In his interview with Bill Moyers, Pastor Jeremiah Wright blasted the media for failing to provide context to his much-condemned remarks.
On today’s show I played great portions of his sermons from April 13, 2004 and from September 16, 2001. I will post the audio here later.
Pastor Wright has a legitimate complaint that only sound bytes have been played, but until today I had no other material to work with. The pastor could help us all if he would release recordings of all of his sermons, and Moyers ought to have asked for just that. If you are going to mount the defense of “out of context,” then provide the context.
Please be aware that due to technical issues beyond our control, there is a thirty second ad at the beginning of each clip.
And they could not see the thing that make for peace. We keep forgetting, we keep forgetting, and we need ot remember, Jerome Ross wrote about it, I keep reminding you of it, write it down so you don’t forget, these people had, in Luke 19, an occupying army living in their country. Jesus, in Verse 43, calls them their enemies. Say enemies (crowd responds). Their enemies had all the political power. Remember, they had to send Jesus to a court presided over by the enemy, a provisional governor appointed by their enemies, ran the civic and the political affairs of their capitol. He had him backing him up an occupying army with superior soldiers. They were commandos trained in urban combat, and trained to kill on command. Remember, it was soldiers of the 3rd Marine Regiment of Rome who had fun with Jesus, who was mistreated as a prisoner of war, an enemy of the occupying army stationed in Jerusalem, to ensure the mopping up action of Operation Israeli Freedom. These people were blinded by the culture of war. Do you know what it is like to live under military rule 24/7, 365? These people were blinded by their circumstance of oppression. Their enemies not only had all of the political power, with Governor Pontius Pilate, y’all call him Pontius Pilate. He’s Italian, Pontius Pilate. Pontius Pilate was running the provisional government. Their enemies also had the military power. They not only had political power, they had the military power. It was Roman soldiers who kept Jesus up all night. It was the Italian army who led Jesus out to Calvary on Friday morning. It was the occupying military brigade who forced Simon of Sirene to carry the cross for Jesus. These people were tired of their oppression, they wanted the enemy up out of their land. Some of them did, some of them did not. The businessmen did not, those in bed with the enemy, let’s be clear. But the average citizen wanted them out, and they also wanted revenge. They wanted their king to get this military monkey off their backs. They wanted a regime change, if you will, and look what they called Jesus. Look at it in Verse 38. They called Jesus the king. Look at it, look at it. Look at Verse 38. They called him the king. Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. They wanted their king, see, their king, they saw God, the Lord, getting ready to do something about their situation. Blinded by the pain of their situation, they could not see the things that make for peace, y’all. So Jesus cried.
Let me help you with something. Let me help you. Let me help you. The military does not make for peace. The military only keeps the lid on for a little while. The military doesn’t make for peace. And the absence of armed resistance doesn’t mean the presence of genuine peace. Somebody needs to hear me tonight. You’re not hearing me. War does not make for peace. We said that in the 11:00 service. Fighting for peace is like raping for virginity. War does not make for peace, war only makes for escalating violence, and a mindset to pay the enemy back by any means necessary when your wife or your children have been crushed by the enemy. When your mother or your father have been mowed down by the military, peace is not on your mind, paybacks is the only game in town. You just bide your time, and you wait for your opportunity, but somebody is going to pay dearly for the permanent damage that has come into your life, and wrecked your world, as it rocked your world. Military might doesn’t make for peace, war does not make for peace, occupying somebody else’s country doesn’t make for peace. Killing those who fought to protect their own homes doesn’t make for peace. Press conferences claiming victory do not make for peace. Regime change, substituting one tyrant for another tyrant, with the biggest tyrant pulling the puppet strings of all the tyrants, that does not make for peace. Colonizing a country does not make for peace. If you don’t believe me, look at Haiti, look at Puerto Rico, look at Angola, look at Zimbabwe, look at Kenya, look at Astabors(?) and South Africa. Colonization does not make for peace. Occupation does not make for peace. And subjugation only makes for a temporary silence. It does not make for peace.
