Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama's Former Pastor Reverend Wright Blames Media for Campaign Controversy

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. spoke Thursday night at a Connecticut church during a forum about race and religion

MILFORD, Conn. -- Barack Obama's former pastor, speaking Thursday at a forum about race and religion, criticized the media's coverage of a controversy that threatened to derail Obama's campaign and caused the president-elect to sever ties with his longtime spiritual leader.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. said the media took videotaped clips out of context that showed him making anti-American statements from the pulpit of the Chicago church where Obama had worshipped for 20 years.

The videos, which included Wright thundering "God Damn America" from his pulpit, dominated cable television for weeks.

Wright, speaking to an audience of about 200 people at a Milford church, said he was trying to convey the anger and desire for vengeance that people felt following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He said the media failed to explain that Wright was a proud Christian who was raised in a Christian home.

"Their intention was to use me as a weapon of mass destruction, to tear down that man's integrity," said Wright, former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

In a question-and-answer session with the audience, Wright said he didn't believe Obama shared opinions that were publicized on the video clips.

"Do you agree with everything your pastor says?" Wright asked. "Ninety percent of the people sitting in church don't agree with everything their pastor says. What I saw is not an index on what he did or does not believe."

Last spring's controversy was a stumbling block for Obama's campaign and prompted him to make an impassioned speech about faith and religion. Obama at first expressed support for Wright, saying that "I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother."

But six weeks later during a speech at the National Press Club, Wright offered eyebrow-raising opinions about the U.S. government, praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and hinted that Obama was distancing himself from the pastor for political expediency.

The next day, Obama said he was outraged and distanced himself from Wright.


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