Having endured at least three rounds of controversy stemming from his 20-year association with Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, Democratic candidate Barack Obama has decided to end his membership, telling reporters Saturday that he is sorry for the intense media attention his affiliation has attracted to the church and its members.
“We had reporters grabbing church bulletins and calling up the sick and the shut-in,” he said. “That’s just not how people should have to operate in their church.”
Obama said he began contemplating such a move after the “National Press Club episode” in which his former pastor and longtime spiritual mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., made comments that the senator later denounced as offensive.
“We had prayed on it. We had consulted with a number of friends and family members,” Obama said. “Frankly, it’s one that I made with some sadness. Trinity was where I found Jesus Christ, where we were married, where our children were baptized.”
This week, Obama had to distance himself from a guest preacher at Trinity, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, who last Sunday made comments that seemed to accuse Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) of acting “entitled” because she is white.
Obama said he has “tremendous regard” for the church community, but said he could not live with a situation where everything said in the church, including comments by a guest pastor, “will be imputed to me, even if they conflict with my long-held views, statements and principles.”
Barack Obama takes a moment as he announces his decision to end his membership in Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ during a news conference in Aberdeen, S.D., on Saturday.