Jeremiah Wright: Full Context of Remarks on YouTube

Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright has been the focus of extraordinarily unfair criticism this week for certain statements made during sermons.

It happens that the news organizations selected statements of Rev. Wright that were dramatic and removed the context of his statements in his sermon.

The fortunate thing about the Internet is that it provides a medium for research and discussion. There is a site on YouTube that now provides the part of the sermon that gives context to Rev. Wright’s statements that were displayed on the news programs.

Here is the sermon that includes Rev. Wright’s “God Damn America” statement with the other part of Rev. Wright’s sermon that provides context for his remarks.

There are other videos at the YouTube site for Trinity Chicago that also provide context for Rev. Wright’s televised comments.

For example, Rev. Wright in speaking of the chickens coming home to roost was actually referring to a statement made by an ambassador featured on a Fox News program.

The condemnation of Rev. Wright is unwarranted and unfair.


11 thoughts on “Jeremiah Wright: Full Context of Remarks on YouTube

  1. So he doesn’t know that God didn’t have a problem with owning slaves and he still said dumb things. I’m sorry, but even in context it’s garbage. You can damn the government or the fools in the halls of power that made unfair or unjust decisions, but when you scream for God to damn America you’re damning everything and everybody.

    And, if I may ask, how exactly does one take out of context his preachings from the pulpit that our white government created AIDS to kill black people?


  2. Rev. Wright’s sermon had as its thesis that while government changes (for the good and the bad), God does not. The particular part of the Bible he cited in the YouTube video was Malachi 3:6:

    For I the Lord do not change; therefore before you, O children of Jacob, have not perished.

    However, God warned that there would be punishment for those that failed to follow Him:

    Then once more you shall see the difference between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. See the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all of the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you that revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. Malachi 3:184:2.

    So, Rev. Wright, throughout his sermon, was cataloging the multiple places where governments failed to deal with those not in the majority fairly. Thus, should the governments continue to allow people to suffer in contravention of God’s expectation, those governments will have to fall as in Malachi 4:2. This does not have to happen, just as in Malachi, the government can correct its behavior and avoid the punishment. Rev. Wright was encouraging the government of the United States to change. Will this happen? I hope so. I do acknowledge the powerful impact of his statements, but considering the damage about which he was warning the earthly powers-that-be, I do not see how he could have said it differently.

    While Rev. Wright was encouraging the United States to improve, there are other religious leaders on the right wing, that truly wish to condemn entire populations. For example, Pat Robertson said the following after the citizens in Dover, PA elected a new school board to reject the “Intelligent Design” theory pursued by the former school board:

    I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God — you just rejected Him from your city,” Robertson said on his daily television show, “The 700 Club.”

    And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there,” he said.

    For Rev. Wright’s comments on AIDS, see this diary on Daily Kos.


  3. The Daily Kos link:

    So what? Because a group of ignorant fools want to believe a half baked conspiracy theory that, at its core, is racially divisive and destructive, it’s all hunky-dory by you? And you think that, what, it should be all hunky-dory with everyone else? No. Big f’n NO.

    I’ve seen churches that were based and white supremacy doctrines that preached the idea that the Mark of Cain is black skin and that mark means that anybody who has black skin is mentally inferior to whites, prone to acts of senseless violence and criminally inclined by nature. Just because a group of equally ignorant white fools believe it, you think I shouldn’t condemn it when I hear it? That’s what you’re saying here. Some believe it so it’s ok to preach it.

    I’ll condemn and denounce it whether it comes from black or white mouths and I’ll condemn it when it’s directed at white or black targets. Preaching Sunday mornings that a government, a government defined as WHITE government by Wright’s other sermons, designed a deadly virus with the intent of killing the black community is asinine, divisive, hateful and racially harmful. The only thing it ultimately does is increase the racial divide and intensifies racial tensions, hatred and mistrust on both sides. Anyone who peaches that kind of garbage is a fool at best and evil bastard at worst.

    But, really, does Wright even care about the truth? In the clip you show, he says that Bill Clinton was an intelligent friend in the Oval Office for the black community. He speaks kindly of old Bill.

    But, he’s also preached this from the pulpit:

    So, was he telling a lie in God’s house when he preached that Bill Clinton was an intelligent friend of the black community or was he telling a lie in God’s house when he preached that Bill Clinton did nothing for the black community other than “riding dirty” on them like he did Monica? And, hey, you gotta love a pastor who emphasizes a point by simulating sex with the pulpit when condemning someone.

    Malachi 4:

    Again, I ask so what? Damn the decisions by fools or damn the fools themselves. To declare that God should damn the entire country in a fire and brimstone speech in this day and age is foolish and divisive. I’ll no more excuse his exclamations here than I will Robertson or Falwell declaring that 9/11 was brought upon us by God’s judgment upon our country’s actions or John Hagee’s foolishness about God damning America’s tolerance of gays and sending Katrina to destroy N.O. to stop a Gay Pride parade. An idiot is an idiot no matter the color of his skin or the color of his defenders’ skin.

    Pat Robertson:

    What does Pat Robertson have to do with anything here? Pointing out an idiot on the Right justifies or excuses an idiot on the left? My, we’ve come soooooo far politically, haven’t we. Gee, if they do a bad thing, then we can do a bad thing too and point at their bad thing to excuse it. Robertson is an idiot who should be shunned, but he’s irrelevant to this situation.

    See, what you fail to comprehend about me is that I’m tired of this garbage from both sides. I’ve sick to my teeth of ignorant bastards teaching, preaching and spewing hatred and then watching their supporters defend them while condemning others for the same damned things. I’m tired of ignorant asses like Wright, Robertson, Sharpton, Hagee, Swaggart the Younger and others using their churches to foment hate, stir discontent and widen the divides amongst us. God damn America? God damn all of them.

    As to his using the history of slavery as a big build up to getting his congregation to cheer wildly at the damning of America, he needs to go back to Bible study. I personally find slavery wrong on moral grounds, but you’d have trouble claiming that it was wrong based on the Christian or Jewish faiths of old. Wright says that governments change while God doesn’t. Well, this is what God and his surrogates had to say on slavery.


    Ephesians 6:5-9

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
    And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

    Genesis 17:12-13

    And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

    He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

    Passover Laws

    The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover:
    “No foreigner is to eat of it.
    Any slave you have bought may eat of it after you have circumcised him,
    but a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat of it.

    Exodus 21:1-6

    “These are the laws you are to set before them:
    “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything.
    If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him.
    If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.
    “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’
    then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

    Exodus 21:20-21

    “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished,
    but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

    Leviticus 22:11-12

    ‘No one outside a priest’s family may eat the sacred offering, nor may the guest of a priest or his hired worker eat it.
    But if a priest buys a slave with money, or if a slave is born in his household, that slave may eat his food.

    Leviticus 25:38-46

    I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
    ‘If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave
    He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you; he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee.
    Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own clan and to the property of his forefathers.
    Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves.
    Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.
    ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
    You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
    You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    Colossians 3:22-25

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
    since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
    Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.


    Still with me? God and the Bible actually lay out the rules for governing the sale, purchase, use and care of slaves. Rightly or wrongly, the many of the people that first founded this country saw themselves as God’s children. Those who were raised here grew up under one variation or another of that belief. The English and Spanish did as well. By their religious views, the Africans, non-Christian and not of God’s people because of this, were the males and females to come from the nations around them to be bought and sold as slaves.

    If he has an issue with the way that the English, Spanish and Colonials/Americans interpreted those passages and others, then he should tell God to damn the Bible, the church and the church leaders who allowed it. If he has an issue with God’s word sanctioning slavery, then he can take it up with God. But preaching that blacks should be declaring that God should be damning America rather than blessing it in this day and age is not encouraging the United States to improve, it’s simply re-enforcing racial hatreds and stupidity through an act of hatred and stupidity.


