New York Times, May 2, 2008, page 1A: “People get fired up when they see people trying to scapegoat a presidential candidate because of a pastor,” said the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro and the president of the state branch of the NAACP. “And No. 2, the fact that you’re beating up on someone that’s very profound and very prophetic.”
Pastors like Dr. Barber are teaching quizzical parishioners about Mr. Wright’s place in the prophetic tradition, a style of preaching that combines spiritual guidance with often harsh social criticism and has its roots in Old Testament prophets.
While the congregation is learning the background of Mr. Wright’s sermons, Dr. Barber said, church members have expressed anger over their belief that Mr. Wright’s words have been twisted and taken out of context in the campaign.
“Like this ad that has come out in our state that has taken a snippet of a sermon of Wright,” Dr. Barber said, referring to a television advertisement from the state Republican Party that ties the Democratic candidates for governor to Mr. Obama and, by extension, to Mr. Wright. “It’s a form of race baiting, and many of them have seen it before.”
An article in the News and Observer, "Black in America: Two Visions, Two Themes," by Yonat Shimron also quoted Rev. Barber on the conflict between Rev. Wright and Senator Obama:
"God uses the preacher-prophet as a prosecutor to shock the sensibilities of the nation," said Rev. Barber. "It's not done out of hate but out of love, in hopes that the nation turns."
Barber pointed out that King, though he is remembered for preaching nonviolence, said provocative things, too.
"Everyone jumped on King when he said Vietnam was wrong," Barber said. "Now we look back and say he was right."
Winston Salem Chronicle: It is always the obligation of the pastor to speak the truth, even if his words are not well received, Barber said, referencing passages from the Old Testament’s Book of Amos. “If you’re not holding the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other hand saying, ‘Thus says the Lord,’ then what are you really preaching?” he boomed. “Preachers have to find the courage and the willingness to speak out.”
- "Finding Where Truth, Grace Intersect," by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrave