Obama's Pastor Slurs Italians in Latest Magazine
March 4, 2009 - 5:06 PMRev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago where Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been a member for two decades, slurred Italians in a piece published in the most recent issue of Trumpet Newsmagazine.
"(Jesus') enemies had their opinion about Him," Wright wrote in a eulogy of the late scholar Asa Hilliard in the November/December 2007 issue. "The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans.
"From the circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth (in a barn in a township that was under the Apartheid Roman government that said his daddy had to be in), up to and including the circumstances surrounding Jesus' death on a cross, a Roman cross, public lynching Italian style. ..." Wright wrote. "He refused to be defined by others and Dr. Asa Hilliard also refused to be defined by others.
"The government runs everything from the White House to the schoolhouse, from the Capitol to the Klan, white supremacy is clearly in charge, but Asa, like Jesus, refused to be defined by an oppressive government because Asa got his identity from an Omnipotent God," said Wright.
Every issue of the magazine published last year included Wright's column, "The Message," in which he covered a range of subjects, including his views on other African-American churches as expressed in his April 2007 commentary "Facing the Rising Sun."
"In a world that is controlled by white supremacy, in a country that is on its way to hell in a hand basket because of lying politicians, in a culture that still thinks 'white is right' and with young people who do not have a clue as to our story, our history, our legacy or our destiny, we still have African-American Christians who are more concerned about 'bling bling' than about freeing our minds," Wright wrote.
In a nationally broadcast speech on March 18, Obama distanced himself from Wright by saying he "condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy." But Obama also said, "I could no more disown him than I could disown the black community."
According to his federal income tax return for 2006, Obama gave the Trinity United church that year $22,500 in contributions.
The Clinton campaign has not commented on the controversy, but in an interview Tuesday with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) said actions speak louder than words.
"He would not have been my pastor," Clinton said. "You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend.
"You know, I spoke out against Don Imus (a radio talk show host who was fired for making racially insensitive remarks about black female basketball players at Rutgers University), saying that hate speech was unacceptable in any setting, and I believe that," Clinton said.
"I just think you have to speak out against that. You certainly have to do that, if not explicitly, then implicitly by getting up and moving," she added.
Trumpet Newsmagazine started publication in the 1980s in Chicago and distribution expanded in March 2006 to several other cities, with broader circulation through subscriptions. On the magazine's masthead, Wright is named as the magazine's CEO and Wright's daughter, Jeri Wright, is the publisher.
Requests for comments from Jeri Wright, the magazine's marketing staff, and the Obama campaign were not answered by press time.
The last Trumpet to be published was the November/December edition, a double issue that featured a remembrance of "Pan-Africanist" Hilliard and a profile of Louis Farrakhan, who was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement "Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter" award at the magazine's 25th anniversary gala late last year.
Farrakhan has called Judaism a "gutter religion" and said Jews are "bloodsuckers," as reported in The New York Times.
Trumpet Newsmagazine also included myriad articles and regular features geared toward the black community, ranging from health, parenting, music and the arts, to profiles of successful members of the community and tips on everything from dating to spiritual well-being.
Many political observers have said that Obama's speech last week limited the damage of the ongoing Wright controversy, but others say the issue is continuing to hamper his campaign.
"I don't think it's going to go away," Ralph Reed, a long-time conservative activist and political strategist who now runs Century Strategies based in Duluth, Ga., told Cybercast News Service.
"Because while Obama's speech was thoughtful and eloquent, it didn't address the central issue, and that's why he would have someone as such a close spiritual advisor with such extreme views," Reed added.
"Let me be clear," Reed added. "I don't think any candidate should have to answer for the theological views of their pastor, church or denomination. But (Wright's) were not theological views, but political statements."
"I think it's more likely to be a serious issue in the general election, more than in the primaries," Reed said.