  4. Jjchandler:

    Would that the society of the United States had truly achieved fair treatment of all citizens. While the United States has made improvements, there is still much work that remains to be done.

    Regarding your comment @7:25–

    I have not made a statement on the accuracy of Rev. Wrights AIDS belief. For whatever reason, the fact is people hold the view. To me, it is a view that can be corrected by addressing it directly, rather than dismissing it entirely. Perhaps, Rev. Wright did not address the issue properly in the statement you refer to. But there is still the opportunity to allow people to express their feelings and provide correct answers. In this way, the suspicion and fear can be relieved.

    Nevertheless, that should not distract from what Rev. Wright has done regarding AIDS. He has been at the forefront of placing attention on the issue. In one of the clips on YouTube, he is demonstrating how to take an HIV/AIDS swab test.

    On the Bible and slavery, I will concede that the numerous examples you provided exist. However, there is a problem. There is a risk of placing the United States’ version of slavery (Black subjugation) into the Bible. In order to read the Bible, one must read it as if one was present in the society in which the Bible text was written. There is no evidence that the colonialists did that. Rather, it could be argued that they needed labor for tobacco production and used the Bible to rationalize the subjugation of Black people as slaves in the United States understanding of the term (Black subjugation) using the similar term present in the Bible (slavery without connection to a particular race of people).

    Indeed, the belief you mentioned in the second paragraph derived from the justification of Black people’s subjugation in the United States. Over time (since the institution of the United States’ version of slavery), the law in the United States simply developed to keep Black people in a lower social position (the laws were rewritten in the 20th Century, but the mentality underpinning the belief in Black inferiority remains). The effects of this are still present in the society today. Barack Obama mentioned these issues in his March 18, 2008 speech.

    How to address the feelings of those who hate having the ancestors being subjugated in the United States’ practice of Black subjugation? How to address the feelings Black people who dislike severely suffering the aftereffects of being held and treated as property? The Bible citations do not address these valid questions and feelings, nor does citation to them excuse the whole matter.

    In addition, if one removes the consideration of Malachi, it is the frustration of dealing with stubborn subtle anti-Black discrimination (again discussed by Senator Obama and in my posts discussing “colorblindness” and “affirmative action” (in the right column under tags)) that fuels sermons like the one given by Rev. Wright. I’ll concede that very strong language was used, but also I’ll argue that the depth of feeling against being hated for one’s immutable skin color is equally strong. Once the anti-Black discrimination ends in all of its forms, then healing can occur.


  5. I agree with your overall points about the problems in the country, but Wright is still a problem for me. You can, rightly, point to the good work he has done. You can also point to what you perceive to be a positive message in his rhetoric. But the problem that I have, and I see it a lot in the people of all races that I come across in my job, is that you can sometimes do more harm with a “good message” delivered badly than you can with a bad message.

    Let’s take race, religion and politics out of this for a moment. Let’s make it about writing and art.

    Hypothetical: You have a very young relative (say 10-13) who comes up to you and hands you a story that they’ve written and ask you to read it. You do so and find the basic story idea nice, but there are a lot of problems in it with characterization, pacing, stiff dialogue and getting some story points across. On the last page of the story is an illustration to go along with a scene from the story.

    You can say all of that in one of two ways. You can tell your young relative that the story idea and the basics are good and noticeably there, but there are several things that need to be looked at and worked on. You can point out the things to look at to better understand the stricture and techniques that he needs to learn. You can then go over the artwork with him in a similarly positive manner.

    Or you can tell your young relative that the story has a long way to go before anyone would want to read it, point out that it was full of problems that made it hard to read and then point out the various problems that make the artwork look amateurish in like fashion.

    Both options essentially say to your relative that he has a lot of work to do and a lot of learning of his crafts to do before he is ready for prime time. But one option is that message given in a good way that may encourage that growth while the other option is far more insulting, dismissive and maybe more damaging.

