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. Daniel, WA

    Obama has no religion. He is trying to show us that he has faith. He has nothing. It is too late to meet religious leaders. Vote John McCain.

    June 10, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  2. Al

    This is very scary

    June 10, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. Nmgirl

    Behind closed doors? What is he hiding now? Who does Obama think he is to hold this type of closed door meeting? You Obama supporter had better wake up and smell the coffee before it's too late. This jerk is going around promising something to everyone and will deliver on nothing. HE WILL STOP AT NOTHING TO GET WHAT HE WANTS!

    McCain 08

    June 10, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  4. J.C.

    Church and State don't mix, do they?

    This doesn't sound good.

    June 10, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. kim portland, oregon

    i'm an obamabot, but i'm not sure how i feel about this yet, i need to know more information.

    if they're talking campaign strategy stuff, NOT GOOD! if he's just trying to get all kinds of people together to work towards a more cohesive america, then this agnostic says AMEN!!!

    8 years of repugs, and then the campaigning for the democratic nominee, has really torn this country apart. the vast majority of us want THE SAME THINGS--nice home, food on the table, good schools for our kids, lower gas prices, health care, out troops home, our troops being given the help and benefits THEY HAVE MORE THAN EARNED, peace of mind (and NO MORE fear-mongering).

    June 10, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  6. Al

    He has to meet behind closed doors.
    I would think that are testing his Christianity.
    After Reverend Wright and Father Pflaeger they really should be researching his values

    June 10, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. Joe Six

    What about the separation of church and state? Is Obama trying to become a Republican? For a man who would not reach across the aisle in the Senate, he seems to be embracing one of the most divisive things in our nation. When I voted for Obama I was not aware of his connection to religious leaders like Wright and Pfleger. Now I find out he is courting other religious leaders. I don't know what promises he is making to them, but if he goes down the path of trying to bring the religious views of these faiths into his campaign, he will be violating the basic premise of the Democratic Party to keep religion out of our politics and government. Must Obama do everything the Republicans have been doing to divide the nation? I hope he doesn't sell out his constituency just to get religious votes.

    June 10, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. JP

    We've gone so long in this country without honest leaders, we hardly recognize it when we see it.

    He is indeed a breath of fresh air. He got me at "no lobbyists running the whitehouse"! Wow it takes a lot of guts to say he won't take lobby money, and won't be pushed around by the corporations that have essentially been running this country for years.

    June 10, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  9. Al

    Is he meeting with Muslim leaders, Jewish leaders or Christians.
    Why can't he share it with the public.

    June 10, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  10. bob in L.A.

    Is this the same candidate that says his Presidency will be transparent? He hasn't even been elected yet and already two "secret" meeting in a week. I guess when you have to learn your job as you go along, there will be some statements made that are just based ideals, not actuality.
    Ready on day one?

    June 10, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  11. KE

    King Richard was impatient. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail the kingdom was lost.

    June 10, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  12. Derek in Seattle

    He has to speak with these peddlers of guilt and fear. It's a necessary evil. I can't wait for the day an athiest or agnostic has a shot at the presidency.

    June 10, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  13. Theresa in Minneapolis

    I think that it's great that he listens to other points of view. They may not be his own view but he's willing to see what EVERYONE brings to the table.

    It's called getting all of the information before making a decision. It's about uniting people and letting their voices be heard.

    Why is bringing different faiths together scary? Once we understand each other it will be easier to live together. Come on America what is this? The dark ages?

    Anti-Christ? Pa-leeeeez....

    June 10, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  14. Mike

    Obama has yet to do anything to prove his worthiness as a candidate/nominee.

    What a joke!

    I guess he's on his mission of "change."

    Blah, Blah, Blah...

    I would write "goofy" or "donald duck" in before voting for this guy.

    June 10, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  15. catsdragon

    from a guy who wants transparency and accounting in government....

    June 10, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. Another one of 18 million

    So much for transparency...

    June 10, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. sarah

    of course they dont want to be identified. they dont want their extremist american hatred spewing "sermons" on youtube.

    June 10, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  18. Harold Jameson

    More religous leaders with their hands outstretched expecting someone to give them something for nothing.

    So typical of churches everywhere

    June 10, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. Loretta from California

    Is it a prayer meeting. We simply do not know enough about this meeting to blog on this post. And I do not blame the Ministers there for asking for a closed door meeting.

    June 10, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |




    June 10, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. Dr. HW

    @Marcus West
    Please do tell how YOU know what the Anti-Christ would do (WWACD)?
    If you're a believer in literal interpretation of Revelation (read: idiot) then you know that it is all predestined and the Anti-Christ will bring about your End Times, so what's the problem?

    June 10, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. Shannon

    what kind of religious leaders, the racist, hate filled kind. That seems to be the kind of leader he seems to respect.

    June 10, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. M.S. Indiana

    Better then McCain he wont even go there, to talk about faith nor to the religious groups... in his mind it is my way or the highway.. or bomb bomb bomb

    June 10, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  24. Mirta

    Hey, Marcus – Obama is scarey. He is a racist and hangs out with hateful, bitter people including his wife.

    June 10, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  25. David In Indianapolis

    Thought you knew!! They expect us all to be sitting around the table in the WH with Barack "Hussein" Obama, holding hands, eating grits, and singing old black hymns. How dare this mult-racial man become POTUS!!! We are on the brink of historical destiny. They can hamper or slow it down, but they cannot stop what is meant to be. The primaries played out the way they did for a reason. I talked to some white people from California who wished they would have let their primary stay in early June like previous POTUS primaries, because it would have been highly likely Clinton would be the nominee. Florida and Michigan doing their primaries early against the DNC Rules was no accident either. It was a providence from above. Our time has come for a transformational leader of color to accomplish great things. I predict that both Obama and McCain will tie in the electoral college in the general election (269-269), and the House of the Representatives, which currently and will have a Democratic majority will select Obama as the next POTUS. However it happens, Michelle can start measuring for curtains in the Oval Office.

    June 10, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
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