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The current Senior Pastor at Foundry United Methodist, the church the Clinton's attended during Bill's presidency, has come out in support of Obama's former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  What about Phil Wogaman, the pastor there during the Clinton administration? So far Phil (now retired) hasn't made a public statement on the matter. However, it should be noted that Wogaman faced a similar controversy in the 90s, and he was in the position that Wright now occupies--vilified former pastor of a presidential candidate.

Right-wingers successfully pressured Bob Dole, then a member of Foundry, to leave the church.

Former CIA employee Mark Tooley, hired by the right-wing Institute on Religion and Democracy to attack the United Methodist Church's social agenda, launched a vitriolic charge against that church in a 1996 mailing to thousands of its members. He avoided sending his mailing to officials of the church; it was an attempt to influence the laity just ahead of the church's quadrennial conference in April.

Tooley wrote in the spring 1993 IRD periodical that, at a service attended by Senator and Mrs. Dole, Wogaman "asked listeners to oppose the Republican Contract with America." According to Tooley, this announcement was "anti-Republican." As a matter of fact, Wogaman did not attack the Republicans. A three-page document which was available in the church's social hall merely suggested study of the contract's ten points along with pertinent positions of the United Methodist Church on such issues as poverty and the separation of church and state. There was no reference, as Tooley claimed, to opposing Republican policy; instead, Wogaman's brief paper suggested "study, reflection, and prayerful analysis."

Any of this sound familiar? How about this gem?

The IRD provided the always helpful Cal Thomas with a copy of Tooley's article, which called Wogaman "left of center." Tooley also wrote an article for the right-wing journal, The American Spectator, attacking the pastor, specifically targeting the Doles with the question: "What must Foundry's parishioners Bob and Elizabeth Dole think?" Not long after that, the Doles left Foundry to attend National Presbyterian Church. Tooley had won his first big battle for "reform."

It should be noted that I know Phil Wogaman quite well and he is a fine human being who happens to lean to the left but who promotes respect across the political and theological spectrum, which is why George McGovern, the Clintons and the Doles all attended the church together until Dole was pressured to leave.

I have considered contacting Phil to ask if he would be willing to weigh in on this, but I haven't so far since I've been so remiss about keeping in touch in general.  It's hard for me to believe, though, that he would throw Wright under the bus after what happened to him. He was smeared in the press by right-wing columnist Cal Thomas at the time, in spite of being a fine person who was the leader of a wonderful congregation.

Originally posted to notksanymore on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 10:35 AM PDT.

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