Barack Obama’s former pastor complained Thursday that the media used him as a “weapon of mass destruction” in an attempt to derail Obama’s campaign for the presidency.
Speaking at a forum about race and religion, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright accused the media of taking out of context videos that showed him cursing the government and accusing it of conspiring against blacks from the pulpit of the Chicago church where Obama had worshipped for 20 years.
The videos, which included Wright thundering “God damn America!”, dominated cable television for weeks. The public outrage that followed caused the president-elect to sever ties with his longtime spiritual leader.
Wright told an audience of about 200 people at the forum that he was trying to convey the anger and desire for vengeance that people felt after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He said the media failed to mention that he was a proud Christian who was raised in a Christian home.
“Their intention was to use me as a weapon of mass destruction, to tear down that man’s integrity,” said Wright, former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
In a question-and-answer session with the audience, Wright said he didn’t believe Obama shared his opinions publicized on the videos.
“Do you agree with everything your pastor says?” he asked. “Ninety percent of the people sitting in church don’t agree with everything their pastor says. What I saw is not an index on what he did or does not believe.”
Wright’s comments were a stumbling block for Obama’s campaign. In an impassioned speech about faith and race, the Democrat at first expressed support for Wright, saying that “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother.”
But six weeks later during a speech at the National Press Club, Wright offered eyebrow-raising opinions about the U.S. government, praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and hinted that Obama was distancing himself from the pastor for political expediency.