WISCONSINREPORT.COM (04/30/08) - Democratic Presidential hopeful, U.S. Senator Barack Obama, struck a blow April 29th against those who have associated him with attitudes, theories and comments made by his former pastor Reverand Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., senior pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Obama said Wright does not speak for him or for his candidacy, and he found many points made by Wright at the National Press Club breakfast the day before were completely out of line. Obama has disassociated himself from Wright, saying the man who performed at the event was not the man he met twenty years ago.
Barack Obama was particularly disappointed with his former pastor's theories about the United States government being responsible for inserting the Aids epidemic in the black community; and the idea that U.S. actions in some cases can be placed in the same category as terrorism.
Obama also pointed out that he does not share the same feelings toward many other issues that Wright had included in his speech, and the answers to some of the questions that followed in the Q and A part of the National Press Club breakfast.
The National Press Club had sceduled Reverand Wright's appearance to discuss the role of faith in the public square in a presentation entitled, The African American Religious Experience; Theology and Practice.
"The Rev. Jeremiah Wright has become a news-making public figure. The National Press Club is a forum for hearing from and asking questions of newsworthy individuals. Therefore, as president of the National Press Club, I invited Wright to speak. It's as simple as that," stated National Press Club President Sylvia Smith.
Dr. Wright talked about his pastorate, his development as a theologian and teacher, and how the issues of social justice and global inequities have shaped his faith and his fight for those who are most marginalized in society. But, in some aspects of his speech, some people felt Wright may have gone too far, and Barack Obama agreed.
"The formal invitation from the president was sent to Wright. Barbara Reynolds, a member of the Speakers Committee, was asked to coordinate the event because she knew Wright or had a contact in his church," Smith said. "It is our practice to assign a speaker/potential speaker to a committee member who has a contact with that person."
Reverand Wright addressed the legacy and tradition of education in his family, and attempted to put into perspective theologically, historically and politically, his ministry and public service that has been so widely discussed in the media.
"Let me re-emphasize that the people who are invited to address a Press Club luncheon receive their invitations because of their news value. We do not in any way try to advance or impair a candidate's campaign," National Press Club President Sylvia Smith pointed out.
Dr. Wright will retire from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in June, where he served the 8,000-member congregation for 36 years. While at Trinity he developed nearly 100 active ministries/outreach programs and seven separate corporations that continue to serve the greater Chicago community. He has been described as a sought after lecturer and teacher and speaks at some of the nation's most prestigious universities and seminaries.
"The Rev. Wright became newsworthy in the context of the Clinton-Obama campaign. The National Press Club wishes to hear from and question newsworthy people. Therefore, Wright was invited to be a speaker," Smith explained.
"The mountain of news coverage generated from the event suggests this was a good idea and in keeping with our traditions."