Barack Obama’s former pastor complained that the media used him as a “weapon of mass destruction” in an attempt to derail Mr Obama’s campaign for the presidency.
Speaking at a forum about race and religion, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright accused the media of taking out of context videotaped clips that showed him making anti-American statements from the pulpit of the Chicago church where Mr Obama had worshipped for 20 years.
The videos, which included Mr Wright thundering “God damn America!”, dominated cable television for weeks.
The public outrage that followed caused the president-elect to sever ties with his longtime spiritual leader.
Mr Wright told an audience of about 200 people at the forum that he was trying to convey the anger and desire for vengeance that people felt after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
He said the media failed to mention that he was a proud Christian who was raised in a Christian home.
“Their intention was to use me as a weapon of mass destruction, to tear down that man’s integrity,” said Mr Wright, former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
In a question-and-answer session with the audience, Mr Wright said he didn’t believe Mr Obama shared his opinions publicised on the videos.
“Do you agree with everything your pastor says?” he asked. “Ninety per cent of the people sitting in church don’t agree with everything their pastor says.”
Mr Wright’s comments were a stumbling block for Mr Obama’s campaign. In an impassioned speech about faith and race, the Democrat at first expressed support for Mr Wright, saying: “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother.”
But six weeks later during a speech at the National Press Club, Mr Wright offered eyebrow-raising opinions about the US government, praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and hinted that Mr Obama was distancing himself from the pastor for political expediency.
The next day, Mr Obama said he was outraged and denounced Mr Wright’s remarks.