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President Obama once utilized controversial Chicago priest Michael Pfleger to push a racial agenda.
Pfleger famously claimed during the 2008 campaign that Hillary Clinton cried in public because she thought being white entitled her to the Democratic presidential nomination.
The Roman Catholic priest, a practitioner of black liberation theology, is known for anti-white rants and is close to the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan. He has been a guest lecturer at Obama’s former church, Trinity United Church. He is a colleague of Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.
Obama’s association with Pfleger was partially documented during the 2008 campaign. However, a review of the president’s record as a state senator shows a deeper connection – how he utilized Pfleger to push race legislation.
Obama’s political alliance with Pfleger goes back to at least the president’s days as a state senator when he partnered with Pfleger and other black liberation theology leaders to push racial profiling legislation.
In 2001, Obama proposed Senate Bill 375, The Traffic Stops Statistics Study Act, which would require all law Illinois enforcement agencies to compile data on the race of motorists in traffic stops.
Obama explained his bill in the Chicago Defender in February 2000: “Racial profiling may explain why incarceration rates are so high among young African Americans. Law enforcement officials may be targeting blacks and other minorities as potential criminals and are using the Vehicle Code as a tool to stop and search them.”
On Feb. 28, 2001, Todd Spivak of the Hyde Park Herald reported Obama’s lobbying effort included a coalition of pastors, namely Pfleger and Rev. James Meeks, who would go on to become a state senator. Meeks is currently chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.
“Obama’s racial profiling crusade shows his political alliance with Wright, Pfleger, and Meeks in action,” wrote writer Stanley Kurtz in a lengthy August 2008 article in the Weekly Standard.
It is clear Obama utilized a coalition of African-centric clergy to push a political agenda.
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.”
Following Pfleger’s remarks about Clinton, WND reported how Obama’s campaign scrubbed from its official website a testimonial by Pfleger.
“Obama is calling back those who have given up and lost hope in the political system both young and old in the belief that we can fix it. He has the intellect for the job, and I haven’t heard anyone since Robert F. Kennedy who is causing such an emotional and spiritual awakening to the political possibilities,” read Pfleger’s official campaign testimonial.
ABC News in 2008 reported Obama’s relationship with Pfleger spans decades.
The Chicago Tribune reported Pfleger has given money to Obama’s campaigns and that as a state legislator Obama directed at least $225,000 towards social programs at Pfleger’s church, which is tied to Farrakhan.
During his 2008 campaign, Obama flew Pfleger to Iowa to host one of several interfaith forums for the campaign.
Axelrod and Pfleger
The Pfleger association may carry on to other members of Obama’s inner circle, including his chief strategist, David Axelrod.
WND broke the story in 2008 that Axelrod that year sat on the finance committee of Pfleger’s St. Sabina Catholic church, which had been seeking to raise $1 million to offset the costs of reconstructing sections of the cathedral found to have structural problems.
Further connection between Axelrod and Pfleger was revealed in May 2008 by the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported Obama’s strategist was engaged in a project to film a documentary about Pfleger.
Axelrod confirmed to the Sun-Times by email in 2008 that the film project had “been dormant for much of the last two years due to other commitments.”
Nation of Islam, anti-white rants
Pfleger hosted Farrakhan at his church a number of times, including a one-hour sermon in May 2007, his first public appearance since Farrakhan announced in 2006 he had been suffering from prostate cancer and was seriously ill.
According to reports, Pfleger, a public defender of Farrakhan’s, spent hours with the Nation of Islam chief during his illness. Pfleger previously enlisted Farrakhan’s support for several of his initiatives, including an anti-gun protest.
Pfleger’s sermons at St. Sabina’s routinely include rants against the U.S. government, white people, and, previously, the Bush administration and calls for reparations for slavery, according to a profile of the parish featured in Trumpet magazine, which was founded by Wright.
“I got very educated by the [Black] Panthers – very educated,” Pfleger told Trumpet.
Trumpet magazine reported in 2007 that Pfleger “manages to weave into the midday homily at Trinity … his deep and abiding dislike for President George W. Bush. And with this mostly African-American congregation, Pfleger is in good company.”
According to the Trumpet profile, the pastor “counts the mighty as close confidants and friends,” specifically Wright, Farrakhan and Obama.
Pfleger has a YouTube trail documenting some of his anti-white and anti-American sermons.
Hillary and ‘white entitlement’
Pfleger sparked national controversy after a video surfaced in May 2008 of the pastor delivering a guest sermon at Trinity church in which he implied Clinton was a white supremacist who believed she would win the nomination because of “white entitlement.”
During the sermon, Pfleger was introduced by Rev. Otis Moss III, who took over Trinity after Wright retired. Moss called Pfleger a “brother beloved, he is a preacher par-excellence, he is a prophetic powerful pulpiteer.”
Pfleger told the Trinity congregation, “We must be honest enough to expose white entitlement and supremacy wherever it raises its head.”
He continued: “Reverend 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 become emotional during several interviews in the 2008 campaign, and some media commentators questioned her sincerity.
In his sermon, Pfleger added, “She wasn’t the only one crying. There was a whole lot of white people cryin’.”
Apparently realizing his remarks might attract media attention, Pfleger stated, “I’m sorry. I don’t want to get you into any more trouble.”
Moss then took the stage, stating, “We thank God for the message, and we thank God for the messenger. We thank God for Father Michael Pfleger. We thank God for Father Mike.”
Pfleger was temporarily suspended from his church over the comments.
At the time, Obama denounced Pfleger’s rhetoric as “divisive” and “backward-looking,” but did not condemn the pastor himself.