March 21st, 2008
06:33 PM ET

The full story behind Wright’s “God Damn America” sermon

Editor's note: CNN Contributor Roland Martin has listened to several of the sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Portions of the sermons have been excerpted in recent stories. Martin says listening to the full sermons help put the excerpts in context.

I just finished listening to the nearly 40-minute sermon Rev. Jeremiah Wright gave on April 13, 2003, titled, “Confusing God and Government.”


For those of us watching and listening to the media in the last week, it is better known as the “God Damn America” sermon.

Wright’s scriptural focus was Luke 19:37-44 (reading from the New Revised Standard Version).

In this sermon, Wright spoke about the military rule during biblical days, led by Pontius Pilate. It was clear, through his language, such as “occupying military brigade” that he was making an analogy to the war in Iraq.

“War does not make for peace,” he said. “Fighting for peace is like raping for virginity."

“War does not make for peace. War only makes for escalating violence and a mindset to pay the enemy back by any means necessary,” he said.

He then gets to the thesis of his sermon, saying, “y’all looking to the government for only what God can give. A lot of people confuse God with their government.”

Wright criticizes the Bush administration and its supporters for using Godly language to justify the war in Iraq. He equates using God in America as condoning the war in Iraq to the same perspective of Islamic fundamentalists.

“We can see clearly the confusion in the mind of a few Muslims, and please notice I did not say all Muslims, I said a few Muslims, who see Allah as condoning killing and killing any and all who don’t believe what they don’t believe. They call it jihad. We can see clearly the confusion in their minds, but we cannot see clearly what it is that we do. We call it crusade when we turn right around and say that our God condones the killing of innocent civilians as a necessary means to an end. WE say that God understand collateral damage. We say that God knows how to forgive friendly fire."

“We say that God will bless the shock and awe as we take over unilaterally another country, calling it a coalition because we’ve got three guys from Australia, going against the United Nations, going against the majority of Christians, Muslims and Jews throughout the world, making a pre-emptive strike in the name of God. We cannot see how what we are doing is the same thing that Al-Qaeda is doing under a different color flag – calling on the name of a different God to sanction and approve our murder and our mayhem.”

He continues on his thesis of equating government with our God, saying that God sent the early settlers to America to take the country from Native Americans; ordained slavery; and that “we believe that God approves of 6 percent of the people on the face of this earth controlling all of the wealth on the face of this earth while the other 94 percent live in poverty and squalor while we give millions of tax breaks to the white rich.”

He also criticizes the “lily white” G-7 nations for controlling the world’s capital.

Then Wright speaks to:

1. Governments lie.

“This government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth is they believed that all white men were created equal. The truth is they did not even believe that white women were created equal, in creation nor civilization. The government had to pass an amendment to the Constitution to get white women the vote. Then the government had to pass an equal rights amendment to get equal protection under the law for women. The government still thinks a woman has no rights over her own body, and between Uncle Clarence (Thomas), who sexually harassed Anita Hill, and a closeted Klan court, that is a throwback to the 19th century, handpicked by Daddy Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, between Clarence and that stacked court, they are about to un-do Roe vs. Wade, just like they are about to un-do affirmative action. The government lied in its founding documents and the government is still lying today. Governments lie.”

“The government lied about Pearl Harbor. They knew the Japanese were going to attack. Governments lie. The government lied about the Gulf of Tonkin. They wanted that resolution to get us in the Vietnam War. Governments lie. The government lied about Nelson Mandela and our CIA helped put him in prison and keep him there for 27 years. The South African government lied on Nelson Mandela. Governments lie."

“The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely infected African American men with syphilis. Governments lie. The government lied about bombing Cambodia and Richard Nixon stood in front of the camera, ‘Let me make myself perfectly clear…' Governments lie. The government lied about the drugs for arms Contra scheme orchestrated by Oliver North, and then the government pardoned all the perpetrators so they could get better jobs in the government. Governments lie."

“The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. Governments lie. The government lied about a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and a connection between 9.11.01 and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Governments lie."

“The government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United States peace. And guess what else? If they don’t find them some weapons of mass destruction, they gonna do just like the LAPD, and plant the some weapons of mass destruction. Governments lie."

2. Governments change. He said long before the United States colonized the world, so did Egypt.

“All colonizers are not white. Turn to your neighbors and say that oppressors come in all colors.”

He then went back to the Bible and spoke about the changing of kings in Babylonia.

