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AP: Obamas 'Resign' from Chicago Church

An update to yesterday's blog entry ...

The Associated Press is reporting that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and his family have formally "resigned" membership from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Of course, this appears to be`a casualty resulting from the massive spotlight that's recently been placed on the congregation (see yesterday's blog).

Read the AP story for more details on the Obamas' decision to part ways with the church.

Surprising? Necessary? ... Unfortunate?

What's your take?



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Someone on NPR erroneously idendified the minister, "Father Pfleger,"who mocked Hillary at the Church of Christ as a "Catholic priest." Surely this was mistaken. The statement was made this morning (Sunday June 1) on NPR at about between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. (approx.) I do not believe a Catholic priest would be giving a sermon in the Church of Christ. Please correct this information.

Sent by MS Foushee | 4:22 PM | 6-1-2008

If I close my eyes and listened to Fr. Pfleger's soundbite, it sounds not one whit different than your garden variety stand-up on Leno. A stand-up comic doing the same routine would not have raised an eyebrow.

What throws people, especially non-churchgoers, is perhaps in not knowing how prevalent and unfortunate a trend it is to present preaching as entertainment. I believe Sen. Obama had a church home that helped him define and mature his faith, but that same church fell the way that so many have. Attracted by purpose-driven, seeker-sensitive business models, churches now exhibit a kind of worshiptainment.

I feel for Sen. Obama; I have the impression that this has been heartbreaking for him. The faithful churchgoer tends to maintain fierce loyalties in order to enjoy aspects of a worship experience or fellowship with beloved friends. It is heartening that the senator does not easily cut those ties (as opposed to other candidates who have no church), though it is imperative that he must -- and not just for political expediency. It's difficult to have the shells fall off your eyes when you realize that others are exploiting your fame in order to gain some for themselves. His church succumbed to vanity. I hope he finds a church home that is focused on the enduring power of God's word.

Sent by Jan Whitehouse | 9:37 AM | 6-2-2008

MS Foushee -

Father Pleger IS a Catholic Priest. He is the senior minister at St. Sabina's Catholic Chuch in Chicago and was visiting Trinity.

Sent by Michel Martin, host | 2:19 PM | 6-2-2008

To my mind Fr. Pflger was all about pandering to the crowed & his 15 minutes of fame !
He could have gave a sermon that spoke to the truth, & lifted Obama & his family up in prayer & protection; instead he went the way of Rev. Wright to get the spot light, what a shame!

He did Mr. Obama a great disservice.

Sent by Robert H. | 2:27 PM | 6-2-2008

Obama's Decision?

Not surprising, needed to be done and yet very unfortunate.

Sent by Moji | 3:34 PM | 6-2-2008

It had to happen. The church was receiving threats and becoming a distraction. More than anything, it seems clear that the Obama's have a different need in a spiritual community. To have a member of your congregation running, historically for the highest office in the land, knowing that the eyes of the world are and you still invite Father Pfleger signals a real disconnect between the candidate and the church. I don't think religious organizations have any higher calling than social justice but the conversation has to mature beyond the black/white matrix. Besides, as the Prez Sen. Obama and his family will have to find another church to attend in the D.C. area.

Sent by Raul | 4:56 PM | 6-2-2008

@Jan Whitehouse, if Jay Leno were a clergyman pulling these antics from a pulpit, they would be just as wrong.

As I stated in an entry on a similar topic, the words you say are not just what gives your meaning context but where and when you say them. Not to repeat myself to much, but, if Michael Pfleger were a stand-up comedian-turned-talk show host, he would have no more perceived moral authority than you or me (but would have higher ratings). That he did it in church (while not his own) as a clergyman (though a different tradition) does increase that more authority higher than it deserves.

Now, at one level, Obama should carry some responsibility for what Fr. Mike has said, but not because he used to be member of the church that Fr. Mike preached at. Obama recruited Fr. Mike to put together a "Catholics for Obama" campaign. Obama also recruited Fr. Mike's endorsement for the religious outreach section of his Web site (along with Rev. Wright, but that's old news). Obama, while in the Illinois Assembly, sent funds to St. Sabina for some social programs run at the parish, which, while not illegal, can look shady.

I'm far more critical of Fr. Mike than I am of Obama. After all, Obama is just a politician. Fr. Mike's a Catholic priest; he should know better.

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 5:19 PM | 6-3-2008