But she had a healthy skepticism of religion as an institution. We can recognize the truth that's at the heart of the UCC: that the conversation is not over; that our roles are not defined; that through ancient texts and modern voices, God is still speaking, challenging us to change not just our own lives, but the world around us. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race.
They stood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, as the blows of billy clubs rained down. And it offends our conscience. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed. She's the one who taught me about hard work.
Religious leaders like my friends Rev. Jim Wallis and Rabbi David Saperstein and Nathan Diament are working for justice and fighting for change. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow. It is that promise that has always set this country apart - that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it.
They held vigils across this country when four little girls were killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church. Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
So let's rededicate ourselves to a new kind of politics - a politics of conscience. We the people, in order to form a more perfect union." We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one."
Thank you, and God bless America.