“Prior to Abraham Lincoln, the government in this country said it was legal to hold African in slavery in perpetuity...when Lincoln got in office, the government changed. Prior to the passing of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, government defined African as slaves, as property. Property, people with no rights to be respected by any whites anywhere. The Supreme Court of the government, same court, granddaddy of the court that stole the 2000 election. Supreme court said in it’s Dred Scott decision in the 1850s, no African anywhere in this country has any rights that any white person has to respect at any place, any time. That was the government’s official position backed up by the Supreme Court – that’s the judiciary; backed up by the executive branch – that’s the president; backed up by the legislative branch and enforced by the military of the government. But I stop by to tell you tonight that government’s change."

“Prior to Harry Truman’s government, the military was segregated. But governments change."

“Prior to the Civil Rights and equal accommodation laws of the government in this country, there was backed segregation by the country, legal discrimination by the government, prohibited blacks from voting by the government, you had to eat and sit in separate places by the government, you had sit in different places from white folks because the government said so, and you had to buried in a separate cemetery. It was apartheid, American style, from the cradle to the grave, all because the government backed it up."

“But guess what? Governments change. Under Bill Clinton, we got a messed up welfare to work bill, but under Clinton blacks had an intelligent friend in the Oval Office. Oh, but governments change."

“The election was stolen. We went from an intelligent friend to a dumb Dixiecrat. A rich Republican who has never held a job in his life; is against affirmative action (and) against education – I guess he is; against healthcare, against benefits for his own military, and gives tax breaks to the wealthiest contributors to his campaign. Governments change. Sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad.”

“Where governments change, God does not change. God is the same yesterday, today and forever more. That’s what his name I Am means. He does not change."

"God was against slavery on yesterday, and God, who does not change, is still against slavery today. God was a God of love yesterday, and God who does not change, is still a God of love today. God was a God of justice on yesterday, and God who does not change, is still a God of justice today."

“God does not change.”

3. He then speaks of the government in his Bible text and said the Romans failed. Then he said the British government failed even after it colonized the world. He said the Russian government failed. The Japanese government failed. The German government failed.

“And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent, she failed. She put them on reservations."

“When it came to putting her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in interment prison camps."

“When it came to putting the citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains. The government put them on slave quarters. Put them on auction blocks. Put them in cotton fields. Put them in inferior schools. Put them in substandard housing. Put them scientific experiments. Put them in the lower paying jobs. Put them outside the equal protection of the law. Kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education, and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness."

“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strike law and then wants us to sing God Bless America. Naw, naw, naw. Not God Bless America. God Damn America! That’s in the Bible. For killing innocent people. God Damn America for treating us citizens as less than human. God Damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God and she is Supreme."

“The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent. Think about this. Think about this. For every one Oprah, a billionaire, you’ve got 5 million blacks that are out of work. For every one Colin Powell, a millionaire, you’ve got 10 million blacks who cannot read. For every one Condi-Skeezer Rice, you’ve got 1 million in prison. For every one Tiger Woods, who needs to get beat at the Masters, with his Cablanasian hips, playing on a course that discriminates against women, God has this way of brining you up short when you get to big for your Cablanasian britches. For every one Tiger Woods, we’ve got 10,000 black kids who will never see a golf course. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent.”

“Tell your neighbor he’s (going to) help us one last time. Turn back and say forgive him for the God Damn, that’s in the Bible though. Blessings and curses is in the Bible. It’s in the Bible.

"Where government fail, God never fails. When God says it, it’s done. God never fails. When God wills it, you better get out the way, cause God never fails. When God fixes it, oh believe me it’s fixed. God never fails. Somebody right now, you think you can’t make it, but I want you to know that you are more than a conqueror through Christ. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”

He then went on to talk about the salvation of Christians through the death of Jesus Christ. The sermon ended with a song proclaiming, “God never fails.”


– Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Roland S. Martin
soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. Jack Sumrall

    It's sad that some white folk are willing to eat rice for the next few years rather than vote for Barack. White men, like myself, need to resign themselves to knowing that a ethnic gentleman can and should lead this country. Get a grip and get over it. All of this racial flap further makes me believe that if some white folk get to heaven and discover that Jesus is anything but white, many will be handed a ticket straight to hell because they will begin swearing right in front of Him. WE ARE ALL GOD'S CHILDREN AND HE DOES NOT HAVE RESPECT OF PERSON (which includes race).

