March 14th, 2008
02:01 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama minister under scrutiny


CNN's Susan Roesgen reports on the controversy surrounding Obama's minister.

(CNN) - Barack Obama's Chicago minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is under fresh scrutiny, after an ABC News report Thursday shed light on some of his controversial sermons.

In one delivered last December, Wright argues Hillary Clinton's road to the White House is considerably easier than Barack Obama's because of his skin color.

"Hillary was not a black boy raised in a single parent home. Barack was," Wright says in a video of the sermon posted on YouTube.

"Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary! Hillary ain't never been called a 'nigger!' Hillary has never had her people defined as a non-person," a fiery Wright also says.

Wright, who retired from his post earlier this year, also is seen saying in the video, "Who cares about what a poor black man has to face every day in a country and in a culture controlled by rich white people?"

Wright's sermon shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorism attacks is also under scrutiny, during which he said America had brought on the attacks with its own practice of terrorism.

"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," he 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 has now brought right back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Obama and Wright have long been close. Obama has been a member of Wright's church since his days in law school, and Obama's bestselling book, The Audacity of Hope, takes its title from one of Wright's sermons. Wright also married the Obamas and baptized their two children.

But Obama has long maintained he is at odds with some of Wright's sermons, and has likened him to an "old uncle" who sometimes will say things he doesn't agree with. He has also specifically denounced Wright's 9/11 comments.

An Obama campaign spokesman also said Thursday the Illinois senator "deplores divisive statements whether they come from his supporters, the supporters of his opponent, talk radio, or anywhere else."

UPDATE: Speaking with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Obama said, "I profoundly disagree with some of these statements."

"Here is what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor. There are times when people say things that are just wrong. But I think it's important to judge me on what I've said in the past and what I believe," he also said.

- CNN's Susan Roesgen contributed to this report

soundoff (345 Responses)
  1. Mozart

    If he disagreed so much why was he a member of the church for 20 years. I wonder if there is some video's of him laughing and clapping during these ridiculous so called sermons.

    March 14, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  2. john

    I think it is becoming clearer and clearer that everybody needs to settle down and take a deep breath. All this his supporter said this her supporter said that is becoming boring and unhelpful. It only raisies unnecessary rhetoric. ISSUES, people, ISSUES and capabilities should be discussed, not skin color.

    March 14, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  3. Patty

    America better wake up! I am a white American and I am disgusted by the preachings of this church. Obama has attended this church for 20 years, this preacher married him, baptized his children, and we all know you only attend a church for 20 years if you practice and approve of what is being preached to you.
    White America should never have voted this person as far as he has gotten. He hates White Americans–especially the richer ones. Definitely NOT presidential material! Vote–Hillary!

    March 14, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. James

    how is it that a person can be a member of the same church for more then 20 years but yet claim they have a fundamental difference with its pastor.Give me a break.

    March 14, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. Anne

    I would like to see if THIS story on Reverend Wright remains in the media and is as deeply analyzed as Geraldine Ferraro's comments. I am sure it will not seeing as it is Obama and not Hillary. Media, CNN included, I ask you to please equally cover, investigate, proclaim and criticize BOTH Obama and Hillary equally.
    Anne in Rochester NY

    March 14, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. mbs

    Obama keeps saying he is a Christian, then he chooses this church, with this pastor, who honors Farrakhan.

    What does that say about his judgement?

    Scary. Very scary.

    March 14, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. Rev. Teri Gilmore

    The members of my church hold a wide variety of views on all kinds of issues and by no means do they always agree with my sermons–even those who I know like me personally. While I don't preach on politics directly, someone going through my sermons could manage to dig up something controversial–that is a preachers job! Just read Jesus or the prophets like Jeremiah or Isaiah. Not every follower of those preachers walked along in lockstep!
    Why don't we just listen to the candidates on the issues and get off digging up dirt!

    March 14, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. Anonymous

    The article on Obama's minister fails to mention the racist hateful and anti-American statements he has been making.

