Obama withdraws from Trinity United Church

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Presidential candidate Barack Obama
Jeremiah Wright in 1998.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama withdrew from his church of twenty years, where his affiliation had become a political issue following a revelation of controversial comments made by former pastor Jeremiah Wright. His exit from the church's congregation came as media reports revealed that guest speaker of the church and Catholic priest Reverend Michael Pfleger went on a tirade on the pulpit declaring that Hillary Clinton believed she was entitled to the Democratic presidential nomination because she is white.

Obama had been criticized since March 2008 when media reports showed his longtime pastor declaring on the Sunday following the September 11 attacks that the violence was a result of America's support of "state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans." Many more were appalled when Wright declared "God damn America" in a later sermon.

The pastor had an impact on Obama earlier in his life, and was once described as his spiritual guide. He married Obama and his wife Michelle, and baptized their two children. It was Wright's sermon that influenced Obama to write his biographical book The Audacity of Hope. Obama remained a member of the church following the reports but separated himself from the comments in a speech on race entitled A More Perfect Union delivered on March 18, 2008.

Despite the speech, polls early in May revealed that Obama's favorability fell from 50 to 45% because of Wright's comments. Wright had resigned his post yet the criticism remained. The final piece in Obama's eventual exit from the church came when Reverend Pfleger, a friend of Obama, mocked Hillary Clinton during a sermon stating, "'I’m Bill’s wife, I’m white and this is mine'...And then out of nowhere came, 'Hey, I'm Barack Obama,' and she said, 'Oh, damn! Where did you come from? I'm white! I'm entitled! There's a black man stealing my show!'"

In his announcement that he was leaving the church, Obama remarked, "I make this decision with sadness...This is where I found Jesus Christ, where we were married, where our children were baptized. We are proud of the extraordinary works of that church...I’m not denouncing the church, and I’m not interested in people who want me to denounce the church."

I make this decision with sadness...We are proud of the extraordinary works of that church

Barack Obama