Rev. Wright's Friend Ruth Hawley-Lowery on Barack Obama's Comments Distancing Himself from His Former Pastor

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 29, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Getting right to our top story tonight: Barack Obama said today that he was outraged at Reverend Jeremiah Wright's comments over the past 48 hours. The senator went a long way to distance himself from his former pastor:


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (D-ILL.): I think that he has preached in the past some wonderful sermons. He provided, you know, valuable contributions to my family. But at a certain point, if what somebody says contradicts what you believe so fundamentally, and then he questions whether or not you believe it, in front of the National Press Club, then that's enough. That's a show of disrespect to me ... when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century, when he equates the United States wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses.


COLMES: Our panel will be with us in just a minute to analyze how much damage has been done here, if any, and whether this is the end of the story, but joining us first a former student of Reverend Wright, Ruth Hawley-Lowery.

You yourself a pastor.

Pastor Lowery, thank you so much for being with us. What is your relationship or has it been with Jeremiah Wright?

REV. RUTH HAWLEY-LOWERY, FRIEND OF REV. WRIGHT: I met Dr. Wright in 1989 at a black church and black theology conference in New York City, and then in 1990 he came and preached at Princeton Seminary where I graduated from, and I asked him — it was February of that year. I said if I write you, will you write me back? And so we've been writing regularly ever since then.

Click here to watch our interview with Rev. Ruth Hawley-Lowery

COLMES: The things he's been saying over the last 48 hours, which we have Barack Obama now saying, well, I never heard these things now, he's really gone over the top, are these the kinds of attitudes and positions you've heard him take over the years?

HAWLEY-LOWERY: It's funny that you're saying that because as I've listened to Mr. Hannity, because I've listened to his show every so often on the radio.

COLMES: He'll be very happy to hear that.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Every so often?! Come on, how about every day?

COLMES: Take what you can get.

But go ahead, he'll be on in a minute, go ahead, Ruth.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: Sean, when you've talked about how — you know, how could he be in a church for 20 years and not hear these comments, the vast majority of what Dr. Wright has preached, faithfully, is our responsibility to God and our responsibility to each other, love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and I think some of the snippets that have been played, you know, to use some of Barack's language, in endless loops, have not — beyond not been helpful in terms of understanding Dr. Wright.

I think in the broader context not been helpful in terms of us talking about racial perspective on race or this country.

COLMES: Ruth, before you and Sean speak in a moment, but when he talks about the government causing AIDS and when he talks about 9/11 and things like that, does that at all trouble you, some of those positions? It clearly seemed to be troubling Barack Obama right now.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: I think that Mr. Obama and I have different perspective. And I come at this as a perspective of a pastor who when I saw the difference of the wealthy areas where I have lived and the poor areas where I have pastored and then chose to live, that's how Dr. Wright came into my life.

In terms of some of the comments that he's made, I think that — I mean Dr. Wright can clearly speak for himself and do so eloquently, and I perceive with wisdom.

He mentioned the book "Medical Apartheid." I have not read the book. For the heck of it, I looked on and it's in the top 2500 today. And so that — books like that address that.

COLMES: Hey, uh...

HAWLEY-LOWERY: I think the broader perspective is for those of us in the majority culture who are middle class white folks, if we haven't lived in an African-American community, and I have, I think that it's difficult from that perspective to see that the notion or thinking that the government could do something that diabolical is within the realm of the possible.

COLMES: Ruth, it's Sean, and thank you for being with us, by the way.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: You're welcome.

COLMES: And I'm a Christian, and you're a Christian, and — so keep me in your prayers. I'd appreciate that, even though we may have some disagreement here.

I guess when I'm listening to Barack Obama today, he's saying oh, what he said at the National Press Club, that was it for me. But that — all he did at the Press Club was reiterate everything that we have been saying he said.

Doesn't that show you that this is political expediency on Barack Obama's part?

HAWLEY-LOWERY: I don't think that you're giving Mr. Obama enough credit. I think that...

COLMES: Well, what did he say that was different from the snippets that we played?

HAWLEY-LOWERY: You know what...

COLMES: All he did was reinforce the snippets.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: You know what, I can't speak for Mr. Obama. I think this morning when there were a whole bunch of pundits talking, Tim Russert said — actually I wrote it down because it cracks me up. He said he's not helping Obama, and my husband who is serious Republican white guy, when he heard Tim Russert say that, he said it's not about helping Obama, it's about speaking the truth.

HANNITY: All right, hang on...


HANNITY: But hang on, but this is important, because I think one of the most damaging things he said about Barack Obama, Barack's a politician. He did what politicians do. I'm a pastor, and I took that to mean I tell the truth, and he basically is playing a political game here.

Now that says to me that, you know, the fact that he sat there 20 years, the comments he made in San Francisco, the comments that his wife made, America is a "down right mean country" in 2008, I put all of this together, and I think what's happened here, Ruth, and what a lot of Americans are feeling, that I'm feeling is, that he has not been honest with us.

He's not honest that he didn't know the truth about where Reverend Wright was coming from, and he was hiding who he really is, and I think that's what's damaging here.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: And I don't agree with that assessment, Sean. Because I think that — you know, like, for example, and Barack, the clip that I heard from this afternoon addressed it. He does not agree with Dr. Wright's assertion that that — in terms of the whole AIDS controversy, etc., is possible.


HAWLEY-LOWERY: And I don't — and I think that that was his perspective 10 and 20 years ago.

COLMES: All right. Last question: is there anything that Dr. Wright, your friend, has said that really bothers you?

HAWLEY-LOWERY: That really bothers me? No, because I know the man, and because all the sermons.

COLMES: G— D—n America, doesn't bother you. G— D—n America?

HAWLEY-LOWERY: Sean, you didn't look at — have you read the entire sermons?

COLMES: Yes, the chickens have come — the chickens have come home to roost. I'm not mocking. After 9/11, the worst attack in American history blaming our country. That didn't bother you?

HAWLEY-LOWERY: Sean, who was he quoting when he said that?

COLMES: No, he was not quoting Ed Peck as he's claiming. He's claimed that. We have pointed this out now two nights in a row.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: Let me tell you my experience of 9/11. Our best man was murdered in 9/11. He was in charge of vertical transportation at World Trade Center, and it was Dr. Wright who e-mailed me every day.

COLMES: All right.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: There is no part of him that perceives that America precipitated that. He's simply, as he talked about yesterday, saying what you sow — what you reap, you sow.

COLMES: All right. Ruth.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: Jeremiah Wright has lived the love of Jesus Christ more to me than anybody other than my husband. Dr. Wright and Mrs. Wright are profound Christians, and I'm sorry that the American public has been robbed of the capacity to see that. I look forward to when they can.

COLMES: We heard him — uninterrupted, no snippets at the National Press Club, but Ruth, I sense goodness in you. Thank you for being with us and all the best in your ministry.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: Thanks. Hey, listen, Sean, you said you were going to come to Trinity. Let me know when you're going to come with us.

COLMES: You know what, I would love to come. I would accept your invitation, and I appreciate your — I appreciate that. Thank you.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: So when are you going to come?

COLMES: I don't know. I got to check my schedule.


COLMES: I would come, I promise.

COLMES: She wants a commitment.

HAWLEY-LOWERY: I want a commitment.

HANNITY: And I don't — I think I don't have my calendar right here in front of me, but, Ruth, thank you very much.

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