    March 14, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Sandra

    As much as we may not want to agree with Wright's statements about this country, many of his viewpoints are absolutely right. America has been able to hide their dirty laundry and deceive its people for centuries, but the day of revelation and accountability is inevitable.

    March 14, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  10. Michael

    Yea this wonderful news, an inexperience presidential canidate that has an spiritual relationship with a quack. I can see this going to add value to his decision making.

    March 14, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  11. Shawn

    I watched some videos yesterday night. They are disgraceful. The way people in the back were reacting made me sick. That is what people talk in church where they should be preaching tolerance and God's name. I was Obama supporter but I am rethinking now.

    March 14, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  12. elvira

    This is the person that inspired Obama. Wake up and smell the coffee America!!!!! Vote Hillary!!!!!!!!

    March 14, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  13. Clinton is a fraud

    CNN what are you trying to stire up? I think the news media should be more responsible, rather than stiring racial hatred, they should be bringing folks together. Well, I guess there is no sensationalization in promoting racial and religious harmony.....CNN, please grow up and become responsible.

    March 14, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  14. Niky

    Mr. Wirght has some strong views and as long as Obama doesnt agree with them, we should keep Obama out.

    March 14, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  15. Kris

    Wow, this has been someone Obama has said played such an influential role in his life. Now we see that the pastor has years of hateful remarks and Obama has stood by him all these years and continued to call the pastor someone close to him. I don't know how Obama comes out of this.

    March 14, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. Eli

    This is what we would call a HATE speech and ANTI AMERICA speech the bad thing about this is that it was actually considered and called a sermon from the pulpit. If Hillary Clinton had even attended a church one time that said some of these things her campaign would be over with TODAY. If we do not stand up against things like this we are in trouble.

    March 14, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. Jason D

    Clinton and her campaign will stop at nothing. This whole campaign has crossed a line and the Democrats are now truly damaging their chances of winning the general in November. Clinton obviously believes that she is the only one worthy of this and that the ends justify the means... This politics of divisiveness is disgusting. I started out a Hillary supporter and now I cannot stand this woman.

    March 14, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  18. jp/michigan

    How can someone attend an anti-American, anti-semitic, racial church for many years, without some of this ranting affecting the lives of Obama and his family?

    March 14, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  19. So what?

    Was this minister trying to tell us that Hillary should be ashamed for being from a healthy family, and for having a happy childhood? Since when having a functional family has become a sin?

    March 14, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  20. John in Columbus, OH

    He sounds like the typical Fire and Brimstone preacher prone to hyperbole. No apologies necessary.

    March 14, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  21. That's Reality

    We choose where we want to go to church and who we listen to. This is the kind of message Obama chooses to listen to. To think he does not agree or that it doesn't have any effect on his opinion is naive.

    March 14, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. Richard

    I wish we could just focus on the issues rather than these sideshows from either of the two stellar candidates' divisive supporters.
    Reporting on ridiculous stories like these only serve to fan the flames and divide the democratic party even further.
    Either way I am proud of Barack and Hillary albeit their campaigns have made some mistakes.
    I hope they continue ahead and focus on showing the american people thier plans for the country, and highlighting thier stark differences from Senator Mccain.

    March 14, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. Joe

    This guy is really controversial. This WILL come back and hurt Obama... Hillary or a Republican candiduate couldn't expect not to get serious flack from close (spritual advisor!?) ties to someone like this guy. It would be like advertising David Duke or Farrakan as a close confidant. I just saw one of his sermons on the net... if opponents can splice video of Obama in the audience, even if not at the same time, he will be not be looked at as a uniter he says he is.

    March 14, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Matthew

    typical Obama supporter feelings. I'm surprise CNN even covered this.

    March 14, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  25. MBB

    I know we will read that this mistake is okay since it attacks Clinton. Obama needs to answer to this attack big time.

    March 14, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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