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Church: Obama ex-pastor is under unfair attack

  • Story Highlights
  • The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's former church criticized the news media Sunday
  • They said his "character is being assassinated in the public sphere"
  • Wright's former parishioner Barack Obama denounced his sermons
  • Wright used racial epithet in a sentence about Hillary Clinton
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By Steve Brusk and Alex Mooney
CNN
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Editor's Note: The following report contains objectionable language.

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Barack Obama and his church's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in a 2005 photograph.

(CNN) -- The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's former church criticized the news media Sunday for coverage of his sermons, saying in a statement that Wright's "character is being assassinated in the public sphere."

Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, defended Wright, saying he "has preached a social gospel on behalf of oppressed women, children and men in America and around the globe."

The statement came two days after Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, a longtime friend of Wright and attendee of the church, denounced sermons that have become the subject of recent controversy. Obama called them "inflammatory and appalling."

"It is an indictment on Dr. Wright's ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite," the Rev. Otis Moss III, the current pastor of the church, said in the statement.

"The African-American Church was born out of the crucible of slavery, and the legacy of prophetic African-American preachers since slavery has been and continues to heal broken, marginalized victims of social and economic injustices," Moss added.

"This is an attack on the legacy of the African-American Church, which led and continues to lead the fight for human rights in America and around the world."

In the same statement, the Rev. John H. Thomas, the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ -- the denomination to which Wright's church belongs -- said the news media were creating a "caricature" of his congregation.

"It's time for us to say 'No' to these attacks and declare that we will not allow anyone to undermine or destroy the ministries of any of our congregations in order to serve their own narrow political or ideological ends," Thomas said.

The sermons in question became the subject of scrutiny last week after being highlighted in an ABC News report.

At one December service, Wright argued Clinton's road to the White House is easier than Obama's because of her skin color.

"Hillary was not a black boy raised in a single-parent home; Barack was," Wright says in a video of the sermon posted on YouTube. "Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary! Hillary ain't never been called a 'nigger!' Hillary has never had her people defined as a non-person."

Wright, who retired this year from his post, also says in the video, "Who cares about what a poor black man has to face every day in a country and in a culture controlled by rich white people?"

In denouncing those sermons Friday, Obama defended his 20-year relationship with Wright, saying that the pastor has served him in a spiritual role -- not a political one. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Steve Brusk and Alex Mooney contributed to this report.

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