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On My Faith and My Church

Posted March 14, 2008 | 04:28 PM (EST)

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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.


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- always play offense, not defense. Attack the source. In this case, NYT and Kristol. Remind people about their goals, about the role they played- do not play on the territory your worst enemies want you to. Do things on your own terms

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 09:16 PM on 03/17/2008

Barak i am suspiciouse that Bill Cristal is right about you,,, however even if you trully started out as a politician and not the best of them, and even though you have not shown in my opinion the leadership that you could in the senate, inspite of the weak and unbelievable response you have given us here ..
i hope you will rise to the ocasion tomorow

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 07:09 PM on 03/17/2008

Are you kidding? Bill Krystal is a weasle. His columns are only good for wiping youself in the toilet.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 09:03 PM on 03/17/2008

Our family had been very strong Obama supporters and contributors until we heard the venomous vitriol spewed by Jeremiah Wright. How could it be possible for Barack Obama, having had Wright as his friend, mentor, advisor, and pastor for 20 years, to know nothing of his extreme, inflammatory, hateful views for all that time? If Obama did know, it speaks volumes about his perspectives, judgment, honesty, and even simple political savvy; if he didn't know, which strains all credulity, then he's hopelessly lacking the most rudimentary powers of observation, perception, and interpretation. I could easily see how Obama, as a young man finding his way, could be attracted by someone like Wright, but to cleave to this hate-filled world view until forced away by shockwaves from the American public, is more than I can understand. Suggests an unreflective, self-destructive flip side of the brilliant and attractive Obama, which is not totally dissimilar to that of Eliot Spitzer. I am disappointed, and fearful for the fate of democrats - and democracy. Just imagine the terrifying ads that McCain will run if Obama is the candidate. We may lose all 50 states this time - and the House and Senate.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 05:44 PM on 03/17/2008

The ads have already started.


replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 07:14 PM on 03/17/2008

In this country there is room for many different idealogies and everybody is entitled to their own opinion. However, the hate coming from Obama's spiritual leader and mentor can NOT represent us as a nation. Obama validated these divisive and destructive sermons by passively listening to them for 20 years. Obama can NOT represent us as the president of this country.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 05:40 PM on 03/17/2008

I think like you .... but here in the U.S we do also believe in redemption dont you think there is the potential tomorow in his address to redeem himself ? it may just be that it all is the political thing to do simply because he wants to be a president ... but if it will inspire .... if it will have the power to move him forward ... i might just become a supporter again

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 07:14 PM on 03/17/2008

As Lavisiter pointed out, it is remarkable that Obama did not know his minister, the man that brought him to Jesus, who married he and Michelle and baptised his children, had such angry views of this country. Think Jesus would have been "mortified" that such a man was preaching this hate as a minister of a Christian church.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 05:28 PM on 03/17/2008

I think Jesus, would look at all His Fathers children - of all ethnos/ religions, and ask: What the fuck is wrong with you idiots? I leave for a couple millenia - I come back, and you still can't, with all your technology advancement - remove your heads from your collective asses, or remove your hands from each others throats?! Gave you all Ten simple Commandments and all you so-called intellectuals couldn't fathom the simplicity of it. May Dad Damn You All!

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 05:24 PM on 03/17/2008

We must not let either Reverend Dr. Wright or Geraldine Ferraro distract us from the issues in this campaign that are more important than inflammtory remarks made from decades of pain and insensitivity. People of color, old white women and, yes, even rich white men have many goals in common and these should not be lost along these age old byroads.


replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 05:14 PM on 03/17/2008

the electorate deserves what it gets. whether it is "change," "more of the same," "pro-war," "anti-war," "a two-for-one" or "a newbie." this election season has proved that as a species we thrive on negative. just how many of us were champing at the bit in anticipation for some juicy, negative politicking to surface? shame on us for not wanting to move forward with anything.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 04:58 PM on 03/17/2008