    March 21, 2008 at 8:50 pm |
  2. Jay

    Wow, you guys are doing "investigative" reporting now??

    ...maybe you guys should have done that before airing the 3 second clip 500,000 times. You guys are pathetic and are starting to remind me of Fox News.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:48 pm |
  3. prabbit

    Obama's cowardice in failing to accept responsibility, blaming others (conservatives) for lgitimately questioning his veracity and complete lack of judgment, his illogical and offensive moral equivalence and ultimate justification of black hate-speech shows he is a well-educated but nonetheless ignorant, cowardly charlatan selling the same snake oil that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have been selling for decades - only now it's in a more sophisticated package and costs three times as much.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:43 pm |
  4. Edward Lay

    Bill Clinton's endorsement today of Senator McCain raises serious concern about Mrs Clinton's loyalty to her party. President Bill Clinton's endorsement follows Mrs Clinton's earlier show of support for Senator McCain. The publlic needs to know under which banner the Clintons are seeking nomination.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  5. Eugene

    I would like to thank Mr. Martin for trying to get to the bottom of this controversy. Although I'm sure the pundits do not want to look at it in the context of the whole sermon, because they want to continue to try to sabotage Obama's campaign. The news media is not going to focus on the context of the whole sermon because it would show them to be wrong in trying to persuade America against Barack Obama. Even though they would profess to have no agenda they are in fact all white. And though Obama spoke in his speech about the issues of race, the white media immediately went to work to find whatever fault they could with what was a great speech. They don't benefit if there is no controversy to talk about. If they would leave the issue alone it would go away. I am sure many more Americans than would step up an profess the truth (this includes many in the media) we all have someone, mother, father, uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother, or some ancestor who harbored racist attitudes about either blacks, Jews, or immigrants. Yet we try to pretend like we love or loved everyone and race doesn't matter. We are hypocrites and we need to get real and let the candidates get back to the issues and not continue this bickering that the media is enjoying.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:38 pm |
  6. Susana

    I knew when I saw you ,Martin, on CNN, there was something there! substance! You have done the one thing that nobody was willing to do!
    I am a big fan of Anderson Cooper, he made me so proud during the KATRINA mess, he just told it like it was, no spin. His one-liner on AC 360 is about letting a story tell itself...getting out of the way.... this time,,he let me down, please tell Anderson, i will still watch his program, but he needs to tell me why he did not INVESTIGATE before he joined the gang that shot down the one guy who has dared talk about race. Whether he had no choice or not or if it was the politically necessary thing to do,does not matter, after you hear the speech , the content of that speech, you will have to examine yourself.

    Those sermons in context make sense, no lies were told, Rev. was angry.......he is allowed that, because he was talking about issues that anger and frustrate, we are allowed that, this country has some sins, every country has sins.He did not lie about that, we just do not want to hear it! Shame on us! This is from a man of God and a former US marine, i say, he is not a racist, i say he is an angry black man, torn between the gospel and what his country has dealt him!

    It was far more "entertaining" to pretend to know a man based on a bunch of clips of his life! It is easier and more fun to bash Obama or Hillary or whomever over petty stuff tha pondering what he candidates think about he fact that i am about to pay $4 a gallon! Just like it is irrelavant to me where Hillary was while Bill was getting his groove on,that does not tell me how we will prevent a 12 hr wait at the ER!

    There are no perfect people, America does not need a perfect president, it needs a unifier and a tell it like it is.....the people should not be looking for one guy to change things, we should look to ourselves to change things. If you liked Obama cause he is the "feel-good, Hallelujia"candidate of the decade, you are supporting him for the wrong reasons, he has substance, go to his website, we are just so used to things a certain way that we cannot see anything outside of the norm ever working!

    March 21, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  7. caver

    What about Obama saying "typical white person" – I'm offended , how racist!

