April 30th, 2008
07:51 PM ET

One Pastor to Another: Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Martin E. Marty
University of Chicago divinity professor, columnist, editor
Editor's Note: Marty issued the following statement this evening.

To all those who have inquired, responded, or asked for comment or interviews:

I am “on the road” this week and regrettably cannot respond personally to the numerous e-mails I have received regarding Pastor Jeremiah Wright.

Earlier this month The Chronicle (of Higher Education) Review  and a local TV program asked me to appraise Wright’s role and achievement as pastor of Trinity Church. I attempted to put his pastoral and “preacherly” work into congregational perspective. The article was widely circulated and remains available on the web.

In the past week, however, what in the article I called Pastor Wright’s “abrasive—to say the least!-edges” have completely dominated his public comments. In them he aggressively defended the very items that I had called “abhorrent and indefensible” as well as “distracting and harmful.”

In the new circumstances, I will have nothing more to add, since the new context is entirely political and not churchly. Those who read me in my five weekly or biweekly outlets know that I make it a practice in them not to mention candidates and candidacies for public office, as an interpretation of my vocation in “civic pedagogy,” not partisan expression.



Filed under: Raw Politics • Rev. Jeremiah Wright
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. doug

    One thing to think about here. Who did the Clinton's call on when Bill was having his affair with intern? Reverend Jerrimiah Wright was one of them......

    May 1, 2008 at 2:28 pm |
  2. Pat M Canada

    This rehetoric on Rev. Wright is providing a smoke screen for the real issues surrounding this campaign. I don't believe anyone needs any more explanations about Rev. Wright or Obama's Feelings on Rev. Wright!

    What 's important and is not being addressed is Barack Obama's qualifications for President of the United States of America! There is nothing Rev. Wright said or didn't say that will clarify that issue!

    In short, Obama is not qualified. Obama does not have the experience required to lead your Nation. And Obama's choice of religion and/or Pastor has nothing to do with that fact! I hear many Americans' statements about Obama bringing change. If it's just change you need any one of the Candidates can bring that about! The Question is: What Change are you looking for? And What Change has Obama detailed he is going to bring Americans? I didn't hear Obama enlighten his people on that issue.either. Did I miss something?

    May 1, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
  3. angie

    One man has the united states of america in a uproar...why??? The one man who we really should be mad at is BUSH!!! look what he has done or should i say haven't done to our country.. please people get your priority straight rev wright is not the end all or be all he is not the first pastor who said things that are so far out there you had to look twice at them.. obama say he went to that church for 20yrs i wonder how many sundays he went..how many did he stay awake for, how many did he have to leave out of because of business, we say we belong to a church but haven't been in years so enough of rev wright and obama association..you without sin cast the first stone.because i know you;re perfect america

    May 1, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  4. Marilyn

    Everyone is wondering why he stayed in the church for 20 years.
    If we would all be honest we all have heard something in our church from our pastor we did not agree with and did not leave ou church. A church is not built on just a pastor.

    I thought when we accepted the Lord as our personal saviour the church was in us.

    He that is without sin cast the first stone. We all have fallen short. So please listen at what we are doing and and saying who are we to say what someone else should have done.

    May 1, 2008 at 12:39 pm |
  5. nerakami, Miami FL

    Americans need to RESIST main stream media’s attempt to hi-jack our entire democratic process by defining what stories go on perpetual sound bite loops and which ones go under the radar.

    This is an injustice to the American people and it has got to STOP. It is anti-American to push your personal self-interests (RATINGS) and not the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    Wake up America. Mainstream media is proving to be the most powerful influence in our society!
    We need to RESIST this madness !

    May 1, 2008 at 10:53 am |
  6. Terek Y. - Westbury, NY

    Okay, so now that Bill and Hillary Clinton’s pastor, Rev. William Procanick, has been convicted of child molestation, will we see the same furor directed at Hillary that Obama has had to endure these last few weeks? If Obama bears the guilt for his pastor’s comments, then Hillary has to be equally tainted by this guy’s crimes.

    May 1, 2008 at 10:51 am |
  7. Terri

    I don't care what either of them say Obama or Wright, it's a disgrace that Americans have to listen to both thier garbage. I wish they would both just go away..He's a crazy racists preacher and Obama is a typical li*ing politician.

