Barack Obama’s longtime pastor once questioned America’s role in the spread of the AIDS virus and suggested that the United States bore some responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Confronted with the content of some of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.’s sermons, parts of which have been aired this week on FOX News, the Obama campaign continues to pull away from the pastor’s rhetoric, but is stopping short of a full repudiation.
Wright has retired as leader of Trinity United Church in Chicago; he delivered his last sermon there in February. Obama has attended the church for 20 years and calls Wright his spiritual adviser.
Wright’s supporters say his Afro-centric sermons accurately portray black America and contend his sermons are widely studied by theologians. But critics are now calling attention to some of his words from the pulpit.
In DVD copies of his sermons available for purchase, Wright can be seen questioning America’s role in the spreading of the HIV virus that leads to AIDS. In another speech, made in the days after 9/11, he suggested that American foreign policy invited the terror attacks.
“We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki. And we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye,” Wright said.
“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because of stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own backyard. America is chickens coming home to roost.”
The pastor also said: “The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied.”
Late Thursday, the Obama campaign said it has distanced itself from certain comments made by the pastor. But it did not fully repudiate Wright himself — as some critics have called for.
“Senator Obama has said before that he profoundly disagrees with some of the statements and positions of Reverend Wright, who has preached his last sermon as pastor at the church,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said. “Senator Obama deplores divisive statements whether they come from his supporters, the supporters of his opponent, talk radio, or anywhere else.”
Last year, Obama rescinded an invitation to Wright to deliver the invocation at his presidential announcement. He also issued a statement saying personal attacks have no place in politics after Wright delivered an attack on Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.
But Obama’s longtime relationship with Wright is continuing to spark controversy.
“This is not just someone that Barack Obama has a casual relationship with,” said Tom Bevan, executive editor of RealClearPolitics.com. He noted that Wright married Barack and Michelle Obama, and Wright’s words were the inspiration for the title of Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope.”
“Barack Obama has not out and out distanced himself from all of these comments … ,” said Patricia Murphy, editor of CitizenJanePolitics.com. “It’s unclear if he rejects all of these statements. I would assume that he does, but I think he is going to be pushed where he needs to come out and fully explain his relationship with his pastor.”
Some of Wright’s statements have raised eyebrows at a time the Internal Revenue Service is scrutinizing tax-exempt religious organizations for alleged violations of rules barring them from participating in political campaigns.
Prior to his retirement last month, Wright delivered commentary from the pulpit in which he praised Obama, as well as remarks focusing on the racial divide between Obama and Clinton.
“There is a man here who can take this country in a new direction,” Wright said during his Jan. 13 sermon.
During a Christmas sermon, Wright tried to compare Obama’s upbringing to Jesus at the hands of the Romans.
“Barack knows what it means living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people,” Wright said. “Hillary would never know that.
“Hillary ain’t never been called a nigger. Hillary has never had a people defined as a non-person.”
In a Jan. 13 sermon, Wright said:
“Hillary is married to Bill, and Bill has been good to us. No he ain’t! Bill did us, just like he did Monica Lewinsky. He was riding dirty.”
So far the Clinton campaign has been quiet over Wright’s comments.
Wright has declined interview requests from FOX News.
FOX News’ Jeff Goldblatt contributed to this report.
Taken from here.