All Candidates Must Renounce Extremists

There are so many important issues for the American people and politicians to pay attention to this election season. Sadly, many people are avoiding productive debate of those issues and are instead seeking to divide our nation along racial and religious lines.

As soon as Sen. Barack Obama announced his presidential candidacy, there were those who attacked him over his middle name Hussein and even falsely claimed that he is a Muslim. Unfortunately, while clarifying his faith, Obama has been slow to repudiate the growing Islamophobia that is at the heart of the religious smears.

More recently, Obama’s opponents attacked him using past inflammatory quotes from his pastor’s sermons. The senator was ultimately forced to repudiate those remarks.

Pastor Wright, seven years ago in his sermon harshly criticized the U.S.

In that sermon on the Sunday after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Wright suggested the United States brought on the attacks. “We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye,” Wright said. “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

In a 2003 sermon, he said blacks should condemn the United States. “God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human,” Wright said.

Wright, who retired from his post last month, brought Obama to Christianity, officiated at his wedding, baptized his daughters and inspired the title of his book, The Audacity of Hope. Wright had stepped down from his campaign’s African American Religious Leadership Committee.

What the pastor said was wrong. But what do his statements have to do with Obama?

Now comes televangelist Rod Parsley, an ally of Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Parsley has called for eradicating the "false religion" of Islam. One of Parsley’s venomous books is "Silent No More," in which he warns of a "war between Islam and Christian civilization."

Parsley goes on to state: "The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.

"It was to defeat Islam, among other dreams, that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492. Columbus dreamed of defeating the armies of Islam with the armies of Europe made mighty by the wealth of the New World. It was this dream that, in part, began America."

Another evangelical leader who has endorsed McCain, Rev. John Hagee, has been accused of making anti-Catholic statements. Will McCain repudiate both of these religious leaders?

We have two candidates of two different parties whose moral conscience is so different from each other. On one hand is Obama, who rightfully repudiated the remarks of his pastor. On the other hand we have McCain, who accepts the endorsement of men who cash in big time by teaching bigotry and misguiding their followers.

Hate hurts America. Candidates of all political stripes should show some backbone by renouncing extremists and showing us they are not afraid to take a stance for truth and justice.