    May 1, 2008 at 9:54 am |

    Why haven't the media explored the Wright/ Clinton relationship more? The memory of American's seems to be no longer than the current sound bite on CNN/FOX news. Rev. Wright did not just come on the scene. He has been active in each administration since before Pres. Bush senior. During the Monica Lowensky scandal he was the spiritual advisor and still is a good friend of Pres. & Sen. Clinton. So somebody needs to take their hypocrite pills and call honesty in the morning.

    May 1, 2008 at 4:33 am |
  9. Marie

    Rev Wright is very wrong for all that he said about Mr. Obama. He has only made himself look bad in the public eye. You would think he's only trying to get attention and not acting very Christian like. Mr. Obama did the right thing by stepping away from him. He has handle this very well. He should be our next President.

    May 1, 2008 at 3:24 am |
  10. Ricky Williams

    This is done and over with its been going on for 2 months now. I wonder has the news media forgot that they are "OTHER" major issues besides rev Wright. How come the news media CANT help keep people focused on the thing that are hurting our country and run specials on Ideas on how to change for the better? Heres a blog Idea, how much control do voters think they have over real policy's that our president makes?

    May 1, 2008 at 3:23 am |
  11. Rob-BC Canada

    This is so ridiculous.You keep telling everyone how the candidates want to move away from all this and talk about the issues.Then in the next breath it is again time for some other political analysis to give us there take on the Rev Wright issue.CNN has become to Hillary Clinton what Fox has been for G W Bush.We have a Republican nominee whose pastor has said inflammatory remarks about the Catholic Church and Black Americans.No opinions from the analysis on that.We have a Democratic nominee with so much baggage, everything from a womanizing husband to shady land deals and Columbian free trade lobby money.No story there.We have now decided to tune in to NBC/ABC or CBS.I never thought I would see the day when CNN “one of the most respected news channels” became another Fox like tabloid outlet.The only man on your station with an any sense of decency and fairness is Jack Cafferty.Stick to your guns Jack. I guess this post is destine to be deleted, who cares.Good bye CNN.Go Obama.Keep to the high road.

    May 1, 2008 at 2:55 am |
  12. Michelle

    There is a spiritual tie that binds those who bring us to Christ. That tie exists even if the person is terribly imperfect or hurts us later. What we saw in the other is the "face of Christ", a light that opened our hearts to God's Love. Love is perfectly reflected off the imperfect surfaces of our souls. A former agnostic, I have discovered God's love and light is a mystery that transforms the heart and allows us to truly forgive and, therefore, truly love others...even if we have to seperate ourselves from their disfunction.

    What is different about Barack and Michelle Obama? They are striving to be followers of Christ.

    Blessings to the Obama family.

    Be the change you wish to see – Gandhi.

    May 1, 2008 at 2:14 am |
  13. G.Berry

    Rev Wright words is his own words, NOT Obama. Barrack & Michelle are outstanding people. They are rooted and grounded for the people, keep up the good work you have my vote.

    May 1, 2008 at 2:10 am |
  14. Della

    To Patty and Citizenforamericans, (citizens, maybe – for americans no way)
    It seems so many of you think 20 years of Rev Wright's teaching has rubbed off on Senator Obama. If that's the case I guess all of us african americans should be filled with hate for the whites after the hundreds of years of slavery, rapes, physical torchure, abuse and hangings our ancestor endured. After all these years the KKK who fit the definiton of terrorist in any dictionary are protected by law to met in public and preach hate against Jews and Blacks. You all never complain about that. I was born and raced in the U.S. and out of all the presidents who have been in office, none have abolished the KKK, and believe me that's like adding insult to injury. I guess that shouldn't bother us, huh ?

