On the February 28 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, during a segment discussing the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the church to which Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) belongs, co-host Sean Hannity stated that “many” call Trinity “separatist,” adding that “in some cases, even drawing comparisons to a cult.” Guest Erik Rush, a columnist for the conservative website WorldNetDaily, said that the church's “scary doctrine” is “something that you'd see in more like a cult or an Aryan Brethren Church or something like that.” Just the day before, Hannity -- referring to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) -- had claimed: “We created a new religious litmus test. This is very troublesome to me, and no other candidate is getting that scrutiny.”
Referring to "The Black Value System," which is advocated by Trinity, Rush stated: “I would go beyond saying that they're Afrocentric. They're African-centric. They refer to themselves as an African people, and that somewhat disturbs me from the viewpoint of, well, do they consider themselves Americans? Do they consider themselves Christians? Are they worshipping Christ? Are they worshipping African things black? Well, I mean, what is it?” Later in the segment, when co-host Alan Colmes asked: “Are you questioning Barack Obama's Christianity?” Rush responded simply: “Yeah.”
In fact, Trinity refers to itself as “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian,” while the “Black Value System” encourages parishioners to be “soldiers for Black freedom and the dignity of all humankind.” As Media Matters for America has previously noted, a February 6 Chicago Tribune article stated that the church's “value system” was adopted in 1981 to hold “black Christians accountable for taking care of their own and for continuing to fight oppression.” In an interview, Obama reportedly told the Tribune, “If I say to anybody in Iowa -- white, black, Hispanic or Asian -- that my church believes in the African-American community strengthening families or adhering to the black work ethic or being committed to self-discipline and self-respect and not forgetting where you came from, I don't think that's something anybody would object to. ... I think I'd get a few amens.”
Addressing conservative criticism of the “value system,” Obama also reportedly told the Tribune, “Commitment to God, black community, commitment to the black family, the black work ethic, self-discipline and self-respect. ...Those are values that the conservative movement in particular has suggested are necessary for black advancement.” He added, “So I would be puzzled that they would object or quibble with the bulk of a document that basically espouses profoundly conservative values of self-reliance and self-help.”
From the February 28 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: So, as the election season kicks into high gear, we have been repeatedly reminded of Mitt Romney's affiliation with the Mormon church, Latter Day Saints.
However, new information has recently come to light regarding the Trinity Unity [sic] Church in Chicago. That's the one that Senator Barack Obama calls home. Trinity Church's congregation subscribes to a 10-point list, which they refer to as, quote, “Afrocentric.” Now, a closer look at the church's vision has led many to call them separatist and, in some cases, even drawing comparisons to a cult.
Joining us now with more on the Trinity Union Church is columnist Erik Rush.
Erik, thank you for being with us, my friend. Appreciate it.
RUSH: Thank you -- pleasure to be here.
HANNITY: Let's -- let's look -- if we look specifically at the 10 items in the church -- for example: commitment to God. Basics, simple -- nobody will disagree.
HANNITY: Commitment to the black community. What if it was a commitment to the white community? Commitment to the white family versus commitment to this church, which says commitment to the black family.
HANNITY: Your thoughts?
RUSH: Well, that -- well, the first thing I did in the column that I wrote was interpolated the words black for white, and I looked at it and suddenly, I was looking at this really scary doctrine, you know. It was something that you'd see in more like a cult or an Aryan Brethren Church or something like that.
I would go beyond saying that they're Afrocentric. They're African-centric. They refer to themselves as an African people, and that somewhat disturbs me from the viewpoint of, well, do they consider themselves Americans? Do they consider themselves Christians? Are they worshipping Christ? Are they worshipping African things black? Well, I mean, what is it?
HANNITY: Well, let me ask you that because, beyond what we just mentioned, you know, the commitment to the black community, the black family, you know, the black work ethic they mentioned in this document, the black community, pledge allegiance to black leadership who embrace the “Black Value System.”
HANNITY: You know, if there were a presidential candidate and they were part of a church and, as you point out in your column, you substitute the word “black” for the word “white,” there would be an outrage in this country.
RUSH: Yes. Massive
HANNITY: There would be cries of racism in this country.
HANNITY: Will there -- will this even be a controversy in your view?
RUSH: I think that it could become something of an issue. You know, I've had people flaming me, but I've also had people writing me saying, you know, “What took you guys” -- I guess it means, the media -- “so long to uncover this, because they really are quite cultish, quite separatist?”
COLMES: Mr. Rush, this is Alan Colmes. I have a question. Are you questioning Barack Obama's Christianity?
COLMES: Who are you to do that?
RUSH: Anyone just the same as anyone else who can make a discernment about someone's faith.