The Barack Obama campaign announced today the Democrat presidential candidate has resigned his 20-year membership in his controversial Chicago church.
The decision follows nearly two months of the campaign being battered by showings of videotaped sermons from the former head pastor, Jeremiah Wright, that injected themes of anti-Americanism and racism into the campaign, as well as a controversial sermon preached last Sunday by a visiting Catholic priest that attacked Hillary Clinton.
WND broke the story of Chicago Catholic priest Michael Pfleger’s sermon Sunday at Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ, in which he implied Clinton was a white supremacist who believed she would win the nomination because of “white entitlement.”
Pfleger, during his sermon, mocked Hillary Clinton for crying prior to the New Hampshire primary, implying to congregants the reason for her tears was that she was a white supremacist who believed she would win the nomination because of “white entitlement.”
Pfleger told the Trinity congregation, “We must be honest enough to expose white entitlement and supremacy wherever it raises its head.”
He continued: “Reverand Moss, when Hillary was crying, and people said that was put on, I really don’t believe it was put on. 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 got to 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 mimicked Clinton crying as the audience erupted into applause and gave Pfleger’s remarks a standing ovation. Clinton has become emotional during several interviews this year, and some media commentators have questioned her sincerity.
In his only public appearance yesterday, Obama did not mention Pfleger during a speech in Great Falls, Mont. A statement from his campaign Thursday said Obama was “deeply disappointed” by the priest’s “divisive, backward-looking rhetoric.”
Thursday, the Obama campaign removed from its official website a testimonial by Pfleger, a long-time close associate and spiritual adviser to the Democrat candidate.
Obama campaign communications director Robert Gibbs said Obama had submitted his letter of resignation to the church in advance of meeting with reporters.
At a Saturday afternoon news conference, Obama told reporters he and his wife, Michele, had not made the decision to leave Trinity Church lightly because of their long history at the church. After discussion, prayer and consultation with friends and family at the church, the decision was made with “some sadness,” he said.
As candidate for president, Obama said, he realized he was going to have to answer every comment made from the pulpit by the current pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, or visiting pastors.
Further, the campaign was adversely affecting the church. Obama said reporters had harassed members at their homes and workplaces, even using the church bulletin to contact sick members for comments.
When asked by a reporter how he would avoid the problem when he joined another church, Obama said he had not answered the question for himself yet.
He noted that he does not expect to always agree with the pastor but that if he heard statements from the pulpit against homosexuality, he would strongly disagree.
Pfleger, an early supporter of Obama who leads a mostly black Chicago parish, has hosted Farrakhan a number of times, drawing the ire of the Catholic Church. The June/July 2007 issue of Wright’s Trumpet magazine describes Pfleger as “Afrocentric to the core.”
Obama identified Pfleger in a 2004 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times as a key source of spiritual guidance. The Sun-Times piece, which was among the first in which Obama outlined his faith, includes quotes from Pfleger praising Obama.
“Faith is key to his life, no question about it,” Pfleger told the Sun-Times. “It is central to who he is, and not just in his work in the political field, but as a man, as a black man, as a husband, as a father. … I don’t think he could easily divorce his faith from who he is.”
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