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Obama's Church

At the core of the Democratic front-runner's faith -- whether lapsed Muslim, new Christian or some mixture of the two -- is African nativism, which raises political issues of its own.

In 1991, when Obama joined the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, he pledged allegiance to something called the Black Value System, which is a code of non-Biblical ethics written by blacks, for blacks.

It encourages blacks to group together and separate from the larger American society by pooling their money, patronizing blackonly businesses and backing black leaders. Such racial separatism is strangely at odds with the media's portrayal of Obama as a uniter who reaches across races.

The code also warns blacks to avoid the white "entrapment of black middle-classness," suggesting that settling for that kind of "competitive" success will rob blacks of their African identity and keep them "captive" to white culture.

In short, Obama's "unashamedly black" church preaches the politics of black nationalism. And its dashiki-wearing preacher -- who married Obama and his wife and now acts as his personal spiritual adviser -- is militantly Afrocentric. "We are an African people," the Rev. Jeremiah Wright reminds his flock, "and remain true to our native land, the mother continent."

Wright once traveled to Libya with black supremacist Louis Farrakhan to meet with terrorist leader Muammar Qaddafi. Last year at a Chicago gala, Wright honored his old pal Farrakhan, who's fond of calling whites "blue-eyed devils," for lifetime achievement.

It comes as little surprise then that Wright would think Israel a "racist" occupier of Palestinians, while describing the 9/11 attacks as a "wake-up call" to "white America" for ignoring the concerns of "people of color."

Wright makes the Rev. Jesse Jackson look almost moderate and patriotic. Yet this is whom Obama picked to baptize his daughters, plus to act as his "sounding board" during his presidential run.

The candidate already has heeded his church's "nonnegotiable commitment to Africa," spending an inordinate amount of his campaign time on the Kenyan crisis, for one. Obama has close family ties to Kenya, and even founded a school in his ancestral village -- the Senator Obama School.

In the bloody conflict there, which already has claimed some 700 lives, Obama appears to have sided with opposition leader Raila Odinga, head of the same Luo tribe to which Obama's late Muslim father belonged.

Obama's older brother still lives there. Abongo "Roy" Obama is a Luo activist and a militant Muslim who argues that the black man must "liberate himself from the poisoning influences of European culture." He urges his younger brother to embrace his African heritage.

Beyond family politics, these ties have potential foreign policy, even national security, implications.

Odinga is a Marxist who reportedly has made a pact with a hardline Islamic group in Kenya to establish Shariah courts throughout the country. He has also vowed to ban booze and pork and impose Muslim dress codes on women -- moves favored by Obama's brother.

With al-Qaida strengthening its beachheads in Africa -- from Algeria to Sudan to Somalia -- the last thing the West needs is for pro-Western Kenya to fall into the hands of Islamic extremists.

Yet Obama interrupted his New Hampshire campaigning to speak by phone with Odinga, who claims to be his cousin. He did not speak with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

Would Obama put African tribal or family interests ahead of U.S. interests?

It's a valid question, and one voters deserve to have debated regardless of the racial and religious sensitivities. Thanks to a media blackout of these issues, the electorate has yet to benefit from a thorough vetting of Obama.

We have to wonder how much of the national agenda Africa would consume under an Obama administration. Of the six "world threats" Obama lists in stump speeches, at least half of them concern that chronically troubled Third World continent.

Yes, some of his African priorities are noble, such as fighting AIDS and genocide. But how much U.S. aid, resources and presidential time would he devote to them? How much is enough? If Bill Clinton was America's "first black president," would Barack Hussein Obama be our first president for Africa?

Then there is the issue of his Muslim past. Obama, 47, was raised by two Muslim fathers and attended Islamic classes in Indonesia.

He denies being Muslim, however, and says he "embraced Christ" while answering the altar call 20 years ago at Trinity. (Contrary to anonymous e-mail rumors circulating, Obama never took the oath of office on the Quran. He used a Bible, and Vice President Dick Cheney swore him in during his Senate ceremony.)

This merely raises another concern, beyond that of the controversial church he chose to baptize him. If Obama were ever Muslim, even as a youth, he would now be viewed as an apostate, which in radical Islam is punishable by death. As Mideast expert Daniel Pipes has noted, a President Obama could be the target of a fatwah.

Still, his Muslim heritage is not the signal issue before the electorate. It's his Afrocentric church, which preaches black socialism and black nativism, and his family ties to an African tribe that's fanning the flames of Marxism and militant Islam in a country once considered strongly democratic and a friend of the U.S.

"I believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change," Obama has asserted. He also says his faith has led him to question "the idolatry of the free market."

If a President Obama's foreign and domestic policies are anything like the Afrocentric doctrine he's pledged to uphold, Americans will pay a hefty price, including those among the growing black middle class.

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