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. JudyAnn

    I don't agree with his comments. But if he said these sometime ago, why is this being rehashed by the media, just to create drama. The media should focus on the issues! Alway's trying to stir the pot. You guys know Barack doesn't agree w/anything that this man has said about 911.

    March 14, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. dan

    Right on Reverend!!! Finally, someone who speaks the truth!!! Listen to this man!

    March 14, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Paulette, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Wright sounds like a racist loud screaming minister. There seems to be a lot of racism remarks lately. Since we have heard for days about Hillary and Ferraro lets hear for days about Wright and Kilpatrick. Seems fair to me.

    March 14, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Bill

    So over the race card being played. Get over it. Obama's camp needs to quit playing it and Clinton's camp needs to follow suit. There is no room in this country to even think like that any more. This stuff really upsets me beyond belief. It's 2008...MOVE ON!

    March 14, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. wont vote now

    20 years of listenning to this type of rethoric and he stayed there.

    According to Obama's 2007 tax return he donated $25000 to this church.

    I dont know, I always believe that silence is a form of agreeing.

    March 14, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. Daniel Tarin

    I don't get how this makes the news and John McCain's acceptance of the endorsements from John Hagee and Rod Parsley flies under the radar. I think CNN should examine the statements made by both Hagee and Parsley and how McCain feels about them.

    March 14, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. Hilary 08

    How can you belong to a church and so respect a minister who says things that Mr. Wright has said. How can you call someone like this your mentor. It tells me your are either a phony or you are just plain stupid. Most people who are exposed to sermons that are so filled with hate would leave the the church or become hateful themselves. I know I would never listen to sermons that create hate instead of understanding. Mr. Wrights sermons contribute to the divisions between Blacks and whites and support and enhance predjudice. The fact that Mr. obama says he doesn't always agree with Wright is not enough. Any one who really disagreed with this man would not call him his mentor. He stayed with this church and stood beside this minister for twenty years and that really scares me.

    March 14, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. Will

    Dredging up speeches from last year, from someone Obama has already distanced himself from? Whats up? Need to keep pushing the race bating to sell ad clicks CNN?

    Old news. The economy and 3 trillion dollar war must be too boring for you and ABC.

    March 14, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. Tim, Fla.

    Racism runs both ways.

    Talk about belittling the discrimination women have faced throughout time.

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. AtlantaVoter

    An "old uncle" you disagree with is someone you are polite to at the family reunion. It is not someone you choose to perform your marriage vows, baptize your children and take words from to write your "heartfelt" book. That someone sounds more like a mentor or a role model.

    Which is it Obama?

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. ann

    I am appalled by the vicious hatred and venom towards America and White Americans that is being preached at this Church. I am also very concerned that Senator Obama has chosen to be involved with this church for the past 20 YEARS!

    If I went to a church and they started pushing hate towards Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, Jews, Asians, etc. I would make sure I never went back and found another church ASAP.

    The fact that Sen. Obama has attended this church for the last 20 years indicates that he has no issues being surrounded by this kind of hate and true fear mongoring. He is obviously comfortable hearing these type of sermons that divide America and push racism and separatism.

    His participation in this church can only be explained by one of two things....A LACK OF JUDGEMENT......or ..... A LACK OF CHARACTER.

    His 20 year involvement with this type of racism and hatred has proven to me that he is not the President America needs.

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. Fred

    I personally have never heard of the Rev. Wright. However, it appears that much of what he has to say is sadly true. Sounds like Hillary's folks are busy scurrying around like vermin trying their best to dig up dirt on the non-establishment supported Obama. Shame on them!!!

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. Dave

    How come I heard this first from ABC news?? I am always tune to CNN on my XM radio but there was no mention until ABC aired it? What gives?

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. Jim, American in Paris

    Do any of you still want Obama to be President?

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. Dave

    My youth minister from my church has said some pretty off the wall stuff. Guess that means I can't be president now. Oh well.

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. Potomac Will

    Now, let us have a report on McCain's spirtual advisor, Ron Parsley, who, among other ill considered things, has called Islam a false religion that Christians should destroy.

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. AJ

    I understand why this would cause people to pause and take a closer look at Obama. But lets truly remember that #1 no on can control what someone else says, especially members of the pulpit, and #2 Obama has made it clear that he disagrees with some of Wright's opinions.

    Wright isn't a part of his campaign team and is free to express his opinion under the first amendment. Given that Obama has said he doesn't agree and will continue to say it...let's turn our focus back to the issues and keep church and state separated.

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. Non-Story

    You guys are reeeeeeeeeeeeaching

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. Frank

    I think the people of this country will soon see Obama is no Prince or Savior. He is just another man who will lie and steal to gain office. The way the press makes him out , I am waiting for them to tell me I should Worship him. What a laugh

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. jack

    where are all the obama people comments on this gaff

    March 14, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  21. Lora B.

    This man is, in essence, saying exactly what Ferraro said. So where is the outrage?

    March 14, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. Vega Diamond

    they are two seperate people, why is this an issue?

    March 14, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. Brian

    Well this will be the end to Obama.
    you watch, if this does not kill his chances with Hillary.
    It sure will by the time he has to go against McCain.

    March 14, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. Joe Idaho

    Some things are not worth the attention that they are trying to get, this deserves no more or less attention that Reagen announcing his bid for the White House in Philidelphia, Mississippi, or Bush the child going to a Racist University and speaking... these situations are like children in the marketplace saying, "we have piped for you and you didn't dance," we mourned for you and you didn't weep."

    March 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  25. Reggie

    tentially this could be bad. You can love and admire someone without agreeing with everything that they say. John McCain supports and is backed by Bush, but he doesn't agree with everything Bush did/said. Every citizen has the right to free speech. Opponents will try to use this to show that Obama is some crazy black man who will support terrorism and reverse racism by somehow making black people the majority in this country . . . . If Obama was on tape agreeing or supporting the Reverend than I would say case closed, campaign over, but the Reverend is not the one running for office. Isn't the President supposed to fight for the rights and freedoms of all citizens, even those he does not agree with or necessarily support? Oh, I forgot, that is not reality, we only support and work for those who can benefit us professionally

    March 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
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