"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."
That is about the most naive thing I have ever heard Barack Obama say in this campaign. It would be really nice to believe that, but I cannot. If the past eight years have taught us anything, it is that one's actual potential as a leader of nations matters far less than one's ability to play the game of politics. Americans have displayed a disturbing tendency over the past few decades to embrace the worst sort of innuendo and outright lies imaginable when they ought to know better. Just ask Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, Senate candidate from North Carolina Harvey Gantt, and Harold Ford, who ran for the Senate from Tennessee, all of whom have been on the receiving end of such attacks, how it works. I do believe, however, that Sen. Obama realizes that turning the other cheek is not something that works well in politics, and he will give as good as he gets in the coming months with the poise that I have come to admire in him.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 04:04 PM on 03/17/2008

I agree with this comment. Obama is real. We cannot let this people influence our opinions about his integrity. I'm just reading one of his books and impress me the way he thinks, the smart he is, his principles and values. Yes, don't let this opportunity to go by. Obama needs our support, Unted States needs our support. Don't play the dirty game that Bush and Hillary want us to play. Lets play monopoly instead. Here is when the experience needed to be question.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 03:50 PM on 03/17/2008

Regarding Obama and his 'mentor' oh my !

He should be ashamed of himself. He knew about this at the beginning of his campaign and still kept his mentor as one of his advisor in his campaign. He didn't remove him till it hit the media. Sounds like Poltics as usual. Everything this man says is very typical of Politcs and Politicians. I can't believe he didn't know of his mentors ways, come on now. He talks about Hillary making a bad decision for voting for the war, well Obama you are no better, You choose a mentor who is racist and apparently has been one a long long time because he had no problem speaking of his racist ways in front of his congregation very freely, as if this was normal behavior for him. Barrack you made a very bad choice of a mentor for years and years by choosing this man who for whatever reason believes he can openly tell/persuade his congregation to hate yes hate. Shame on You Barrack Politics as usual Obama !

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 03:45 PM on 03/17/2008

Shame on you for judging this man who was born in the 40's and a veteran based on a couple of sound bites propagated by Fox News. Take a look in the mirror and then do some independent research. And please give me one quote where he tells his congregation to hate. You are being ridiculous.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 04:06 PM on 03/17/2008

More hollow WORDS....... Nothing he has said in this statement creates any bridge of understanding or sheds any new light on why he would attend a church for the last Twenty Years that preaches "hatred," and certainly NOT UNITY. But NOW when suddenly things look like his affiliation might compromise his candidacy he turns his back on the messenger and the message - the same messenger, his preacher who he has been calling "...my best friend, mentor and reverend?" It sure doesn't look like loyalty is in his character! And Obama says that his message is all about unity. This church does not encourage unity so why was he attending? His "best friend, mentor and reverand" incites and pits blacks against whites just like Obama has subtly continued to do all along while acting like a "saint," and deceipfully letting his people do all the inciting for him - as recently when he had his campaign manager call on the "race card" by taking statements out of context and accusing Geraldine Ferraro of making racist comments that were NOT racist at all! Oh, that's change!? Right.

There ARE plenty of extraordinary black leaders in this country right NOW who DO preach and encourage true unity and they also do extraordinary work to successfully advance the cause of the black culture. It's unfortunate that this candidate isn't Tavist Smiley running for President! Now there is a straightforward, loyal and honorable black community leader! But this is a much different mind set .... Barack Obama has chosen not only to be associated with this message of hatred but NOW after twenty years he is doing his best to convince us that he didn't even know his "best friend, mentor and reverend even felt this way?!" Isn't that called crazy making? Certainly it is blatant dishonesty so how exactly are we supposed to trust his other messages?! Well, he can speak all the WORDS he wants - BUT it is his ACTIONS that tell us the truth and his ACTIONS took him back to this same message of hatred (not unity) - for the last 20 years at Trinity Church. So how does he plan on representing this country to the world? How can we trust him when we are watching as he turns his back on the message and messenger of his best friend, mentor and reverand?

