May 5, 2008


Something Wasn’t Wright: Why Oprah Winfrey left Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church (Allison Samuels, 5/12/08, NEWSWEEK)

For any spiritually minded, up-wardly mobile African-American living in Chicago in the mid-1980s, the Trinity United Church of Christ was—and still is—the place to be. That's what drew Oprah Winfrey, a recent Chicago transplant, to the church in 1984. She was eager to bond with the movers and shakers in her new hometown's black community. But she also admired Trinity United's ambitious outreach work with the poor, and she took pride in upholding her Southern grandmother's legacy of involvement with traditional African-American houses of worship. Winfrey was a member of Trinity United from 1984 to 1986, and she continued to attend off and on into the early to the mid-1990s. But then she stopped. A major reason—but by no means the only reason—was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

According to two sources, Winfrey was never comfortable with the tone of Wright's more incendiary sermons, which she knew had the power to damage her standing as America's favorite daytime talk-show host. "Oprah is a businesswoman, first and foremost," said one longtime friend, who requested anonymity when discussing Winfrey's personal sentiments. "She's always been aware that her audience is very mainstream, and doing anything to offend them just wouldn't be smart. She's been around black churches all her life, so Reverend Wright's anger-filled message didn't surprise her. But it just wasn't what she was looking for in a church."

...he was just a Cook County hack--how was he supposed to know that the whole country would care what he believed in one day?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 5, 2008 8:14 AM

I think it's funny that Oprah was fine with that church until she realized it might put a dent in her wallet. Are you telling me that Oprah might not be as sincere as her public image would have you believe?

Posted by: Bryan at May 5, 2008 11:19 AM