought. Black Muslim thought, to be specific.
And the books claiming to support Christianity were surprisingly of a more political than religious nature. The books by James H. Cone, Wright’s own mentor, were prominent and numerous.
Now that I have read a number of the books that presumably Wright’s congregants (including Barack Obama) have also read, I can only conclude that the thing tying these volumes together is not Christianity, nor any real religion, but the political philosophy of Karl Marx.
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”
“Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” (emphasis mine)
– Marx and Engels; The Communist Manifesto; 1848
If Marxism can be summed up in only a couple of phrases, now familiar to nearly every modern person, they would be “class struggle” and “oppressed vs. oppressors.”
James H. Cone, the unquestioned modern-day mentor of all the black power preachers, claims to have created a new theology, uniting the Muslim black power tenets of Malcolm X and the Christian foundations of Martin Luther King, Jr.
All he has really done, in my opinion, is take original liberation theology from Latin America, developed in the early 1960s by Catholic priests, and painted it black.
Liberation Theology vs. Traditional Christianity
The teaching authorities of the Catholic Church, have for more than 20 years now, been attempting to stamp out these heretical liberation theologies, denouncing them as vehemently antithetical to the Catholic Christian faith, and have been strenuously combating this Marxist counterfeit Christianity on many fronts within the Church herself.
Of course, the Medieval, iron-fisted clamp of the Catholic Church’s authority, even within the Church herself, is routinely overstated, and there are renegade priests all over the place (more on another of Obama’s spiritual mentors, a liberation theology Catholic priest in Chicago, in Part Two next week).
Not to mention the fact that the Catholic Church has no authority whatsoever over those claiming to represent protestant interpretations of the Christian faith, such as Cone and Wright.
But it is important to note here that liberation theology, including black liberation theology, has not gone unnoticed by the learned biblical scholars within the Vatican, and liberation theology has been roundly denounced as both heretical and dangerous, not only to the authentic Christian faith, but even more so to the societies which come to embrace it.
Just one nugget from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Instruction on Certain Aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’:
“…it would be illusory and dangerous to ignore the intimate bond which radically unites them (liberation theologies), and to accept elements of the marxist analysis without recognizing its connections with the (Marxist) ideology, or to enter into the practice of the class-struggle and of its marxist interpretation while failing to see the kind of totalitarian society to which this process slowly leads.”
– (Author: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, now Pope Benedict XVI; written in 1984)
Understanding that black liberation theology is Marxism dressed up to look like Christianity helps explain why there is no conflict between Cone’s “Christianity” and Farrakhan’s “Nation of Islam.” They are two prophets in the same philosophical (Marxist) pod, merely using different religions as backdrops for their black-power aims.
As Cone himself writes in his 1997 preface to a new edition of his 1969 book, Black Theology and Black Power:
“As in 1969, I still regard Jesus Christ today as the chief focus of my perspective on God but not to the exclusion of other religious perspectives. God’s reality is not bound by one manifestation of the divine in Jesus but can be found wherever people are being empowered to fight for freedom. Life-giving power for the poor and the oppressed is the primary criterion that we must use to judge the adequacy of our theology, not abstract concepts. As Malcolm X put it: ‘I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won’t let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion’.” (p. xii; emphases mine)
And, to drive his Marxist emphasis even further, Cone again quotes Malcolm X:
“The point that I would like to impress upon every Afro-American leader is that there is no kind of action in this country ever going to bear fruit unless that action is tied in with the overall international (class) struggle.” (p. xiii)
(Ironically, considering the formal Church teaching regarding liberation theologies, this book of Cone’s was published by Orbis, owned and managed by The Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, a Maryknoll religious entity. So much for the totalitarianism of the Catholic Church.)
It is this subjugation of genuine Christianity to the supremacy of the Marxist class struggle, which marks the true delineation between traditional Christianity and black liberation theology, as Pope Benedict XVI (writing in 1984 as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) sums up thusly:
“For the marxist, the truth is a truth of class: there is no truth but the truth in the struggle of the revolutionary class.”
Which is precisely why Cone and his disciples are able to boldly proclaim that if the Jesus of traditional Christianity is not united with them in the Marxist class struggle, then he is a “white Jesus,” and they must “kill him.” (Cone; A Black Theology of Liberation; p. 111)
And Cone brings it all the way home with this proclamation of liberation from traditional Christianity itself:
“The appearance of black theology means that the black community is now ready to do something about he white Jesus, so that he cannot get in the way of our revolution.”
Move over Jesus and make way for Cone, Wright and Obama.
The revolution is at hand.
And presto-chango, once we’ve followed Marx, Cone, Wright and Obama down the yellow brick road to revolution, Christianity as we’ve known it for millennia ceases to exist.
Obama was raised by his mother, the agnostic anthropologist, to regard religion as “an expression of human culture…not its wellspring, just one of the many ways — and not necessarily the best way — that man attempted to control the unknowable and understand the deeper truths about our lives.” (Audacity of Hope; p. 204)
However, when Barack Obama met Jeremiah Wright in the mid-eighties, between his years at Columbia and Harvard Law, he found a “faith” perfectly accommodating to his already well-formed worldview.
From The Audacity of Hope:
“In the history of these (African people’s) struggles, I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death; rather, it was an active, palpable agent in the world.” (p. 207)
As Obama explains further, it was Wright’s (and presumably Cone’s, as required of new members at Trinity) peculiar form of Christianity that Obama found palatable:
“It was because of these newfound understandings (at Trinity under Wright) — that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice…that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity…and be baptized.”
Wright’s vision of Christianity was perfectly appetizing to Barack Obama; he didn’t need to change a thing.
Liberation Theology and the New Order of Things
James Cone devotes many words in all of his books to instructing his disciples to beware of those resistant to the necessary change in the power structure, warning that,
“those who would cast their lot with the victims must not forget that the existing structures are powerful and complex…Oppressors want people to think that change is impossible.” (James H. Cone; Speaking the Truth; p. 49)
Pope Benedict XVI (writing as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) give an equally stringent message to Catholics about liberation theology regarding the perversion of the Christian understanding of the “poor”:
“In its positive meaning the Church of the poor signifies the preference given to the poor, without exclusion, whatever the form of their poverty, because they are preferred by God…But the theologies of liberation…go on to a disastrous confusion between the poor of the Scripture and the proletariat of Marx. In this way they pervert the Christian meaning of the poor, and they transform the fight for the rights of the poor into a class fight within the ideological perspective of the class struggle.”
According to Pope Benedict’s instruction on liberation theology, our understanding of the virtues, faith, hope and charity are subjugated to the new Marxist order:
Faith becomes “fidelity to history.”
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, to bring about the final fruition of the class struggle.
Hope becomes “confidence in the future.”
Yes, we can change the world; we don’t need God. Our collective redemption comes when we engage in the Marxist class struggle.
Charity becomes “option for the poor.”
All are not created equal. Special political privilege for the oppressed, socialism, will set us free.
It’s the dawn of a new age.