A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 30% of the nation’s Likely Voters believe Barack Obama denounced his former Pastor, Jeremiah Wright, because he was outraged. Most—58%–say he denounced the Pastor for political convenience. The survey was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday night. Obama made his statements about Wright on Tuesday.
Wright held a mini-media tour last weekend capped by a press conference at the National Press Club on Monday. Only 33% of voters believe that Obama was surprised by the views Wright expressed at Monday’s press conference. Fifty-two percent (52%) say he was not surprised.
Fifty-six percent (56%) say it’s at least somewhat likely that Obama “shares some of Pastor Wright’s controversial views about the United States.” That figure includes 26% who say it’s Very Likely Obama holds such views. At the other end of the spectrum 24% say it’s Not Very Likely that Obama shares such views. Just 11% say it’s Not at All Likely.
Just 7% of the nation’s voters agree with Wright’s views of the United States. African-American voters, by a 64% to 12% margin, disagree with Wright. Eighty-one percent (81%) of all voters are following the story somewhat or very closely.
Nine percent (9%) of voters have a favorable opinion of Wright. Eight-one percent (81%) have an unfavorable view. That includes 62% with a Very Unfavorable opinion. As you would expect, there are strong partisan differences on these questions. Generally, Democrats are divided while Republicans take a less charitable view of Obama.
Seventy-four percent (74%) of Republicans believe it’s somewhat or very likely that Obama shares some of Wright’s views. That assessment is shared by 48% of Democrats and 49% of those not affiliated with either major party.
Democrats are evenly divided as to whether or not Obama was surprised by Wright’s comments on Monday. Republicans overwhelmingly reject that notion. Just 36% of Democrats believe outrage was the motivation for Obama to denounce his former Pastor. That view is shared by 38% of unaffiliated voters and 16% of Republicans.
Jeremiah Wright doesn’t believe that God’s purpose for him on this earth is to make white people feel comfortable with him or Barack Obama.His silence is not required by our constitution nor commanded by God or the Obama campaign. He rejects the false litmus test that he’s become and that only Obama must pass so that he is acceptable to a white electorate skittish about electing an African American president.
During the Presidency of Jimmy Carter, the fact remains that Plains Baptist Church refused to be integrated and forced the resignation of the pastor who insisted that it should.Neither Carter’s commitment to the church or his faith were questioned in the same manner that Barack Obama’s church and faith has been.
This litmus test is a racist double standard that should be unacceptable in the twenty-first century and an example of a religious test that our constitution forbids.At the end of the day, Barack Obama can only be held responsible for his own words and record as a politician and not that of an evil old preacher who feeds the homeless, sends hundreds of young people to college and seminary, and voluntarily serves his country when the last two presidents were literally missing in action.
Why Obama strategist David Axelrod continues to act as if Barack has something to apologize for, I’ll never understand.I know in my heart of hearts that if Barack Obama is not acceptable to the White America he claims doesn’t exist because we are supposedly one people, no black person ever will be. Moreover, if Obama throws Wright under the bus as the media has commanded him to do, he’ll accomplish the feat of gaining the whole world while losing his soul.He will also lose my vote again and those of other African Americans like me deeply offended by his passivity in the face of racist attacks against the Black Church.
I voted today and did as I said I would do and voted no preference for the Democratic nomination for President because I am profoundly dismayed and angered by the lack of backbone shown by Barack Obama during the recent attacks upon his faith and the BlackChurch.
I struggled mightily.The twenty minutes I stared at my ballot seemed like an eternity.I went back and forth several times.Surrounded by other blackfolks, I became self-conscious.I wrestled with the lie I told the cheerful White Obama canvasser who ambushed me as I left my home.I then struggled with the commitment that I felt strongly enough to tell all of you about and my twenty-five year desire for a black President.
I teared up a bit and stared at the paper some more.My thoughts drifted to a dear friend’s 25 year-old brother lying comatose in intensive care, the victim of double aneurisms, dangling somewhere between life and death, and I wondered what is so damn wrong with refusing to compromise your core values and living the life God gives you informed by Trinity United Church of Christ’s motto “Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian.”
If the Father gives that boy a second chance at life, as I pray he does, I have no doubt that he will live his life to the fullest and without regrets. He comes from a proud Nigerian household and their love and commitment to each other is uniquely powerful. It makes me proud to know his sister and count her as one of my dearest friends.Their pride in their heritage makes them stronger as black people and as a family. It is unfathomable to me why Obama, a son East Africa, is afraid to embrace the power of his black religious heritage and stand on what I know he believes but refuses to confess to White America.