    March 21, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  8. Paul from Pa

    I expect more from our leaders. Sen. Obama’s comments of, “typical white people” as extremely offensive and shows the double standard accepted by some of mainstream America. I live in a racially mixed middle class community in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I own a tavern there. My staff or I do not tolerate offensive behavior and although his comments would have not have gotten him tossed from the bar he would have been called on it and watched more closely.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:34 pm |
  9. Ann Marie

    I must say that black Americans are a very strong and resilient people. After 400 years of slavery, several more years of lynching and injustice, they still have the ability to smile and love the race that enslaved and terrorized them. That is the power of God. Only the love of God can heal the wounds of the past. I pray that white Americans will take time and patience to really understand the plight of the black race and not have a �get over it� attitude. Trust me if the tables were turned and it was the Africans who bought white slaves to work in the fields of Africa, I�m almost certain whites would not heal as fast as the blacks have. My Jewish brothers and sisters have suffered and are still suffering and we will never forget the holocaust. Jews and Blacks are the only two races with a history of 400 years of slavery. All I ask is for a little more patience and understanding. Thank God for Barack Obama who has a little piece of white and black (and some) in his DNA.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:32 pm |
  10. Adina

    I'm glad I read the whole sermon. While I do not agree with his choice of language in certain sections I do think he has a point with the message he is trying to convey. Being white, I obviously have no idea what it's like to be black but I have had people treat me badly for other reasons that is also considered bias. No matter the reason it's ignorance or fear that keeps people in their prejudice.

    Unfortunately, the problem is that people are too busy making huge generalizations which just makes racism and prejudice worse. For any person to hold a whole group accountable for something is wrong. To say all blacks are this or all whites are that is why we have the problems we have today. I live in a city where there are some racial issues. I have seen and heard people do(say) things about blacks that are not great and usually it's because they take one person or group that doesn't do their community justice and say "they are all like that". But it also goes for the other way around. I have heard the same from black people against white people, but again it's due to the one or two idiots that say or do stupid thing. We are NOT ALL THE SAME. Some people are good at heart and some are not, but that has nothing to do with the color of their skin. I hope one day we can all be judged by the person we are not by bias and prejudice of ethnicity or religious belief.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:25 pm |
  11. Kathleen, NC


    Thank you for taking the time to dig deep and share the truth. As always, there will be closed minded individuals that we not read or take the time to attempt to understand the context in which these words were uttered. It is also sad that your exploration into these sermons will not gain the media’s attention as much as the negative side of the sermons did.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:25 pm |
  12. Mary in Oklahoma

    I am a White 70+ woman and find Dr. Wrights sermons distrubing, somewhat untruthful and comdemning all for the sins of a few.

    Maybe my point is, that I would not sit in a church that preaches hate more than love, preaches division more than community and politics more than the gospel. This is how NOT to bring the nation together.
    Senator Obama shows his Black side to one group of people but wants the rest of us to see his non-racial side. He is playing the race card, even when he says he is not.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  13. TCharisse

    Some of you people are really pathetic. How many of times have you gotten in a disagreement because you were not very tactful in your approach to a situation? Our ministers are not supposed to be tactful and polite when it comes to helping the Lord save our souls. They are supposed to be piercing in some respects because eternal damnation is a lot more intense than any language that came come from a minister's lips. Let's face it...there are many people (whether they want to admit or not) that feel that this government and the country has failed them. Not immigrants or aliens....native landers who are losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their families because this government has forgotten about the many and has concentrated on the few. And its that's a pill that we cannot swallow just because we want to be tactful....then same on us for being so cowardly to not face the mirror to our own shortcomings and failures.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:23 pm |
  14. messenger

    Why is a cnn "journalist" not presenting both sides to a story?

    C'mon Mr Martin we know that their (Wright and Obama) philosophy is one that believes Big Government can "fix" the problem. It's a way of thinking that ignores the fact that $7 trillion- yes trillion has been spent in this country since the "war on poverty" began. That's $7 trillion in the transfer of wealth - but money will not cure the problem. That proves big government is never the answer.

    The problem is that Democratic politicians rely on the creation of a voter plantation to remain in power. The problem is convincing people that they cannot control their own destiny, and that it's someone else's fault. Wright and Obama are both masters at creating that climate. The problem is that that's not what America is about. The problem is liberalism.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:21 pm |
  15. Dee

    Roland, your pretty boy Obama will never win the presidency. Americans are not going to vote for someone who supports a racist like Wright. Obama should get out now instead of damaging the Democrats more.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:19 pm |
  16. edmond

    i really do not see anything wrong with it at all,people like lou dubbs and fox news love to take things and run with it for ratings

    March 21, 2008 at 8:19 pm |
  17. Yvonne

    Robinhood, first of all you are not Obama's grandmother. Secondly, Obama is also white. Obama is at liberty to say his grandmother is a 'typical white' person because he is white. If he said his grandma was a typical black person, there would be no issue. It�s time for white folks to accept that Obama is one of them too. In the past when a light colored black tried to pass as white they were beaten. Don�t beat Obama. He�s white and he�s black. He is free to talk as both races.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:18 pm |
  18. Angie

    Thank you, Roland. This continual analyzing and overanalyzing of Rev. Wright and Obama's relationship is digusting!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the only thing they can find on this man. No one is perfect, all of the candidates have skeletons and the media is destroying the BEST option out there for President!!!!!!!!! And I do not believe that it is by accident! There is plenty of dirt on Hillary and McCain and the best we can do is to burn Obama for something his Pastor said 7 years ago. He has been more upfront than any person we have every had. This country is so used to DIRTY candidates that they want to tar and feather the closet candidate that we will ever have to, HONEST.