Now if you don’t mind, if you don’t mind, I’m going to hang out here, homiletically for just a little while, and then I’m going to let you go home. I have got to pause here, however, as a pastor, because a lot of people still confused 2,000 years later. They still confuse God with their government. Now see, we can see clearly the confusion in the mind of a few Muslims, and please notice, I did not say all Muslims, I said a few Muslims, who see Allah as condoning killing, and killing any and all who don’t believe what they believe. They call it jihad. We can see clearly the confusion in their minds, but we cannot see clearly what it is that we do. We call it crusade when we turn right around and say that our God condones the killing of innocent civilians as a necessary means to an end. We say that God understands collateral damage. We say that God knows how to forgive friendly fire. We say that God will bless the shock and awe as we take over, unilaterally, another country, calling it a coalition government, we’ve got three guys from Australia, going against the United Nations, going against the majority of Christians, Muslims and Jews throughout the world, making a preemptive strike in the name of God. We cannot see, however, what we are doing is the same thing al Qaeda is doing under a different colored flag, calling on the name of a different God to sanction and approve our murder and our mayhem.
Now let me tell you something, let me tell you something, Jesus said something about that, too. Oh, yes he did. Jesus said, Jesus said how can you see the speck in your brother’s eye, and can’t see the log in your own eye? Well, I submit to you that we can’t see it, first of all, because we don’t see nobody who don’t look like us, dress like us, talk like us, worship like us, as brother. And Jesus calls them brother. We demonize them, and that makes it all right to kill them, because our God is against demons. Then, we can’t see the speck, most of all, because we equate our government with our God. We confuse government and God. Let me, let me, let me tell you something. We believe in this country, and we teach our children that God sent us to this promised land. He sent us to take this country from the Arawak, the Susquehannock, the Apache, the Commanche, the Cherokee, the Seminole, the Choctaw, the Hopi, and the Arapaho. We confuse government and God. We believe God sanctioned the rape and robbery of an entire continent. We believe God ordained African slavery. We believe God makes Europeans superior to Africans, and superior to everybody else, too, because we confuse God and government. We said in our founding documents as a government, we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. Created, that means God, and endowed with a certain inalienable right, that means given by God. And then we define Africans in those same documents are 3/5ths of a person. We believe God approved of African slavery. We believe God approved segregation. We believe God approved Apartheid, and the doctrine which says all men are created more equal than other men, and we talking about white men. We confuse God and government. We believe God approves of 6% of the people on the face of this Earth, controlling all of the resources on the face of this Earth, while the other 94% live in poverty and squalor, while we give trillions of dollars of tax breaks to the white rich. We believe God was a founding member of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Look at the lilly-whiteness of the G7 nations the next time you see a picture, and then tell me if you see anything wrong with that picture when you hold it up against a picture of the color of the world’s population. We confuse God and government. We believe God is on the side of the wealthy. We believe it’s all right to send our military to fight, and if necessary, to die in Iraq and anywhere else we decide is a part of the axis of evil, while George W. cuts the military benefits so that when those boys and girls come back home, they can be as bad off as some of the Iraqis that we just liberated. We confuse God and government. We do. We believe. We believe. We believe we have a right to Iraqi oil. We believe we have a right to Venezuelan oil. We believe we’ve got a right to all the oil on the face of the Earth, and we’ve got the military to take it if necessary. Or as George W. piously says, as God so leads him. We’re confusing God and government. We believe it is all right to decimate the Afro-Colombian community by arming the paramilitary with United States tax dollars, our dollars, a hired military whose real job is to protect the oil line owned by United States companies tied to the presidency, which was stolen by the oil interest. We confusing God and government. And it gets worse, it gets worse. We’ve got a paranoid group of patriots in power that now, in the interests of homeland stupidity, I mean homeland security, excuse me, they are taking away the Constitutional right of free speech, because it’s harmful to the interests of national security. And those interests equate God with government. Our money says In God We Trust, and our military says we will kill you under the orders of our commander-in-chief if you dare to believe otherwise. We are still confusing God and government in the year 2003, just like they’re confusing it in Luke 19. Well, in case you are in that great number, and I understand from the polls, that the numbers have gone up, still confused. If you’re in that number of confused folk, two thousand years after Christ, let me share three quick things with you, just to help clear up your confusion. Turn to your neighbor and say, now listen, you’ve got to say it right, say it with attitude and ebonics, say, say he (audience responds). Sydney help somebody (audience responds). Tonight (audience responds). Turn on the other side and say fidna (audience responds). Governments, number one, governments lie (applause).
