Editor's note: CNN Contributor Roland Martin has listened to several of the sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Portions of the sermons have been excerpted in recent stories. Martin says listening to the full sermons help put the excerpts in context.
I just finished listening to the nearly 40-minute sermon Rev. Jeremiah Wright gave on April 13, 2003, titled, “Confusing God and Government.”
For those of us watching and listening to the media in the last week, it is better known as the “God Damn America” sermon.
Wright’s scriptural focus was Luke 19:37-44 (reading from the New Revised Standard Version).
In this sermon, Wright spoke about the military rule during biblical days, led by Pontius Pilate. It was clear, through his language, such as “occupying military brigade” that he was making an analogy to the war in Iraq.
“War does not make for peace,” he said. “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,” he said.
He then gets to the thesis of his sermon, saying, “y’all looking to the government for only what God can give. A lot of people confuse God with their government.”
Wright criticizes the Bush administration and its supporters for using Godly language to justify the war in Iraq. He equates using God in America as condoning the war in Iraq to the same perspective of Islamic fundamentalists.
“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 don’t 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 understand 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 because 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 pre-emptive strike in the name of God. We cannot see how what we are doing is the same thing that Al-Qaeda is doing under a different color flag – calling on the name of a different God to sanction and approve our murder and our mayhem.”
He continues on his thesis of equating government with our God, saying that God sent the early settlers to America to take the country from Native Americans; ordained slavery; and that “we believe that God approves of 6 percent of the people on the face of this earth controlling all of the wealth on the face of this earth while the other 94 percent live in poverty and squalor while we give millions of tax breaks to the white rich.”
He also criticizes the “lily white” G-7 nations for controlling the world’s capital.
Then Wright speaks to:
1. Governments lie.
“This government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth is they believed that all white men were created equal. The truth is they did not even believe that white women were created equal, in creation nor 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 (Thomas), who sexually harassed Anita Hill, and a closeted Klan court, that is a throwback to the 19th century, handpicked by Daddy Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, between Clarence and that stacked court, they are about to un-do Roe vs. Wade, just like they are about to un-do affirmative action. The government lied in its founding documents and the government is still lying today. Governments lie.”
“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 in 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."
“The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely 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…' Governments lie. The government lied about the drugs for arms Contra scheme orchestrated by Oliver North, and then the government pardoned all the perpetrators so they could get better jobs in the government. Governments lie."
“The government lied about inventing 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 a connection 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 gonna do just like the LAPD, and plant the some weapons of mass destruction. Governments lie."
2. Governments change. He said long before the United States colonized the world, so did Egypt.
“All colonizers are not white. Turn to your neighbors and say that oppressors come in all colors.”
He then went back to the Bible and spoke about the changing of kings in Babylonia.
“Prior to Abraham Lincoln, the government in this country said it was legal to hold African in slavery in perpetuity...when Lincoln got in office, the government changed. Prior to the passing of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, government defined African as slaves, as property. Property, people with no rights to be respected by any whites anywhere. The Supreme Court of the government, same court, granddaddy of the court that stole the 2000 election. Supreme court said in it’s Dred Scott decision in the 1850s, no African anywhere in this country has any rights that any white person has to respect at any place, any time. That was the government’s official position backed up by the Supreme Court – that’s the judiciary; backed up by the executive branch – that’s the president; backed up by the legislative branch and enforced by the military of the government. But I stop by to tell you tonight that government’s change."
“Prior to Harry Truman’s government, the military was segregated. But governments change."
“Prior to the Civil Rights and equal accommodation laws of the government in this country, there was backed segregation by the country, legal discrimination by the government, prohibited blacks from voting by the government, you had to eat and sit in separate places by the government, you had sit in different places from white folks because the government said so, and you had to buried in a separate cemetery. It was apartheid, American style, from the cradle to the grave, all because the government backed it up."
“But guess what? Governments change. Under Bill Clinton, we got a messed up welfare to work bill, but under Clinton blacks had an intelligent friend in the Oval Office. Oh, but governments change."
“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 (and) against education – I guess he is; against healthcare, 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.”
“Where governments change, God does not change. God is the same yesterday, today and forever more. That’s what his name I Am means. He does not change."
"God was against slavery on yesterday, and God, who does not change, is still against slavery today. God was a God of love yesterday, and God who does not change, is still a God of love today. God was a God of justice on yesterday, and God who does not change, is still a God of justice today."
“God does not change.”
3. He then speaks of the government in his Bible text and said the Romans failed. Then he said the British government failed even after it colonized the world. He said the Russian government failed. The Japanese government failed. The German government failed.
“And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent, she failed. She put them on reservations."
“When it came to putting her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in interment prison camps."
“When it came to putting the 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 scientific experiments. Put them in the lower 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 strike law and then wants us to sing God Bless America. Naw, naw, naw. Not God Bless America. God Damn America! That’s in the Bible. For killing innocent people. God Damn America for treating us citizens as less than human. God Damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God and she is Supreme."
“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 5 million blacks that are out of work. For every one Colin Powell, a millionaire, you’ve got 10 million blacks who cannot read. For every one Condi-Skeezer Rice, you’ve got 1 million in prison. For every one Tiger Woods, who needs to get beat at the Masters, with his Cablanasian hips, playing on a course that discriminates against women, God has this way of brining you up short when you get to big for your Cablanasian britches. For every one Tiger Woods, we’ve got 10,000 black kids who will never see a golf course. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent.”
“Tell your neighbor he’s (going to) help us one last time. Turn back and say forgive him for the God Damn, that’s in the Bible though. Blessings and curses is in the Bible. It’s in the Bible.
"Where government fail, God never fails. When God says it, it’s done. God never fails. When God wills it, you better get out the way, cause God never fails. When God fixes it, oh believe me it’s fixed. God never fails. Somebody right now, you think you can’t make it, but I want you to know that you are more than a conqueror through Christ. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”
He then went on to talk about the salvation of Christians through the death of Jesus Christ. The sermon ended with a song proclaiming, “God never fails.”
- Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor