When Senator Barack Obama faced the cameras in a nationally televised speech in mid-March, he was caught between his roles as politician and parishioner, forced to condemn his pastor’s words as he tried to advance his own campaign for president.
Experts on the black church say the controversial comments of Obama’s former Chicago pastor, Jeremiah Wright, put Obama in an awkward and uncomfortable position. At the same time, they have given him a chance to discuss race—including the nature of the black church—with white Americans.
“The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Rev. Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour of American life occurs on Sunday morning,” Obama said in his March 18 speech at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center.