Rev. Lowery’s Racist Benediction…So Much for Reconciliation…

On a day when many of my conservative and/or libertarian persuasion are deriding President Obama’s inauguration as something nearing the end of the country as we know it, I have been much less pessimistic but still anxiously awaiting what the future will hold for our great nation under a new administration.  Indeed, our new President’s first official act after taking office was to issue a proclamation decreeing a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation and calling “upon all of our citizens to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.”  I applaud President Obama’s actions here–indeed I am ready to draw fire from many fellow conservatives by recognizing and sorrowing over our nation’s less-than-proud heritage of racism and discrimination.

With those thoughts in mind, I was horrified to hear Rev. Joseph Lowery’s benediction during the inauguration today.  Specifically, I am shocked and offended at his closing paragraph (see below), which is just about as blatantly racist as one can be.  To suggest that whites, to use his words, fail to “embrace what is right” is hardly rhetoric that tends to inspire toward renewal and reconciliation.  Indeed, Rev. Lowery, my brother in Christ, this very language is divisive, caustic, and just plain hateful.

I, for one, am outraged, and would like an apology from Rev. Lowery and President Obama.  My letter will soon be on its way to the White House.

Mr. President, this is hardly the change so many have hoped for for so long.

(Transcript courtesy Federal News Service, foundhere)

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right. [emphasis mine]

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen!

REV. LOWERY: Say amen –

AUDIENCE: Amen!

REV. LOWERY: — and amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

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2 thoughts on “Rev. Lowery’s Racist Benediction…So Much for Reconciliation…

  1. There was something for everyone to be offended and inspired by today. I personally could have done without the religious “overtones” (understatement), but I was otherwise uplifted by everything else.

    The end seems to have been a play on a blues song by Big Bill Broonzy, “Black, Brown, and White”. Lowery’s benediction had cultural references that some people may never have encountered before (like the poem he read in the beginning; I had never heard it before); unfortunately, this can have the effect of excluding people and lead to interpretations of what was said that are probably too literal, like thinking that Lowery is simply a racist.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting…I appreciate your thoughtfulness!

      Believe it or not, as a conservative Christian, I too could have done without all the religious “overtones”…to use your words. The inauguration platform is really no place for it, in my opinion. And yes, there was many good things that were said today. As racially charged as this election has been, however, I was disappointed (understatement) in Rev. Lowery’s benediction. Whether or not he was alluding to a song, the plain reading of his words, when taken at face value, were clearly racially charged and offensive. Were a white pastor to make similar allusions, for example, there would have been public outcry the likes of which this country has not heard in decades.

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