March 14th, 2008
02:01 PM ET
13 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. Thinkin' Texan

    Ok, so if you run for public office you automatically become responsible for every word uttered by your friends and acquaintances? Even if they are unaffiliated with your campaign? This is asinine!

    Issues to consider: 1. The sermon was delivered 4 MONTHS AGO.
    2. Dude is retired. 3. He is not a part of Obama's campaign (as Ferrero was). LET’S MOVE ON!

    March 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Chuck

    Is there not suppose to be a separation of "Church and State." Who cares what Rev. Jeremiah Wright said. Stuff likes this turns me off. I'm white as Ferraro noted. Let's have the democratic party candidates get on with business and spell out exactly what their going to do concerning ALL issues that is best for America in the long haul.

    Chuck, Fredericksburg, VA

    March 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Hillary unsensord visit youtube. get the picture yourself.

    How about other churches preeches video and comment?

    March 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. mike

    Interesting how this is off the front page of of CNN's main site already. Or should we say BNN ( Barama News Network). Every time something negative about Hillary is put up it stays there for a day or two. I guess now we understand why the Obama Campaign keeps screaming "Racist" every five minutes. Perhaps the Reverend and his racist radical church has been advising him. Who sounds like the racist camp now???

    March 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Thomas

    20+ years! Married the Obamas and baptized their two children, this man IS an influence to the Obamas, it may explain why Michelle is no longer being allowed to talk...

    March 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. David Clute

    I'm a white man who grew up in a black church that was led by a black man who is probably of the same generation as Jeremiah Wright. I heard the same type of comments for 30+ years, which although they are based on the true experience of blacks in America, they do nothing to bring about healing and unity. I commend Barack Obama for doing his best to reach across racial barriers and mend the wounds, even if it means publicly denouncing his "old uncle."

    March 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. Mandi Locke

    Is there not truth in Wright's sermon? Still, even if you do consider what he said to be "racist" it is not the same as Ferraro's comments because Wright does not work for Obama's campaign.

    March 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  8. Marie

    Although , I disagree with the comments made by this pastor, I don't think that it is fair not to have included Obama's response during one of the debates that he had with Hillary sometime in February . He denounced and rejected this Pastor's remarks as well as the remarks of Minister Farrakhan. Obama's mother is a white woman, and, his father is white, and to just keeps focusing on his races misses distracts us from the issues that are hurting both many Americans across all racial lines.

    March 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  9. Emma

    How can Obama wiggle his way out of this, he has been a member of this church for 20 years, Rev Wright married him and michelle. Rev Right gave the man of the year to Farrakahn last year. If he quit the church after all this maybe I would respect him. But this is wron
    Please post my comment cnn you never do?

    March 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. Roberta Columbus

    Wolf Blitzer: Would you please stop saying that CNN has the "best political team"? It's for us, the viewer, to decide, not CNN.

    March 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. Mira

    Could you please stop the he said she said distractions. I will not hold Obama responsible for what anybody says, especially those who are not part of his campaign. The same thing applies for Clinton. Could we please focus on what qualities and qualifications does each candidate has. News media: quit acting like the paparazzi, you are losing our respect.

    March 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. ernest

    Sure, and somehow this will also be Hillary's fault, the same as when a picture of him wearing traditional african wear, it was a smear tactic, you cant even use his middle name without playing on fear, i am enjoying what white guilt has wrought , ha

    March 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    See racism goes both ways. There are just as many black racists as there are white. Can we move on now to the real issues. John McCain is going to wipe the floor with us this fall if we don't get it together.

    March 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. ftcollins

    I am still waiting for BO to show his leadership on this issue.

    March 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. Shaji Nair

    Who is the real RACIST in this world? African American or American White people. Why don't these people talk about how to make a change instaad of blaming others for their problem. In america every people have a chance and opportuntiy than any where else in this world. I am not sure why African American people blaming others for their miseries.

    Their own people can use any word, make fun of their people and make dirty videos on their own mom and sisters but any one else come on their way it is a problem, it is racisim .

    March 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. Independent

    If it's Obama's people it is freedom of speech.

    If it is ANYone else, it is racism.

    Haven't we learned the rules of the new politics yet.

    Get with it- that is how every day will be, if Obama should be our next president.

    Obama= divisive. Don't let the media persuade you to believe that it is Clinton who is divisive. That is just the acceptable Hillary hate talking. Obama's divisiveness is REAL. Look at how he divided a once united democratic party. Look at how he wants to suppress the votes of people who DID NOT vote for him.

    March 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Steve Johnson

    Rev. Wright' hostility toward America in general, whites and Israel appears to be very deep-seated. It is hard to believe that Sen. Obama could have such a close and lengthy relationship with Rev. Wright if Sen. Obama truly "deplores" the Rev. Wright's views on these issues.

    It would be instructive to see if there is any documentation of Sen. Obama disavowing positions taken by the Rev. Wright prior to his senate or presidential runs.

    March 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. Kennis

    Proof that what Geraldine Ferraro said was true. Anyone out there willing to call Minister Wright a racist? He's also saying that Obama being black matters in this race, anyone .... anyone? OF COURSE RACE AND SEX MATTER PEOPLE. But I sincerely hope that when we go down and vote we also consider what the candidates have actually done. Obama has graduated law school and won a few elections. But what has he done or achieved since being in office??? Both Clinton and McCain have REAL achievements that they can be judged on, not rhetoric and promises.

    March 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. Kenneth

    Ok Obama, you already denounced his comments. You may want to "Reject" them too before Hillary's camp starts to act like you did not.

    March 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. Wondering

    I'm sure there is a context to what he is saying that the excerpts are taken out of.

    That said, much of what he has said is still true.

    March 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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