May 31st, 2008
06:22 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama resigns from controversial church

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="Sen. Obama resigned from his controversial church, according to his campaign."]
(CNN) - Barack Obama resigned Saturday from his Chicago church - where controversial sermons by his former pastor and other ministers had created repeated political headaches for the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination - his campaign confirmed.

The resignation comes days after the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a visiting Catholic priest, mocked Obama's Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, for crying in New Hampshire during the runup to the primary there.

Previously, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright - former pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ and Obama's minister for about 20 years - drew unwanted attention for the campaign when videos of several of his fiery sermons surfaced.

In them, Wright suggested the U.S. government may be responsible for the spread of AIDS in the black community and equated some American wartime activities to terrorism.

Obama has said he was not present for the controversial sermons by Wright or Pfleger and had condemned both - most recently saying he was "deeply disappointed" by Pfleger's "divisive, backward-looking rhetoric."

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (336 Responses)
  1. Jane, NC

    Sen. Obama says this is "not a decision I came to lightly?" Seems like a no-brainer to me. What is destrubing is that he stayed with these pastors and this congregation so many years. Voters could not possibly overlook that.

    May 31, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  2. concerned

    That was the right decision. I can understand the personal conflict Sen. Obama was going through, but Rev. Wright and Moss and visiting guest would only to distract him from fully engaging McCain on real issues. Everytime someone get on the pulpit Sean Hannity and company will be waiting in the wings to pounce. There would be no relief from distractions as he move forward in this election.

    I applaud Sen Obama for doing the right thing. Some would question his timing and motive; but I say BETTER LATE THEN NEVER.

    May 31, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  3. Justin

    I doubt if he has set foot in that church any time this year, especially after Rev. Wright's comments. Even if he had not "resigned" (by the way, I never knew that you could resign. Most people just stop attending a church if they don't like it there.), he would've been very uncomfortable attending services there here on out.

    May 31, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  4. All American

    Tell us another lie Obama. You should have acted like a responable adult before this. But I would like to know if this withdrawing from the church is permanant or temporary? Don't matter you will just lie about it. GO MCCAIN!

    May 31, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  5. Bibek ME

    You did the right thing.
    I am proud of you Barack.
    Keep it up.
    I was a republican for Clinton... but i am now re-thinking...

    Republican for OBAMA!

    May 31, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  6. Tom from Pittsburgh

    Obama only does the right thing when he is forced to do it. First he said he could not cast Jerimiah Wright aside any more than his grandmother who made racist remarks. (Interestingly he never indicated that any of Wright's remarks were racist; just his grandmother's.) Then after Wright made a fool of himself three days in a row he does just that. Next a priest makes a fool of himself so Obama resigns from the church six weeks after he should have resigned. McCain chastises him for not going to Iraq since January 2006 so he says he will consider it. McCain also revealed that he has not held a subcommittee meeting on Afghanistan since he was appointed chairman. Watch him suddenly start holding meetings. Where is the leadership? A real leader does the right thing because he knows it is the right thing to do not to gain politically advantage.

    I am becoming disenchanted by Obama the longer I observe him and I was very much in favor of him earlier.

    May 31, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  7. Junior Miante from California

    I'm so proud of Sen. Obama for his decision to resign from his church, and I wish he had done this long time ago. Anyway I still support you and i hope now all of trinity church bad comments would not have place in Sen. Obama campaign or life.
    Obama 08

    May 31, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  8. Jack

    Integrity, I don't think so. He's a hypocrite. That church helped him become who he is politically with all the connected and community folks there. Now he throws them under the bus for political expediency. It's a smart move politically and well timed with the delegate seating drama occurring at the same time that would steal attention from his church departure. Shameful what he just did to that church and good riddance I suppose for folks that believe in that church and who would stick with it during the good and bad times.

    May 31, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  9. Caroline

    The most interesting part of this story is the $100,000 "earmark" that Senator Obama inserted in legislation to benefit programs at this priest's church...Supposedly for a daycare center, but was there a quid pro quo?...Shouldn't we be looking at this conflict of interest?

    May 31, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  10. DMS-AKA

    Can you spell SET-UP certain staff members of Trinity church, or Father Pfleger must be under-cover CLINTON supporters. This MAKES ABSOLUTLY NO SENSE. Why would his long time church family continue to allow him to be humiliated knowing this type of nonsense could ultimately hurt him? Remember Rev Wright was asked to speak at the white house during President Clinton problems with Monica. I'm sorry that Sen. Obama had to leave his church, church family ties are hard and painful to cut.