    May 1, 2008 at 1:33 am |
  15. Stephen

    If one listen to Rev. Wright entire sermons one would understand he is only telling the true as seen theough the eyes of the average Black person in American. For one to belive that racism does not alive in America he must be dead in the grave. If one reads the U.S. cenus 2000 report it tells you its alive and well. If you are not Black youread these reports with blinder on. Jest look at wage differances between equally educated White man and a Black man. Ask why Black Americans are charged higher interest on auto loans than White Americans The real reason why crinial Justice system does mot treat Black and White american the same. Ask why Black American make up more than 60% of the prison population and less than 15% of the college educated population. I can give you more example

    May 1, 2008 at 12:36 am |
  16. James

    Obama has no credibility. Pleading ignorance or saying *let's move on* is not answering the deeper question of why he maintained this relationship for 20 years. You don't just *miss* the kinds of beliefs that Rev. Wright espouses. Of course Michelle wants to talk about "something else."

    May 1, 2008 at 12:20 am |
  17. Carrie Jensen

    Barack has a mind of his own. You listen to your friends,family, or teachers and others but it does not mean that you believe everything that they say!!! Everyone has their own beliefs, and there is not one person in this world that goes to a church and has the same belief that their pastors does all the time. Barack is a very educated person, and he knows what he is doing. We want someone that has a heart, and has beliefs!!! Someone that is solo and strong! You know if Clinton gets it, it will pretty much be Bill Clinton all over again!

    May 1, 2008 at 12:07 am |
  18. rasheedah

    This is still America last time I checked. I've been drawn to religion and a place of worship because of where I was in my spiritual developement. And I have left that place when I disagreed with the propaganda, practices, and internal persuasions that I did not support. Freedom of speech and religion is alive and well in America. It doesn't matter how long one has journeyed up a spiritual path, but rather when we have learned the lessons and our developement has been completed in that place. We have free will to continally grow and learn and share.
    I simply see this in Senator Obama's press conference yesterday. Most of us , when young, are impressed by the whole congregation, wholisticality, the energy, and even the spiritual head of that org. when we enter, however as we mature we see things that weren't evident to our eyes before.

    April 30, 2008 at 11:57 pm |
  19. Joe

    OMG listen people. Rev Wright speaks to a nation of disenfranchised people who after, witnessing certain things in their life, realize that anything is possible for a government to do, especially when the majority of the population is unaware it is happening. But that doesn't excuse him for his gd america.

    April 30, 2008 at 11:53 pm |
  20. hardy alabama

    It is sad "we cannot be as good as, but have to always be better than" and even then our chances are slim to get what we work so hard to achieve, when it all comes down to it we have a up hill climb because we are still racially divided. but we stilll believe in a God that sits high and looks low , I am so proud of Barrack & Michelle Obama

    April 30, 2008 at 11:52 pm |
  21. patty

    To: E. Joyce

    I can't believe that you would post this item about Hillary. It is so far out of touch to even comment on it. What in the world do you think she would have had to do with something like that. It was in his house not in the church during meetings.

    April 30, 2008 at 11:52 pm |
  22. hardy alabama

    It is sad "we cannot be as good as, but have to always be better than" and even then our chances are slim to get what we work so hard to achieve, when it all comes down to it we have a up hill climb because we are still racially divided. but we stilll believe in a God that sits high and looks low , I am so proud of Barrack & Michelle Obama


    April 30, 2008 at 11:51 pm |
  23. Venus in Texas

    Unfortunately we have no control over what others around us say or do. Each and every one of us have someone in the midst of our social /family circle that we are are completely embarrassed by. Hillary included. And in response to her statement that she would have "left that church"....well , it's been 10 + years since her family scandal / fallout and she hasn't left Bill yet !!!! So much for practice what you preach!!

    April 30, 2008 at 11:43 pm |
  24. E. Joyce Moore

    I don't hold Hillary responsible for someone else's behavior, but I wonder why this isn't on the airwaves...
    Clinton's former pastor sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting a 7 year-old girl
    Judge to ex-pastor: 'You lied'

    When the Rev. William Procanick put his hand on the Bible during his sex-abuse trial in Oneida County Court earlier this year, he swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    But as the former Clinton pastor was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for inappropriately touching a 7-year-old girl at his home last March, Judge Michael L. Dwyer said Procanick sacrificed his honesty the day he testified.

    “As a minister of God, you got on the stand and you lied,” Dwyer told Procanick, the 54-year-old former pastor of Resurrection Assembly of God church on Kirkland Avenue.

