March 18, 2008


Obama heard controversial comments (POLITICO STAFF | 3/18/08)

Contrary to his earlier suggestion, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) acknowledged in his speech Tuesday that he had heard “controversial” remarks by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

“Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy?” Obama said. “Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely — just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”

Obama did not specify which statements.

Our pastor said innumerable things we disagreed with, but he's our father. I don't recall him attacking America or any of its ethnic groups nor Israel in his sermons.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 18, 2008 3:46 PM


I'd add a personal anecdote which explains the proper way to react to a lunatic cleric.

We are part of a very conservative Catholic parish here in Chicago where we mostly attend the Tridentine High Mass.

Following 9-11, the elderly priest who usually said the old Mass gave a sermon basically claiming that the US got what it deserved, the wages of abortion, God's wrath and so forth, and lamenting that now our nation would be going to war in the MidEast and Afghanistan in order to spread abortion on demand throughout the world, etc.

My wife and I got up and left, went home and drafted a letter to the pastor, explaining that while we too lamented our nation's abortion policies the priest's sermon had been out of order, and entirely unappropriate to the situation, and that we would never again attend a Mass at which this priest would be delivering the sermon.

Many others in the parish must have reacted similarly, since I don't recall that priest ever saying a Mass there again at which he was called upon to deliver a sermon. His duties seem to have been restricted to saying Low Mass early in the morning.

There's no evidence that Obama ever objected to anything his pastor said in his sermons. To the contrary he embraced the man as his spiritual advisor. Why would one embrace such a creature?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 18, 2008 5:06 PM

He embraced Rev Wright because he shares his beliefs. At first I thought he choose that church for it's political benefit in Chicago politics but after today's speech I think he's a true believer.

Posted by: msmary at March 18, 2008 5:38 PM

Most Catholic priests worth their salt avoid overt political comments in their sermons. They are there to explain the Gospel reading of the day period.

Posted by: Bartman at March 18, 2008 5:51 PM

I've been challenged from the pulpit but I have never heard hate spewed. Apparently Obama thinks I'm the exception.

Posted by: el duderino at March 18, 2008 8:01 PM

I get the feeling he's telling at least Clintonian truth about disagreeing with some of Wright's statements, but that's not enough for me, either.

Black liberation theology must have been attractive to him back in the '80s: it's black religion, black philosophy, and black politics in one big package. Of course, parts are hard to swallow, but it's hip and academically progressive! It's got a candy-coating of Christianity, but with a radical Marxist center! And I'll bet Michelle is more into it than he is, which would help explain some of her odd statements, obvious anger, and the presence of their children in the church.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 19, 2008 12:07 AM

I have heard liberal church pastors in Seattle attack Reagan in their sermons (I was a guest and sat there counting the minutes). I would not return.

I have heard mushy liberal pastors (and angry liberal ones) make egregious theological errors in their sermons. But, I was not a member of these churches and was not to return.

I have heard my pastor make a few statements that are too far right for my liking (mixing politics with theology), and I asked him about it once. He is usually careful now to preface such talk, when in the middle of official church teaching. And these were small things.

Wright is a shouter and a showman. Papaya is correct about the attractiveness of pseudo-religion, philosophy, grievance politics, and the hard core anti-American Marxist center. I have a relative who teaches about the African-American church experience at an Ivy school. I have no doubt he thinks Wright is normative, and even proper, in saying these things, no matter their distance from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The problem for Obama is that once it's all about race (which is about where he is after his speech today), there is really no difference between his candidacy and those of the race hustlers. And we know how Jesse and Reverend Al did. Obama may have enough of a tactical advantage to win the nomination, but running on pigment will keep him below 40% in November, no matter how much the media urge white America to end the racial division in America by voting Barack.

Posted by: ratbert at March 19, 2008 12:46 AM

Well, I have heard my rabbi claim, on occasion:

"Love your neighbor as yourself."

But clearly, he was an out and out bigot. What he should have said was:

"Love certain of your neighbors much, much more than yourself."

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 19, 2008 3:50 AM

Barry: My Rabbi said the exact same thing once, and when some asked him who his neighbors were, he told the story which had touched the hearts of Billions--the Good Samaritan. In that story, a foreignor, a stranger, not-of--the--folk was the neighbor more than the countryman, because of his love and pity.

"Pastor" Wright evidently never heard that story, and evidently has a different Rabbi than the rest of us who call ourselves Christians.

Pat Buchanan caught on to the same thing I did, not surprisingly, he and I being of an age. When this Wright fellow raved about "Chickens comming home to roost," he was echoing what another then separatist race-hater, "Malcom X" said about the Kennedy assassination.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 19, 2008 4:32 AM

We never attend church services except for weddings and funerals, so I have no idea what's being said there. As a kid, all I ever remember coming from the pulpit was demands for more and more donations to the church and its various charities.

However, I was stunned when we recently attended a funeral for a lovely lady who died from a long and lingering disease that wasted her body, but kept her mind alert. She was an active member of the congregation and a fervent believer in the Church.

The priest, instead of extolling the many virtues of the deceased, fulminated for about 45 minutes on the evils of abortion. I squirmed, but out of respect for the family, didn't get up and walk out.

As we left the church, nobody commented on the priest's remarks, so I guessed that it wasn't unusual for that kind of misplaced tirade to be heard from the pulpit at a funeral. I wonder if it's the rule at weddings too?

The experience reinforced our decision to bring up our kids and live our lives without any religious affiliation.

Posted by: erp at March 19, 2008 8:23 AM