SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY'S AMERICA": Reverend Jeremiah Wright came out swinging this week defending his church and teachings, but what exactly is black liberation theology? Now, Wright would like you to believe one thing, but we expose the truth behind the controversial ideology.
HANNITY (voice-over): It started during the 1960s in Latin America. "Liberation theology" is a Christian school of thought that sees Jesus not just as a redeemer, but as a liberator of the oppressed. It is often cited as being a form of "Christian socialism" since it mixes politic and religion. This is where the problems lie. The principle criticism of liberation theology is its embrace of Marxism. Pope Benedict XVI, while he was still a cardinal, strongly opposed radical liberation theology. In fact, the Vatican twice condemned the liberationists' acceptance of Marxism and violence, but just how does this relate to black liberation theology?
Reverend Jeremiah Wright often refers to liberation theology when trying to explain his church's teachings.
REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT, PASTOR EMERITUS, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: In the 1960's, the term liberation theology began to gain currency with the writings and the teachings of preachers, pastors and professors from Latin America. Their theology was done from the underside. Liberation theology started in and started from a different place. It started from the vantage point of the oppressed.
HANNITY: Reverend Rob Schenck is an evangelical minister and is president of the National Clergy Council. Now he's nervous about what implications black liberation theology will have on Christianity as a whole.
REV. BOB SCHENCK, NATIONAL CLERGY COUNCIL: Reverend Wright is absolutely committed to what he calls "black liberation theology." Well, "liberation theology" has its roots in Latin American liberation theology.
And if you ask the average Christian leader in this country, it is way, way outside the mainstream of Christian belief, and, in fact, it's based in Marxism. At the core of his theology is really an anti-Christian understanding of God, and as part of a long history of individuals who actually advocate using violence in overthrowing those they perceive to be oppressing them, even acts of murder have been defended by followers of liberation theology. That's very, very dangerous.
HANNITY: Bruce Fields is a professor of theology at the Divinity School at Trinity International University in Illinois. He specializes in teaching on black liberation theology.
BRUCE FIELDS, LIBERATION THEOLOGY PROFESSOR: There's certain things that have existed historically and remnants still existing that have more or less motivated African-Americans to question their role, question their worth, and what black liberation theology basically comes along and does is say no, you do have worth, you actually do have much to contribute.
HANNITY: But Reverend Jeremiah Wright refuses to acknowledge that this is the case. He even tries to take the ideology one step further in his church.
WRIGHT: In the late 1960's when James Cone's powerful books burst on to the scene, the term "black liberation theology" began to be used. The prophetic tradition of the black church has its roots in Isaiah the 61st chapter where God says the prophet is to preach the gospel to the poor and to set at liberty those who are held captive.
HANNITY: Liberation theologians use one verse in the Bible to support their controversial ideology. They take it from the 61st chapter in the Book of Isaiah. The King James version reads, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
SCHENCK: You need to have a careful, balanced interpretation of the Bible. Liberation theology isolates a few verses, takes them out of context, and then exaggerates their meaning.
HANNITY: But Reverend Jeremiah Wright is not backing down and has not for years and in his strong stance on the teaching of black liberation theology is nothing new. He had the same things to say last spring when he appeared on "Hannity & Colmes:"
WRIGHT: If you're not going to talk about theology in context, if you're not going to talk about liberation theology that came out of the '60s, systematized black liberation theology that started with Jim Cone in 1968 and the writings of Cone and the writings of Dwight Hopkins and the writings of womynist theologians and Asian theologians and Hispanic theologians, then you can't talk about the black value system.
HANNITY: But I'm a — reverend .
WRIGHT: Do you know liberation theology, sir?
HANNITY: But on closely examining James Cone's writings, one discovers how radical and controversial black liberation theology really is. In his book Cone says that black theology and black power offers a clear view of what black liberation theologians believe. James Cone writes that there is a need for "a theology whose sole purpose is to apply the freeing power of the gospel to black people under white oppression."
He goes on to explain that the, "complete emancipation of black people from white oppression by whatever means black people deem as necessary, the methods may include selective buying, boycotting, marching or even rebellion."
He also claims that, "White racism is a disease. No excuse can be made for it. We blacks can only oppose it with every ounce of humanity."
These are the principles upon which Trinity United Church of Christ was founded. FOX News called James Cone but he declined an invitation to appear on the program or to give us a statement.
The controversial ideology that is taught at Trinity United Church of Christ has other churches across the country very concerned. And it was because of this that Reverend Schenk confronted Jeremiah Wright before he spoke at the National Press Club this week.
SCHENCK: I was actually the only person escorted to Dr. Wright. He asked to see me, and I simply welcomed him to Washington, and then I said Dr. Wright, I want to bring you a warning: your embrace of Marxist liberation theology. It is contrary to the Gospel, and you need, sir, to abandon it. And at that he dropped the handshake and made it clear that he was not in the mood to dialogue on that point.
HANNITY: It seems that Jeremiah Wright does not want to have a friendly dialogue on the matter or answer critics' concerns, but it does not matter. Wright's actions explain just how controversial his church really is.
WRIGHT: Our congregation stood in solidarity with the peasants in El Salvador and Nicaragua while our government through Ollie North and the Iran-Contra scandal were supporting the contras who were killing the peasants and the Miskatow Indians in those two countries.
JOSE DIAZ-BALART, TELEMUNDO NETWORK: Liberation theology in Nicaragua in the mid-1980's was a pro-Sandinista, pro-Marxist, anti-U.S., anti-Catholic Church movement. That's it. No ifs, ands, or buts.
His church apparently supported, in the mid-'80s in Nicaragua, groups that supported the Sandinista dictatorships and that were opposed to the Contras whose reason for being was calling for elections. That's all I know. I was there.
HANNITY: Jose Diaz-Balart of the Telemundo Network was stationed in El Salvador and Nicaragua as a war correspondent at the time.
DIAZ-BALART: I saw the churches in Nicaragua that he spoke of, and the churches were churches that talked about the need for violent revolution and I remember clearly one of the major churches in Managua where the altar Jesus Christ on the altar was not Jesus Christ, he was a Sandinista soldier, and the priests talked about the corruption of the West, talked about the need for revolution everywhere, and talked about "the evil empire" which was the United States of America.
HANNITY: These were the people Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his church were supporting? The more we learn about Reverend Jeremiah Wright the more controversial he gets, and the question remains — what else will be uncovered?
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