June 10th, 2008
04:49 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama meets with religious leaders behind closed doors

,
 Obama privately met with about 30 religious leaders in Chicago on Tuesday.
Obama privately met with about 30 religious leaders in Chicago on Tuesday.

CHICAGO (CNN) - Presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama held a private, closed-press meeting Tuesday with religious leaders, which included Evangelicals, Protestants and Catholics, according to campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

About 30 people are expected to attend, including some from Chicago, a campaign aide said. Members of the media were kept out and weren't informed of any details until about 45 minutes prior to the beginning of the meeting.

"Reaching out to the faith community is a priority for Barack Obama and will be a priority under an Obama Administration," Psaki said in an e-mailed statement when pressed for details by members of the traveling press corps. Previously, the only information provided to reporters was that Obama would hold a private gathering with "community leaders."

"This is one of several meetings he will have over the coming months with religious leaders," Psaki said.

The Illinois senator left the traveling press corps upon landing in Chicago after a morning of campaign events in St. Louis, Missouri. Staffers would not disclose the location of the meeting to the reporters who were still on board the plane waiting to depart.

The campaign said privacy was necessary because the meeting includes people who support Obama, as well as some who do not who wanted to remain unidentified.

They provided the names of three leaders in attendance, all of whom happen to be African-American:

Dr. T. Dewitt Smith, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention; Dr. Stephen Thurston, pastor of the New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago; and Bishop Philip Cousin of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who is pastor of the Philip R. Cousin AME Church in Naperville, Illinois.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. james

    also it is 2008 going to 09 if people of different takes in life cant even speak to each other than we as a nation and as a world would be very far from advancing to that next level of comprehension and understanding.

    June 10, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. Tom G from Anaheim

    There should be no 'secret meetings' with religious leaders. I'm trying to support Obama because I desperately feel we need to change things and get away from elitist secret meetings with special interest groups. Sadly this smacks of the old ways. I imagine he promised them special treatment or consideration. On what? Abortion? Gay rights? More Bush era 'Faith Based' style handouts?

    It's what I would expect from Bush, Cheney, or McCain. Looks like we are in for 4 more years of business as usual if he wins.

    America so badly needs a 3rd party candidates.

    June 10, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. jimmy velman

    THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH EITHER OBAMA OR MCCAIN.
    WOULD YOU BELIEVE THAT THIS IS REALLY FUNNY.
    THIS IS THE LATEST IN THE NEWS:

    GENNIFER FLOWERS AND PAULA JONES WHO BOTH CLAIM AFFAIRS WITH BILL CLINTON ARE SELLIN A TELL ALL BOOK FOR $
    GUES HOW CHEAP" $I.99 (FOLKS THAT IS ONE DOLLAR AND 99 CENTS.) THE TWO ARE NOTHING BUT CHEAP WH@#$%S
    AND THEIR CHEAP BOOK IS JUST WORTH AS MUCH.

    WHY BILL CLINTON AT THIS TIME AND FOR WJHAT REASON?.
    ONLY A TWIT CAN FIGURE THIS ONE OUT.

    June 10, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Al

    He has to meet the religious groups behind closed doors.
    If he had two men of the cloth that spoke such vicious words about whites and our country they really need to know how he feels about Christianty.
    I know that I would question his moral values

    June 10, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Clear Picture

    Obama is trying to appeal to the faith based community as well – these folks tends to vote Republican and are increasingly pulling away from McCain. Obama is just broadening his base and have this group come on board as well – smart move Mr. Obama!

    June 10, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. deb in az

    was his mentor there?

    June 10, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. on

    where are atheists? religions bring only sorrow and horror to the world

    June 10, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. Steve in California

    I really don't understand why everyone gets so nervous when Obama talks to people. He's obviously a very savvy politician, or he wouldn't be where he is at this moment. You can bet that he's NOT making any promises, nor is he committing to anything except an on-going dialog.

    Obama has demonstrated his finely-honed ability to listen to people, and then cut to the chase and solve the problems. He has demonstrated his ability to find and hire good people, and put them to work where they will do the most good, after getting as much information as possible. This is just another example of that ability.

    Our country's core values are based upon the separation of church and state. It is important that we show respect to each side of that equation, but keep them separate (even though that doesn't always happen). Obama is making sure he understands the issues at hand for the religious leaders, so that their concerns can be addressed. This does not make him an "Anti-Christ" nor does it make him ineffective. Quite the contrary. It makes him a leader who listens. We haven't had one of those in almost a decade.

