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. Matt

    So he will sit down for tea and biscuits with our enemies, but when it comes to his church he cuts and runs? If he can't get one small group of people to get along and behave like civilized human beings, how could he possibly manage us all?

    May 31, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  2. just vote

    give the man a cookie! now lets get on with it.

    May 31, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. Laura Smart

    The vicious Clinton/McCain press has really persecuted this church because of Obama. It is the in the best interest of both the church and Obama's family to part now so the press ca rest.

    How come everything said in that church by anyone, including visitors, is parsed for any misstatement and is automatically tied to Barack Obama? Does he write sermons for the pastors? Does anybody in the church ask for his opinion before making a comment?
    Press please, leave the church of God alone!

    Thankfully, he left the congregation; but he has not left the body of christ.

    May 31, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  4. Ruth

    oh yes Obama that's it you are finished with this if those people say something now they don't talk for you or anybody else congratulation i'm proud of you for the decision you have taken and now we need to move forward in this campaign in spite of all that happened but we still ahead GO Obama we love you in Michigan cause i voted for you for uncommited. Hillary must realise that she lost the party and she can't be the nominee. DEM UNIFY to beat MCcain in November

    May 31, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  5. Chamorrita60

    I think we all have our own decisions when ti comes to our faith and religion. I belief that a person's relationship with GOD is no one else's business. Your faith is truly a "personal choice", I truly commend you, President Obama for making a very difficult decision based on what's BEST for the country and not what's BEST for you personally. NO ONE has the right to question one's choice of religion. Only GOD has the right to judge, and he's the only one you need to answer to.

    It does NOT matter to me to what church you belong to. The church DOES not define you, nor does any pastor. We all belong to a church and we attend these churches NOT to worship the Pastor, but to worship our LORD and Savior.

    Our GOD is an awesome GOD and he knows what's in your heart and he guides you in your blessed journey now. If he did NOT, you would NOT be where you are today, President Obama. Everyone wants to take "credit" for your successes, but they NEVER want to take credit for your faults. They're quick to point out your faults, but NOT their own faults and misgivings. I always find this reality to ironic.

    GOD Bless YOU and your family President Obama, may he continue to guide YOU and BLESS YOU as you continue onward on your historical journey.

    May 31, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  6. NObama

    interesting how he conveniently decides to do this after 20 years of tolerating the teachings of that church?

    Good strategy to get the White Vote, BO!

    May 31, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  7. Gene

    About time.. I hope Obama spat on that church as he left.

    May 31, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  8. Steve

    I am really disappointed that political figures can't worship God in peace. It a shame that Senater Obama and his family had to leave there church because of politics. Whatever happen to the separation from church and state! I quess the next thing will be that people will want him to denouce Christ. Senater Obama has took more political blows then any other canidate. Maybe in reality it is because he is Black and a Christian, maybe this is why they keep picking away at him. I believe we should treat others the way we want to be treated. How would we like it if our spiritual life was being envaded upon. I hope America will let Senater Obama focus on the issues and leave his personal church life to his liking.



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

    I know this was a difficult decision for him. As someone who left their church because of the things that were going on I understand why it took him so long to do it.

    When you believe completely in God and Christ, you go for the message, not the messenger. It's difficult to leave your church because you feel as though you're rejecting God. You hang on continuoulsy simply focusing on Gods' message, telling yourself you're there for God. You try to block out the other things that constantly keep nagging at your spirit.

    Then you can no longer continue to deny that it's time to leave and that after much soul-searching and tallking to God you realise that that specific church can no longer fulfill your spiritual needs. It had to be especially painful for him these past few months because this church is where he gave his life to Christ. I know the pain he must be feeling, though his is on a much greater scale, he was 20 years in this church.

    This is not a bad thing that Obama has left this church. It was time for him to leave because, God wants him to leave this church. Regardless of what happens from now on in his life, God wants him out of there. He has finally realised that he is not spiritually aligned with them. What he has tried to ignore can no longer be ignored. This church witnessed to him about Christ, but Christ is bigger than that church or any of their members.

    If you are a believer you know that this happens in many aspects of your life where events cause your spirit to choose God over the comfortable surrounding you've known-no matter how you've tried to justify why you should remain.

    Obama will find another church home that will supply the spiritual food he will need for the next path his life is about to take. From this experience he will learn many things about God and how much God means to him. He will also learn that the Holy Spirit has been guiding his life. From this experience he may also learn when to let go of things not benefiting the nation.

    If he becomes President and I strongly believe he will. This nation will benefit greatly from such a strong and principled person.

    May 31, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  10. Bill, Covington

    I for one will never believe this freak has quit the church that he has enjoyed for twenty or more years, married in that church, raised his children in that churche's hateful atmosphere. Now when it's politicaly correct he will "RESIGN". What will be the duration of his resignation? Is it in writing? Did he sighn it? Were there any witnesses to that signature?
    Sweet Jesus people, wake up and smell the stench that follows him and his chosen friends. Rev. J. Wright, Father M. Pflager, Bill Ayers. that Dorn woman (Ayers Wife), and others to numerous to mention here.

    May 31, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  11. lexel

    I think it is about time he makes this difficult decision. Resigning from the church will totally put the Wright's and Pfleger controversy sealed , marked voided and shipped to RNC??. A huge question mark does light up on my little brain to question the motives of Wright and Pfleger for such display. Wright was meant to sabotage Obama's nomination by questioning Obama's values while Pfleger was meant to resurrect the Wright controversy and question Obama's credibility again. I wonder if both men are registered Republicans.

