September 7, 2012
Rev. Dr. Patrick L. Wooden
Upper Room Church of God in Christ
3300 Idlewood Village Drive
Raleigh, NC 27610
RE: Anti-Obama Radio Ads
Dear Dr. Wooden:
After much prayer, I am writing to express my concern regarding your political campaign ad which is heard on radio stations throughout the Raleigh/Durham Triangle. I am bothered by how the ad attacks President Obama, especially considering Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and other Tea-Party-driven candidates are spreading repetitious lies while simultaneously violating the best interests of the poor, the elderly, the oppressed, “the little ones”, and others Jesus the Christ considers amongst “the least of these”. Consequently your politically motivated attempt to stigmatize the President as a violator of God’s word regarding his position on “marriage equality”, while saying nothing regarding Romney’s numerous scriptural violations is hypocritical and sinfully uses the Bible as a political football in a game our community cannot afford to play or lose.
For the record, I am not one who condones homosexuality. Nonetheless, I will not sit idly by and allow Ministers such as you to cause our Christian community to be sidetracked with the blindfold of homophobia and as a result, lead the poor, the elderly, the sick, the captives, the children, and the oppressed off a cliff and deeper into the ditches of divide and conquer. Evidently, you have allowed your obsession to ridicule homosexuals and others who consider gays as victims of human rights violations, to take your eyes off the need to honor Jesus’ overall message of love; the need to be slow to judge; as you have become distracted from Jesus’ requirement that we honor and prioritize our commitment toward serving the needs of the poor, the vulnerable, and the oppressed. After all, in the final analysis, the measuring stick of our fitness for “the Kingdom” will NOT be based upon how well we can preach or our willingness to cast stones at others (see John 8:7), but will be based upon our treatment of “the least of these (Matthew 25:31-46).”
While I know you, like some others, would be willing to engage in a cherry-picked scripture battle with those who question your narrow and distorted view of the scriptures in this particular instance, the bottom line is – When I was hungry did you feed me? When I was thirsty did you give me drink? When I was naked did you cloth me? If Romney agrees with bashing gays, but has no policies that will address the need to feed the hungry or cloth the naked or provide care/healthcare for the poor who are sick, are you suggesting Romney is more Biblically acceptable? If not, when you ask your listeners not to support President Obama, what is their alternative? Since Jesus Christ’s name is not on the ballot, Mitt Romney a man whose policies serve as a War on the Poor, will clearly become the beneficiary of your ridiculous radio ad. I reiterate, it will be Romney, not God who will benefit from your ads.
Let me also reiterate, Jesus said, “It would be easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven.” With this being the case, if those of you who use the Bible to bash gays and call on voters to punish President Obama, when are you going to use the same Bible (Matthew 19:26) to hold Mr. Romney and others like him accountable to what Jesus asked of the Rich Man? Are you going to ask Mr. Romney to expose and return the riches he has hidden in Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Islands, other off shore financial shelters, undisclosed income tax filings and bring it all back within the shores of America and add it toward the sale of all of his other possession which contribute to his wealth and then ask Mr. Romney to “distribute your wealth amongst the poor?”
I find it appalling that Pastors such as yourself are more interested in defeating President Obama than defeating poverty which threatens the lives of more than 1.6 million North Carolinians including more than 600,000 poverty-stricken children in North Carolina who are often left trapped in a cycle of poverty, crime, violence, and early-death; or Pastors who appear more interested in bashing select individuals/groups rather than bashing lies such as those coming from Tea-Party poli-tricks; lies which Jesus said are the source of the devil. “…For there is no truth in him [the devil]. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).”
Obviously when we see you and certain other ministers who use the Bible in such an inconsistent and politically motivated manner in an attempt to defeat President Obama, you are NOT carrying out the will of our God of justice, you are instead engaging in Selective Scriptural Amnesia and committing Ministerial Malpractice like “Blind Leaders of the Blind.” As you know, Jesus said, “When the blind leads the blind, they both fall into the ditch.” Too many of our people are blind and in the ditches of ignorance and injustice. If we within God’s church do not ensure they find truth and justice – who will?
I am not asking you or anyone to campaign for President Obama, neither am I asking you to remain silent in the event our President does something which conflicts with God’s word. I am only respectfully asking that you not use the Bible as a political football; not exploit President Obama’s Christian shortcomings while ignoring the weightier shortcomings of his political rivals Romney and Paul Ryan.
For example, the Ryan/Romney budget would cut every dispensable social program or conceivable low-income form of assistance to pay for 1 trillion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy. It would cut education by 45 percent, cut infrastructure by 24 percent, cut Medicaid by 34 percent, would repeal the Health Care Reform Act (ObamaCare), force 45 million citizens off health insurance, and cut over 700 billion from Medicare just to name a few of the budget’s cruelties. No church or true person of God on the face of the earth should support such a devastating plan. To add insult to injury, Ryan claims his Catholic faith played a role in determining such a budget, but several Catholic Nuns are going on bus tours across the country protesting and educating other citizens and people of faith the extent to which Ryan’s plan would harm the poor.
I am only asking that in such a time as this; with so much at stake; in this time of political darkness, confusion, challenge and controversy, we as Ministers of God must speak boldly and truthfully while shining the light of truth on ALL facets of Jesus’ Ministry and all aspects of His truth involving those who are chosen to make decisions which impact the multitudes/masses of “the least of these.”
While I have worked as an advocate for the poor, the children, and the oppressed for year as a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) representative, I am NOT writing you on behalf of the NAACP, neither am I writing you as a political advocate for any particular political party or association. I am writing you as a spiritually and procedurally ordained Minister of the Lord Jesus Christ in defense of the poor, oppressed, and those who are treated unfairly.
Unfortunately, the first African American U.S. President , Barak H. Obama clearly falls in the category with those who are unfairly targeted, violated, scorned, discriminated against, and hated in our state and nation. Without regard to politics, I am subsequently defending President Obama as I would any others who are blatantly mistreated and held to a double standard (i.e. The goal posts have been moved as Obama’s re-election campaign will face new challenges this year in campaign finance reforms, voter suppression laws, congressional obstruction, media bias, etc.) all designed to defeat him. My love for justice is not based upon politics, but largely upon Jesus the Christ’s indisputable call for social justice as an essential component of his Ministry (Luke 4:18).
In the aforementioned Luke passage, Jesus also refers to “the book of Isaiah” during his sermon in the Synagogue. In Isaiah 10:1-2, God confirms he is a God of Justice as he warns:
Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
2 to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
With this in mind, I respectfully ask that you pull your radio ads because it claims to be supported by scripture and Christianity while at the same time it serves as a wicked political tool for the forces of hate and is in direct conflict with our God who loves the poor and oppressed, and demands justice; our God whose only Son stated, “God is a Spirit and those who worship him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.” As a Christian, “truth” should not conflict with the words of Jesus the Christ who has acknowledged “…The truth shall make you free.”
I realize there are those who will pat you on your back, pay you and/or contribute large sums to your church while using you, taking advantage of your status as a “religious leader”, and hide behind your respected and charismatic voice only to pull your strings in hopes you will serve as their puppet of division, confusion, injustice, ignorance, and unrighteousness. Nonetheless, I will be prayerful that you will not allow your great talents/gifts, your appeal, and your fine church to be used in such a deceitful manner because in closing, Jesus also said in Matthew 6:24, as you are fully aware, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money (Matthew 6:24).”
Respectfully submitted in the spirit of God’s love, peace, and justice,
Curtis E. Gatewood
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he has sent me to heal the broken hearted, preach deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are oppressed and preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19