And yes, contrary to his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech, there is a White America and a Black America. And they are separate and unequal because we are not one people and never have been.
I watched Bill Moyers interview with Dr. Wright last night and heard nothing a reasonable person who understands the depth of African American suffering and the shame of our country’s history of slavery, genocide, and Jim Crow could be offended by.
Still grappling with my decision, I remembered Obama’s Friday presser. Senator Obama continued to distance himself from his Pastor of two decades yesterday by continuing the use of his weasel word mantra of “profound disagreement” over Dr. Wright’s, “objectionable” comments and why he and White America, “took offense.”I marked my ballot, smiled at the sistah who took my name and gave me ballot, and strode confidently back to my car.
Y’all should be pleased to know that I have started going to church again. I am sampling a straight laced Episcopalian Church now. The bourgeois Negro congregation I started to attend has a Jazz Mass. Being the aficionado that I am; I just wanted to see what the fuss was about. The brothas were tight and the selections were appropriate. The people were friendly, almost alarmingly so. The older folk were pleased to see a younger brotha with twists come and worship the Lord.
I hadn’t been to an Episcopal Mass in nearly thirty years. The last time was my great grandmother’s church in Florida. All I can remember is the priest’s white vestments and his swinging that ball thing with the smoke that comes out as he said a homily.
The priest of this patrician Negro congregation is a woman and sistahfriend made it her business to say, before launching into the text of her sermon, that she intended to be controversial in preaching the word. If there was any congregant concerned about their budding political career, now was a good time to raise up and tip out.
All in all, it was an interesting cultural experience for a working class brotha raised Baptist. Going to church every other week is about all I can handle at the moment and this coming weekend is my Sunday. I’ll report back anything interesting.
I have been angry for a week now and I have heard from you. Y’all gave me much to consider and digest. Wrestling with this has been very, very difficult and gut wrenching. At times I’ve felt that I just needed to let my anger go, embrace the moment, and savor this history making candidacy for all that its worth. Conversely, I’ve thought that this brotha is little more than a Democratic and neoliberal version of Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, the doublemint twins of right-wing imperialist deception.
Appeasing skittish and racially ambivalent whites that deliberately insult the integrity and prophetic vision of the black church doesn’t work for me. Disassociating from Jeremiah Wright by telling a nationally televised audience that you would not have felt comfortable enough in your church of twenty years to stay if your pastor hadn’t retired just doesn’t work for me.
I want to support this brotha so badly, but I have gone as far as I can. I can’t do it anymore and feel good about it. I’ve decided to vote uncommitted in the North Carolina Democratic primary in protest. Moreover, as of today, I formally withdraw my support of Barack Obama for the Democratic Nomination for President, my bitter opposition to Senator Clinton notwithstanding, and will leave the Democratic Party to become an Independent.
In case you were wondering, I have been this way for a number of years and refused to support Bill Clinton because of his lack of candor and respect for the black community on the Death Penalty in 1992. I actively supported Jerry Brown.
The vast majority of you will never agree with me, I concede that, but I am a race man through and through and this is about respect. If a politician doesn’t respect us, they can never really represent us. It’s just that simple. I’ve made no decision about the fall. I’ll let y’all know.But for today, I decline to support Barack Obama.
I haven’t been in the mood for writing and am still recovering from Obama’s comments last Friday.The depth and seriousness of the comments y’all left were impressive. We even heard from a thoughtful member of Obama’s church.I haven’t reached a final decision but I will probably just sit this one out. I cannot feign enthusiasm.I just don’t have the energy.Rikyrah, I heard you loud and clear and remain unconvinced.Andrea, you smelled bullsh*t over two weeks ago and told us so, thanks.
“Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn’t have felt comfortable staying at the church,” –Barack Obama on The View, Friday morning.
What is he saying?I know he didn’t just do this after people like me, Hell, the whole of the African Diaspora, has come to the defense of his pastor.I need somebody to help me-Now.OMIGAWD.Please, Jesus.Tell me that I didn’t just read this on Huffington Post and TPM.Lord, tell me that this is just a surreal nightmare.What has this all been for if he cannot go the extra mile and continue to defend Dr. Wright while giving whitefolks the “disagreement” that they need to hear? Why did he cross the line, Lord?Why.
