Just What Did Obama Know About Wright’s Past Sermons?

By MichaelJames

Mar 15, 2008 6:15pm

In his Friday night cable mea culpas on the incendiary comments made by his spiritual adviser Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., repeatedly said, "I wasn’t in church during the time that these statement were made. I did not hear such incendiary language myself, personally. Either in conversations with him or when I was in the pew, he always preached the social gospel. … If I had heard them repeated, I would have quit. … If I thought that was the repeated tenor of the church, then I wouldn’t feel comfortable there."

Obama told CNN that he "didn’t know about all these statements. I knew about one or two of these statements that had been made. One or two statements would not lead me to distance myself from either my church or my pastor. … If I had thought that was the tenor or tone on an ongoing basis, then yes, I don’t think it would have been reflective of my values."

But according to a New York Times story from a year ago, the Obama campaign dis-invited Wright from delivering a public invocation at Obama’s candidacy announcement.

“Fifteen minutes before Shabbos I get a call from Barack,” Wright told the Times. “One of his members had talked him into uninviting me."

In  a phone call with Wright, Obama cited a Rolling Stone story, “The Radical Roots of Barack Obama," (the name of which has curiously been changed on the RS website) and told him, according to Wright, “You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we’ve decided is that it’s best for you not to be out there in public.”

That story included the following passage: "The Trinity United Church of Christ, the church that Barack Obama attends in Chicago, is at once vast and unprepossessing, a big structure a couple of blocks from the projects, in the long open sore of a ghetto on the city’s far South Side. The church is a leftover vision from the Sixties of what a black nationalist future might look like. There’s the testifying fervor of the black church, the Afrocentric Bible readings, even the odd dashiki. And there is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a sprawling, profane bear of a preacher, a kind of black ministerial institution, with his own radio shows and guest preaching gigs across the country. Wright takes the pulpit here one Sunday and solemnly, sonorously declares that he will recite 10 essential facts about the United States. ‘Fact number one: We’ve got more black men in prison than there are in college,’ he intones. ‘Fact number two: Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!’ There is thumping applause; Wright has a cadence and power that make Obama sound like John Kerry. Now the reverend begins to preach. ‘We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training of professional KILLERS. … We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. … We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. … We care nothing about human life if the ends justify the means!" The crowd whoops and amens as Wright builds to his climax: ‘And. And. And! GAWD! Has GOT! To be SICK! OF THIS S***!’"

This was more than a year ago.

So … what did Obama know then and what did he just all of a sudden learn?

- jpt

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