Barack Obama Linked to New Controversial Preacher

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," March 19, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Welcome to HANNITY & COLMES. And our good friend Kirsten Powers once again sitting in for Alan. Good to see you, Kirsten.


HANNITY: And we start tonight with a developing story. There are new questions being raised today about Barack Obama's association with another African-American minister And a political figure in Chicago. He is state senator, the Reverend James Meeks of the South Side Baptist Church. Meeks also has direct ties to the Obama campaign. He is an Illinois super delegate. And as of this afternoon, Obama's own campaign Web site touted his endorsement. But Meeks has also made comments in the past that are outraging people today. He has been criticized by the gay community for calling homosexuality quote, "an evil sickness." And at the same time, he has engaged in several high profile disputes with the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley. And once used the "N" word in a sermon while chastising the mayor.


JAMES MEEKS, REVEREND: You have got some preachers that are house [bleep]. You have some elected officials that are house [bleep]. And rather than them trying to break this up, they are going to fight you to protect that white man.


HANNITY: Now, Meeks has since apologized for that remark and says he will never use that kind of language again. But last year during the Don Imus controversy, Obama told ABC News that if someone on his staff used that kind of language, he would fire them. Meeks may not be a member of Obama's staff but is he certainly a vocal supporter. Now, we have asked the Reverend Meeks to appear on the show tonight to respond but he declined our request.

Joining us now, former Ohio secretary of state, senior fellow — sorry, my voice is shot — at the Family Research Council Ken Blackwell. And Barack Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright supporter, the William Lawson Institute and Peace for Prosperity, the Reverend Bill Lawson himself. Guys, welcome to the program.



HANNITY: Reverend Lawson, with all that we've heard from Reverend Wright, do you support everything he has said?

Click here to watch the interview on Obama's new controversial pastor: Part 1 | Part 2

LAWSON: Of course not. I don't support everything anybody says, even members of my own family. But I do recognize him as a friend, as a prophetic preacher and as a person who has been extremely valuable, not only in Chicago but nationwide, almost globally. He is a good man.

HANNITY: He is a good man that says G.D. America, the U.S. KKK of America, all of these statements. Do you think that's coming from a good man?

LAWSON: I think all that is coming from a good man. And if we had the chance to listen to all of his sermon, I think the chances are we wouldn't be governed simply by snippets.

HANNITY: Well I think there is lot more than snippets here. But we just played the tape of this other Senator Meeks and what he had to say. More specifically, he repeatedly uses the "N" word says protect that, white man, refers to the mayor as a slave master. Do you support that?

LAWSON: Is this a question you are asking me?

HANNITY: Yes, sir.

LAWSON: Frankly, I haven't heard that. But, no, I probably would not support that. I'm glad that he did apologize. Nobody says everything right. I have been a pastor for some 42 years. And certainly nothing — there is nothing that is more true than that many of the things that I've said I regret now.

HANNITY: Do you think the church when it gave an award to Louis Farrakhan and the church said he epitomized greatness, is that a good thing?

LAWSON: I'm not sure whether that's a good thing. But I wasn't there and so I can't deal with that in context either.

HANNITY: Do you think Louis Farrakhan is a good man?

LAWSON: I think that Farrakhan is a human being who certainly does deserve respect.

HANNITY: I know he is a human being. With all due respect, I'm asking if you think he's a good man.

LAWSON: I am telling you that he is somebody who does deserve respect even though he does some things with which I don't agree.

HANNITY: All right Ken Blackwell, we have been friends a long time. I hear this incendiary language, this hate language towards America. I hear, you know, the rising racial tensions. And it upsets me as a Christian. And the fact that Barack Obama has been friends with Reverend Wright and now we as an association with another man with controversy. What are we, as voters, to make of that?

BLACKWELL: Well, I think instantly you begin to understand that the challenge here is not Senator Obama's race. It is his radical agenda. And I think it's very interesting, if you begin to look at the contradictions. Senator Obama said that he wants to lead us towards a society towards becoming a society that is not race conscious, that we are color blind. Well, he then is a member of a church for 20 years that says it believes in black liberation.

HANNITY: Here is a question, Ken. I'm not trying to interrupt you because I'm your friend. Do you believe him when he says he didn't know, number one, and do you think he has the right judgment to be president based on these associations?

BLACKWELL: Well, one, I don't believe that he sat in that church and didn't know that the church's professed doctrine was black liberation theology and is he a learned man. He understands what liberation theology is all about. Whether it be in the U.S., in Chicago, across Latin America, or across the continent of Africa.

Liberation theology has, as its tenant, socialism as its economic underpinning. It believes that government, not the individual, is primary. And that is a fundamental clash with the doctrine that underlies freedom and a society like ours that sees that God is central and the individual, not government, as being primary. Now the issue becomes.

POWERS: Ken Blackwell, I'm sorry, I just want to jump in here for a second. This is Kirsten Powers.

