Controversial Priest Returns to the Pulpit

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, the Chicago priest suspended for two weeks after a sermon mocking Sen. Hillary Clinton, returned to his pulpit on Sunday like a fighter ready to take back the title.

In an exclusive interview, Pfleger told "Good Morning America" that he does not "apologize for being passionate, I don't apologize for being free."

"But I apologize when my passion or my freeness and my flawedness of character get in the way of a content which is much more important to me," he told "GMA's" Robin Roberts.

Though Pfleger promised church leaders he would not speak about the candidates again by name, he insisted he would still talk about politics.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger
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"The church has to be the one to be the voice of conscience to the world and can't be afraid to be that," he said. "It has to speak to politics and the policies and the politicians and to raise those questions, or we're not faithful to what our mission is. "

Pfleger gave the controversial Clinton speech on May 25 as a guest preacher at Trinity United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama's longtime parish, which the likely Democratic presidential nominee has since left.

Pfleger said, in part, that Clinton felt a sense of "white entitlement" to the presidency. Click here to see the sermon.

A firestorm erupted when the sermon hit YouTube, and the media picked it up and rebroadcast it. Obama denounced Pfleger's comments as "divisive" and "backward looking."

Pfleger issued an apology, but he received numerous death threats, which he said were indicative of the racial climate in the country.

One e-mail threat he received said, "I wish one of the folks in your dangerous neighborhood will shoot you."

"I mean, just some of the mean, horrible things that were said," Pfleger said. "I think you have to also understand it's the reality, it's the reality of the sensitivity of this country, the name-calling, the number of e-mails and letters using the N word, calling me a wigger and telling me to leave the country, and why don't I go to Africa."

But Pfleger is also not backing down.

In his sermon on June 22 called "Ain't Nothing Like a Comeback," Pfleger told his parishioners at St. Sabina's Catholic Church that he would not "run and hide, nor allow them to cause me to 'play it safe' or become silent."

"We still have an unequal justice system -- we still have more people of color in poverty, in jail, in poor education systems, a lack of health care. All those statistics will tell us that we have not come as far as we've liked to come," said Pfleger.

Pfleger has been the leader of the predominantly black church since 1981. He has been described as "extremely Afro-centric," and has called the controversial former pastor at Trinity Church, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a "friend, mentor and hero."

Pleger denied that his or Wright's controversial comments will ultimately hurt Obama's presidential bid.

"I think that would be a cheap shot, to blame Rev. Wright or myself. I think it's easy to put the blame somewhere than to acknowledge what is the real reason," he said. "But I also think that [we should] be careful that we don't look for easy outs to blame for real problems we're not going to wrestle with or deal with and face."

Pfleger said his sermon at Trinity was supposed to be about race, not politics, but admitted he has to be more careful about what he says from the pulpit.

"You know, I was at a church family that I've spoken to many times, that I know well, and I think when you're around family, you're looser, you're friendlier," he said. "And, um, do you get carried away? Do you get more dramatic? Do you get caught up in the crowd when you're around your friends and your family? Absolutely. And I acknowledge that, and I over-dramatize, and I get carried away, no question."

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