    May 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  12. Claudette Hewitt

    Barack Obama should only be responsible for his words and God is responsible for the words of a priest. The world is watching America and everyone is excited about 'Obama'. The world is sad and angry and it needs a smile on its face, so let us have Obama for president! He will go a long way in 'healing' the world,

    May 31, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  13. Laidetea

    It had to be done. It's sad that Obama political views are distorted by negative rherotic. I will support him on this decision as well. Long time coming for decision.

    OBAMA 2008

    May 31, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  14. ginger

    Sen. Obama, I deeply respect you for resigning from the church. By doing so you have placed the members of Trinity United above your own desires and/or wants. I realize a lot of people will say you did this for political reasons; however, this was affecting the entire church body at Trinity United. By your resigning the church can be restored to peace. As a believe in Jesus Christ I know God will plant you in the right church.

    Obama 08

    May 31, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  15. Bola

    This is a hard decision you have made and i can only wish the Obama family God's guidiance and may the good lord direct them to the right path. This is such a hard decision i must confess but i believe he did the right thing. It is now left for the stupid foxnews to continue their hatred comment on this decision. there is nothing one can do to pleases the world anyway, one can only try.

    I pray you find the right church as your children needs to grow with the word of God being the foundation of their life.

    May 31, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. Nina J. Bedford

    He had to leave...what a sad commentary...

    May 31, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  17. Brenda Simpson

    It is so hurtful to know that after what I myself have witnessed with living through the years of civil rights, segregation, integration, and prejudices, not just from whites, but from my own race (African-Americans), we are still going through this ignorance. I've witnessed it on the job, in the schools, in the marketplace, and yes in my own church which is 100% black. I do not blame Senator Obama for leaving his church of over twenty years. Yet, I know what he must be feeling. I always thought that as a people of color, we are the most forgiving people there is. I always thought that if we ( as a people) could find love we would always find it in our families and in our church. I would have thought that if Senator Obama's church loved him, they would have been more careful to keep anything that would have hurt their "SPIRITUAL BROTHER" out of the pulpit. Unfortunately, there are still some of us that are not spiritually mature or care enough to lift a man up instead of trying to tear him down. This is the most defining moment in our history. Yet, it is the most painful, as it was in the days when our forefathers became free men. Where is the freedom in all of this?

    May 31, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  18. Precious

    Wow! It took 20 years to make a single decision regarding his family of 4 people (which includes the two most important people in his life, his two children). If he is the President of the United States of America, he will have at least the first 4 years to make some decisions regarding the entire USA. Are we in trouble? What will be the real change? My conclusion is, only time will tell.

    May 31, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  19. The Truth

    The fact that this country obsesses over what a candidates minister says shows that we are but a nation of fools...

    We should focus on the issues and how the candidates want to tackle them and get rid of all this other carnival circus nonsense.

    The media deserves credit for sensationalizing this garbage. In todays news it is the National Enquirer that sets the tempo.

    Religion and politics are strange bedfellows. Lets try to seperate them and start looking for a leader who is not beholding to any particular religious denomination. This is a religiously plural country, not a theocracy.

    May 31, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  20. Kardamom

    So now his resignation makes everything ok? What about the last 20 years? These ministers/priests didn't just start saying these things. They've been doing it for years.

    Boy, if this had been Hillary Clinton's church, we would never hear the end of it.

    May 31, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  21. change 1


    May 31, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  22. Judy

    Obama attended this church for 20 years and now he resigns because of negative comments a visiting priest made? Maybe its time for him to show America how he plans to bring people together by making his former church an example. He could attempt to show the church and those who attend it why these things that have been said recently are wrong and how to correct it. I hope his simply walking away because of the controversy is not an indication of how he would handle world affairs. I also find it hard to believe that in 20 years the Rev. Wright never made negative comments like those that made the news; did the Rev. simply wake up one day and decide that he believed that American government was responsible for the spread of Aids? Obama may not have heard the specific sermon that made the news, so in that he may be telling the truth however; like most politicians he did not say that he had never heard Rev. Wright speak about the things in the past. Of course if this was Clinton she would have been accused of lying and attending a church that appears to preach intolerance.

    May 31, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  23. Precious

    Final note: Nothng just Happen.

    May 31, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  24. nannie bouroughs, Kenosha, WI

    How much room is there under that bus?

    First, you couldn't disown Rev. Wright, because that would be like disowning your family; then, when it became a problem for your presidential campaign, you threw him under the bus, backed up, and ran him over again!

    Now, Father Pfleger does a MAJOR disrespect to Senator Clinton, by mocking her in your church, much to the glee of the parishioners' who all laughed and cheered in the background. But, you, of course, were "Disappointed” by Father Pfleger's actions, even though he was your friend for over 20 years.

    OK, under the bus with Father Pfleger, as he was impeding your ascent to the presidency!

    Now, as it becomes increasingly clear to all of America that your CHRISTIAN church is really rather "out there," you now resign from the church you lived in for 20 years.

    OK, under the bus with the church!

    As the Jr. Senator from IL, professing to have such GREAT JUDGMENT, I'm just sort of wondering when Michelle is going to find herself under the bus.

    Is there anything that you won't do to become President?

    May 31, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  25. Bonnie

    I feel that Mr. Obama has just done what he thinks he has to to get elected......too little too late........I can't believe that he's still goin' with everything that's gone on....I see others have to back down for so much less then his unAmerican acts......he can't tell me that he never cheered like everyone else in that church when the tipical white was bein' torn down by any speaker in that took charge with the mic.

    May 31, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
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