Barack Obama,  Jeremiah Wright,  President 2008

Barack Obama Watch: The Sounding Board – Jeremiah Wright


The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor for the last 20 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s south side.

There is a Wall Street Journal piece today that asks about Barack Obama’s close association with Pastor Jeremiah Wright.

Hearing Mr. Wright’s venomous and paranoid denunciations of this country, the vast majority of Americans would walk out. Instead, Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle have presumably sat through numerous similar sermons by Mr. Wright.

Indeed, Mr. Obama has described Mr. Wright as his “sounding board” during the two decades he has known him. Mr. Obama has said he found religion through the minister in the 1980s. He joined the church in 1991 and walked down the aisle in a formal commitment of faith.

The title of Mr. Obama’s bestseller “The Audacity of Hope” comes from one of Wright’s sermons. Mr. Wright is one of the first people Mr. Obama thanked after his election to the Senate in 2004. Mr. Obama consulted Mr. Wright before deciding to run for president. He prayed privately with Mr. Wright before announcing his candidacy last year.

Mr. Obama obviously would not choose to belong to Mr. Wright’s church and seek his advice unless he agreed with at least some of his views. In light of Mr. Wright’s perspective, Michelle Obama’s comment that she feels proud of America for the first time in her adult life makes perfect sense.

Much as most of us would appreciate the symbolism of a black man ascending to the presidency, what we have in Barack Obama is a politician whose closeness to Mr. Wright underscores his radical record.

Jeremiah Wright has provided Barack Obama spiritual guidance for years. Obama owes the American people an explanation as to what he repudiates of Wright’s extremist views such as:

  • “America is still the No. 1 killer in the world. . . . We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional killers . . . We bombed Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua, killing women and children while trying to get public opinion turned against Castro and Ghadhafi . . . We put [Nelson] Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”
  • “We started the AIDS virus . . . We are only able to maintain our level of living by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty. . . .”
  • “His depth on analysis [sic] when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye-opening,” Mr. Wright said of Mr. Farrakhan. “He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest.”

So, with what does Obama disagree with Jeremiah Wright?

There is little doubt that Obama is attempting to allay Jewish concerns they have about his candidacy. He has been working hard to capture this Democrat Party constituency. But, Obama’s association with Wright who has praised and whose church and children have awarded the Nation of Islam leader is a problem.

Yet there is unease among some Jewish voters about the Illinois senator and Democratic presidential contender.


Part of it is a division between blacks and Jews that’s been growing for years, a split that Obama has challenged fellow blacks to confront.

Another element is the praise Obama has received from Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan, whose disparaging comments about Judaism are toxic to many voters. Obama’s own pastor has a history of supporting Palestinian causes.

And there are questions about Obama advisers who some U.S. Jews see as less than ardent advocates of Israel.

Over to Obama.

What say you?

Do you agree with Jeremiah Wright’s black liberation theology?

For his part, Obama has said he does not agree with Wright on every issue, religious or political. But that doesn’t sit well with some.

“If Barack Obama has really submitted himself to his church like he’s claimed, why does he have a different expression of faith from his own pastor?” asks Anthony Bradley, theologian and research fellow at the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich.

As Flap said before:If there is NOT a repudiation then Obama cannot be considered a post-racial figure.


Barack Obama Watch: The Jeremiah Wright Problem


  • Hako

    I’ve been waiting to see if MSNBC and CNN would continue their black-out of the story, or if their talking-heads would try to spin it as “courageous”. Where is Keith Olbermann to tell us what terrible examples of humanity Hillary and McCain are? It is NO coincidence that Michelle Obama has not felt proud of America until now. Now…..that she and her husband are close to the White House. It is no coincidence that Barack didn’t place his hand over his heart. At first I thought he was just lost in thought, but not anymore, I think it was calculated. Trust me, his loyal minions will try to spin this whole thing, try to convince us that he doesn’t believe as his Pastor does. Don’t believe it. Any man that attends a church for twenty years, considers the Pastor his spiritual mentor, and gives money to that church, is drinking the Kool-aid.
    Obama is smart enough to know that his deepest thoughts might anger or scare most Americans, very likely he only shares them with his inner circle. I ferverently hope Democrats use some common sense and vote of Hillary, as imperfect as she may be. I know this much, she really does love this country, and she really is ready to work her heart out for the American people.

    • Flap

      I don’t think this whole Jeremiah Wright affair will help Obama too much with the Super Delegates he needs to beat Hillary.

      Obama looks like a 50 state loser to McCain at this point.