    Obama is 1/2 WHITE, WHY AND HOW CAN HE BE RACIST OR HATE WHITE PEOPLE? It would mean that he hates HIMSELF , and this man does not carry himself in that manner. Because of that fact that he is 1/2 WHITE AND 1/2 BLACK, HE UNDERSTANDS THE ISSUES OF BOTH RACES. A concept that many commentators really do not want to see OR ADDRESS it is OKAY FOR HIM TO TALK ABOUT WHITE AND BLACK PEOPLE BECAUSE HE IS BOTH WHITE AND BLACK. I can discuss the issues that woman face, BECAUSE I AM A WOMAN, DOES THAT MAKE ME A RACIST?

    CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest of the news media stink!!!!! These were not Obama's words and they have been talking about what this guy said 7 years ago for 10 DAYS!!!!! Geraldine Ferraro's hateful comments, that she said 2 weeks ago were carried by the news media for 3 DAYS!!!

    John McCain has endorsements from Pastors who have said controversial statements, why aren't they being continually played everyday like a broken record???? Your station is guilty of playing on the prejudices of people and as far as I am concerned CNN is worse than Jeremiah Wright. The know the full context of the speech, but they prefer to keep broadcasting the sound byte to stir people up.

    Everyone, can just sit back and wait for the Republicans to remain in office and for us to stay in this war for another 100 years. The US is on it's way to becoming a third world country and as far as I am concerned many of his comments regarding the US are true, we focus on hatred and evil and not love, truth and honesty. God Help Our Country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 21, 2008 at 8:06 pm |
  19. edmond

    wow,u can tell this is politically motivated,we see people burning the american flag which i believe is the most degrading thing to do but it seem to fly by with no uproar

    March 21, 2008 at 8:05 pm |
  20. kathy

    obama is a big problem for the democratic party....................

    March 21, 2008 at 8:05 pm |
  21. m braun

    Obama's smooth, real smooth. Never trust a man that smooth. He's a lawyer, a salesman, used to getting what he wants, advancing. And boy has he laid a snowjob on us now. He was faced with denouncing Rev Wright's comments, so he did it without being specific, but while still representing Wright's views. He deftly did both without stepping on too many toes.If there's one thing that stands out for me from this scandal it's that Obama doesn't want us to know the plans he has for America, nor is he interested in sharing his real views with us because his support is so great he doesn't need to.

    March 21, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  22. Robinhood

    Since Mr. Obamba stereotyped me as a typical white person I am the proud owner of a Democrat against Mr. Obamba for president. Why CNN lets him put down the very fabric of my being and say " It is white mans fault" is beyond me.

    Mr Obama is at the very soul of the black folks problems. They can't move forward because they are stuck in the past. Just listen to the Reverend speeches. It has always been in the best interest of black leaders to keep blacks down. His speech this week just confirmed that. Makes no difference which incompetent white or black person becomes president we will still have bad government. We the people have no voice in our government and Obambas speech this week just confirmed for me what the black community has felt all along.

    No more black white meeting. No more lets get along. You want to get along then just do it. But don't ask me to pay anymore taxes for what you see is something that happened to you from the past. Those folks are dead. Just like my relatives were murdered in WWII.

    Let it go. Lord Let it go. Just let it go.... and you will be saved.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  23. Kyle

    Thank You for that I now understand what he meant and although I wish it would would have been said differently I understand it. I wish CNN or someone would play the whole section of when he says God damn America because it is understandable and not in any way unpatriotic. It means the goverment may and will fail some people but God never will.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  24. Paris

    What is your point Roland?
    The bottom line is none of this gives you hope or represents change.
    And your candidate Obama saw this man as a mentor and admired him for 20 years.

    And what is worse is that the FACT that Obama didn’t have the backbone to object.
    He only did it when it was jeopardizing his candidacy. Stop dividing us

    This is not the way to be healed or to move on.

