Barack Obama - Reverend Jeremiah Wright

Last Updated : Jul 15, 2010

Background

Reverend Jeremiah Wright served as the Head Pastor at the Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) in Chicago from March 1971 to March 2008, taking the church from a small congregation of less than 250 members to a mega-church with approximately 8500 members.  The church practices a form of Christianity which it calls Black Liberation Theology, which is to say that the life of Jesus Christ is a metaphor for the struggle of the African and African American people.  The about page of the church describes itself in the following manner:

The Church expresses an adherence to the "Black Value System" and describes this value system in the following manner:

 

Association between the Church, Reverend Wright, and President Obama

Barack Obama began attending TUCC in 1988 after moving to Chicago to become a community organizer.  After graduating from Harvard Law School and returning to Chicago, Barack became a member of Trinity in 1992. In his 1995 memoir "Dreams from my Father" Barack states that Reverend Wright impressed him as he spoke of "the audacity of hope" in times of suffering.  Over the next decade, Reverend Wright would marry Barack and Michelle Obama, bless their children, and provide spiritual support for Senator Obama while Senator Obama would draw on the phrase "The Audacity of Hope" as the title to his next book.  

Senator Obama gave a speech at TUCC near the beginning of his Presidential campaign and when questioned about his relationship with Reverend Wright in MSNBC made the following statement:

 

Controversial Statements

In March of 2008, ABC News ran a story describing the nature of the Church that (then Senator) Obama was a member.  Excerpts of speeches from Reverend Wright were shown in the report.  Most of the controversial statements were taken from two sermons titled "The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall" and "Confusing God and Government".

From "The Day of Jerusalem's Fall" delivered days after the September 11 attacks:

 

 

From "Confusing God and Government":

 

 

 

 

The video below is the ABC News report that aired in March of 2008, and was one of the first stories to break concerning Reverend Wright and (Senator) Obama.

 

After these initial remarks surfaced, further remarks were discovered by various new outlets which show the Reverend through the years using derogatory comments towards African Americans who either serve in the Bush administration or have conservative view points, he compared the actions of the terrorist group Al Qaeda to those of the US but under a different flag, spoke of Senator Hillary Clinton in demeaning terms, and others as seen in the videos below.

 

Senator Obama's Response

Initially, Senator Obama stated that he had never heard Reverend Wright make statements which were controversial in nature and stated the following:

In the subsequent weeks after the sermons from Trinity were released, Senator Obama recanted stating:

In another interview, Senator Obama stated that Reverend Wright was like:

During an interview with Bill O'Reilly, Senator Obama was specifically asked if he had ever heard Reverend Wright say that white people were bad, and he responded no.   However, in his book Dreams from my Father, Obama had quoted Reverend Wright as saying in a sermon:

 

As more and more questions began to mount concerning the relationship between candidate Obama and Reverend Wright, Senator Obama gave a speech on race titled "A More Perfect Union".  In this speech, Senator Obama discussed the divisions between the races which were created due to the racist laws of the past and how those divisions have influenced the beliefs and behaviors of Reverend Wright and the black community as a whole.

Despite the continued shows of support, Senator Obama had begun to distance himself from Reverend Wright prior to the surfacing of the sermon tapes when he called him the night before the February 2007 announcement of Obama's presidential candidacy to withdraw his request that Reverend Wright deliver an invocation at the event.  A spokesperson for the Obama campaign later said,

 

Subsequent Appearances by Reverend Wright

As time passed, the controversy surrounding the Church, Reverend Wright, and Senator Obama began to fade.  In an April 25, 2008 interview with Bill Moyers, Reverend Wright attempted to explain the clips shown in various news reports as taken out of context, but the interview did little to either nullify of inflame the controversy.

On April 27, Reverend Wright delivered a sermon to 4000 at the Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, and then gave a keynote address at a fundraising dinner for the Detroit-chapter of the NAACP.  In this speech to the NAACP, Wright made several overtly racist comments and at times mocked the behavior of various ethnicities and previous Presidents.  At one point, he speculated while singing the differences that:

The comments were labeled as racist and eugenic, and led many to speculate that Reverend Wright was deliberately attempting to sabotage Senator Obama's campaign.

 

Senator Obama leaves Trinity United

On April 29, 2008, two days after the speech in Detroit, Senator Obama gave a press conference and stated the following:

On May 31, 2008, Barack and Michelle Obama announced that they had withdrawn their membership in Trinity United Church of Christ.  They stated that:

 

References

[1] Website: Fox News - Hannity and Colmes Article: Obama's Pastor: Rev. Jeremiah Wright Author: Video Accessed on: 03/18/2010

[2] Website: Wall Street Journal Article: Text of Obamaís Speech: A More Perfect Union Author: NA Accessed on: 03/30/2010

[3] Website: Trinity United Church of Christ Website Article: About Us - Pastor Emeritus Author: NA Accessed on: 03/30/2010

[4] Website: Trinity United Church of Christ Article: About Us - Our History Author: NA Accessed on: 03/30/2010

[5] Website: Trinity United Church of Christ Article: About Us - Black Value System Author: NA Accessed on: 03/30/2010

[6] Website: Washington Post Article: On Wright Question, Unclear Answers From Obama Author: Perry Bacon Jr Accessed on: 03/30/2010

[7] Website: Seattle Times Article: Obama decries pastor's remarks Author: Seattle Times news services Accessed on: 03/30/2010

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