I don’t know if I can forgive this tacit acknowledgement that the round the clock, racist smear campaign against Dr. Wright and the Black Church had merit.I am so angry with Barack right now that I don’t know if I can continue my support.Talk to me.
Today, Hillary said that Jeremiah Wright wouldn’t have been her pastor. No sh*t, really?I’m stunned.You coulda fooled me, I thought she loved the black church and “don’t feel no ways tired” of being racially condescending to black folks.
Honestly though, I am stunned by her audacity and hypocrisy regarding the man who was called to the White House on September 11, 1998 to give “spiritual counseling” to a president engulfed by scandal and exposed as a liar and serial philanderer. Dr. Wright was apparently good enough to be a Black religious prop in a public relations fraud then and too damaged to be a Black minister of the gospel and Pastor to Barack Obama now.
After remaining mute for over a damn week, why say anything at all?Perhaps it was because she felt the need to deflect attention away from her bogus little Bosnia war story. What story, Skeptical Brotha?It’s the story you haven’t seen run in a continuous loop on every networks freakin’ programs for a week in a calculated effort to poison the electorate against her.
Last week, Senator Clinton told a tall tale of her legendary heroism and foreign policy cachet, “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”
Somebody attempted to assassinate the First Lady of the United States in a damn foreign country and this is the first we’re hearing of it?Wow.Move over Zena, there is a new warrior princess in town. What a piece of work.As Barack Obama is being mauled by a racist, duplicitous and rabid press corps over something somedbody else said, the warrior princess is allowed to escape accountability for a week for lying to their faces about her so-called “foreign policy experience.” Now that’s a double standard worth discussing. Quick, somebody go find Geraldine Ferraro.
Deliberately misled by the corporate media, people have fallen for the “mash-up” of video clips of several sermons of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright which attempt to defame, deceive and misinform people about the life, ministry, and character of Barack Obama’s pastor and by extension Obama himself.
This is nothing more than a propaganda trick and transparent hatchet job and one, which some ignorant Negroes and many Whites have fallen for. I resent the criticism engendered and the disavowal that political expedience required of Barack Obama.In an effort to inform, I offer you a fuller depiction of the sermons in question by Dr. Wright and leave it to you to judge for yourself.
If you are so inclined, share these sermons with some brain dead Negro content to sit like a child in front of the idiot box and perhaps the scales will fall from their eyes when they realize the truth. If they don’t realize that these attacks are attacks against the prophetic black church and those who believe in God’s truth, then they are truly lost.
(Obama sets the record straight on Race, Religion, and his Pastor)
Having absorbed all of the calumny, reprobation, and histrionics I can stand regarding Barack Obama, Trinity United Church of Christ and its former Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, I can be silent no more.
Having failed to make the manufactured Farrakhan smear stick, Obama’s tormentors have succeeded in distorting Jeremiah Wright into his horrifyingly racist doppelganger.
First, let me say that Barack Obama’s “denunciation” of some of Dr. Wright’s justifiable indignation about America’s hypocrisy regarding race, war, and Hillary Clinton, left a bad taste in my mouth, a very bad taste indeed.
Obama, the Junior Senator from Illinois, has labored mightily to run a campaign which focuses on that which unites rather than that which divides because it is a reflection of the way he has lived his life and made his career as an organizer, lawyer, state legislator, senator, and presidential candidate. He hasn’t always met that goal.His unequivocal support of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of innocent Lebanese civilians in 2006 and his failure to adequately address the Clinton campaign’s deliberate and repeated attempts to racially polarize Democrats reflect his craven accommodations to America’s racial hypocrisy.
A sistah named Cassandra from Michigan emailed me saying, “For the first time I don’t care whether or not he wins if he must shed his spirituality and dilute his soul to neutralize the stench and sting of truth that so many White Americans refuse to acknowledge…The hypocrisy and denial of how racism is destroying the integrity of working class and poor American blacks, whites, Latinos, Arabs and Asians is the seam that is dividing and will eventually shred the Democratic Party.”
Americans talk a good game, but in the end, as Jesse Jackson before him, he is being held to a racist double standard that previous white Presidents and Presidential Candidates were not held too.
Barack Obama’s religious affiliation with Trinity United Church of Christ is an affirmation of his own bi-racial heritage as the son of a Kenyan and white Kansan.To say that his membership in the United Church of Christ, a predominantly white denomination created in 1957 from the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical Reform Church is somehow suspect or racist is both ludicrous and false.