My understanding of this church and we have heard a lot about this black value system. There was a focus on really helping the African- American community. Something that was focused on issues that are very specific to the African-American community, such as fathers being involved in more children's lives, they're dealing with poverty, joblessness ...

BLACKWELL: A lot of churches in the black community, a lot of churches in the black community ...

POWERS: I totally agree with that.

BLACKWELL: ... believes that, you know, it is our Christianity, you know, Christ is liberating, that, you know, Christ was not, you know, color conscious, that Christ really did believe in colorblindness.

And this talks about if you go to the Web site, I don't want to make it up. I invite people to go to the Web site to look at what it says is black liberation theology.

POWERS: I want to get Reverend Lawson in here for a section. You know Jeremiah Wright well. And you obviously know this church well. Do you think — How do you respond to this? I mean, do you think that his description is an accurate description of that church?

LAWSON: Well, I think that it probably is an accurate description of Trinity. But I think that one really needs to know what Trinity is all about. Not simply to take some few phrases. Trinity helps the poor. Trinity feeds the hungry. Trinity does things for the homeless. Trinity actually, as a church, does reach out to help people.

But, Dr. Jeremiah Wright is, is, is prophetic. And prophets were chosen originally simply to point out the sins of Israel. And what Dr. Wright does is to point out the sins of America.

I think that certain unfortunate statements ought not to characterize him until you look at the total Trinity United Church of Christ and at the total Dr. Jeremiah Wright.


POWERS: Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES. I'm Kirsten Powers sitting in for Alan tonight.

We continue now with Ken Blackwell and Reverend Bill Lawson. Reverend, I wanted to go back to you. We were talking in the last block about Reverend James Meeks, who is an endorser of Barack Obama. I don't think that Barack Obama is guilty of anything that the reverend has said. But he has said some pretty horrible things, denounced Hollywood Jews. He has called being gay an evil sickness. His church has held a party where they sent gay people to hell.

I think this is something that liberals usually are very critical of when we see, you know, Republicans taking endorsements from people who do things that we think are anti-gay.

Do you think it's fair to at least expect Barack Obama to say that he doesn't agree with this kind of rhetoric?

LAWSON: Well, I think he almost has to say that. He is not trying to be president of black people. He is trying to be president of an entire nation. In his speech, he spoke of his own ancestry as being mixed ancestry. And so he reflects in his own being those two sides that do represent the current conflict.

And I think that at that point, he would need to say whatever looks to the future, whatever is best for the nation. Not simply to look back on the past. And I think that — and this is what he seems to be doing — he does regret some of the statements that have been made by Dr. Wright, and, perhaps, some of the statements that have been made by Reverend Meeks. I don't know Reverend Meeks but I do know Dr. Wright quite well.

POWERS: Ken Blackwell, do you accept the idea that Barack Obama isn't responsible for every single thing that someone who supports him says?

BLACKWELL: Well, he is not responsible for everything anybody who supports him does, but, let me say this. I think it's very important for us to ask a fundamental question. I think there are basic questions of public interest. If you had a candidate that was aspiring to be the commander in chief, but went to a church that believed in absolute pacifism, would you in fact think that the public has a right to know if that doctrine would play out on the world stage? Because this person would be the commander in chief. Wouldn't that be a legitimate question for the public to know?

And I think the answer to that question is yes. And, therefore, when you begin to look at that doctrine, that is displayed for public examination, or on the Web site, the question is a legitimate question to raise to Senator Obama. Do you believe in that doctrine?

HANNITY: Yeah. You know, Ken, I think you raise a good point here. Reverend Lawson, I want to go back to you because you talk about Reverend Wright being a good man. I don't think you are fully comprehending. America hears Reverend Wright. They hear him. They listen to him. They are shocked. They are appalled. They are angry. And they are questioning the judgment of Barack Obama, that he stayed in the church for 20 years. You seem to be surprised by this.

LAWSON: No, I'm not surprised by this. But what that means is that many people outside the black community have no idea what goes on in the black church. What is being done at Trinity is mainstream black churches. There are very few black churches that will simply try to please those outside the black church. But they do -

HANNITY: But Reverend, can we interpret from that this is mainstream black churches? You are saying that they think of this, that G.D. America, that the American government caused AIDS, that America is the worst terrorist nation on earth.

LAWSON: You are once again pulling snippets. You are pulling little pieces.

HANNITY: I'm not pulling snippets. There's quote after quote, sir.

LAWSON: But if you are not able to hear a total sermon, if you are not able to hear a total series of sermons, then the only thing you can do with television sound bites.

BLACKWELL: Sean, I think it's legitimate. If you go to that Web site, you can ask the question does that doctrine give any credence to the notion that Barack Obama is for partial birth abortion? That he is for military weakness, that he is a collectivist that believes in big government.

HANNITY: Got to run. Thank you both for being with us.

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