Lastly but very important, it's clear that loyalty is not one of his values! He distances himself from the idea that many people and certainly record numbers of black people have come out to vote for him in large part because he is black. Is there something wrong with that? We all want to see ourselves represented in politics - that's what it's ALL ABOUT! Minorities have been left OUT of the process long enough! There is no doubt that it is time for many other peoples to be represented, including women. Many will vote for Hillary because she is a woman! But no, instead he chooses to be divisive - not show his appreciation and loyalty to those who have been loyal to him by coming out in these record numbers - instead he asks his campaign manager to incite the "race card" and call Geraldine Ferraro's comments racist when she was simply illustrating her own experience of many years ago when she was intentionally chosen as a woman - in order to be a woman for the first time as Vice President many years ago. She felt she was lucky at that time - just like she feels Obama is lucky now! Apparently he doesn't feel that way and has no appreciation for the blacks who have come out to support him!

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 02:35 PM on 03/17/2008

Hey Lavisiter,
People can read. What you've written has nothing to do with reality. You are dishonest in your assessment and you are just wrong-headed. I could say worse.
Your are obviously from the Hillary camp who will twist anything just like the Repubs have been doing.
There's one thing people should never forget....
How much more divisive and hateful is that.
She became an ENABLER OF TYRANNY by voting to give bush illegitimate power.
She is morally and politically corrupt.
You want to muddy the waters with your lies and deceit. You will not succeed.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 03:41 PM on 03/17/2008

I was very unhappy that Hillary Clinton and all the other politicians who are supposed to represent "We the people" - voted for the war! But let's face it Mr. Realbluesky - it was certainly a vote in line with "We the People" who at the time wanted this war and those same 80% of Americans who called those of us who protested the war - traitors! I was NOT one of the 80% of the American people who when polled over and over again - voted in FAVOUR of this horrible war - 80% of Americans who insisted in a very LOUD VOICE to GWB that they wanted to give him war! And all of us who didn't want this war were called TRAITORS by 80% of those same Americans!!! And where are all those people NOW who WANTED to go to WAR and who called us traitors - I'm not hearing anything from them but let's not forget that it was "We the People" who played the biggest roll in our going to war because that is how a democracy is supposed to work - we pay those politicians ALOT of MONEY in taxes and saleries to do what we want? It's probably many of those same 80% who called me a traitor for being against the war who are NOW complaining about Hillary Clinton's vote for the war that supposedly represented "We the People." You cannot have it both ways! You want it to be about the "power of the people in this country" or not? Yes, where are all those people who sent the message to Hillary Clinton LOUD AND CLEAR that they wanted this war? And where were YOU, mr realbluesky? Were you out protesting?

And P.S. : Obama didn't VOTE against the war either! He wasn't in a position to weigh all the voices in America at that time.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 05:12 PM on 03/17/2008

Andrew Sullivan wrote the best article on this subject... check it out...http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/03/theology-politi.html

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 02:26 PM on 03/17/2008

I was dissappointed to hear the particular way that Sen. Obama repudiated Rev. Wright. I would have preferred to hear that the Senator understood the context of Rev. Wrights's words as well as the anger behind his passion. I would have preferred that he acknowledge the historic tradiations of the Black Church as support and haven for the Black Community in it's centuries old oppression.

I don't believe that as a Bi-racial child of an American White woman and a Kenyan Black man that he is free of the "baggage" we Black Americans carry. He was a Black child in America. Period. He is married to an American Black woman and has 2 Black children. I seriously suspect that Senator Obama learned to see clearly the everyday experiences of Black Americans as he was growing up. Yes, I agree that none of us Blacks living today have been enslaved (technically) nor have any American Whites living today been slaveholders, but all Americans need to understand that oppression is alive and well at this very minute. This tempest makes it clear that we Blacks still see America (and White people) more clearly than others and that Whites still have no clue.

