What Black Clergy Here Think

Article excerpt

Byline: Jake Griffin


Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama's public rebuke Tuesday of his former pastor was met with strong - but varied - reactions by suburban black clergy.

Some consider Obama's condemnation of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright an unfair media machination that distracts voters from true political issues such as the economy and the war. Others complain about the lack of scrutiny of the white candidates' religious advisers. Some believe Obama made the right decision.

The Daily Herald contacted individually the following clergy:

- The Rev. Reginald Blount, Trinity AME Church, Waukegan

- The Rev. Nathaniel Edmond, Second Baptist Church, Elgin

- Bishop Keith Russell Lee, Destiny Church of Hoffman Estates

- The Rev. James Miller, DuPage AME Church, Lisle

- The Rev. Charles Reid III, Bethesda Worship Center, Des Plaines

- The Rev. Gerald Wilcoxen, Mount Sinai Baptist Church, North Chicago.

Q: What do you make of the remarks the Rev. Wright has made and the impact it has had on Obama's campaign?

Reid: He's speaking as an individual. People are giving him much more of a platform than perhaps he deserves.

Blount: I don't view Rev. Wright in the same way that is being expressed in the media. I know his church. I know his work.

Wilcoxen: I think the way he said it and the way the media promoted it, it was disturbing.

Lee: To me, it's all political posturing and propaganda to a degree. To me, it's ridiculous that a candidate is being held responsible for the words of his pastor.

Edmond: Wright does not speak for Obama. Obama does not speak for Rev. Wright. And it is time for the media to get to the campaign issues.

Miller: I think that without the election there wouldn't be much controversy.

Q: Do you believe this controversy has racial overtones?

Miller: It's obvious that it has, and that's unfortunate, too. I wish that the statements and situation could be observed in an academic or town hall setting with rules governing emotional outbursts so that rational thoughts could be shared.

Blount: I believe that (Obama) has been placed in a no-win position, and I believe he's answering questions that would not be asked of a candidate of a different hue, so to speak. …