    God bless America. God bless this nation. .

    March 21, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  25. Yvonne

    Will somebody please let jimmy (the first blogger up above) know this is year 2008. And give him a pillow, he needs some sleep.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  26. demornier

    Obama is a master of diverting attention away from anything that may be an Obama flaw and redirecting it to - oops, you guessed it, OUR racism, NOT HIS racism, not his pastor's racism . What a phony.

    If Americans elect a President with a person in his inner circle who hates America, then it's our own fault if we get a nanny state. Obama nevers speaks against the welfare state. It's gimme gimme gimme irresponsible babies who want someone else, especially the government to take care of them. That's who I see increasingly posting on the political blogs, irresponsible babies who want the government to be their nanny. Obama is perfect for them.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  27. Tammy

    Thank you for putting this into context of the entire sermon. While I don't agree with some of his "facts", for the most part, he's right. I get what he's saying. America isn't the land of opportunity for everyone. If you think it is, you're delusional. I work in education. I can tell you education is still not equal, kids still get left behind, and current best practices are often a joke. I've worked in social services with addiction and HIV/AIDS (and the HIV and addiction conspiracy theories are all bunk, by the way). This pastor is right on so many other counts, though, it should scare America for the right reasons, like mainly changing things for the better for those who have been disenfranchised for multiple generations. I have been one of the naysayers to Obama and his church. I admit to being wrong after reading both speeches today in full. I am glad you shared these with viewers. The media should do a better job of getting facts straight before the smear campaigns start. But then it wouldn't be as destructive to a person's reputation and campaign. The sad thing is, people are still going to hate even though the facts are there. People will still be narrow minded. The media will always have hidden agendas. And America still loses when that mentality is allowed to run rampant.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:48 pm |
  28. independent

    After this Rev Wright episode, the lingering feeling I have is that somehow this was all my fault due to some inherent racism in me. Its not unifying me to others, it's making me feel bad

    March 21, 2008 at 7:47 pm |
  29. Mischelle from Illinois

    Wright is a radical coo-coo! Have you listened to and read Michael Meyers(NY Civil Rights Coilition) LA Times op-ed "Obama Blew It! THAT is where AMERICA IS! And needs to be! If you keep defending Wright, you will go down in a blaze with him and OBAMA. The moderate media (you know those you refer to as the far RIGHT) has called you (CNN) out on being an OBAMA safe ZONE! Now you(CNN) are the far (coo-coo) LEFT fringe of reality.

    There will NEVER ever be any acceptable excuse for the statements of Rev Wright. Many people of many colors, shapes, sizes, ethnicities have worked toward equal treatment of ALL people. To belong to or affiliate or defend a group which segregates themselves and allows their mantra to be..."we are such victims"...Instead of "we can help ourselves" has no place in our CIVILIZED and equal society.

    I believe that the "OUTING" of the radical Rev Wright was an Act of GOD and we should all see this as devine intervention, because he(God) could no longer allow the hate and vile committed in that segment of our society to continue. AMEN

    March 21, 2008 at 7:47 pm |
  30. Dick

    But let's all go crazy and screw freedom of speech, and lynch Mr. Wright. Let's noose up Mr Martin for good measure as well for how dare he look for context or the whole story or the truth. Of course America IS God, because we have the power to bomb the rest of the world into silence, just like God supposedly can...but then again maybe not as God supposedly flooded the world once but even then he had mercy on Noah. what a softee. If punishments were left to America the God we would have done it right, scorched even the baby feeding on her mother, for how dare the child does not bow down to America daily at least 5 times a day. God could never damn America no, we would destroy all mention of God if He tried. America damns God, but we will keep him around as long as it serves our purpose, because it's easier to make people believe "In God we Trust" than if we tried "In America We Trust".

    -Dick C.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:45 pm |
  31. Bernadette

    Roland – thank you for reporting into this further – but shame on CNN for burrying this and the other full story on the 9/11 comments (as it was on the CNN home page before) and NOT addressing this on any of this on any of the broadcasts this evening. Also, shame on ALL the networks for not providing the people with the full story and just providing them with selective sound bites. Whether people agree or disagree with Wright, the people deserve to hear the full story – in context. The media is taking subjects that are so sensitive to so many people and blowing it up for ratings.