I feel that Rev. Wright's words were unfortunate and overwrought, but it is crystal clear that the context is valid. I still support Obama, but I need him to acknowledge and understand the particular wound the condemnation of his pastor has on the sensibilities of Balck people.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 02:20 PM on 03/17/2008

I may be wrong but I thought that is what he said. I suppose you would like him to have given more support to his pastor and I do understand that. Unfortunately as you said so many Americans are still so racist. Unfortunately had he done as you suggest he may have ended all chances for him to win this election and make the people who feel that way eat their words and find out that this is a whole new world. I believe he is in a catch 22 situation and as I completely argree with your point of view it was probably a political choice he HAD to make.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 02:58 PM on 03/17/2008

I see that you have no problem seeing that Obama "HAD to make a political decision" in his catch 22 situation. I wonder, do you see that Hillary Clinton was obligated to vote for the war at the time because 80% of the American people not only wanted to give George W. Bush his big bad war but anyone who protested the war at that time was considered and called a TRAITOR!!!

So, if Hillary Clinton or anyone of these politicians who voted for the war were supposed to be representing us - "We the People" in this democracy - then how exactly should she have interpreted the fact that 80% of Americans at that time were SCREAMING for this war! That's quite a catch 22 for Hillary Clinton and all the other politicians at that time as well, don't you think?

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 08:49 PM on 03/17/2008

Did you all hear on MSNBC this morning that the Hillary people are saying that the blog world is being very unfair and nasty to her? She is now a new victim. A VICTIM of the bloggers. What next.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 02:12 PM on 03/17/2008

Compared to everything that Clintons are saying (and doing),this is irrelevant to me.
Obama 08.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 01:44 PM on 03/17/2008

Wow! Over 6000 comments! That's gotta be a record on Huff-po.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 01:28 PM on 03/17/2008

People are going to look for any and every reason they can to hate Obama. When you look that hard, you're going to find what you are looking for, regardless of how trival it is. We can not and will not let these people stop us from progress or the promise of our future.

Yes we can!

Obama '08

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 01:24 PM on 03/17/2008

If anyone cannot understand that Senator Obama does not believe as his pastor does, then they probably will not vote for Senator Obama anyways. He has his work cut out for him, but I still believe. I do not believe he has a hateful bone in his body for anyone. Can we just get on with beating McCain?

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 04:29 PM on 03/17/2008

I don't hate Obama. He just doesn't ring true to me and seems phony and a little sneaky. He has been as negative as Hillary, but does it with more finesse. I am sorry, but I just don't feel he is as smart as he thinks he is. And if he gets elected, we could find that out in all sorts of unpleasant ways. But this is not hate--now Bush! That is hate!

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 03:36 PM on 03/17/2008

Preachers from highly conservative parishes regularly disparage America for things like abortion and tolerance of homosexuality. It is only Wright's racial frame that has the closet racists amoung us screaming. Republicans have cozied up to America bashing ministers for a long time and have ducked the negative fallout. Bottom line is lots of decent folks go to churches with guys like this all the time. If they can see past the race frame, they understand the moral outrage that drives this type of pastor talk. If they can't see past the race frame, they probably would not have voted for Obama to begin with. Also, Dems have to decide whether we're comfortable with a candidate having strong religous beliefs. Besides...this election will be about "the economy stupid"...so I'm glad this story is having its moment so we can move on to the important stuff.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 01:01 PM on 03/17/2008

You make a salient point. The reason why folks are worked up about this is that it is a black pastor who delivered this homily. Had it been a white pastor, with a tinge of the South in his voice and had he condemned America for tolerating homosexuals and abortions, everyone would nod sagely and make some murmuring gestures toward freedom of speech and freedom of religion and praised the candidate for his religiosity.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 02:33 PM on 03/17/2008

Will I vote for Senator Obama for President? You bet I will! Stand tall, stay tough and get back onto issues that MATTER--the economy, health care, the housing crisis, the financial crisis that Alan Greenspan says is the worst it's been since WWII, and the war in Iraq. Obama's supporters will not be cowed by the sanctimonious, judgmental religiosity of those who are "incensed" by the statements made by his minister. We're going to start delving into the ministers of candidates now? Or the lack of ministers? AGAIN, we've stepped off into Never Never Land...