    With Wright’s sermons, his good messages are sometimes buried under a delivery and a rhetoric that can do as much harm as good. The people, especially the young people, in his congregation may be taking two steps forward in regards to dealing with AIDS in their immediate community, but how many are then taking one or two steps backwards by taking in a message of distrust, resentment and hatred based along racial lines? How many are taking two steps forward in their attitudes toward civic responsibility and trying to be community leaders that are then taking one or two steps back because their outlook on such things is that the white man and the white government wants to keep them down and oppressed or dead if they can’t do that?

    The thing that ticks me off the most about rhetoric like Wright’s is that I see the effects of it every day. And the really stupid thing is that I’m seeing white youths who are more receptive to the ideas of equality than any generation before them while simultaneously seeing their black peers talking about race as though this day and age was still the 1800’s. And most of the ones I come across get that attitude from their families and their churches. And in my line of work, I get to see exactly how ultimately destructive, futile and disheartening that attitude often is.


  6. jjchandler–

    Valid point here:

    >>>And the really stupid thing is that I’m seeing white youths who are more receptive to the ideas of equality than any generation before them while simultaneously seeing their black peers talking about race as though this day and age was still the 1800’s.

    Indeed, I do notice this change of attitudes in White youths just going through life in general. Overall, I do feel that despite the struggle of integrating the schools, that now at least the lines of communication are opening. This is part of the improvements I alluded to above.

    For Black youths and Black people in general, because of the past, trust (in the good will of Whites), has been replaced with suspicion. In addition, there is also a sad fear of risk taking. One has to take risks to progress in life. But if the consequence of failing at taking a risk worsens your position, sometimes the choice is made to refuse taking the risk, leading quickly to feelings of malaise, distrust, and frustration. [You mention this in your comment above]

    What is shocking to me is how young the message that opportunity is limited is received by Black youths (generally speaking). There was an article in the Washington Post (I’ll have to look for the link) about a a elementary school basketball team. The thing about the team was that in the face of any pressure from the opposing team, the entire team would simply watch the other team whiz by them and allow the other team make a basket without challenge.

    It literally broke my heart to read that. I don’t recall whether the article provided answers as to why the youths gave up so easily (I don’t believe any were provided however).

    Senator Obama faced a lot of heat from the sermons of Rev. Wright, but I did appreciate his speech. Perhaps with all of the issues on the table, they can be resolved.

    If addressed, progress will be slow (the problems of discrimination and the coping skills to deal with it developed over many centuries and were passed down the generations). But, at least things will start moving continuously forward, allowing people to lay down their burdens.


  7. I am going to weigh in here with some truths.

    lincoln introduced full blown MARXIST Socialism into this country in 1861. Lincoln recruited marxist from the failed 1848 socialist revolution into his cabinet and into his army. Starting in 1848 over 500 articles by Marx were printed in Horace Greely’s Tribune Paper in NYC and has come full circle into the present.

    After the war marxist infiltrated Southern Black Churches, research MLK’s communist history (his FBI records have been sealed for 50 years); Rosa Parks was schooled by a communist organization in TN for her famous bus ride in the 1960s. Is it any wonder that Jeremiah Wright would be from this school of thought?

    Why doesn’t splc (morris dees have these people on his bullseye list?

    ….”since our ruling class is an imperialist ruling class that battens on the blood and sweat of working people all over the world, fomenting racial, ethnic and religious prejudice (e.g. against Arabs and Muslims), blunts mass opposition at home against policies, economic, diplomatic and military, which victimize millions of people in other countries.

    So when the ruling class and its henchmen perceive that racist consciousness is receding among working class and other whites in the United States, it is bound to see this as a threat to its own position – which it is. It is only natural, then, that the ruling class would use the instrumentalities over which it has control – the state, the media, the universities etc. – to try and counter the improvement of racial attitudes, by organizing new racist agitation and propaganda. The most prestigious and visible representatives of the ruling class know very well by now how to get marginal individuals and institutions to do their dirty work for them, and thus maintain their image as enlightened people.

