June 10th, 2008
04:49 PM ET
14 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. Rick

    Religion has NO place in poltics. All Americans are to be respected and represented. There is no place to allow religious dogma to decide which Americans and which values count.

    June 10, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  2. Former Hillary Supporter, Now for Obama.

    Obama is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to his campaign, and spreading his message of being a uniter. I sign of REAL leadership.

    June 10, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |


    June 10, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  4. Michigan Voter !!!

    Obama is Getting Togather With His Pool Of "Anti American , Anti White , Radials " He Swims With !!! .

    This Democrat backs Sen. John McCain

    No Obama !!!!!

    June 10, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. Viva Obama/Clinton 08

    A Vote for Barrack Obama is a vote for Hillary Clinton because they support the same cause.
    A vote for John McCain is a vote for a George Bush third terms more wars, bad economy and more country will not want to deal with our country. If you were really a true Hillary supporter that want a better America for this generation and the future generation you must vote Democratic this November. Please do yourself a good favor and vote for the Democratic nominee this coming November.
    No hard feeling because Hillary has none against Barrack. We must put the Republican out of the white house.
    As you can see, we are in a big recession and that will get worse with a John McCain.
    I want to tell John McCain that gas tax holiday is not a solution for our energy problem and is not going to be a solution. This gas tax holiday shows that John McCain do not understand the economy. Keating 5 john McCain took money from the Keating five for political favor.

    June 10, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. Obama Has Substance

    This is very positive. I continue to be amazed by some of you who write on this blogs. I wonder if you are as dumb as you sound. Why can we all start having honest, positive, uplifting, inspiring conversation on the these topics. All you who still mentioned the Rev Wright and all those comment, do you know how ridiculous you sound. What are you learning or gaining from being so negative and hateful. Life is very short. The campaign between Obama and Hillary started out very well. It has caught the attention of the World. Many of us are saddened and dissappointed that Hillary and Bill strikebecame sour and said some things about Obama that have some you still talking. She has a lot of work to do to undo some of her selfish comment like obama has no substance, and that he is not experience. Because some of you are do not have the intellect to know that she was just saying these things to win at all cost. So because of your prejudices towards Obama you are hanging on to those words and inject into every conversation... Obama will always include everyone in everything he do. He is a true Democrat, meaning of the people, for the people and by the people.

    June 10, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Tricia

    I have read the article three times. It says "included were . . . " It does not say Christians only. Frankly, I have reached the point that I do not care if the candidate is a Druid priest who likes to dance around Stonehenge at the Midsummer Festival daubed in blue paint so long as I am free to follow my beliefs or lack thereof. But, religion seems to be an issue so having discussions does not hurt.

    Now I am going to read why Cindy McCain won't serve in husband's adminisration. Maybe she is mad because he will veto beer! It is the major source of her wealth. He said it but presumbly meant to say bill instead of beer. But since when did a potential First Lady acquire such political importance in elections?

    June 10, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. Yobee

    It will be a concrete symbol of our societal evolution once candidates for any office can afford to utterly ignore the religeous zelots who seek to inject their personal fairy tales into the political arena to create their theocracy.

    For people like myself who don't dabble in metaphysics, it will be a welcome shift towards reality and responsibility.

    June 10, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  9. Proud American

    Lets Go Dems!!!!

    June 10, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  10. j.i.m.

    " O.B.A.M.A "............

    Here's a man who complain's about, John McCain &
    George Bush meeting behind closed " Door's " without any of the
    so called " MEDIA " present. Yet, Obama will meet with Evangelical's
    behind closed " Door's " without" MEDIA "........ Why do you suppose
    this is......? Maybe the Rev. J. Wright, and Father Phleger will be Guest

    Laughing-Out-Loud !

    McCain next " President " come November.............................................!

    June 10, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  11. HereWeGo

    CNN will not post my comments. This guy's dad is David Boren who endorsed Obama some time back along with the Okla Governor. THAT"S RIGHT they endorsed Obama!!!!! Okla is NOT that conservative, don't believe the hype. Leave your comments on this guy's web page...Dems unite, not divide.

    June 10, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  12. HereWeGo

    His father endorsed Obama along with the Oklahoma Governor!!!!! Don't believe the hype.

    June 10, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  13. Breaker

    Vic is an idiot!!!!

    Republicans are scared to death. They have no solutions and just causing waves.

    The old american ways are dead – a new america is born.

    Some of them are posing as former Hillary supporters.

    Don't believe them for a minute.

    June 10, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  14. KP

    OBAMA is about change, It is different and I am proud to see him bring unity into his campaign. I am catholic and I have friends of ALL religions, we are in the 21st century. I see CHANGE!

    June 10, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  15. Olivia

    Why meet privately?

    Obama is very confident about talking people to go his way. The proverbial sweet-talker. Don't be fooled, people.

    June 10, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  16. Peter E

    So... when Bush or Clinton meet with someone behind closed doors they're being 'secretive' but when Obama does it he's 'bringing positive change?'

    June 10, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  17. HereWeGo

    Independent voter make up your mind who are you voting for? All the candidates are Christians. AND the rep party promotes it even more. And if you see Rev. Wright again, good, so you will also see Rev. Hagee and the others, still speaking their minds about politics and religion, so what? They are not running for Prez.

    June 10, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |

    "Behind closed doors" is "Politics as Usual"... Here we go, just another politician sneaking around... That is NOT the change that this guy was preaching...

    June 10, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  19. Hal

    Nothing should be secret. We get enough of that with the Bush Adm. Give us the names of each one you met with. Don't do like Cheney with the energy meeting. If you want my vote put all out there. Tell the truth.

    June 10, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  20. TESAP


    June 10, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  21. JFK

    Try going to confession Mr Obama and apologize to God for sitting in that HATE FILLED CHURCH!

    June 10, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  22. MK

    Dear "Over turn roe v wade,"
    How can "pro-life" people who think abortion should be outlawed ALSO think that dropping bombs on children and pregnant women is okay? I'd really like to know why most "pro-lifers" are also pro-war, as you (and most Republicans) seem to be.

    June 10, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  23. suz

    I'm nervous about these meetings because of Obama's past connections with racists such as Wright and Pflaeger. I don't believe any presidential candidate has any business get too closely involved with religious groups as a business matter. I'm Catholic, but I certainly don't want my priest giving advice to politicians! Obama needs to get his priorities in order: America first and America's issues. Remember, church and state are separate. This is just another example of Obama's naivete.

    June 10, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  24. Connie

    This whole meeting is laughable coming from a guy who sat in the same church for 20 years listening to hate against whites and the U.S.. He embraced his racist church, his minister, and the Black Value System they preached. I don't know one Christian who would have listened to those horrible rantings from Wright and Pfleger without looking for a different church. Now you're all sucking up to Obama as if his church of choice for the last 20 years was not a despicable pit of racism and intolerance.

    June 10, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  25. annie

    Wonder why it had to be behing closed doors? Did he threaten them? Psaki also said in another article that bho had a long history of reaching across the isle – he's barely been a senator for 2 yrs and most of that has been on the campaign trail! How much of that kool-aid has she been drinking.

    June 10, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
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