  • concerned citizen

    I have a question to all of you. If barack Obama truly disagreed with Rev. Jeremiah wright’s extreme views, do you think he would let his two daughters to grow up in this Trinity Church and being influenced by that kind message?

  • America's Soapbox

    Of National Lies and Racial Amnesia:
    Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and the Audacity of Truth

    By Tim Wise

    March 18, 2008

    For most white folks, indignation just doesn’t wear well. Once affected or conjured up, it reminds one of a pudgy man, wearing a tie that may well have fit him when he was fifty pounds lighter, but which now cuts off somewhere above his navel and makes him look like an idiot.

    Indignation doesn’t work for most whites, because having remained sanguine about, silent during, indeed often supportive of so much injustice over the years in this country–the theft of native land and genocide of indigenous persons, and the enslavement of Africans being only two of the best examples–we are just a bit late to get into the game of moral rectitude. And once we enter it, our efforts at righteousness tend to fail the test of sincerity.

    But here we are, in 2008, fuming at the words of Pastor Jeremiah Wright, of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago–occasionally Barack Obama’s pastor, and the man whom Obama credits with having brought him to Christianity–for merely reminding us of those evils about which we have remained so quiet, so dismissive, so unconcerned. It is not the crime that bothers us, but the remembrance of it, the unwillingness to let it go–these last words being the first ones uttered by most whites it seems whenever anyone, least of all an “angry black man” like Jeremiah Wright, foists upon us the bill of particulars for several centuries of white supremacy.

    But our collective indignation, no matter how loudly we announce it, cannot drown out the truth. And as much as white America may not be able to hear it (and as much as politics may require Obama to condemn it) let us be clear, Jeremiah Wright fundamentally told the truth.

    Oh I know that for some such a comment will seem shocking. After all, didn’t he say that America “got what it deserved” on 9/11? And didn’t he say that black people should be singing “God Damn America” because of its treatment of the African American community throughout the years?

    Well actually, no he didn’t.

    Wright said not that the attacks of September 11th were justified, but that they were, in effect, predictable. Deploying the imagery of chickens coming home to roost is not to give thanks for the return of the poultry or to endorse such feathered homecoming as a positive good; rather, it is merely to note two things: first, that what goes around, indeed, comes around–a notion with longstanding theological grounding–and secondly, that the U.S. has indeed engaged in more than enough violence against innocent people to make it just a tad bit hypocritical for us to then evince shock and outrage about an attack on ourselves, as if the latter were unprecedented.

    He noted that we killed far more people, far more innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki than were killed on 9/11 and “never batted an eye.” That this statement is true is inarguable, at least amongst sane people. He is correct on the math, he is correct on the innocence of the dead (neither city was a military target), and he is most definitely correct on the lack of remorse or even self-doubt about the act: sixty-plus years later most Americans still believe those attacks were justified, that they were needed to end the war and “save American lives.”

    But not only does such a calculus suggest that American lives are inherently worth more than the lives of Japanese civilians (or, one supposes, Vietnamese, Iraqi or Afghan civilians too), but it also ignores the long-declassified documents, and President Truman’s own war diaries, all of which indicate clearly that Japan had already signaled its desire to end the war, and that we knew they were going to surrender, even without the dropping of atomic weapons. The conclusion to which these truths then attest is simple, both in its basic veracity and it monstrousness: namely, that in those places we committed premeditated and deliberate mass murder, with no justification whatsoever; and yet for saying that I will receive more hate mail, more hostility, more dismissive and contemptuous responses than will those who suggest that no body count is too high when we’re the ones doing the killing. Jeremiah Wright becomes a pariah, because, you see, we much prefer the logic of George Bush the First, who once said that as President he would “never apologize for the United States of America. I don’t care what the facts are.”

    And Wright didn’t say blacks should be singing “God Damn America.” He was suggesting that blacks owe little moral allegiance to a nation that has treated so many of them for so long as animals, as persons undeserving of dignity and respect, and which even now locks up hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders (especially for drug possession), even while whites who do the same crimes (and according to the data, when it comes to drugs, more often in fact), are walking around free. His reference to God in that sermon was more about what God will do to such a nation, than it was about what should or shouldn’t happen. It was a comment derived from, and fully in keeping with, the black prophetic tradition, and although one can surely disagree with the theology (I do, actually, and don’t believe that any God either blesses or condemns nation states for their actions), the statement itself was no call for blacks to turn on America. If anything, it was a demand that America earn the respect of black people, something the evidence and history suggests it has yet to do.

    Click here to read the rest of Tim’s column.