    This suggests that anti-racist struggle cannot let up as long as there is a ruling class, which is to say as long as capitalism exists, and, as the experience of socialist countries demonstrations, for a long time thereafter. So even though it is gratifying that an anti-racist majority is emerging in this country, we can’t let our guard down, or convince ourselves that the job is done.

    about us:

    Political Affairs – A Marxist Monthly
    Political Affairs is a publication of the Communist Party, USA.

    The term Race was not in the Bible; racism and racist was not in the dictionary until 1947 and was coined by marxist.


  8. jjchandler, I will not go in depth here but it is a well-known fact that the US government had experimented specifically on an African-American community in Tuskegee with
    Syphilis. Harriet Washington, has documented MANY other such injustices in her book and publishings. How far fetched are the Rev. Wrights in the minds of the children/families that are a legacy of such (and many other) atrocities?

    You seem to be quite capable of doing the research yourself, I leave the rest in you capable hands to find the truth for yourself, you will uncover some very interesting information.

    With regard to his “God damn America…” comments, this is my take:
    1. People hear what the want to hear … you hear “… bla bla bla … God Damn America … bla bla bla”. I hear, “… context … context … God Damn America for killing the innocent people…”

    Sigh, as a matter of fact, I a bit tired of pushing this point so let he who has ears hear. America seems to have lost the ability to constructively criticize themselves … self examination like the Rev. says.


  9. I thank Josephine Bass and Crix for sharing their comments.

    I do not believe that Marxism fully explains the views of Blacks seeking fair and equal treatment. Black people just want the United States government and society to stop anti-Black discrimination (both overt and subtle).

    There is a Forbes article with James Cone about this Black liberation theology.

    Also there is an insightful diary on Daily Kos about issues that have been brought up in the comments.


  10. I personally think Rev Wright timing was off key. But what this man had to say, was an important message not just to America, but the world. I was Horrorfied by the mass murder in Iraq, and playing out the hangings on TV, & the torture. I do not think world leaders are being held responsible for their crimes against humanity. When I think of the children who have been exposed to this kind of excessive violence, it can do nothing but cripple the minds of the young. Killing has now become acceptable, because the government is authorising crimes based on colour and race & religion. It is a dangerious message as Rev Wright said he is absolutely right, if the people don’t complain about the crimes against humanity the Government thinks it is OK. This is why I have been following this Election, I am doing it because I would like to see peace in my life time, and for my grandchildren. Our Governments spends more money on trying to kill people than to help people, I see it as a serious problem in an aledgedly civilised world, and I am a god fearing person and we have dammed our selves for our involvement in these unjust crimes against the people of Iraq & else where in the world, we must build and stop tearing down.


  11. Some people are uncomfortable with the way Rev Wright’s message was delivered, but if it had not been delivered that way I would not have heard about the man. I was concerned about his timing, his message is necessary for this time and age and moment.

    Politicans USE the POOR underclass to act out their RACIAL hatred, and their acts of VIOLENCE without getting their hands DIRTY.

    Like when Christ was KILLED the Cheif scribes and priest had a choice of saving him they chose theives & MURDERS before Christ. The head of the district past getting his hands DIRTY to the Cheif Priest & Scribes.

    Today we have DIRTY POLITICS in the form of RACIST foreign POLICIES, false accusations against countries & their Citizens, accusations of being AXIS of EVIL, while their own people who they use to carry out the DIRTY work such as attacking innocent people, while keeping their hands clean. When the POOR UNDER CLASS goes too far they them selves finds themselves in PRIOSON for carring out orders.

    The same thing happend during NAZI GERMANY, poor underslass who were BRAIN WASHED to kill & do the mass murder were held accountable for what they were told to do.

    Today we have the same crimes being carried out in the same way. Rev Wright is a MAN of his time and in my view a very great man, who saw and acknowledge what is being done to the very poor and vonorable people in our world by these men who see themselves as super humans, they were elected by the vonorable brainwashed masses who for no fault of their own knows no better, than animals on a farm, because thats is the mentality of the mass audiance.


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