Trinity United Church of Christ is both integrated and welcoming of all people-including gays and lesbians.When Hillary Clinton’s denomination, the United Methodist Church, sent conflicting signals over the issue of homosexuality and restricting the role of gay clergy and the ability of gay congregants to have their unions blessed in the Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ went in the opposite direction in affirming its covenant with gay clergy and parishioners. Years before then, Wright established an AIDS ministry and a singles ministry for gay and lesbian congregants.
Lisa Miller, writing in Newsweek said, “As a leader, Wright defied convention at every turn. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year, he recalled a time during the 1970s when the UCC decided to ordain gay and lesbian clergy. At its annual meeting, sensitive to the historic discomfort some blacks have with homosexuality, gay leaders reached out to black pastors.”
“At that session, Wright heard the testimony of a gay Christian and, he said, he had a conversion experience on gay rights. He started one of the first AIDS ministries on the South Side and a singles group for Trinity gays and lesbians—a subject that still rankles some of the more conservative Trinity members, says Dwight Hopkins, a theology professor at the University of Chicago and a church member.”
Given the hatred and venom spewed forth in too many black pulpits toward black gays and lesbians, Dr. Wright stands out as enlightened, inclusive, and welcoming.But he would have to be in order to grow the church from 80 to 8000 members in three decades. Dr. Wright is the opposite from the bitter, angry, and bigoted portrait the corporate media has fashioned.
Come on, people.Do you really believe that a “black racist” would choose a 90% white denomination in which to plant his flag or are you just some kind of a damn moron engaged in a typical form of racist projection.I defy anyone to name one integrated, gay-friendly, mainline, protestant, predominately African American congregation you’ve ever stepped foot in where you’ve experienced hatred. I know damn well that nobody can because there is no such thing. Are you seriously scared of a moderate, bi-racial politician who bends over backwards to be inclusive, mainstream and non-threatening?Please.
Don’t fall for the right-wing attack campaign launched by Fox News and its corporate mimics.
Obama’s rise to prominence has been swift but it is not unlike that of another little known state politician who rose to prominence over thirty years ago, Jimmy Carter.Carter, you’ll recall was a born-again Baptist layman who also made common cause with all people regardless of race, religion, or background in order to heal the nation after Watergate.During the first months of his presidency in 1977, his home congregation, the Plains Baptist Church, of Plains, GA, forced out Pastor Bruce Edwards, because he sought, with the support of the President, to integrate the church.
During the waning days of the Presidential campaign, a black minister and “publicity seeker,” Rev. Clennon King, challenged the official policy of the church forbidding “Negroes and other civil rights agitators,” from membership. I find no record of the firestorm of criticism we see regarding Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright. Nobody called on him to resign his membership or denounce the racially prejudiced people with whom he had lived his entire life.
Plotting a middle ground, the church, following Carter’s lead, denied Rev. King membership.The final straw, however, came after Pastor Edwards and his wife adopted a half-Hawaiian child.According to the President’s brother Billy, it was bad enough that the pastor was a liberal integrationist, but adopting the “tan-skinned” child was “99 per cent of the preacher’s problem,” wrote Margaret Montagno in Newsweek.
The Plains Baptist Church subsequently changed its policy in word, but not in deed.Nicholas King, writing in the New Republic said, “The ‘opening’ of the Plains Baptist Church was achieved last fall under the leadership of the Carter family…But there was opposition to the opening from the church’s old guard, and the only black face in the congregation the Sunday Jimmy Carter first returned to Plains as President belonged to a Secret Service man.” After he left the presidency, Jimmy Carter left the church and joined with former Plains Baptist Church members at Maranatha Baptist Church.The small congregation of 135 opens its doors to 12,000 visitors a year to hear the President teach Sunday School. A few years ago, Carter also left the hopelessly right-wing Southern Baptist Convention.
According to the Los Angeles Times, during the 1980 presidential campaign, in the midst of a conservative tide taking over the Southern Baptist Convention, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bailey Smith, proclaimed, “God almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.”Again, nothing was heard from the media calling on President Carter to renounce the convention of which he was a member or for then Governor Ronald Reagan, who had addressed the same gathering of evangelicals in Dallas that same day to renounce the divisive and anti-Semitic statement of a right-wing supporter. The Washington Post covered the story on page F10 on September 26, 1980.The New York Times covered the story on three occasions and A 18 was the closet it came.
