Samuel Goldsmith and Jeane MacIntosh, New York Post, September 9, 2008
He almost wrecked Barack Obama’s presidential dreams, and now firebrand pastor Jeremiah Wright has helped destroy a Dallas church worker’s marriage—and her job, The Post has learned.
Elizabeth Payne, 37, said she had a steamy sexual affair with the controversial, racially divisive man of the cloth while she was an executive assistant at a church headed by a popular Wright protégé.
At the time, she was secretary to the Rev. Frederick Haynes III, a longtime Wright disciple.
In April, Payne organized a series of Texas public appearances by Wright, 67. Weeks before, Obama had disavowed his preacher of 20 years after Wright’s anti-government rants came to light.
In an ironic twist, Wright last night spoke at an East Orange, NJ, church revival on the subject of “unexpected problems.”
He punctuated his 45-minute sermon with evocative 1960s hits, including the Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go,” Frankie Beverley’s “Joy and Pain,” and the Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” He’s set to speak there again tonight.
Payne’s husband, Fred Payne, 64, said he learned of the affair in late February, when he discovered e-mails between his wife and Wright.
“There must have been about 80 of them, back and forth,” he said. “Wright said things like he was going to leave his wife for Elizabeth.”
Wright has been married to his second wife, Ramah, for more than 20 years.
The preacher reportedly wooed Ramah away from her first husband in the 1980s, when the couple came to marriage counseling at Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
After discovering he had been cuckolded, Fred Payne, who had married Elizabeth in October 2006, headed straight for divorce court.
“I was downright mad about this bull-—- -,” said Fred, who said he is “in the oil and gas business,” belongs to a hunting club and makes his own bullets in his garage.
He added, “Rev. Haynes doesn’t like the interracial thing, either. This was quite an issue for him.”
Elizabeth Payne said she has been banished by Haynes and the flock at Friendship-West.
“I’m not a member of the congregation anymore; I’m not even allowed on the premises,” she said.