Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, to speak at Savannah conference

WTOC in Savannah is reporting tonight that there is an upcoming conference on the family at St. Philip Monumental AME Church.

WTOC quotes the pastor:

“After reviewing data that focused on the number of low-birth weight babies born in the community, the number of children counted truant in our school system, the number of people suspended, those who have dropped out, teenage pregnancies, and finally the number of children engaged in criminal activity all agreed there is work to be done and we need to start now,” said Senior Pastor George Moore, of the St. Philip Monumental AME Church.

The conference is scheduled for June 27 to June 29.

But here’s the kicker: Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor and retired minister of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, will speak at the conference.

Really?

I’m not going to try to recap the Jeremiah Wright controversy here, but I was largely sympathetic to both Obama and Wright during that controversy. The President couldn’t really say it, but I thought he had joined that church mainly as a political move to take advantage of its sheer size and considerable power. And Wright’s extreme statements were, well, extreme. But it’s pretty easy to find extreme statements made from pulpits in America. I was sort of stunned back in 2004 to hear the pastor of one of Savannah’s oldest churches tell the congregation that they should vote for the presidential candidate who would “take the sword to the evildoers.” I’d trade a few anti-America rants for that kind of warmongering any day.

Obama responded to the Wright controversy by giving one of his best speeches, “A More Perfect Union”, but Wright made several more statements to the media that led Obama to sever ties with Wright.

But Wright’s statements to the media did not stop there. In 2009, in news that largely got buried amidst the economic turmoil that Obama inherited, Wright remarked publicly that he had not talked to Obama. As relayed in a great piece in the Huffington Post:

“Them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter that he’ll talk to me in five years when he’s a lame duck, or in eight years when he’s out of office,” Wright told the Daily Press of Newport News following a Tuesday night sermon at the 95th annual Hampton University Ministers’ Conference.

Them Jews?

Wright apologized for his remarks but in other statements reinforced the idea that “Zionists” had undo influence over Obama.

It sounds like St. Philip Monumental AME has laudable goals for its upcoming conference, but it’s hard to see how hosting one of the most divisive figures of recent years is a good idea. I hope those of you who are angry about Rev. Wright’s appearance will let it go. He’s a minister, he’s done some good work, he’s made some inflammatory statements. There’s no reason to let him distract us from trying to work together as a community to solve our problems.

4 comments for “Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, to speak at Savannah conference

  1. William Smyth
    June 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Rev. Dr. Wright’s apology from 6/11/2009.

    I am extremely disturbed and deeply saddened that once again my comments as reflected in the June 10, 2009 Daily Press article has resurfaced a divisive debate about my relationship with President Barack Obama. I love President Obama as my son, and support and honor him as the President of the United States America and leader of the free world.

    I apologize to the Jewish community and all others who were offended by the way in which I framed my comments. I misspoke.

    I meant no harm or ill-will to the American Jewish community or the Obama Administration. My great respect for the Jewish faith and the foundational (and central) part of my Judeo Christian tradition are unquestionable and I pray that all whom I have hurt accept my sincerest apology.

  2. William Smyth
    June 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    As in many movements there are varying strands; this includes the Zionist movement. For instance some (not all) in the Zionist movement want to drive out (eliminate) all Palestinian Arabs in what they call “Greater Israel”. This would include parts of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan (east of the Jordan river) and Egypt. So while some Zionists simply want to maintain some form of the current situation and thereby preserving a homeland for the Jewish people, others have a much broader goal.

    Many Jewish people to not support the broader goals of the Zionist movement. In fact in the interview Rev. Wright referenced several Jewish authors and Academics who have also condemned those factions in the Zionist movement.

    In short, as Rev. Wright mentioned in the interview, he was not referring to all Jewish people when he used the term Zionist.

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