May 31st, 2008
06:22 PM ET
15 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. Steve

    First he could not disavow him
    Then he did
    Then he dons a flag pin
    Now he resigns.
    He said he did not see this coming yet Wright was disinvited to his presidential announcement.
    And poor Senator Clinton is the one who is pandering.

    May 31, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  2. Jennifer

    It's about time. I dont understand why all the yelling in that church. I'd have a headache.

    May 31, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  3. Jose


    May 31, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  4. nobama

    Seems to be more political now, doesn't it? Why resign now when you are running for President when you have been apart of the church and listened for 20 years? The only sense it makes to me is simply political!

    May 31, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  5. rachel

    little too late.

    May 31, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  6. garcia

    well now that is behind us, lets get on with the rest of the primaries. fox news, are the most hateful media. they just like to dig and dig into this issue. that hannity, is something else, will pray for him and the rest of his crew. i don't know if this will be posted, and this time i don't care.
    obama 08

    May 31, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  7. carol b

    It is so sad that it has come to this. to have to resign from the church you have gone to for 20 years because of this.

    May 31, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  8. Kelly, PA

    Good decision. Although I believe Hillary feels entitled to the nomination as reflected in her past and current behavior, the way it was presented from the pulpit was divisive and inappropriate. I would have expected something like that from Chris Rock or some other vulgar comedian not a man of the cloth.

    May 31, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  9. Shrimp Barnicles, somewhere in New York.

    Good move by Barack. I don't expect any backlash from this decision. The Trinity United Church in Chicago has to understand that blowing the flames of racism and black revenge is NOT the way to wipe out racism in this country. Barack knows that very well. He wants to be the president of America– not only the president of black America.

    Secondly, Jesus never taught us to seek revenge against anyone who may have done us harm. It's the forefathers of America who coined and taught their children black discremination. The children are innocent. The Bible clearly says; The sin of the father cannot be debited to the accounts of the son or daughter. Moreover, God said: Revenge is mine. I will pay. I will recompense. The pastors of the Trininty Church have been reading their Bibles upside down or they probably don't read their Bible.

    For those of you scratching your head– I am an African dude.

    May 31, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  10. Deborah Evans

    This is great news! Obama has done the right thing, Father Pflegar knew better, he just gave Fox News, the Republicans and Hillary's people the opportunity they were looking for.

    The new pastor of Trinity should have adviced him before he was inviited that if he had any intentions of making any policital remarks refrain from it, Father Pflegar knows that the Church has been under scrutiny for sometime now.

    What Father Pflegar did was disrespectful to Obama and for he stands for.

    May 31, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  11. Barack Uda

    I understand, Barack. I too needed to leave my church long ago. The things that happened in your church pale in comparison to mine. The truth is a lot of us just don't go that often; holidays and maybe one random Sunday. You are an awesome candidate and I believe you're blessed and supported by Trinity despite their antics.

    May 31, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  12. Tim

    Obama 08/12!!

    May 31, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  13. for obama nj

    senator (mr president) obama, you did the right thing by resigning from your church. please stay encouraged, and God will show you and your family where to go, just continue to put him first in your life.....
    do not even comment on the negative media (especially f–x). stay focused and trust God......donna

    May 31, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  14. Kofi

    Obama has done the right thing. Move on!!!!!


    May 31, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  15. sham

    political decision 20 years to late
    wil drop the african community just as fast after election

    May 31, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. Marla

    GOOD for him. he did the right thing this way they cannot say he belongs to the Church no more!! i cannot wait to see what else HILLARY/McCAIN come up with to try and attack him. im Praying that GOD sends him and his family to a GREAT church. NOW he and AMERICA can focus on the Real issues in america like $4.00 on GAS!!

    Obama/Edwards 08'

    May 31, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  17. Daniel, NY, NY

    Resignation comes too late. Damage done.

    Who is pandering now, Mr. O?

    You will NEVER get my vote!

    May 31, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  18. Cindy

    A non-issue... except for Sean Hannity and his ilk.

    May 31, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  19. Bill

    Odd how at almost every important turn in this primary somone from his church said something crazy. Almost makes one think that they were trying to do him in themselves. They knew it would cause problems, but did it anyway. Odd, very odd. Obama made the right choice to move on hopefully a more civil setting. Of course, there are plenty of people out there who will say "too little, too late."

    May 31, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  20. Go Hillary

    THis guy will be resigning from a lot in the future !!

    May 31, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  21. Mike

    Bottom line is that he was in the church and digested this philosophy for 20 years. His kids listened to his pastor Wright cuss in church. Obama appointed Wright a campaign position.

    Then only after the media makes an issue of Wright's sermons does Obama lie and say he never heard them. Then makes a carefully choreographed speech saying he did hear them but his grandmother made racist remarks against black people so somehow he is balanced between the two.

    Then when Wright turned on Obama, Obama now denounces Wright even more.

    So now we are to believe that Obama is a good man having to leave his church he was still a member of when a priest makes fun of Clinton.

    Folks you are backing the wrong candidate.

    I will never, ever vote for Obama.

    It is Hillary 08 or McCain 08.

    May 31, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  22. Eddie

    The ONLY reason he resigned was out of SELF-INTEREST.

    Too LITTLE, too LATE! He should have not sat there for 20 years as hate messages were followed by AMENS and PRAISE the LORD!

    May 31, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  23. Michael

    I hope we can move forward. America's ready to talk about substance now. I paid $85.00 to fill my truck today and two of my friends have been in Iraq. They often write to me and wonder why they fighting. I urge conservatives and liberals to really think about the issues facing our wonderful country.

    May 31, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  24. James in Ohio

    The sad thing is I can actually agree with Jeremiah Wright on one issue. Barack says what he says because he is a politician.

    This resigning from his church is nothing more than a political ploy to prepare him for the general election which he has no chance of winning.

    The coalition put together by Obama isn't enough to win in November. The thing that has upset me most about the Obama campaign is his supporters. Their apathy not only for HRC herself, but for her supporters has been apparent since the beginning. Obama supporters outward disgust/loathing of HRC supporters has been palpable/condescending, calling HRC supporters ignorant, stupid, racist and most damaging, not needed to win the White House. Obama by himself cannot mend the divide inside the Democratic party, when it is his supporters who have caused such a chasm. I still have hope that the remaining super delegates will think through the General Election and realize HRC is the only Democratic candidate who can win in November. If they are unable or unwilling to do that there is no chance I will vote for Obama. Not only because I feel he is an inferior candidate, but because for my party, to succeed in the future it needs to learn not to be elitist and condescending to its moderates.

    May 31, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  25. ChicoSez

    So Obama is resigning from his beloved church. Not out of a sense of outrage over the terrible things that get said in his church. Not because of the wild cheering that every hatefilled word from these hatemongering pastors got from the other members of this church. In fact, I really didn't get the reason Obama and his lovely family left his beloved church of over twenty years. Well, a politician does what a politician has to do, I guess. But I can't vote for this guy.

    May 31, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
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