Bulletins at Obama's Church Carry Their Own Controversy

By Fred Lucas | July 7, 2008 | 8:33pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) recently said his relationship with his long-time pastor and friend Rev. Jeremiah Wright "changed" after what Obama called the clergyman's "divisive and destructive" remarks at the National Press Club. Later, however, Obama stressed his loyalty to the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where he has been a member for many years.

Articles published in the Trinity United Church of Christ bulletin in 2007 carried controversial comments written by people other than Jeremiah Wright. Those comments included the claim that Israel worked with South Africa to build an "ethnic bomb" that would kill blacks and Arabs, that the Pentagon was training Latin Americans to be terrorists, and that the TV networks are run by right-wing racists.

On Sunday, May 4, Obama told NBC's Tim Russert, on "Meet the Press," that he was still a member of Trinity United Church of Christ and said of the Wright controversy, "I think that the American people understand that when I joined Trinity United Church of Christ, I was committing not to Pastor Wright. I was committing to a church and I was committing to Christ. And it is a wonderful church."

The pastor of Trinity United is Rev. Otis Moss III and the senior pastor is Rev. Wright. At the end of May, Wright will go on sabbatical and Moss will assume the title of senior pastor.

The first few pages of the church's weekly bulletin carry scripture passages, hymns, and announcements. Deeper into the bulletin, however, there are political and opinion articles. A Trinity United staff member, who asked not to be named, told Cybercast News Service that the political articles are there to inform congregants about world affairs. The staff member likened these articles to commentary pieces in a newspaper, where the opinions expressed are those of the writers, not necessarily the church.

Moss was listed as pastor of the church in the 2007 bulletins, the same title he now bears at the church.

In a column in the April 15, 2007 bulletin, the Rev. Reginald Williams, the associate pastor for social justice at Trinity United, said he was not surprised by the racially charged remarks that talk-radio host Don Imus made about the Rutgers University women's basketball team because "the major networks are run by right-winged conservatives who still see black people as subhuman and portray black people as such."

In the April 22, 2007 bulletin, Williams called for shutting down the Pentagon's WHINSEC School of the Americas, saying the school "in no uncertain terms trains Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation. In short, the United States Army trains students at this school of terrorism."

The two bulletins in which these columns were printed had been posted on the church Web site, and Cybercast News Service sent copies of them to the church, where an official authenticated them.

When contacted by Cybercast News Service , Williams said he was "not interested" in being interviewed.

Another politically charged piece published in the June 10, 2007 bulletin, as previously reported by The Washington Times and CNN, was written by a person who is not a member of the church.

The piece was an open letter by Ali Baghdadi to TV talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, who was planning a trip to Israel. Baghdadi is editor of the Arab Journal and who, according to the bulletin, acted as a Middle East advisor to Elijah Muhammad, and later with Louis Farrakhan, both with the Nation of Islam.

In this letter to Winfrey, Baghdadi wrote: "I must tell you that Israel was the closest ally to the White Supremacists of South Africa. In fact, South Africa allowed Israel to test its nuclear weapons in the ocean off South Africa. The Israelis were given a blank check: They could test whenever they desired and did not even have to ask permission. Both worked on an ethnic bomb that kills Blacks and Arabs."

Sen. Obama's presidential campaign declined to comment for this article, despite numerous requests from CNSNews.com.

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