Jeremiah Wright

Cathleen Falsani 02-21-2012
Obama at an April 4, 2004 Palm Sunday mass in Chicago. Via Getty Images.

Obama pictured at Palm Sunday mass in Chicago where Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke, April 4, 2004. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: At 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, 2004, when I was the religion reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, I met then-State Sen. Barack Obama at Café Baci, a small coffee shop at 330 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago, for an interview about his faith. Our conversation took place a few days after he’d clinched the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat that he eventually won, and four months before he’d be formally introduced to the rest of the nation during his famous keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Conventio.

We spoke for more than an hour. He came alone. He answered everything I asked without notes or hesitation. The profile of Obama that grew from the interview at Cafe Baci became the first in a series in the
Sun-Times called “The God Factor,” which would eventually became my first book, The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People, in which Obama and 31 other high-profile “culture shapers” — including Bono of U2, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, the author Anne Rice and President George W. Bush's speechwriter Michael Gerson — are profiled.

Because of the seemingly evergreen interest in President Obama’s faith and spiritual predilections, and because that 2004 interview remains the longest and most in-depth he’s granted publicly about his faith, I thought it might be helpful to share the transcript of our conversation — uncut and in its entirety — here on
God’s Politics.

~ Cathleen Falsani

Ruth Hawley-Lowry 08-25-2010
[Editor's Note: In anticipation of the anniversary of the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, God's Politics will feature a series of posts on the
Ryan Beiler 04-19-2010

Last week, The Washington Post's On Faith site devoted their weekly Q&A to the debate over social justice which they titled, "Wallis vs.

I do not usually watch Glenn Beck's program. So many books, so little time. However, on April 6, while working on another project, my intuitive mind told me to watch Glenn Beck. So, I did.
Ruth Hawley-Lowry 04-06-2009

Last year Naomi Tutu and I met on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to keep vigil on the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Friends joined us from around the country. We asked the visitors gathered there: "What keeps us from living the Dream?" Most folks spoke of fear. Some spoke of ignorance.

Kathryn Stanley 01-15-2009
As my mother and I prepare to "Thelma and Louise-it" to travel to Washington for the Obama inauguration, my excitement is tempered with anxiety.
Adam Taylor 11-10-2008
Many have commented on how Senator Obama's election has the power and potential to recast and redeem America's image in the world, usher in a new style of politics rooted in bridge-building and pro
Diana Butler Bass 04-28-2008

Over the last several days, I watched Rev. Jeremiah Wright in discussions of faith, theology, history, and culture on television. The three-plus hours I devoted to PBS and CNN amounted to some of the most sophisticated and thoughtful programming on American culture and racial issues that any news station has offered in recent years. And, for those who really listened to Rev. Wright, he moved from [...]

Jim Wallis 03-28-2008

We were never likely to get away with "transcending" race in this election as the early Obama campaign suggested to some. The demons of race in America simply run too deep and were bound to eventually rear their ugly heads. And so they did with the now infamous taped sound bites by Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the furious media response to them. I've said before that the constant replaying of the tapes has become a metaphor for the continual replaying of our old racial tapes in this country. [...]

The recent controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright has initiated a new conversation about race in America. It has done so by making clear to white America what almost every black American knows-that 40 years after the civil rights movement, there are still two Americas. More pointedly for Christians, it is manifestly evident that we have two churches. After the integration of schools, the military, and the workplace, the church remains the single most segregated institution in America. [...]

Melvin Bray 03-20-2008

So what do we do, my friends, in the face of our undeniably incongruent histories-which give us reason to forever suspect one another, a reason dramatically subverted by the call to embrace one another in the way of Jesus?

I believe Diana Butler Bass, again, shows us a way forward. She made the following comment while participating in a panel discussion at the last American Academy of Religion conference. The original context of her thought was the pursuit of [...]

Troy Jackson 03-19-2008

On a Sunday when Americans flooded houses of worship seeking words of comfort, hope, and healing, Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago dared to forgo the singing of "God Bless America." Instead, Senator Barack Obama's pastor claimed the prophetic biblical message of the hour ought to call us to proclaim, "God Damn America."

The words remain jarring and infuriating. Wright's comments seem at best incomplete and untimely. At worst, they imply that God is [...]

Melvin Bray 03-19-2008

If properly understood, Senator Barack Obama's remarks yesterday at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, constitute one of the most significant and honest public addresses ever made on America's 400-year struggle with race. Had we heeded DuBois' 1903 prophetic warning, The Souls of Black Folks, it may have found voice in the 20th century. There is a [...]

Jim Wallis 03-18-2008

It has simmered throughout this campaign, and now race has exploded into the center of the media debate about the presidential race. Just when a black political leader is calling us all to a new level of responsibility, hope, and unity, the old and divisive rhetoric of race from both blacks and whites is rearing its ugly head to bring down the best chance we have had for years of finally moving forward.

And that is indeed the real issue here. A black man is closer to possibly becoming [...]

Adam Taylor 03-18-2008

The media frenzy over the remarks of Barack Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, raise critical challenge to the prophetic role and voice of the black church. These "incendiary" remarks have set off a firestorm in the media, exposing the deep divide that exists on Sundays - America's most segregated hour of the week. This controversy serves as a stark reminder that the problem of the color line that still divides the U.S. and its churches. This often misguided debate obscures the [...]