Obama, '08

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 12:59 PM on 03/17/2008

He is not just a minister...........he is Obama's soul mate....................that carries a lot of weight. I am an american first..............I don't think the Obama is an american first. As a matter of fact I question his loyalty to this country. He is now a polarizing candidate and has no chance to win against McCain. That is what the delegates and the superdelegates need to remember if they want to win the white house.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 03:57 PM on 03/17/2008

I still fully support Obama and am glad to see many others still do also despite the many who look for any tool to destroy him.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 12:43 PM on 03/17/2008

Barack should have come out and said he is proud of his pastor and the church. Instead he threw them under the bus for his own gain. He did not believe a word he said in this statement or his televised statement.

I am insulted that I am supposed to believe as a member of twenty years that Barack had no idea of the teachings of this man and church? Frankly if you want me to believe this is true then ok I believe you and now I am positive you must be an idiot.

You must be an idiot to think this would not come out in the first place.

You must be an idiot to think people would not be upset by this.

I am watching the news to see the tape released of Barack in the pews jumping up and down in agreement to this crap. Then he will cry quit picking on me because of my race. Is that Barack's plan when some terrorist country attacks us? Excuse me Iran but I am of oppressed people so please don't pick on me because you will appear racist? The victim card only has so much weight. This is 2008 and each person should be judged by merit not the color of their skin or their sex and falling back on a lame victim status each time you are asked a legitimate question shows how weak you really are.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 12:12 PM on 03/17/2008

Apparently you are the idiot. Obama didn't throw his pastor under the bus. Not in the least. This was a decision decided last year. If you had comprehension skills you would of further been informed that Obama intends on continuing his relationship with his pastor, as well as continue with attending Trinity.

Uneducated, uninformed, irrational. SOunds like a Sybillary Rove supporter.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 01:01 PM on 03/17/2008

Time will tell how he distants himself .He already did a turn about once video was on the news. I hope he does continue his relationship with the pastor and the church. Be ture to himself and show people who he really is instead of trying to appease. Break the victim role once and for all. Be proud you are a anti american white hater and don't hide it. I see it and so do a whole bunch of other people. I would much rather have Hillary. I loved the Clinton years. Times were great and I pray they return!!!!

Of course you have to end with a insult to me personally . That says alot about your merit as a person!!

Well god bless you anyway!!!

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 02:53 PM on 03/17/2008

Where was his brilliant "get it right on day one" judgment when it came to joining this church and following this man?

Oh, yeah, right... that "judgment" line is all a bunch of BS. Like the man himself.

Yes SHE Can, cause SHE is real.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 12:06 PM on 03/17/2008

I believe he is 45 so this means he joined the church around the age of 25. He said this man brought him to Christ at a time he was trying to find his purpose in life. For you to assume that he's as knowledgeable now as he was 20yrs ago is beyond me. The fact still remains he has better judgment than Hillary which voted for a war which cost lives and billions a month in a very fragile economy. Show me the poor legislative judgment he's made that has drastically affected the American people in a negative way, because at the end of the day that's what matters!

Whatever happen to separation of church and state?

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 01:20 PM on 03/17/2008

Senator Obama, it must drive you crazy to have to use the word "reject" where it's not, strictly speaking, the correct word.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 12:05 PM on 03/17/2008

Aside from the "GD America" remark, his pastor had completely valid comments about racism, the priviledged class, and foriegn policy. I think Obama should distance himself, but repudiating these comments is a slap in the face to many of his supporters. Though, I certainly understand why he would not want to engage in this kind of debate at this time.

replyReply favoriteFavorite Flag as abusive Posted 11:58 AM on 03/17/2008
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