Two politically attuned professors in the South called the sharp rhetoric of Jeremiah Wright understandable in the context of an inner-city, largely black church, and both experts marveled at how political opponents seized upon the former pastor’s relationship to Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama.
“I just can’t come up with a good example—a good analogy—of one church, one pastor, even one sermon having this kind of effect on a candidate,” said Laura Olson, a Clemson University specialist on religion and politics, noting the repeated airing of clips from Wright’s sermons.
Trinity United Church of Christ, located on Chicago’s South Side, is the largest congregation in the overwhelmingly white UCC denomination, Olson observed. “You’re trying to rile people up . . . shake people out of a cycle of hopelessness . . . not trying to tear down white America,” she said.