Rev. Wright, in PBS Interview, Defends Sermons and Calls Coverage ‘Unfair’

Shailagh Murray, Washington Post, April 24, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, told PBS host Bill Moyers that inflammatory statements from his sermons were taken out of context, but he said he didn’t begrudge the Democratic candidate for denouncing them.

“He’s a politician, I’m a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. But they’re two different worlds,” said Wright, who recently retired from Trinity United Church of Christ on the south side of Chicago, where Obama has attended services for 20 years.

Wright’s interview with Moyers, excerpted today, is scheduled for broadcast Friday night on PBS and represents his first high-profile appearance after the firestorm broke. He will speak at the National Press Club on Monday, seeking to put his remarks in context of African American religious traditions.

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Wright is a well-known preacher and theologian, but often combative at the pulpit. He has been a lightening rod for Obama since the start of the Illinois senator’s campaign, but he has kept a low profile, even as the current controversy unfolded.

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Wright defended his sermons, telling Moyers, “the persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly . .nbsp;. those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic.”

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But he added, “They know nothing about the church. They know nothing about our prison ministry. They know nothing about our food ministry. They know nothing about our senior citizens home. They know nothing about all we try to do as a church and have tried to do.” Focusing only on the snippets, he said, “was unfair. I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. I felt for those who were doing that, were doing it for some very devious reasons.”

Wright told Moyers that he didn’t talk politics with Obama. “He goes out as a politician and says what he has to say as a politician. I continue to be a pastor who speaks to the people of God about the things of God.”

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