    The media should be ashamed for doing this and the public at large should be ashamed for buying into it so readily. We have met the enemy and it really is us.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:44 pm |
  32. Thomas

    Powerful sermon. I don't see where anything he says isn't accurate. I wish the Reverend lived in Los Angeles so I can attend his church: Lord knows I haven't been in years because of the lack of strength and leadership in the clergy.

    When Obama wins the Presidency, it will be the first time I will salute the flag and pledge my allegience since I was 10 years old. That's 28 years ago! I'll look forward to taking off my hat at a ball game and putting my hand over my heart.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:44 pm |
  33. Cindy

    You did it once again man!!

    As I read this I remembered some of the sermons I have heard in my own church that was similar to this but with no racial innuendos thrown in. I go to a non-denominational church but the pastor preaches just like Wright in what they call the pentecostal preaching. So I am used to these types of sermons. They get down and dirty and tell it like it is. You aren't supposed to like it. It is supposed to make you think and change yourself for the better.

    Saying that I will say that I don't think that Wright is saying anything that a lot of other preachers haven't said before. He is saying that because the U.S. thinks it is so big and doesn't need anyone's help including God's that these things that we do are coming back to bite us. And it does say in the Bible that those who think that they are above God are damned already. And the US. has kicked God out of about just everything because we try to be too pc!!

    On some things he did go a bit too far! But no one is perfect and everyone has faults. No matter if you want to admit it or not everyone has some racial prejudices from when they were growing up even if you mean to or not. Who are we to judge him!?

    Cynthia, Covington, Ga.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:42 pm |
  34. Monika

    Well, it’s nice to see that someone finally bothered to get at the truth. Like with the previous post by Roland Martin, I can’t see anything offensive about this sermon.

    I grew up in Germany and went to school there. I learned about black people being held as slaves and segregated and discriminated against, Native Americans being slaughtered and later imprisoned on reservations, Jews being persecuted and killed under Hitler, and many other atrocities people have committed since the dawn of time. These are all historical facts. I don’t doubt that any of it happened.

    Here’s what I don’t get: Why do Americans keep rubbing salt into all those old wounds? Who is it helping? How does that make you feel better? Why do you feel this need of endlessly discussing things that happened decades or hundreds of years ago? Nobody can change the past; all we can do is learn from it. But Americans never seem to learn anything from the past. If you did, you would let bygones be bygones and move on to the present and future.

    Why don’t Americans concentrate on the here and now? If there are any injustices or discrimination going on, yes, by all means, let’s talk about that and let’s fight that. But constantly bringing up old wounds of your forefathers serves only one thing: to incite hatred and
    counter-hatred. Yes, that’s all it does.

    I am a white person. I never did anything to a black, Native American, or Jew. To me they are just people. I certainly would not want a Jew or African American or anybody else hurt me because some white person a hundred years ago mistreated his or her relative or maybe even just somebody unrelated and unknown, simply because they had the same color skin. This is just total insanity.

    By the way, I’ve met quite a few Native Americans and I never heard one of them whine and complain about what the white people did to them. Why don’t the African Americans follow suit and just grow up and get over slavery already. It’s all very old news.

    We women all know what it’s like to be discriminated against and abused. This is still going on today. Let’s fight the problems that are plaguing us today instead of worrying about the past. It’s time to move into the 21st century, people!

    March 21, 2008 at 7:41 pm |
  35. Annie Kate


    Thank you for taking the time to pursue this and put it in context. Like you and David, Carl, and Anderson said last night on 360 one must look at what is said in the totality of the person and their background and in its full context.

    I'm not sure what I think about it all now but at least I have more to judge it on more accurately than the sound bites we had before.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 21, 2008 at 7:40 pm |
  36. Sampath Palaniswamy

    This entire week TV channels (including all CNN stations) repeatedly broadcast excerpts from Rev. Wright's sermon where he says the chickens have come home to roost.
    Until I saw the video of the full sermon, I was not aware that Rev. Wright was quoting from an interview Ambassador Peck had given Fox News. Towards the end he even goes on to say something like "these words are not that of a black militant but those a white man ..." There was a report on this at HuffingtonPost and it has a link to the video of the sermon which lasts about 8 minutes.
    I am disappointed that CNN would stoop to the level of Fox News. Why would CNN play snippets from the sermon that makes Rev. Wright look unpatriotic? Is there a hidden agenda here? Will you please investigate this and show viewers what really went on during that sermon? Given the frenzy of the last few days I am not sure whether this email would even see the light of the day. Thanks.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  37. LYN

    Now it is very clear why sen. obama does not wear a flag on his jacket . Also on why he does not put his hand on his heart when the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE is being said.This also answers why he refuses to say the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. WAKE UP AMERICA !