Lastly, can anybody recount for me the media firestorm over Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani.Refresh my memory about how many times the clip of the Religious Broadcaster andBaptist Minister advocating the assassination of the president of Venezuela, a supplier of oil to the United States, was run on Fox News and the rest of the corporate media in denunciation of Giuliani.How many times did they run the clip of Robertson agreeing with Jerry Falwell about the proper blame for 9/11 on abortions and gays and lesbians in a manner meant to accuse Giuliani of intolerance?
Today, nothing is materially different for the Hawaiian bred Barack Obama than it was for the half-Hawaiian son of Jimmy Carter’s Pastor. America, like Plains Baptist Church, has the same problem and like Jeremiah Wright has pointed out eloquently for thirty-six years as Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, race is 99 per cent of it.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., condemned racially charged sermons by his former pastor Friday and urged Americans not to reject his presidential campaign because of “guilt by association.”
Obama’s campaign announced that the minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., had left its spiritual advisory committee after videotapes of his sermons again ignited fierce debate in news accounts and political blogs.
Obama did not clarify whether Wright volunteered to leave his African American Religious Leadership Committee, a loose group of supporters associated with the campaign, or whether the campaign asked him to leave.
“I think there was recognition that he’s obviously on the verge of retirement, [that] he’s taking a sabbatatical and that it was important for him to step out of the spotlight in this situation,” Obama said.
Wright was the latest in a series of advisers to Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who have stepped aside as supporters of both candidates trade racially charged accusations.
Obama rejects comments Obama spoke warmly of Wright, who retired last month as pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Wright is a man “I’ve known for 17 years, [who] helped bring me to Jesus, helped bring me to church,” he said.
“I strongly condemn” Wright’s statements, but “I would not repudiate the man,” Obama said. “He’s been preaching for 30 years. He’s a man who was a former Marine, a biblical scholar, someone who’s spoken at theological schools all over the country.
“That’s the man I know,” Obama said. “That’s the man who was the pastor of this church.”
But Obama acknowledged that “there’s no doubt this is going to be used as political fodder, as it has been in the past.”
“What I hope is [that] what the American people will trust is what I believe,” he said, that “my values, my ideas, what I’ve spoke about in terms of bringing the country together will override a guilt by association.”
But the sermons, at least one of which was delivered long before Wright retired last month, revived uncomfortable questions about Obama’s ties to the minister, whom conservative critics have accused of advocating black separatism.
A videotape of one sermon captures Wright using a harsh racial epithet to argue that Clinton could not understand the struggles of African Americans.
“Barack knows what it means, living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people,” Wright said on Christmas Day of last year. “Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain’t never been called a [N-word]!”
In another sermon, delivered five days after the 9/11 attacks, Wright seems to imply that the United States had brought the terrorist violence on itself.
“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York, and we never batted an eye,” Wright says. “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is brought right back in our own front yards.”
In a later sermon, Wright revisits the theme, declaring: “No, no, no, not God bless America — God damn America!”
Obama: I didn’t hear inflammatory sermons Obama took the title of his 2006 autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope,” from a sermon by Wright, who baptized him and officiated at his wedding. He has called Wright “a sounding board for me to make sure that I am speaking as truthfully about what I believe as possible.”
In his remarks on MSNBC, Obama expanded on a brief posting that was made under his name earlier Friday afternoon on the Huffington Post Web site.
“The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation,” the posting said, adding that over the years, “Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life.
“In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he’s been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.”
Obama wrote that he had known of similar statements by Wright over the years, which he strongly condemned. He wrote that he chose to remain in the church because “Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community.”
Clinton adviser gives Obama a pass There was no formal reaction from the Clinton campaign, but Lanny Davis, a senior adviser, said he took Obama at his word.
“I give Senator Obama completely — completely — the benefit of the doubt that he has nothing to do with this bigotry that’s being spewed forth by this man,” Davis said on MSNBC’s “Tucker.” “For me, that’s all he has to say.
“I think we should stop this guilt-by-association thing, because some of our supporters say stupid things,” Davis said.
But the videos created a firestorm among political observers and commentators.
“Mr. Obama obviously would not choose to belong to Mr. Wright’s church and seek his advice unless he agreed with at least some of his views,” Wall Street Journal columnist Ron Kessler, publisher of the conservative Web site NewsMax.com, wrote Friday.
Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of the Web site of the conservative magazine National Review, wrote Friday that “now we know he’s contributed money to, voluntarily listened to, and publicly defended a cleric who peddles racial warfare.”