This government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth is, they believed all white men were created equal. The truth is, they did not believe that even white women were created equal, in creation nor in civilization. The government had to pass an amendment to the Constitution to get white women the vote. Then, the government had to pass an equal rights amendment to get equal protection under the law for women. The government still thinks a woman has no rights over her own body, and between Uncle Clarence, who sexually harrassed Anita Hill, and a closeted Klan Court that is a throwback to the 19th Century, hand-picked by Daddy Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, between Clarence and that stacked Court, they’re about to undo Roe V. Wade, just like they’re about to undo affirmative action. The government lied in its founding documents, and the government is still lying today. Governments lie. Turn to your neighbors and say governments lie (audience responds). The government lied about Pearl Harbor. They knew the Japanese were going to attack. Governments lie. The government lied about the Gulf of Tonkin. They wanted that resolution to get us into the Vietnam War. Governments lie. The government lied about Nelson Mandela, and our CIA helped put him in prison, and keep him there for 27 years. The South African government lied on Nelson Mandela. Governments lie. Turn back to your neighbor and say it again. Governments lie (audience responds). The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposefully infected African-American men with syphilis. Governments lie. The government lied about bombing Cambodia. And Richard Nixon stood in front of the camera, let me make myself perfectly clear, we are not…governments lie. The government lied about the drugs for arms Contra scheme, orchestrated by Oliver North, and then they pardoned, the government pardoned all of the perpetrators, so they could get better jobs in the government. Governments lie. The government lied about adventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. Governments lie. The government lied about a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and are connected between 9/11/01 and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Governments lie. The government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United States peace. And guess what else? If they don’t find them some weapons of mass destruction, they’re going to do just like the LAPD, and plant them some weapons of mass destruction. Governments lie. (applause)
Oh, but government’s changed. The election was stolen. We went from an intelligent friend to a dumb Dixiecrat, a rich Republican who has never held a job in his life, is against affirmative action, against education, I guess he is (laughing), against health care, against benefits for his own military, and gives tax breaks to the wealthiest contributors to his campaign. Governments change sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad. But I’m fitna to help you again. Turn back and say he’s fitna to help us again (audience responds).
The United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating its citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains. The government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton fields, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest-paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education, and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the 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. God damn America for treating her citizens as less than human. God damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God, and she is supreme (applause). The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent. Think about this, think about this, for every one Oprah, a billionaire, you’ve got five million blacks who are out of work. For every one Colin Powell, a millionaire, you’ve got ten million blacks who cannot read. For every one Condoskeezer Rice, you’ve got one million in prison. For every one Tiger Woods, who needs to get beat at the Masters, with his Cablasian hips, playing on a course that discriminates against women, God has His way of bringing you up short when you get too big for your Cablasian britches. For every one Tiger Woods, we’ve got ten thousand black kids who will never see a golf course. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent. But I’m fitna to help you one last time. Turn to your neighbors, say he’s fitna to help us one last time (audience responds). Turn back and say forgive him for the God damn (audience responds). That’s in the Bible, though. Blessing and curses is in the Bible. It’s in the Bible. (applause) I’m fitna to help you one last time.
