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

Obama meets with religious leaders behind closed doors


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/03/art.obama.jpg caption=" 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. jimF

    >> as well as some who do not who wanted to remain unidentified.

    Then tell us how they are if they don't want to be unidentified.

    June 10, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. Emily

    Talk with them but don't promise them anything.

    Keep church and state separate!

    June 10, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. Tim

    I hope they don't turn around to ruin the next half of his presidential run. ...........

    June 10, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  4. tell the truth

    Good. I like a person that understand God but I like Obama on issues like gas prices, against bush taxes cuts, pro choice, against the war in Irag. That is why he is getting my support.

    June 10, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. NYC Native

    Reaching out in what way? Why? What about other faiths? What about the "nonfaith" community? If he wants to meet with religious representatives, he should meet with representatives of all.

    June 10, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. Vig

    This is my take on Obama: tries to be everything to every faction. My prediction: if this guy gets elected he will be one of the most ineffective leaders, following in Bush's steps.

    June 10, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. Gen. DM

    We should all meet with leaders in faith building. Let us all pray for a better tomorrow and vote..... Obama 08

    June 10, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. Alanna


    Its called uniting. Something Rep nor Bush know nothing about.

    June 10, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. Enlightened Voter

    A faith meeting with various denominations, races and religions. He is truly a man of his word in this case – unity. He is a breath of fresh air this country needs. I guess we needed someone who didn't have all that washington 'experience' to change this country. Thank you God for Obama.

    June 10, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. at this point....

    The article said 30 religious leaders were to attend. The 3 who were named probably agreed to be named. 30 people offerers up a lot of religions in the US.

    The article also said this is one of many meetings. I think this takes a page from his organizing background. Talk to the leaders and they will talk to their followers, because weather we like it or not, religion is HUGE in a lot of peoples lives.

    But not mine.

    June 10, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. Cynthia - Arkansas

    Good for him! I don't know why the Republicans think they have a lock on the religious voters. Jesus said that we would be judged by three things. How did you help the poor? How did you help the widow? How did you help the fatherless children? The Democrats are the party that looks after all of these.

    June 10, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Aida

    Already being even more secretive. Can you say BUSH?!?

    June 10, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. Sean

    NYC Native: Who says he isn't? You judge his entirety based on one meeting?

    June 10, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. FRANK




    June 10, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  15. David Goldman for OBAMA



    June 10, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. randy

    barack obama youth for obama is with you all the way .

    June 10, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. cody


    I don't think that he tries to be everything to everybody. He certainly has clear stands on issues.

    I think Obama is trying to show people that we have more common ground than we realize and that we need to recognize that our shared humanity is more important than our tribal allegiances.

    June 10, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. Sarah L., Fayetteville, AR

    I'm glad he's doing this. The Republicans don't have a monopoly on religion.

    Also, to NYC Native, he has met with other religious faiths. He met with the Jewish lobby last week.

    June 10, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. Silence Dogood

    Aesop's Fables: "Please all and you will please none".
    But you will look good.

    June 10, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. martin

    i guess we need the votes ,but, i dont like mixing politics and religion.we've had enough of that already.

    June 10, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. Franky

    I like this! I like how this went.....

    June 10, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. saba

    Obama is smart! he run successful campaign without any debt, 18+ people voted for him but he never bragged about it and superdeligates swarmed to his side
    I am sure he will win the general election.

    June 10, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. Frantz (Atlanta)

    Just don't include Rev. Wright and Fr. Pflager.

    Obama/Webb '08

    June 10, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. Lynn

    Why a private meeting? Why not public.? Why did they not want to be identified. Some more promises he won't keep.

    June 10, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. Lori

    Wake up, everybody.

    BO knows politics. He knows he needs the religious right.

    Change, my butt. Old-school politics is what BO is ALL about.

    Stop blindly following him–or anyone. Ask questions–or are you afraid to? Are you afraid you'll be proven wrong? If not, you have nothing to lose–right?

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