    A jury found Procanick guilty Jan. 22 of first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

    Dwyer said he believes Procanick was being honest when he told the girl's mother in a recorded phone call that he was wrong to caress the girl's body while she was trying to fall asleep. ..MORE

    April 30, 2008 at 11:40 pm |
  25. citizenforamericans

    How can anyone take Obama seriously anymore? He discusses the issues vaguely, he says he is going to lead the need for change yet he never discusses the specific changes he is planning to make and how he plans to make them. He is known for being one of the most liberal Senators in Congress which should give most people pause. At the beginning of his campaign, he called Reverand Wright his "mentor" and he is someone who has preached to him for what, 20 years yet he never saw the side of Reverand Wright we are all seeing? It took Reverand Wright becoming so racist preaching hate America and whites for him to finally denounce the man? Reverand Wright even said that Obama was saying what he did because he was running for President. To me, Reverand Wright appears to be a man who is trying to set the record straight and Obama shared his views prior to his decision to run for President. Obama could not be in the dark all these years with the Reverand, his very close friend, pastor, mentor, etc..., being so unbelievably racist and anti-America.

    April 30, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  26. Ronaldo#9

    I'm tired of the liberal media always coming to the rescue of Obama. Everytime he gets into hot water, either by his own comments or Reverend Wright's comments the media always tries to portray him as a savior.

    The interview that Susanne Malveoux did tonight with Michelle Obama was ridiculous. It was more like a chat among friends than a true interview, asking her hard questions.

    April 30, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  27. terri

    Did any of you anti-Wright ranters even bother to read the article that is linked to this blog post? Sheesh!

    April 30, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  28. Ann

    I am so dissappointed in the way the Michelle Obama interview was handled. It wasn't an interview at all, but an endorsement for the Obama Campaign! A "Rock Star Candidate?!" and Suzanne telling Michelle Obama she's been "misunderstood." How dare she say Americans can't iterpret on their own, what Michelle Obama's statements mean! Michelle Obama gave a speech tonight and was caressed by the CNN reporting staff – UNBELIEVABLE! The O'Reilly/Clinton interview was an actual interview, get a clue CNN.

    April 30, 2008 at 10:48 pm |
  29. sharon jphnson

    reverend wright is a fool and he should go somewhere an sit down.

    April 30, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  30. Marian Lever

    The question people should be investigating is who orchestrated Reverend Wright's speaking engagements and set up the exposure...I suspect, like Watergate, this story is not about the burglary but about who organized it...follow the money...follow the source...

    April 30, 2008 at 10:05 pm |
  31. sharon jphnson

    my opinion he acted like a complete fool , and was very embarassing.

    April 30, 2008 at 10:02 pm |
  32. Doald Crews

    It was told to us that the Man running to be our 36th President of the United States could never run this country because he was a Catholic.
    It was forbidden to even utter his name in School, or even our Church.
    This Man died defending the Constitution of the United States. The Obama Family spiritual needs must have been met by Rev. Wright for more than 20 years. Their affiliation has been addressed now let the man go on with his Campaign. I was not a Barack Obama
    supporter, but I am now. Our Brave Soldiers are fighting and laying down their lives everyday so we can go to where ever our spiritual needs are met reguardless of who the Pastor is.

    April 30, 2008 at 9:56 pm |
  33. jan bay

    Has it occurred to anyone that Obama and Wright have just got over on some Americans. I really feel that this was thought out and planned by both. Obama needed to denounce Rev Wright especially after the ads began to run in N. Carolina. Everyone would have wondered why now if nothing else happened. Rev wright is a very intelligent man and appeared to be a foolish man on T.V. This man is a scholar and Obama has probaly learned a lot under his teachings. Trust me African Americans do not denounce their Pastors the way he did. If he is the Christian that he proclaims to be when you have claimed a person as your spiritual leader you don"t get on national T.V. before you approach him. I'm not believing this and I find it sad that Blacks or still having to be what white americas want us to be. We can't be Black and win nothing. Obama will not be happy as the President of the United States because he can never hold on to his Black idenity. For Obama to dislike the leader of the Black nation Of Islim, what was he doing at the million man March and guess who was the main attraction. I just think it's sad that we as Black people can't be who we are with out having to still play slave master games so that whites will say he's not like the rest of them. Racism in America still exist and if they think for one moment that Obama is like the rest of us he will not be President.