told Freddie Haynes this week that in all of my years of preaching, I was licensed to preach in May of 1959. I was ordained to preach in January of 1967. And I became a pastor in March of 1972. But in all of my years of preaching, I have never preached a sermon that dealt with these difficult verses, these last three verses in Psalm 137, these brutally honest verses, and these verses which express what the people of faith really feel after a day of devastation and senseless death. And that is exactly what these three verses express. Now in our class sessions on our Church study trips, I have lifted up these three verses to help our Church members understand much of what it is they feel as they have stood in the slave castles in West Africa, as they have stood among the poverty in Ethiopia, stood in the townships of South Africa, and stared at the favelas in Salvador de Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. African-Americans have a surge of emotions as they see the color of poverty in a world of wealth, and begin to understand that it is no accident that the world’s tourists are one color, and the world’s riches are another color. And when they tie together the pieces of 500 years of colonialism, racism and slavery with what it is they see in 2001, a surge of emotions hits them. And the last three verses of Psalm 137 help them to understand what it is they are feeling. I have treated these verses in a classroom setting, and on the study tours that our congregation has taken. But I have never touched them in a sermon. Today, I was telling Freddie Haynes, the spirit of God has nudged me to touch them, and to treat them prayerfully, as many of us try to sort out what it is we are feeling, and why it is we are feeling what we feel after the trauma and the tragedy of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, symbols of who America is: the money and the military.
Now I asked the Lord what should our response be in light of such an unthinkable act. But before I share with you what the Lord showed me, I want to give you one of my little faith footnotes. Visitors, I often give faith footnotes so that our members don’t lose sight of the big picture. Let me give you a little faith footnote. Turn to your neighbor and say faith footnote (audience responds). I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday. Did anybody else see him or hear him? He was on Fox News. This is a white man, and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end. He pointed out, did you see him, John? A white man, and he pointed out, an ambassador that wasn’t Malcolm X saying, when he got silenced by Elijah Muhammad, was in fact true. America’s chickens are coming home to roost. We took this country, by terror, away from the Sioux, the Apache, the Arawak, the Commanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism. We took Africans from their country to build our way of ease, and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism. We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel. We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers, and killed unarmed teenagers and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard-working fathers. We bombed Qaddafi’s home and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s head against a rock. We bombed Iraq. we killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to pay back for the attack on our embassy, killed hundreds of hard-working people, mothers and fathers, who left home to go that day, not knowing that they’d never get back home. We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. Kids playing in the playground, mothers picking up children after school, civilian, not soldiers, people just trying to make it day by day. 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. Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that, y’all, not a black militant, not a reverend who preaches about racism, an ambassador whose eyes are wide open, and who’s trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people that we wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them, and we need to come to grips with that. Let me stop my faith footnote right there, and ask you to think about that over the next few weeks, if God grants us that many days. Turn back to your neighbor and say footnote is over (audience responds).
And I asked God what should our response be. I saw pictures of the incredible, people jumping from the 110th floor, people jumping from the roof, because the stairwells and elevators above the 89th floor were gone, no more, black people jumping to a certain death, people holding hands, jumping, people on fire jumping. And I asked the Lord, what should our response be?
Then the Lord showed me that this is not only a time for self-examination, this is also a time for social transformation. Now they ain’t going to put me on PBS for the nation to see this. This will be around the Chicagoland area. It ain’t going to be on no national cable. But this is a time for social transformation, and this is going to be the hardest step we have to take. But now is the time for social transformation. We have got to change the way we have been doing things. We have got to change the way we have been doing things as a society, social transformation. We have got to change the way we have been doing things as a country, social transformation. We have got to change the way we have been doing things as an arrogant, racist, military superpower, social transformation. We just can’t keep messing over people, and think ain’t nobody do nothing about it. They have shown us that they can, and that they will. And let me suggest to you that rather than figure out who we’re going to declare war on, maybe we need to declare war on racism. Maybe we need to declare war on injustice. Maybe we need to declare war on greed. Those same lawmakers you saw gathered at the Capitol praying are the same lawmakers who just passed a $1.3 trillion dollar gift for the rich. Maybe we need to rethink the way we do politics and declare war on greed. Maybe we need to declare war on AIDS. In five minutes, the Congress found $40 billion dollars to rebuild New York, and the families of those who died in sudden death. Do you think we could find the money to make medicine available for people who are dying a slow death? Maybe, maybe, maybe we need to declare war on the health care system that leaves the nation’s poor with no health coverage. Maybe we need to declare war on the mishandled educational system, and provide quality education for everybody, every citizen, based on their ability to learn, not their ability to pay. This is a time for social transformation. We can’t go back to doing business as usual, and treating the rest of the world like we’ve been treating them. This is a time for self-examination, and this is a time for social transformation.