06 September 2011

9-16-2001 A Date that "Changed" America

As we near the 10th anniversary of 9/11, today the front page of USA today had a an article by Rick Hampson titled "After 9/11: 50 Dates that Quietly Changed America."  I turned to the inward pages of the first section of this paper (which  I get for free with my student ID).  I wondered how many of these 50 dates had to deal with American religion, in general, and American Christianity, in particular.

Only one of the dates had much to do with American Christianity.  That date was 9/16/2001.  The particular event was said to be important because it nearly derailed President Obama's election bid.  The event was the somewhat (in)famous sermon by Obama's then-minister Jeremiah Wright that questioned America's righteousness and race relations in some fairly colorful language, saying "America's chickens are coming home to roost," among other things.  The president was not in the congregation on that day, but many questioned his relationship to someone that many considered a radical.  Wright has obviously been very controversial since this sermon came into the public light during the campaign...however... 

In spite of the controversy that this event caused, I would question the importance of this date in "quietly changing America," because Obama was nevertheless elected president in spite of the sermon.  Had this particular sermon led to John McCain's election, it would be noteworthy.  But it didn't, so it did not "change" America in any meaningful way.

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