    April 30, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  34. chrystal

    in this mess with obama and rev. wright, i just want to know why a "Black man" is always a black man's worst enemy? what's up with that?

    April 30, 2008 at 9:11 pm |
  35. Jack Penkethman

    When is it okay to damn our nation?
    Try this little thought experiment:

    Imagine a fiery and animated Rev. Wright delivering these words:

    "... but we cannot say that we are a righteous people.
    We've sinned against you.
    We've sown to the wind and are reaping the whirlwind of crime, drug abuse, racism,
    immorality, and social injustice.
    We need to repent of our sins and turn by faith to you."

    These words were delivered to the nation at the first inauguration of President Clinton by Billy Graham.
    Billy Graham CenterArchives
    1993 Inaugural Invocation
    © Wheaton College 2005

    April 30, 2008 at 9:03 pm |
  36. puertoricoconhillary

    20 YEARS AND NOT ONCE HEARD SERMONS OF PRO BLACK AND ANTI AMERICAN SENTIMENT> give me a break Obama is undercover, when will you all wake up OBama is selling you words, the man can not speak when he doen not have apseeched memorized or a tele prompter is not staring at him. Hillary please end this, Obama is a phoney!

    April 30, 2008 at 8:51 pm |
  37. Tammy

    I am not a pastor. I have been in discernment in the past as a potential religious in Roman Catholicism, and I am discerning discerning a religious vocation in my current faith. God doesn't seem to want to take my no for an answer. At any rate, I've discerned under men and women of notable charge and tutelage over the years, not the least of which was a priest who was ordained and mentored by Pope John Paul II. Having said that, Jeremiah Wright would never be my mentor nor advisor. His style is different from mine. His beliefs of how one gets to God are offensive to my soul. I'm pretty sure my faiths have been offensive to others. I know Roman Catholicism has. We all have our paths to God. However, when that path is offensive to a majority of people, that person has no business running for public office if it will alienate him from his constituents and cause fear in them. And the God I know doesn't cause fear and division, but healing and love. All I see from Obama and his pastor are division, an agenda of superiority, lies, and backstabbing. Not what I want for my president or country. We've had eight years of an administration influenced by the religious right. Look where that's gotten us. I can't imagine the far left being any saner. This back and forth debacle of this whole thing is simple, hard proof of that fact.

    April 30, 2008 at 8:47 pm |
  38. Fannie Butler

    I wasn't wrong about George Bush in the 2 campaigns that gave him the presidency and I'm not wrong about this year's campaign. I knew that Bush would not be a good president for America. I know which candidate in this year's campaign will be a good president for America. However, the media gives the American people unfair and unbalanced rhetoric for which they (the media) thinks that the average American is a fool.

    No, I'm not a mind-reader nor do I use a crystal ball. The thing I do have is common sense. I believe in change and want it to happen.

    The status quo of America is still stuck in time. In the 21st century, for a man to have to defend being an American cictzen who has shown that he can bring together people from all walks of life, different races, young and old, and the association with his pastor is strictly representative of the 19th century and earlier 20th century negativism in this country.

    A pastor as Jeremiah Wright did not display christianity as he professed to be a man of the cloth. And because of this, haters of progress want to align Obama with such ridiculous rhetoric. wright is also stuck in time! It is a shame for this country (Media) to sprout the words of Wright.

    Obama's problem is that he tells the truth and most people hate to hear the truth about the ills of our country. He has shown how composed and intelligent he is and his quest to make things better for the country.

    Just as in the Bush's campaign, people made the wrong choice and I pray that this does not happen in the long run for the next president of the United States of America. If you want change and move from the status quo, use your common sense and vote for Obama.

    April 30, 2008 at 8:33 pm |
  39. sheryl

    Why is no one reporting you was really behind Rev. Wright acting the way he did, Barbara Reynolds a HRC supporter! Don't act like no one in the media knew because on Dan Abrams they all but told the man to be quiet. Be fair report all the story.

    April 30, 2008 at 8:30 pm |