Jake Tapper, George Stephanopoulos, and Sunlen Miller report: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., today resigned from his controversial church, Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side of Chicago.
Obama had been in discussions about resigning with his church’s new pastor, Rev. Otis Moss before the latest controversy, which involved a longtime friend of Obama’s, Father Michael Pfleger, mocking Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, just last Sunday form the church’s pulpit, using racially charged language, to the apparent delight of the congregation.
"Rev. Moss, when Hillary was crying, and people said that was put on, I really don’t believe it was put on," Pfleger said from the pulpit. "I really believe that she just always thought, ‘This is mine! I’m Bill’s wife, I’m white, and this is mine! I just gotta get up and step into the plate.’ 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!’
Pfleger then mocked Clinton’s tears.
"She wasn’t the only one crying, there was a whole lot of white people crying!" Pfleger said to laughter.
After his sermon, Rev. Moss thanked Pfleger: "We thank God for the message, we thank God for the messenger, we thank God for Father Michael Pfleger," Moss said.
Obama’s resignation from his church was first reported Saturday evening by CNN.
The previous controversy involving his church involved heated rhetoric from its former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose sermons used incendiary language to discuss the U.S. and race. The controversy prompted Obama to deliver a widely-publicized speech about race and later to condemn Wright.
Sources tell ABC News that Obama felt that as the campaign continued, the media would continue to focus on the church, to the detriment of the church community, that Obama would be held responsible for what happened in the church, and that the Church would be held responsible for his campaign. It would be best, Obama felt, to simply cut ties. He has not yet joined a new church.
As he distanced himself from Wright on April 29, Obama expressed disappointment in how the media maelstrom had intruded on the church.
"When I go church it’s not for spectacle, it’s to pray and to find to find a stronger sense of faith, it’s not to posture politically it’s not to, you know, it’s not to hear things that violate my core beliefs," he said. "And I certainly don’t want to provide a distraction to those who are worshipping at Trinity. As of this point I’m a member. I haven’t had a discussion with Rev Moss about it so I can’t tell you how he’s reacting and how he’s responding … there’s been great damage."
Obama will address the matter this evening at a campaign stop in South Dakota.
UPDATE: Trinity United has issued a paper statement from the current pastor, Rev. Otis Moss:
"Trinity United Church of Christ was informed that Senator Barack Obama and his family will no longer be members of our church. Though we are saddened by the news, we understand that it is a personal decision. We will continue to lift them in prayer and wish them the best as former members of our trinity community. As in the prayer for the ephesians, our entire trinity family ask that the nation entrust Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, to God’s care and guidance, so that Christ may continue to dwell in their lives, in their hearts, and in their work. We ask now for god’s peace to be with them. ‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more and all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.’
- Rev. Otis Moss III