Others saw an attempt to “smear” Obama.
“How come righteous Republicans are rarely asked about the views of their spiritual advisers? Or why wasn’t George W. Bush (and the presidents preceding him) forced to distance himself from the anti-semitic comments of Billy Graham?” Ari Berman wrote Friday on the Web site of the liberal magazine The Nation, for which he is a contributing writer.
I am a little spent today and not able to be coherent. But did y’all see Keith Olbermann last night? He gets it. He gets it. Somebody send him a certificate of Negro membership. He tore Senator Clinton, a woman he respects and admires, a new one last night over Geraldine Ferraro’s racial remark about Barack Obama. Ain’t seen nothin’ like that in a minute. I’ve watched it over and over and I can’t get over how thoroughly he sets the record straight. I am in awe.
On another note, folks are blowing me up looking for Barack Obama’s Pastor, Jeremiah Wright. The Senior Pastor of Obama’s church made some comments that are getting attacked. What do you think?
OBAMA SPEAKS FOR HIMSELF
Hat Tip: Huffington Post
The pastor of my church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who recently preached his last sermon and is in the process of retiring, has touched off a firestorm over the last few days. He’s drawn attention as the result of some inflammatory and appalling remarks he made about our country, our politics, and my political opponents.Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.
Because these particular statements by Rev. Wright are so contrary to my own life and beliefs, a number of people have legitimately raised questions about the nature of my relationship with Rev. Wright and my membership in the church. Let me therefore provide some context.
As I have written about in my books, I first joined Trinity United Church of Christ nearly twenty years ago. I knew Rev. Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago. He also led a diverse congregation that was and still is a pillar of the South Side and the entire city of Chicago. It’s a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS.
Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he’s been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.
The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.
Let me repeat what I’ve said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.
With Rev. Wright’s retirement and the ascension of my new pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, III, Michelle and I look forward to continuing a relationship with a church that has done so much good. And while Rev. Wright’s statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States.
For two hours, I talked with you about how idealistic he was. For two hours I shared with you what a genuine human being he was. I told you how incredible he was as a man who was an African American in public service, and as a man who refused to announce his candidacy for President until Carol Moseley Braun indicated one way or the other whether or not she was going to run.
I told you what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn’t I think it would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who not only knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own family? I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have a man who knew what Sufism was; a man who understood that there were different branches of Judaism; a man who knew the difference between Hasidic Jews, Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews and Reformed Jews; and a man who was a devout Christian, but who did not prejudge others because they believed something other than what he believed.
I talked about how rare it was to meet a man whose Christianity was not just “in word only.” I talked about Barack being a person who lived his faith and did not argue his faith. I talked about Barack as a person who did not draw doctrinal lines in the sand nor consign other people to hell if they did not believe what he believed.
Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack’s spiritual journey and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that. When I told you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible as to how God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?,” that Barack was like that when I met him. Barack had it “in his hand.” Barack had in his grasp a uniqueness in terms of his spiritual development that one is hard put to find in the 21st century, and you did not print that.
As I was just starting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack’s taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed “sound byte” and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy.
I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before, and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve of it and will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the integrity or the character of perhaps this nation’s first (and maybe even only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to occupy the Oval Office.
Your editor is a sensationalist. For you to even mention that makes me doubt your credibility, and I am looking forward to see how you are going to butcher what else I had to say concerning Senator Obama’s “Spiritual Biography.” Our Conference Minister, the Reverend Jane Fisler Hoffman, a white woman who belongs to a Black church that Hannity of “Hannity and Colmes” is trying to trash, set the record straight for you in terms of who I am and in terms of who we are as the church to which Barack has belonged for over twenty years.
The president of our denomination, the Reverend John Thomas, has offered to try to help you clarify in your confused head what Trinity Church is even though you spent the entire weekend with us setting me up to interview me for what turned out to be a smear of the Senator; and yet The New York Times continues to roll on making the truth what it wants to be the truth. I do not remember reading in your article that Barack had apologized for listening to that bad information and bad advice. Did I miss it? Or did your editor cut it out? Either way, you do not have to worry about hearing anything else from me for you to edit or “spin” because you are more interested in journalism than in truth.
Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the Republican Party’s national “blog.” The New York Times played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New York Times had actually repented and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior.
Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana. Maybe it was my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever it is or was, I was sadly mistaken. There is no repentance on the part of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times. You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my face and told me a lie!