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. Bill

    And yet, Obama has gone to this minister's church for 20 years and given thousands of dollars to his ministry. That is a tacit agreement with the teachings of this minister. This is not a few random comments from a curmudgeonly uncle, but a steady stream of philosophy of anti-american venom. No wonder Michelle has a hard time being proud of America. In my family if an uncle made these kind of comments at a family gathering, he probably wouldn't be invited to future gatherings. Also, If Ferraro's comments caused her to seperate from the Clinton campaign, why isn't Obama seperating himself from this racist? There are literally thousands of churches in the Chicago area Obama could attend, yet he choses to align himself with this bigot.

    March 14, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. Obama Overrated 08'

    I cant understand this, Ferraro says what she says and it racist, the you listen to this guy and its 'fiery'. PLEASE, that is the most RACIST speech I have heard in some time! Obama's mentor lol. Better re think your vote. And shame on you CNN for not being able to say what it is, not fair to American people not fair reporting, biased, because you know what, it racist and people need to know that, especially when It has to do with someone who could be potentially running our country

    March 14, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Jamaal

    the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.....

    March 14, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. Lisa CA

    Apparently Obama isn't too upset about his pastor's views or comments since he has been attending this church for more than 20 years!

    March 14, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. Letha, Sioux Falls, SD

    I wonder what the Obama supporters will say about this one. After all, his religious minister and influence is a close friend of minister Farrakon's. Do they realize Obamas attendance in this church for the last 20 years does influence his decisions and his mind? I'm sure they will whine that it is just one more Clinton attack. If they would have listen for the last few months, this was all out there for them to hear and read. Obama is not the man he claims to be and the influence in his life is not so color blind as he claims.

    March 14, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. Shame on CNN

    THE MEDIA IS MAKING THIS PRIMARY ABOUT RACE. Shame on you CNN and other news stations for continuing to throw the gasoline on the fire only to boost your ratings!

    March 14, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. had-enuf

    Mr. Wright's comments are true. All that he is stating is that Mr. Obama does not fit the mold of traditional political figures. I may not share his very same views, but can agree with his sentiment.

    March 14, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Candi

    Hillary campaign please let old dogs die and get on with the campaign. There is noting new about what he said several months ago. Hillary either you get on with the race or get out.

    March 14, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. Irishspacemonk

    June is way to late. Come on Michigan. You had a chance. You blew it. Grow up and get over it.

    March 14, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. Peggy

    How is this relevant to Obama's campaign?

    This has nothing to do with Obama being president.

    If this was the case, there are endless questionable people surrounding Clintons and McCain that we can mention!!

    March 14, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. Jacqueline Samms

    He can say whatever he wants, it is a free country. Besides, he is not directly involved in the campaign. I am so disappointed in CNN for putting these topics in the forefront, personally, I think it is the media that is fueling this racism. Cut it out! Please report the issues and leave the nonsense out of this. Thanks

    March 14, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. Irishspacemonk

    Media is going to make a big deal out of this. So what. It's a guy's minister...and even Barack has admitted he's not the most loyal attendee.

    March 14, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  13. Lisa CA

    Scary that Obama has been listening to and being inspired by this man's ideology for 20 Years!!!!

    Who's being racist now!!!

    March 14, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. Jane V. Lisa

    I would like to see Senator Obama have to comment on his church affiliation the same way that Mitt Romney had to explain his Mormon beliefs. For 20 years he has listened to the hate preached by his pastor, let's put some pressure on to hear "why" he joined, listened and funded this racist church.

    March 14, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  15. Doug, Florida

    I suport Barack and will continue to support Barack.

    His pastor's comments are distasteful and not in keeping with the christian spirit. However I will not judge the man by his Pastor's comments. I have close friends who hate Jews. We argue alot about that. Because I don't hate Jews.

    But they was been my friends far 20+ years. I will notlet one lapses of judgement ruin a otherwise good friendship.


