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. MD

    I like the fact that Obama shows grit.

    The press must stop acting like Obama owes them an explenation every time he wants to do something.

    There is a lot going on in the government that people never know about. Why is it different when Obama wants to meet with a group of people, religous or otherwise?

    Soon, Obama will be the President of the United States. The Press must learn to be respectful and give him the space he needs when he needs it.

    June 10, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. OSA


    June 10, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Eli

    Are these all African American church leaders? The next thing is this all sounds like REVELATIONS in the BIBLE, SCARY. Obama and his wife just scare me WAY too musch to vote for him.

    June 10, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |

    When a person lacks vision, it makes it hard for them to understand the true meaning of leadership and from the sound of some of these posts on this ticker, this is precisely why some were meant to lead and others were meant to follow. Lead on Obama lead on b/c the vision has been given to you.

    DEMS 08

    June 10, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. Lionel J. Missouri

    Well done, well executed and I am more than confident the decision to meet in private was a great example of leadership as it reflects one with great poise and preparation for a new America in the future of Obama politics.

    June 10, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  6. Susan

    He will meet with many faiths. They said it is the first one., NYC native. Obama reaches out to all the people, not just some like McBush

    June 10, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Enlightened Voter

    Do you anti Obama people read before you trash him or are you just anxious to trash him without hearing facts? It says in the article that some of the leaders while willing to meet with him chose to remain private. That is very understandable and he is just respecting their wishes. At least when you trash someone have your facts straight.

    June 10, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |

    Anyone who questions his “vetting” for President of the United States is “tangentially inconsequential.” Furthermore, everyone understands that voting “present” 130 times in the IL Senate is “trivial” compared to his having to sit in that church for 20 years just to advance his political career. He was not born to a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas to end up earning the “infinitesimally” tiny salary of $14K a year as a community organizer. Nor did he attend Harvard so that he could steel a measly couple of thousand votes during his run for the IL Senate. NO! His vision has always been higher than that.

    June 10, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. Vote Nader

    As long as he meets with every worshiped religion in America, I guess it's okay. But, am I left out of his America since I don't have faith in a diety?

    Maybe he just wants to find out what each discipline hates, and see if it matches his church's views.

    June 10, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. LA13

    How could he be so stupid?
    If my preacher meets with him I will quit going to church.

    June 10, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  11. Gerald F.

    Sounds more like he is trying make brownie points than campaigning for Presidency.

    June 10, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. mk

    It had to be done. If conservative churches are pushing McCain from the bully pulpit as the only holy candidate, I think Obama has every right to share his viewpoints with those in the religious community as well.

    June 10, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. june

    I see no problem with meeting with church leaders. After all, all things are possible through god and god only.

    June 10, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. Justin (ny)

    to you all, the voters.

    please vote based on where the candidates stand on the ISSUES, not the superficial stuff.

    Thank You.

    June 10, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. Kim, KY

    Oh how I miss Hillary...please run on an independent ticket...Obama meeting with religious leaders in private-that's scary. They won't meet with him in public, what does that say about what they think of him. I just don't understand why they are meeting with him period.

    June 10, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Ken Austin, TX

    What does it matter if the leaders that attended was African American or not????? Such a racist article.

    June 10, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  17. ellen

    Hasn't the last misgiuded 8 years taught us that we should separate church and state? I agree, this is just creepy

    June 10, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  18. William, from Cali

    "Religious leaders", now that's a "strange gathering"; seeing how there is a separation of "Church" and "State"...........What can they really do? ........ they 're "Just Men".....We're going to need more than that; to get out of this mess......................

    June 10, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. Terri

    What does religion have to do with politics considering there are so many different religions.

    I am sick of the moral police already

    Go Obama

    June 10, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. Tom

    "Reaching out to the faith community is a priority for Barack Obama and will be a priority under an Obama Administration,".......you're kidding right? With HIS background? He didn't find "faith" until it worked politically. Until then, he found socialism and anti – U.S. rhetoric in church.

    June 10, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. Still for Hill

    Did he learn nothing? Are you hiding in there Rev. Wright and Pastor Pflueger?

    Still for Hill

    June 10, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  22. abhimantgani, Liverpool, England

    What about some muslim clerics because he was born muslim and has a middle name and his father was muslim.

    There is nothing wrong with it, at least he can be honest instead of hiding his true identity.

    I would have thought he would be proud of it including his early education in religious muslim schools in Indonesia

    June 10, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  23. anthony

    all presidents meet with religious leaders everybody votes

    June 10, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |

    Marcus West,
    "It just seems like something the "AntiChrist" would do. Ha. Look what television and media do to me."

    You think the Anti-Christ would be meeting with religious leaders??
    Do you not understand what the word ANTI in anti-christ means.
    What, you think Obama gathered um all together and demonized (is that even a word) them or something. Hey look on the bright side I'm sure somebody in attendance is capable of exorcisms.

    You need to seriously stay away from the sci-fi channel.

    June 10, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. Independent (Ex-Democrat) in Iowa

    NO NO NO NO!!!

    Religion has NO PLACE in our government! I do not like this AT ALL. Bush has already pushed his faith's agenda. THIS is not what the country is supposed to be about!

    I'm aethiest – I don't see him wanting to meet us for anything.

    June 10, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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