The former pastor of Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama has slipped back into the news over the last couple of weeks for vastly divergent reasons. Last week the New York Post broke the story that the preacher had a sexual affair with an executive assistant at a Dallas church lead by one of Wright's disciples. On the other hand, the Religion News Service is reporting that Wright is saying nice things about Obama in his sermons.
Here's the RNS article by Jeff Diamant of The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.):
"Let me tell you how I know what I'm talking about," Wright said at Elmwood Presbyterian Church, where he leads a weeklong revival each September.
"Twenty years ago, a scrawny little kid -- pointed nose, big ears, momma from Kansas, daddy from Kenya -- the Lord told him, an ordinary black boy, he told him, `You could be a state senator ... '
"Not only did he become a state senator," Wright continued, as cheers rang up in the sanctuary, "this black boy with an African daddy from Kenya and a white American momma from Kansas, he had the audacity to hope, so he ran for the United States Senate, and the Lord turned the ordinary into the (extraordinary). And now! And now! Oh my God, and now! Whooo!"
Is there the possibility of a connection between these two stories? In addition, why hasn't there been more news coverage of either of them? There are two possible reasons: the federal government's plans to spend something like a trillion dollars staving off a second Great Depression and a Alaskan politician named Sarah Palin.
The coverage on the affair is rather weak outside the Post's article. One can also ask whether it is deserving of more coverage. When it comes to people in power having affairs with people who could be seen as subordinate, I do not see how it is not a story:
When word of the unholy alliance got out, Payne's husband dumped her, and she was canned from the plum job at Friendship-West Baptist Church, she told The Post.
"I was involved with Rev. Wright, and that's why I lost my job and why my husband divorced me," Payne said.
She refused to reveal when the adulterous affair started or how she met Wright. ...
In April, Payne organized a series of Texas public appearances by Wright, 67. Weeks before, Obama had disavowed his preacher of 20 years after Wright's anti-government rants came to light.
"Liz was by Rev. Wright's side day and night during those days," a church source said.
"It's all true," said Payne, adding that she has filed a wrongful-dismissal claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to get her job back.
In an ironic twist, Wright last night spoke at an East Orange, NJ, church revival on the subject of "unexpected problems."
I would be curious to know for sure whether The Dallas Morning News has covered this story in its own back yard. My attempts to find a story have come up with nothing, but I do not want to draw conclusions.
In conclusion, is the Wright drama still relevant in terms of religion and the 2008 political race? Part of me is inclined to believe that the story burned out a long time ago, but somehow I suspect this story did not end in April at the National Press Club.