April 29, 2008
Obama Breaks Ties with Former Pastor
Jeremiah Wright's controversial remarks provoked Obama's denunciation.
Sen. Barack Obama strongly denounced Jeremiah Wright Tuesday after his former pastor made more controversial statements on Monday.
"His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church," Obama said. "They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs."
Obama also wanted to clarify the relationship details. "He was never my 'spiritual mentor.' He was -- he was my pastor. And so to some extent, how, you know, the -- the press characterized in the past that relationship, I think, wasn't accurate." It's interesting that he makes this distinction for someone who guided him through his marriage, his children's baptism, and prayer for the campaign.
Obama responded to some of Wright's remarks: "[W]hen he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century, when he equates the United States wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced. And that's what I'm doing very clearly and unequivocally here today."
On Monday, Wright said he hopes the controversy "just might mean that the reality of the African-American church will no longer be invisible. It is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright - it's an attack on the black church."
But Obama denounced those remarks as well. "I did not view the initial round of soundbites, that triggered this controversy, as an attack on the black church," Obama said. "I viewed it as a simplification of who he was, a caricature of who he was and, you know, more than anything, something that piqued a lot of political interest."
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Wright said in a sermon, "America's chickens are coming home to roost" after the United States. A reporter asked him what he meant and Wright replied, "Have you heard the whole sermon? No. You haven't heard the whole sermon. That nullifies that question."
When asked if he was apologetic for suggesting the U.S. should be damned, he said, "God doesn't bless everything, God condemns something - and d-e-m-n, ?demn,' is where we get the word ?damn.' God damns some practices." He also said that American soldiers in Iraq died "over a lie" and the war is "unjust."
Obama made it clear Tuesday that he wants nothing to do with the remarks. "But the insensitivity and the outrageousness, of his statements and his performance in the question-and-answer period yesterday, I think, shocked me," he said.