    March 21, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  38. James I

    I listened to his sermon and don't see a problem with what he said at all. He is telling the truth. To be a true leader as a person or a country you have to accept your strengths and weaknesses, you have to acknowledge you true history. This sermon puts the truth on our plates for dinner. To break it down in an analytical way is to be applauded.

    With such tools at many peoples disposal such as the Internet it would seem that many would listen to the entire speech, but too many choose to get their information from 30 second sound bites or through 30 minute news casts. People may disagree with Rev. Wright, but it is in no way racist. In fact I would argue that many of his points are correct. Should he have balanced his negatives truths about America with positive truths? That could be debated, but he is not a politician he is a pastor and taken in its' full context the message he is attempting to deliver could not have been made. You can not however truthfully argue any of his points at all.

    Thanks AC for another blog entry worth every bit and byte needed to display it,

    March 21, 2008 at 7:32 pm |
  39. Yvonne

    Thank God for the Prophets in the land. One day America will look back at this prophetic sermon and thank Rev. Wright for shining light on her short comings. America needs restoration and counselling, but she must first acknowledge that she needs it.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:32 pm |
  40. Bill I.

    Excellent write-up Roland... It is so important to put this in context... Kudos to you on responsible journalism.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  41. Fireman in Fla

    WoW!!!! Thanks Roland for finding the truth...I guess you have to hear the whole sermon to get an understanding of GOD COUNTRIES....

    March 21, 2008 at 7:26 pm |
  42. Judy

    Most of the time I agree with you. I realize the media has had a field day with the utube snippets and some of it was taken out of context, I'm quite sure. However, there is no reason, for anyone, white, black,
    Asian, or otherwise to say what the pastor said. There is no way to justify damning our beloved country. I am a white American, and I refuse to listen to any justification for this rant. Having said that, I don't think any less of Senator Obama. I liked him before and I like him now.

    March 21, 2008 at 7:19 pm |
  43. xtina

    We can talk about this all we want but people who were for Rev Wright before will say, 'Yes, that's right' and people who were against him before will say 'That's not right' .

    So why not get to what Obama' s record is (not his plans, but his actual record) on National Security, Taxes, Earmarks, Illegal Immigration and Islamic terrorism. Why won't you take up threads comparing Obama/McCain/Clinton on these subjects?

    March 21, 2008 at 7:19 pm |
  44. caune

    Thanks Mr. Martin for taking the time to dig deeper into the sermons.
    The way some are playing this thing you'd think every Sunday was like the few clips they show over and over.
    Maybe you could pick a nice "happy" sermon to disect too 😉

    March 21, 2008 at 7:15 pm |
  45. jimmy velman


    March 21, 2008 at 7:12 pm |
  46. becky


    March 21, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  47. T

    Thank You Roland and CNN for providing America with the truth. The world needs to see and hear about this instead of the little snippets we get on youtube

    March 21, 2008 at 7:02 pm |
  48. ender

    A great speech would have been Obama telling us it is time to end the race issue by everyone taking personal responsibility for themselves and to quit blaming everything on "rich, white men". He could have pointed to himself and his wife as examples of overcoming racial obstacles and succeeding in life. However that kind of talk isn't heard because the black community has to remain the victim in order for Obama to win.

    March 21, 2008 at 6:59 pm |
  49. cary

    On what points does Obama agree with Rev Wright? Disagree? Where does Barack stand on black liberation theology? Why does TUCC have a Black Values system and not a Christian Value or American Values System? Where does he stand on the Nation of Islam? on Hamas? Why did his church give Louis Farrakhan a 'Lifetime Achievement' award?

    March 21, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
  50. Ayse

    Though I do not agree with what the reverend said, I think it is the context of how he said those comments that makes it truly disturbing. It seems to have been said with a huge sense of passion & conviction, and dare I say it, normality.

    There are some things we think, and think good for saying it, and there are some things that we think, and should only think without verbally disclosing it.

    In this time of social-sensitivity we should all be consious of this. No-one should think themselves as being anyone else's mouth-peice. We say & write things that we cannot take back. This is our society today, and though it may not be ideal, perhaps this is a hard lesson for us all to always think before we talk, think before we write, and think about what we think.

    March 21, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
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