    However I believe you can listen to divisive, backward, rhetoric and still form an educated opinion based on the truth as you see it. Example “YOUNG BLACK MALES” are told everyday their not smart as WHITE MALES, they will either end up in jail or dead, the only thing their good for is being an athlete, rapper, OR drug dealers. There is never any stereotype surrounding an educated BLACK MALE all the statements above are divisive, but with these types of stereotypes stacked up against them there are those BLACK MALES that still prevail. So yes Obama did attend the church for approximately 20 years but his awareness, integrity, intuitiveness would allow him to formulate an educated opinion on matters he disagrees with.

    There is NO other candidate that has the poise, confidence, intellect, and experience in working with all types of people for a common goal other then MY FRIEND Senator Obama.

    Please let’s learn to walk in another man shoes before we judge a lesson all American’s should challenge ourselves on.

    OBAMA 08

    May 31, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  11. KE

    It's too late, baby, now it's too late...

    We really don't care....

    May 31, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  12. Bill A

    little too late,Obama...The latest polls indicate that Obama is loosing ground against Hillary in states he had clearly one...

    May 31, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  13. Dr. Sam

    LONG OVERDUE! There are other churches in Chicago and Washington for Obama to attend. If he had stayed, everything anybody chooses to say that is unacceptable will be connected to Obama by his ditractors. The effort to link Obama to other people's tirade is so unfair that reasonable people all across America will reject it. Obama cannot be held responsible for what others choose to say–it is a free country! Show me instead what Obama himself said, now and and in the past, that is unacceptable. We must condemn those who try to divide us; but their statements stand or fail on their own.

    May 31, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  14. JAZZ

    May he find peace in a new church home. This will not set well with that 90% of the black vote. It's presidential politics. It's all that and then some.

    May 31, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  15. Paul

    Obama resigned because Trinity has served it's purpose and it is time to move on to use other people that can serve him and advance his cause.
    Someday the truth will be revealed!

    May 31, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  16. Marty

    Obama is so disgusting. He is flakier that the typical politician.

    May 31, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  17. Tina

    Its unfortunate that Obama is left without a church. I will pray for you and your family Obama. Hopefully one day you will get to worship in peace.

    Rev Wright is an idiot and cared only about himself. I know you don't share his views and I pray god protects you and your family.

    May 31, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  18. starpilot

    Too little , too late. I myself would like to believe in Barack Obama, but why did he not leave this ministry earlier? Now it seems only like political expediency.
    Once Barack wins the nomination, what do you think will be blasted ad infinitum by the GOP? Hilary is correct- ads with black men snorting coke, ads with his pastors urging wiping out the white race or so it will seem, ads with white women asking Barack for a date etc.. All this has been done before and will be dome again.
    I really think it will lead tp a GOP victory for McCain- so sad.

    May 31, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. Mike in Calgary

    I like Obama would have expected Christian ministers and Catholic priests to practice what Christ preached!


    May 31, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  20. Chuck

    Oh BHO, can't you even get this right? It is not because you are running for President that you should leave that church – it is because no one should preach hate or racial bias in ANY church! You attended that church WITH your family for 20 years – let that sink in for a minute – 20 years! Your views along with your family's are right there in that place of worship. You sir are NOT the person to run our great nation. Your sense of right and wrong is seriously flawed. Any speech or comment you give is officially tainted. Oh please appease us great one. Uniter? Please give me a break.

    May 31, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  21. Peter of Oregon

    After the recent comments by Priest Pfleger I was thinking that Obama should do exactly what he did. Politics does not belong at the pulpit. Obama is right to seek a congregation and pastoral staff that match his views of unity and inclusiveness, and not devisive politics.

    Obama '08/12

    May 31, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  22. KE

    It's too late, baby, now it's too late...

    We really don't want to hear....

    Go ahead and run, run with Michelle, run for the general election...

    Nobody is stopping you...

    May 31, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  23. Give Me A Break!

    Obama lost my support long ago.

    Obama is a FLIP FLOPPER! Not to long ago he said his pastor was like is uncle. Then he disowned him. Not to long ago he said he loved his church. Now he hates it.

    Make up your mind buddy! Obama can't just become a new man over night – he is who he is.

    May 31, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  24. marlon

    he did the "wright" thing. this church seems like they are more into getting their points across, that helping his campaing. they have shown very poor judgement in a time like this. All the best to you Senator.

    May 31, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  25. KJ

    This latest Obama scandal reiterates the point that Obama has not been fully vetted and is too risky for the Democrats to foolishly nominate. Why does Obama hang around such racist, anti-American types of people? A person is judged by the company he keeps........

    Obama is unqualified and unelectable.

    Take it to the floor Hillary where you can and must prevail! The delegates are not really "pledged" to anyone, they can vote for whomever they think is the most electable candidate for the general election. That person is and shall remain Hillary Rodham Clinton!

    May 31, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
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