Sunday, July 20, 2008

DNC chief of staff is preacher of Black Liberation Theology

The New York Times Magazine has a long (natch) profile of Howard Dean's chief of staff and Pentecostal preacher Leah Daughtry, who also happens to be head planner for the Democratic National Convention. It's about what you'd expect, except that, lying doggo among all the little character-defining tidbits in the piece (Daughtry preaches barefoot!) was this:
Behind her as she preached, a simple wooden cross hung on a brick wall in the vaulted and sizable sanctuary of the church, which is headed by her father, Herbert Daughtry. A prison convert who served time in his early 20s for armed robbery and passing bad checks, Herbert Daughtry — whose father founded the church and whose grandfather and great-grandfather were also ministers — became the church’s pastor 50 years ago, and today Leah was delivering the sermon as part of an anniversary celebration. Below the sanctuary, in the fellowship hall, a banner for slavery reparations proclaimed, “They Owe Us.” Fliers recounted Herbert Daughtry’s arrest, a few weeks earlier, as he led marchers protesting the not-guilty verdict in the police killing of Sean Bell, an unarmed black man. His ministry has always combined consuming spirituality with black liberation theology — the theology Jeremiah Wright invoked this spring to defend his controversial sermons — and zealous political activism. Leah holds these forces within her. . . .
She also lets them out quite regularly:
It was this writing (James Cone's The Theology of Black Liberation) that Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s longtime pastor, cited to support the sermons that led Obama to cut ties with Wright in April. Daughtry didn’t want to comment on the sudden distance Obama put between himself and his pastor, except to say that it pained her to see such a meaningful and private relationship come to such a public and distorted end. But she didn’t put any distance between herself and Cone’s book . . .which she suggested I read and which relies on the words of Malcolm X to make its religious arguments. “Some may find it disconcerting,” she replied, when I asked if she feared driving away voters by standing behind ideas that could be deemed radical. “But they are far outnumbered by Americans who are concerned about the disparities. At the basis of black liberation theology is the understanding that God has a special place in His heart for those at the bottom of the ladder.” All colors are clinging there, she said, and went on to talk about the hegemony of corporations, the oppression of the people. “The right of self-determination is the concern. If I do all the right things, I will live a full and abundant life — this should be true. But it’s not. Something’s wrong with the equation. Americans may not call this liberation theology, but they have the sense that things aren’t fair.”
The Times lets her leave it at that. Un. Believable.

Update: The AP is even more craven in a piece on Daughtry that, oddly, was published just yesterday. It mentions her father's involvement with BLT (guess we know why it's never acronymized), but not a word about hers. Didn't she urge the AP's reporter to read Cone, too?

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