    MY 2 CENTS

    March 14, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  16. Maria

    After reading today's Wall Street Journal article on this subject, I am considering voting for McCain if Obama is the democratic nominee. It will be the first time in my life that I vote republican.

    March 14, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. Linda

    Well then it's a good thing his ex-pastor isn't running for president. Moving along....

    March 14, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. Michiel W

    Senator Obama has called this man his spiritual advisor and mentor. He has attended this church for the last 20 years. The Rev Wright advocates Africa as the homeland for the members of his church. He blames all of the problems of African Americans on white America. He advocates a black separatist agenda. How do you attend a church and listen to this man for 20 years if you disagree with his thinking?He has said this man influenced him. Sorry, but denouncing some of his statements now doesn't ring true. I can just imagine the outcry if Hillary Clinton attended a church for 20 years and the pastor advocated that all of the country's problems were caused by African Americans. Senator Obama's stand, at the least, is hypocritical.

    March 14, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. Dave

    Please Obama people say Rev. Wright is our hope just like Obama. The person who said God Damm America instead of God Bless America. Maybe this is where Mrs. Obama got her teaching. In any event, whites have been called many things as well by blacks. It goes both ways. Are blacks going to apologize for killing UNC student? Lets don't bring out every ugly details of what each race has done to each other. Focus on issues, and let the better person prevail. Obama should not bring in Jesse Jackson, Sharpton and Wright into the team and should sever his ties with them if he is going to represent all people not just blacks. Hillary should stop apologizing to blacks. It is not her comment and she should stay the course. Obama will eventually die from his and his own friends' comments.

    March 14, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. Karen Crawford

    There is always an appropriate way to speak truth. Black people in America have been at the bottom for hundreds of years through no fault of their own. To be born black in this country is a burden. The USA is one of the best places to live in the world but it is not perfect. There is a scripture in the bible that states "do you hate me because I tell you the truth,"?
    There has always been an arrogance in this country that our way of doing things are the best and most right. Believe it or not we are not always right and can't make the rest of the world jump to our every whim. No matter your cicumstances in America just add black to it and its worst. EX: poor, sick, unemployed, legal issues, no health insurance, uneducated, etc
    I love and respect all people. I judge you based on your actions and character. Power and priviledge are sometimes abused and that history lies with the community of people who have always run this country.
    Its time for a change!!!Lets elect someone who can relate to all disenfranchised people, no matter their race.
    Thank you and have a blessed day

    March 14, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. Orville

    I am tired of these divisive tactics (old politics as usual!). The Democrats don't need this nor does our country. It is time for both Barack and Hillary to make a forceful statement that demands that their henchmen stop making comments about race and gender. They are irrelevent. I want to hear substantive information on policy, not whether someone is black or female. I hold Hillary and her campaign most responsible for this type of rhetoric. And these old methods, in part, are responsible for this county's downward spiral. If these divisive tactics continue, we will be playing right into the Republican's hands!

    March 14, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. Amy in Iowa

    This is a distraction that has been denounced. The main question is where are Hillary Clintons joint tax returns for the past 6 years??

    March 14, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. Stephanie, PA

    He is just like your old uncle who sometimes says things that are off the wall...just like Gerry Ferraro. Both elderly and both with fiery opinions and tempers. Take it with a grain of salt. Wright is not on the payrole or a fundraiser. (BTW, Wright never said her path to the White House was easy. He commented on the obstacles that faced Obama.) As I said with her, you can't judge these candidates by every word uttered by someone who knows them. As I also said with Ferraro, I don't care a whole lot about these things. My concerns are with the candidates and what THEY say on issues.

    March 14, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. Cathy Griffin

    You need to show the public the video of Rev. Wright that Jon Stewart showed on his program last night. It is more offensive, in my opinion, than the one you have listed.

    March 14, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  25. Alex from IL

    Right, he's loopy and retired. We get it, obama's already denounced the statements, as well as similarly divisive statements. Story over.

    March 14, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
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