    June 10, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. Tracy

    All you guys are hogwash, bull crap, Hillary Clinton, ticked off supporters. Obama is gathering information from everyone. He's meeting with them today, he may meet with gays/lesbians tomorrow, he may meet with white folk, then black folk, he may meet with homeless folk, he's trying to hear from everyone. There are so many of you out there hoping he will fail, but I have news for you, he listens, he hears, he observes, and he informly makes his decisions. He gathers information, he does not just make a decision because you and I say so... Y'all so stupid.

    June 10, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. Tracy

    Haters!!!!!!!!!!!!! He is going to do very well by this country, with or without some of you airhead's support....

    June 10, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. Black Cat

    Okay, I'm an Obama supporter, but Chicago, 30 people, no press, and a weekday? Seems like this is a non-factor to his campaign. Marcus, where's the proof in your accusation? Do you even read the Bible? Stop making stuff up.

    June 10, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. Alex in TX

    If ignorance is bliss, there should be some very happy people that post on this forum.

    June 10, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. The Truth

    NYC Native,

    what in the world are you talking about?

    June 10, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. spencer

    Obama is a hypocrite..I do not like his inexperience, I think he and his campaign treated certain persons unfairly in this whole process..As for him attacking McCain, I thaught Obama said he would not be going negative with his opponent..I think he is proving otherwise..People know a lier when they hear one..........

    June 10, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. Kenneth M.

    Then tell us how they are if they don't want to be unidentified? jimF, I am sure they are fine.

    June 10, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. What if?

    OBAMA PLEASE LISTEN WITH BOTH EARS WIDE OPEN, EYE'S WIDE OPEN....MAKE SURE TO ASK EVERYONE TO STAND THAT WAS SENT BY THE REPUBLICANS PARTY....meaning from McBush camp....

    Listen to Emily June 10th, 2008 4:51 pm ET
    Talk with them but don't promise them anything.
    Keep church and state separate! PLEASE...............

    June 10, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. Can I get my comments posted this time?

    If he's Muslim, it's "get a rope". If he's Christian he's "the anti-Christ". This guy just can't win. I wonder what would happen if he decides he's atheist?

    June 10, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. Not a good thing

    Private meetings with Church leaders is uncalled for. Obama is a sneak and cannot be trusted. He is a wolfe in sheeps clothing. Obama needs to come out and make all his views clear from top to bottom. He has not done that. It needs to be done. It should be demanded, especially by the media who has been in his corner from the beginning. It is owed to the voters. He has slipped in as the nominee by a lot of pull, but we still do not know who this man really is. Now is the time, later WILL BE TOO LATE.

    June 10, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  19. Matthew

    He is not wearing a blue turbin, for all you Nostradamus followers. This is a responsible meeting... one that can bode well for our future president.

    OBAMA '08

    June 10, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. Will

    Obama is sure a man of faith. His spiritual advisors include Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rev. James Meeks, and Father Pfleggar. All three are extremely racist, liberal, and nasty people. These are the religious leaders Obama looks up to.

    McCain '08 with a Democratic Congress
    Clinton '12, '16

    June 10, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  21. Preston

    NYC Native expressed the following concern: "What about other faiths? What about the "nonfaith" community? If he wants to meet with religious representatives, he should meet with representatives of all."

    Actually, that's exactly what Sen. Obama is planning to do.

    "This is one of several meetings he will have over the coming months with religious leaders," Psaki said.

    Based on his pluralistic approach to issues affecting all of us, there can be little doubt that he will also meet with members of the non-faith community (of whom I am one).

    June 10, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  22. zorba

    Obama understands the importance of faith in the lives of the American people. It only makes sense that he would be interested in what the faith leaders have to say.

    June 10, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. Shawna

    This shows he is a leader that engages in talks with different leaders and respects their wishes to speak candidly.

    June 10, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  24. Impartial Jury

    As usual people get paranoid or look at meetings like this to confirm their greatest fear. Is it possible that he just wants to know what issues concerns these religious leaders the most. Seems to me that it is consistant with his position that you speak with people and get their input before deciding on where one stands on issues of importance to those influencing various communities.

    June 10, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. K of TX

    It is a shame that in a time of great economic stress and foreign policy anxiety, we as Americans allow the media networks to push what church leaders Barack Obama is meeting with. I guess you can throw that ole' "Freedom of religion" concept right out the window with the rest of our civil rights!

    June 10, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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