Barack Obama's pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright appeared on PBS Bill Moyers Journal broadcast on April 25th. The interview with Reverend Wright examined the message of the Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) ministry and went beyond the re-looped sound bites which have been played over and over again on channels from ABC, FOX, NBC and CNN. Reverend Wright explains that the sound bites were used for "nefarious purposes" during a heated political campaign. There was also discussion on Bill Moyers Journal about the amount of inaccurate information that is being fed to the American people. Bill Moyers did an excellent job as a "fair and balanced" journalist to allow Reverend Wright to speak about his views and explain his sermons in context. The interview will be re-broadcast on Sunday on PBS. We recommend viewing of the episode if anyone missed it the first time. Watch highlights from the Bill Moyers Jeremiah Wright interview below.
In a much-anticipated interview aired on PBS Friday night (we reported on excerpts Thursday), Wright accused networks that aired controversial sound bites of his sermon of wanting to paint him as "un-American" or "some sort of fanatic" to bring down Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.
While the interview with Moyers didn’t break new ground on the meaning of Wright’s sermons, it did shed light on how Wright’s message and ministry have evolved, his present feelings about Obama and the long-term impact of the sound bites.
What man meant for evil, God meant for good, Wright reminded Moyers, borrowing a biblical phrase.
“Those sound bites, those snippets were taken for nefarious purposes. That God can take that and do something very positive for it- with it,” Wright said. “That, in Philadelphia, in response to the sound bytes, in response to the snippets, in Philadelphia Senator Obama made a very powerful speech in terms of our need as a nation to address the whole issue of race. That's something good that's already starting.”
Though Wright preached his final sermon at Trinity in February and officially retires next month, his ministry has continued. This Sunday, he will deliver a sermon at a Dallas church, then jet to Detroit to speak to the local branch of the NAACP. He will speak at the National Press Club on Monday. But until now, he has declined all interview requests. His appearance on Bill Moyers' Journal was the first.
In the interest of full disclosure, Moyers also revealed that he too is a member of Wright’s denomination, the United Church of Christ. Decades ago, when Wright served as a cardiopulmonary technician in the U.S. Navy, he had assisted doctors operating on President Lyndon B. Johnson. A black and white photograph shows a young Moyers standing behind him in the role of White House press secretary.
It wasn't too long after that moment was captured on film that Wright returned to school and answered the nagging call to ministry, a call he had abandoned when he moved to the South and discovered a different and disappointing side of Christianity.
"The civil rights movement showed me a side of Christianity that I had not seen in Philadelphia. I had not seen Christians who, as I saw in Richmond, Virginia, who loved the Lord, who professed faith in Jesus Christ and who believed in segregation, saw nothing wrong with lynching, saw nothing wrong with Negroes staying in their places," Wright told Moyers. "I knew about hatred. I knew about prejudice. But I didn't know Christians participated in that, in that kind of thinking."
He echoed a similar thought later when he described bomb scares and death threats conveyed by so-called Christians during the recent controversy.