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Commentary: Wright issue will haunt conservative media elite

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  • Martin says Wright critics should take their own kind to task
  • Right-wing pastors also make questionable statements, Martin says
  • Denunciations of Wright open door to criticism of all religious leaders, Martin says
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By Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor
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Roland Martin says conservative commentators should examine preachers on the right.

(CNN) -- Now that Sen. Barack Obama has denounced his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, many of his critics, especially those who call themselves conservative, are happy he has put the dashiki-wearing, American-criticizing former Marine in his place.

See, these same voices, many that are allegedly Christian, have reacted with glee by calling Wright a prophet of hate and a race baiter.

They hold themselves up to be so concerned about their fellow brother and sister, yet if you looked at their personal lives, I doubt you'd find many with African-American friends and associates (and I doubt their staffs are the most diverse in the world, but that's another story).

But be careful what you ask for.

Now that Wright has set the so-called standard for what isn't acceptable for religious leaders, let's see these same critics take their own kind to task for making absolutely outlandish comments.

But don't stop there. Demand that candidates don't seek counsel from them. Demand that Republican candidates not go to their churches and sit in their pews and accept their contributions. And if elected, make sure those same candidates don't allow them access to the White House or halls of Congress. Turnabout is fair play, and that means guys like the Revs. Pat Robertson and John Hagee should not be sought out for their endorsements, and should be removed from any committees associated with a candidate or a political party.

Oh, I can't wait to get the e-mails from folks who will say, "Yeah, but Obama was a member of the church."

True, very true.

But if the marker is now saying anything unacceptable to the masses, then that should be the standard for any pastor: white, black, male, female, conservative or liberal. And any candidate, member or not.

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I've read many of the columns and listened to the shows of these so-called conservative patriots, and few, if any, have said a word about conservative white pastors who have called for the overthrow of the government for not following Christian values (the late Francis Schaeffer, a little "g" God on the Religious Right), or who have called for the destruction of the Islamic religion of a number of Americans (Pastor Rod Parsley) and folks worldwide.

Over the weekend, Bill Moyers of PBS; E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post; and Frank Rich of The New York Times have all spoken or written about this double standard that exists in America when it comes to who can speak and about what, and they -- all white men -- were focusing on the leeway white pastors are given.

OK, take race out. Take ideology out. If comments Wright made seven years ago are now a part of the standard, let's see these so-called American-loving conservatives use their radio and TV talk shows, columns and Internet platforms to hold their own accountable for their post-September 11 comments.

Trust me, I won't be holding my breath.

Why? Because conservative religious hate has been deemed a winner at the ballot box. In fact, the more you hate, the better chance you have of getting access to the White House for tea or to be feted by the usual assortment of conservative interest groups. What these conservative media elite do is say, "Oh, poor man. The liberals just don't like you."

For them, Wright's "hate" was a stench. Their "hate" comes up smelling like roses. But to every politician, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican: Beware. The die has been cast. The repeated denunciations of Wright will now lead each and every single one of you to have your pastors' oral and written words examined. If even one thing is said that can be construed as criticizing America or deemed hateful, then expect to see it on YouTube and replayed for millions to see. I suggest you go to your pastor now and say, "Please, watch what you say. I don't want to have to denounce you on national television."

To my media pals who are part of the conservative media elite, we'll be watching. And listening. Let's just see if you're as willing to tear apart one of your own.

Trust me, I won't be holding my breath.

Roland S. Martin is a nationally award-winning journalist and CNN contributor. Martin is studying to receive his master's degree in Christian communications at Louisiana Baptist University. You can read more of his columns at http://www.rolandsmartin.com/

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

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