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. carrie

    and mite i add,there is fredom of speech and expression in this give that to clinton,give it to obama and every other aamerican.

    March 14, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. Paul

    Now BO is disowning his pastor and preaching the fact that even though he was exposed to this man's vitriolic comments for 20 some years, they had no effect on him. Pretty soon he will disown everything in his upbringing including his parents. The more I hear about BO, the more this Democrat is voting Republican. BO is really starting to scare me.

    March 14, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. ElcubanitoKC

    It only took CNN three days to post this?? WOW...

    March 14, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. KO

    I guess we will see how Obama handles this comments from his pastor, maybe he will talk his way out of an african american, lets us call this things by their rightful names...obama is using race so let us not fool ourselves to think any different...

    March 14, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  5. saul, WI

    I think these are strategies meant to distract voters from the real issue. This pastor does not speak for Obama and does he does not agree with his views. This sermon was done in December 2007, and the only reason it is commning now is to distract voers.
    This should be be taken off the political line.

    March 14, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  6. King of NJ

    and this is news why?! , My pastor says some nonsence every now and then, should I be juged by his comments, BTW my pastor baptised me! what a nonissue...

    March 14, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. ceetip

    I could never ever vote for someone who was a member of a black separatist church for 20 years. Just as I would never ever vote for someone who was ever a member of a white supremest group. This scary. Really scary!!

    March 14, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. John, Washington DC

    This minister is stoking the race fire with a leaf blower – comments like this only divide, not unite. Can you image if a white person was making those types of comments?

    I can just hear her say "Obama does not know what it is like to not qualify for financial aide because you're white!" Look out, here comes Al Sharpton and Jesse.

    Do you want Obama running our Country with this character chanting into his ear?

    March 14, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. CB

    OUCH, I guess the truth does hurt a little. If Pat Buchanan had said any of those comments, it would probably be basis for a best seller. Senator Obama didn't say any of the comments or perform the sermon, to anyone's knowledge, so what's the problem. What was said in Rev. Wright’s sermon that was such a bald face lie? Senator Obama’s has said repeatedly that he deplores divisive statements whether they come from his supporters, the supporters of his opponent, talk radio, or anywhere else. We have so many mole hills being made into mountains on this 2008 campaign trail for no reason. Man, this coming six weeks will be the longest in recorded history.

    March 14, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Paul

    Rev. Wright is an adult. He is responsible for his words. Just like the people attending the Catholic churches where the Priests molested young children, they are not responsible for the Priests actions. They reject those actions just like Obama has rejected Reverand Wrights actions.

    Those who are trying to make Obama responsible for Rev. Wrights actions and words must then take responsible for all of their friends, family, and ministers action and words. If they do not take responsibility themselves that would make them hypocrites making their entire argument void.

    For all of you making a big story about all of this, to hold any water you must also bear the responiblitiy for every unethical action and comment made by anyone who has ever been close to you. Can you do that???

    I didn't think so.

    March 14, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. Jeff, Buies Creek, NC

    I'm telling you, coming from Illinois, the more you learn about the "empty suit", the scarier it gets.

    Open your eyes, people.

    March 14, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Diijon

    And why would anyone voting care about this story?

    March 14, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. Martin

    This story is not getting the attention it should!!!!!!!!

    March 14, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. Shane, TX

    Shouldn't this church lose all tax-exempt status from the IRS for making political endorsements?? Or would that make the IRS racist?

    March 14, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. Janet

    I eat breakfast at a diner daily and today everyone who thought of voting for Obama now have second thoughts because of his minister's remarks. Horrible remarks..they offend everyone. So tell me how Obama can win in our state..Pennsylvania now that we are getting to know him better.

    March 14, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. Jermika, Texas

    The man's retired and doesn't even preach anymore. Plus, there are plenty of other AMERICANS who while they mourn the loss of life on 9/11, say that America interferes with the affairs of others more often than it should. Obama cannot control the motives and ideas of his supporters no more than any other candidate.

    As long as he doesn't support ALL of the man's philosophies I think it's safe to say move on......

    March 14, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. Marie

    What's the matter CNN? Hillary whine again?
    Sorry to put a damper on mainstream Christianity.......but these same sermons are preached from many black, white, hispanic and native pulpits!

    March 14, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. Will

    This is old news. It's interesting that it's been resurfaced up recently after Ferraro....

    Luckily he's not part of the campaign and the preacher is retired.

    March 14, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Mom in PA

    The strength of the Democractic party is it's diversity. Many different people coming together for the purpose of making our government stronger by having our government represent all Americans and have our government function in the world as a unifing force for the world's people. The statements of Rev. Wright and of Mrs. Ferraro do not represent a Democratic party well. They serve to divid, not unitify us!

    As our future leaders both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton need to lead us to being a better nation. Statements like the ones we have heard in the past few weeks do not make us better or stronger.

    March 14, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  20. Ken

    Who is using the race card?

    March 14, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  21. Jim Fix


    Didn't think CNN was going to ever cover this story. Fox has had it out for a week.

    March 14, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. PA voter

    i'm sorry but this is NOT OK.

    I am a VERY open-minded person, but this is unacceptable

    March 14, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. Joe

    What he say's about 911 makes sense to me!

    March 14, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. tooth

    How convenient it is dploring divisives now after spiritual guidance by these for more than 2 decades!

    March 14, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. Dexter

    Just what we need, an anti-white bigot in the White House. Funny how Obama attended Wright's church for 20 years and didn't say a peep about it, until he ran for office and his mentor's bigoted hate speech became headline news. Can't believe I'm saying this, but I think Hillary would be a better candidate. She's a crook, but at least she doesn't hate white people.

    March 14, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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