Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Barack Obama, delays visit to Macon

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright has delayed his scheduled visit to Macon’s St. Paul AME Church until after the November election.

The controversial Chicago preacher — and former pastor of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama — had been scheduled to preach a fall revival next week at the east Macon church. He preached two sermons there last year.

Instead, Wright will lead a winter revival at St. Paul on Dec. 15-17, said the Rev. Ronald Slaughter, the church’s pastor.

“Dr. Wright has canceled all October engagements (because of the election),” Slaughter said. “If not for the election, most people would not know him anyway.”

Wright became a lightning rod in the presidential campaign after video clips from a few of his sermons were circulated on the Internet and reported on television news shows.

During the sermons, Wright said. among other things, that the American government was to blame for 9/11 terrorist attacks and for creating AIDS to kill blacks.

“The people who are coming are going to be shocked,” Slaughter said. “All they’ve got is a clip of 10 seconds. He’s got a 35-year body of work. It’s hard to put that into 10 seconds.

“We’re bringing him back to St. Paul because of the work he has done in the past and the lives he has transformed.”

Slaughter, who got to know Wright after meeting him at two conferences, said the Wright that many people might not know is a great oratorical speaker who “has a gift for telling the Bible story and making it practical for our time.” He is also a leader in promoting “liberation theology,” which teaches that “God is on the side of the oppressed and, most importantly, is concerned about freeing the oppressed from whatever bondage might have them bound,” Slaughter said.

A video excerpt from a Wright sermon described the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as America’s “chickens coming home to roost.” In perhaps the most widely aired and criticized snippet, Wright discouraged his mostly black congregation from singing “God Bless America.”

“No, no, no, not ‘God Bless America’,” Wright said. “God d--- America!”

The controversy began in March after ABC News aired excerpts from Wright’s sermons. Obama, who attended Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ for 20 years, initially denounced Wright’s remarks but defended the man, saying he had never heard any of the controversial sermons. Obama has since resigned his church membership and distanced himself from his former pastor.

Wright, who served in the Marines and the Navy, became pastor of the Trinity Church in 1972, when it had 250 members.

It now has more than 10,000. He is now pastor emeritus at the church. He drew big crowds at St. Paul last fall, before the presidential campaign thrust him into the national spotlight.

“People knew nothing about him except about his work. People knew only about the schools he had built and the books he had written.”

Trinity Christian has been active in efforts to provide housing and to build charter schools in its southside Chicago neighborhood. St.Paul is hoping to emulate those efforts to “better east Macon,” Slaughter said.

Slaughter said he has no idea what Wright will preach about, only that he will “honor God.”

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.