Barack Obama - Reverend Jeremiah Wright
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:
We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.
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:
I have known him 17 years. He helped bring me to Jesus and helped bring me to church. He and I have a relationship; he's like an uncle who talked to me, not about political things and social views, but faith and God and family.
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:
We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye... and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost.
I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday. Did anybody else see him or hear him? He was on Fox News. This is a white man, and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end. He pointed out — did you see him, John? — a white man, he pointed out, ambassador, that what Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Muhammad was in fact true — America's chickens are coming home to roost....
Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y'all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people that we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that.
From "Confusing God and Government":
...The government lied about Pearl Harbor too. They knew the Japanese were going to attack. Governments lie. The government lied about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. They wanted that resolution to get us in the Vietnam War. Governments lie. The government lied about Nelson Mandela and our CIA helped put him in prison and keep him there for 27 years. The South African government lied on Nelson Mandela. Governments lie...
...The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely infected African American men with syphilis. Governments lie. The government lied about bombing Cambodia and Richard Nixon stood in front of the camera, ‘Let me make myself perfectly clear…’ Governments lie. The government lied about the drugs for arms Contra scheme orchestrated by Oliver North, and then the government pardoned all the perpetrators so they could get better jobs in the government. Governments lie.... The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. Governments lie. The government lied about a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and a connection between 9.11.01 and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Governments lie...
...The government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United States peace. And guess what else? If they don’t find them some weapons of mass destruction, they gonna do just like the LAPD, and plant the some weapons of mass destruction. Governments lie...
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:
I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial
In the subsequent weeks after the sermons from Trinity were released, Senator Obama recanted stating:
Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes
In another interview, Senator Obama stated that Reverend Wright was like:
an old uncle who says things I don’t always agree with
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:
It's this world, where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where White folks' greed runs a world in need
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,
Senator Obama is proud of his pastor and his church, but... decided to avoid having statements and beliefs being used out of context and forcing the entire church to defend itself
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:
Africans have a different meter, and Africans have a different tonality. Europeans have seven tones, Africans have five. White people clap differently than black people. Africans and African-Americans are right-brained, subject-oriented in their learning style. They have a different way of learning
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:
Our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views
 Website: Fox News - Hannity and Colmes Article: Obama's Pastor: Rev. Jeremiah Wright Author: Video Accessed on: 03/18/2010
 Website: Wall Street Journal Article: Text of Obama’s Speech: A More Perfect Union Author: NA Accessed on: 03/30/2010
 Website: Trinity United Church of Christ Website Article: About Us - Pastor Emeritus Author: NA Accessed on: 03/30/2010
 Website: Trinity United Church of Christ Article: About Us - Our History Author: NA Accessed on: 03/30/2010
 Website: Trinity United Church of Christ Article: About Us - Black Value System Author: NA Accessed on: 03/30/2010
 Website: Washington Post Article: On Wright Question, Unclear Answers From Obama Author: Perry Bacon Jr Accessed on: 03/30/2010
 Website: Seattle Times Article: Obama decries pastor's remarks Author: Seattle Times news services Accessed on: 03/30/2010