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. Norman

    Obama's "old uncle" is plainly a racist and anti-Semite who detests this Country.These are not minor issues of theology.The question then becomes why the beacon of hope and unity has remained in his congregation and retained him in his private life for twenty years.

    How do you spell hypocrite?

    March 14, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. Paul

    and this guy was the 'spiritual leader' for Obama for 20 years? huh!

    March 14, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. Robin

    Some of Mr. Obama's supporters and some of Mrs. Clinton's supporters just hurt their candidates. After all either Clinton or Obama (or maybe both) need to compete in Fall with McCain. I don't see any good coming out of these so called supporters for any Democratic nominee. Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton need to put an end to this. Unless, they prefer to see Mr. McCain in the White House, do they?

    March 14, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. CarolynMccauley

    I an waiting to hear anyone from the media ask why Obama stayed in a church all those years that preached all that hate and racism. I think he must have the same views, or he would 've left long ago. I can think of no other reason for staying. I am an Independent,and I will not vote for Obama.

    March 14, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Rich

    So the answer from the Clinton Campaign is to dig up something that has been out for awhile. Big difference is that this guy was never working for Obama.

    What this guy said was pretty stupid, but unless Obama was there cheering him on, I fail to see how this is his problem? Should we hold ourselves to everyone we ever knew?

    It's sad that the Clinton campaign released this as a way to draw attention from their problems.

    March 14, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. stacy

    On Fox and ABC news on this article, what about the terrible words
    he used in regard to God and America, just deplorable.

    March 14, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Tim, Fla.

    I bet the Obama supporters are going to argue that Jeremiah White's comments should not be attributed to Obama while hypocritically arguing that Geraldine Ferraro's should be attributed to Hillary.

    March 14, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Timmy

    Obama's paster is looking more and more like a racist and a hate monger.

    I can't believe Obama choses to allow his children to be indocrinated and brain washed by this hate monger and racist every Sunday.

    This shows a lot about Obama's lack of character.

    Obama chose to attend this church – obama has some explaining to do.

    If Obama is elected will he allow this racisit bigot and hate monger to be the one to swear him in.

    March 14, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Shaknet

    First off, let me point out the typo in your article. Wright is spelled W-R-I-G-H-T and not W-H-I-T-E. Next, let me say that although I am not a member of Dr. Wright's church, I have been exposed to his teachings and it is my opinion that he speaks truth that America does not want to hear. Keep preaching the truth Dr. Wright!!

    March 14, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. Missouri

    I am a white person and think Wright's in his sermon is absolutely right. Let's open eyes...!!!!! It's hard to be black in this country.... Black struggle more than white in their life....Let just recognize how we hate black... This is a fact and we try to hide our deep feelings ...
    Obama has no thing to do with Wright's sermon.

    March 14, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. Marlon

    I'm kind of shocked that CNN actually brought this to view - but grateful.

    It's really nice knowing that race has nothing to do with it - and it's only Hillary supporters that are racist. (Being sarcastic)

    March 14, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. Diane Minear

    This election debacle has goon too far when one of the candidate’s ministers is coming under scrutiny. Unbelievable.

    March 14, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. Mike

    Is he ever proud of his country? Once?

    March 14, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. john

    I don't understand why he is so important? I have already made up my mine.Everybody has thier views so what.
    Its time for change!!!! Obama 08

    March 14, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Anthony

    I do not see why the pastors sermon has anything to do with the issues facing America in this election. Obama has already made it clear his differences with his pastor views. This story is just a side show and should not be dominating the news the way it is right now. Are we going to now examine every sermon the pastor preached. This sermon was given way back in December why make it and issue now? Is it because Obama has such a commanding lead? We are really in the political "silly season".

    March 14, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. Diane Minear

    This election debacle has gone too far when one of the candidate’s ministers is coming under scrutiny. Unbelievable.

    March 14, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. SharonR

    To bad you did not show the whole tape he has made many remarks that are anti American and anti white Obama was a member of his church for twenty years calls him a mentor so this is a deal closer. he has been sitting under a man of hate for twenty years he can never be president and not because of his race but brcause of what he believes.

    March 14, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. Steve

    Maybe someone can explain to me what is wrong with what the guy said? Has anyone been to Mississippi lately? Do you know that racism in this country is still very real?

    March 14, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. John, N.H

    Finally, someone is asking questions

    March 14, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. lbr, jersey city, nj

    Now let's hear what the Obama camp would say this time. AXELROD WHERE IS YOUR VOICE? All of a sudden you are keeping mum about this comment?

    March 14, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  21. John

    God save America, had it Hillary's preachers whole media by now would asked her to quit race. Here media is promoting Obama who for 20 years is brainwashed by this preacher. Now we know why his wife is never been proud of America? Do we want these kind of people in White house.

    Hillary 08

    March 14, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. Katy7540

    Senator Obama is not responsible for the words of others. Since CNN know that Obama has "long maintained he is at odds with some of Wright's sermons" featuring the video serves as a feeble effort by CNN to harm Obama's bid for the Democratic nomination. Wright is old, and retired from the United Church of Christ.

    It is significant that CNN isnt investigating the sermons of the Black preachers at the Black churches that Bill Clinton, the first Black president has attended for years.

    March 14, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  23. CF

    Mr. Wright and Ms. Ferraro are institutions that this country can no longer afford. And Sen. Obama understands this.

    Mr. Wright will not have to resign from Obama's campaign, as he never held a post.

    March 14, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. What a racist

    Honestly, why USA can be so peacefule, when it has so many races?

    Blacks, as a whole, have not been deserving credit yet here in USA, maybe someday they will.

    March 14, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. Lisa - NY

    How can you go to church for 20 years, listen to his sermons for 20 years, get married, baptize your children and write a book inspired by this man and then claim that you don't agree with him.

    Americans open your eyes!!! Obama is a racist and a liar!!!

    March 14, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
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