The Vetting: Meet Obama's Catholic Mentor, Father Michael Pfleger

Father Michael Pfleger, a radical religious figure and a friend of President Barack Obama’s, may be out of the national headlines. But that doesn’t mean he’s stopped his “social justice” activism. “We cannot talk about Trayvon Martin without talking about the racism that is alive and well in America today,” he said. “America, we demand you deal with race,” Pfleger preached at his South Side St. Sabina Church, according to the Chicago Tribune on March 26, 2012. 

Sporting a hoodie himself, Pleger challenged Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and unspecified other gun laws as “crazy, racist laws.” “Jesus wore a hood,” Pfleger cried out from the pulpit. “Is he suspicious?”

What is suspicious—or more likely, spurious—is how Pfleger understands race. Pfleger, like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is an ardent defender of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the anti-Semitic and racist Nation of Islam.

“I don’t think there is any group or religion in America that has done more for the African-American male than the Nation of Islam. I feel the real problem is, America doesn’t know how to handle Louis Farrakhan or the truth,” Pfleger told The New York Times.

He also told the Times that Farrakhan and he have visited each other’s homes and that Farrakhan had twice lectured from Father Pfleger’s South Side church pulpit. Pfleger, who is well known in left-wing circles in Chicago, would come to national prominence during the 2008 convention, ultimately forcing Barack Obama to leave Reverend Wright’s church and cut ties with his radical associates.

Pfleger had been close to Obama ever since the young Obama first arrived in Chicago as a community organizer. Obama also seems to have been close to Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. Obama, then taking a break from campaigning for his bid for state senate, attended the Nation of Islam’s Million Man March in Washington in 1995. Pfleger would later endorse Obama, over former Black Panther Bobby Rush, citing his “grassroots background in the [South Side] communities.” Pfleger said that for poor black areas on the South Side "to receive the resources, opportunities and advantages that are afforded other communities and other individuals in this state, it's going to take someone like Barack Obama." 

Pfleger knew of which he spoke. Indeed, candidate Obama advertised his endorsement from Pfleger in his presidential bid. According to a profile of Barack Obama’s religious faith that ran in the Chicago Sun-Times in 2004, it was Pfleger who was credited with helping the young Barack develop a “moral compass.” “He really came here with a very strong passion about how we can change things, and he understood the churches as being a vehicle for doing that,” Pfleger later told The Christian Science Monitor on July 16, 2007.

For Barack Obama, as with Father Pfleger, the Catholic Church has always been a medium for delivering his message – or rather, a tool to be exploited for his own political gain. It’s a pattern which continues today. 


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