Obama Distances Himself from another Clergyman

Caryn Rosseau, AP, May 30, 2008

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Thursday that he was “deeply disappointed” by a supporter’s sermon at his church that mocked Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Chicago activist, also apologized for last Sunday’s sermon at Obama’s church, in which he said Clinton’s eyes welled with tears before the New Hampshire primary because she felt “entitled” to the Democratic nomination and because “there’s a black man stealing my show.”

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Obama said he was “deeply disappointed” by Pfleger’s comments.

“As I have traveled this country, I’ve been impressed not by what divides us, but by all that that unites us,” he said in a statement. “That is why I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn’t reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause.”

Pfleger, the white pastor of predominantly black Saint Sabina Roman Catholic Church on the city’s Southwest side, said he regretted his choice of words.

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In March, Pfleger invited Obama’s embattled former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to speak at Saint Sabina, embracing Wright in the church.

Obama recently broke with Wright, who had been his longtime pastor, after video of his sermons blaming U.S. policies for the Sept. 11 attacks and his calls of “God damn America” became fixtures on the Internet and cable news networks and created a political problem for the candidate.

Pfleger, known locally as a community activist and organizer, was arrested in June 2007 with the Rev. Jesse Jackson during a protest outside of a south suburban Chicago gun shop. The criminal trespass charges were later dropped.

He also has hosted Louis Farrakhan, the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, at St. Sabina and has called him “a gift from God to a sick, sick world.”

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