Controversy surrounding the longtime minister of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is not deterring a Texas divinity school from honoring the Rev. Jeremiah Wright at a ceremony later this month.
But Texas Christian University, the campus where Brite Divinity School is located, issued a statement Monday opposing that decision in light of video that shows Wright delivering racially tinged sermons and him railing against the United States.
Wright is to be honored March 29 at the Black Church Summit and Awards Banquet, a $125-per-person banquet at the divinity school. Despite being on the TCU campus, Brite is a separate school with its own officers and board.
In a statement on its Web site, Brite said the school affirmed its decision after “understanding the sincere concern” in response to media coverage of Wright’s comments.
“Contrary to media claims that Wright preaches racial hatred, church leaders who have observed his ministry describe him as a faithful preacher of the gospel who has ministered in a context radically different from that of many middle class Americans,” the statement reads.
Obama has denounced the inflammatory remarks from his pastor, whose comments have included that Blacks continue to be mistreated by Whites and a suggestion that U.S. “terrorism” helped bring on the Sept. 11 attacks.
TCU chancellor Victor J. Boschini said that while the university supports the right of free speech even when the opinions are controversial, “giving an award is another matter.”
“In light of Reverend Wright’s recently discovered remarks, TCU would not give such an award,” he said.
Brite president Newell Williams said he spent part of last weekend reviewing texts and audio of Wright’s remarks after the controversy made national headlines. After that review, he and other administrators decided to stick with their plans.
“Of course there are people who have expressed in e-mail messages their displeasure,” Williams said. “There also have been people who have written to say we’re so pleased with the decision you’ve made.”
Wright is to participate in a luncheon panel discussion at the summit before being honored that night. He had been Obama’s pastor for nearly 20 years until retiring recently, and officiated at Obama’s wedding and baptized his two daughters.
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