Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jeremiah Wright’s 9/11 Sermon “In Context”

Note: This is the sixth post in a continuing series concerning the fateful decision of Brite Divinity School to honor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright on March 29th. For background read (1) Brite Divinity School to Honor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, (2) Brite Divinity School Jeremiah Wright Update, (3) Brite, Jeremiah Wright, and the Out of Context Card, (4) The Brite-Jeremiah Wright Debate Continues, and (5) Brite Divinity School Accused of Violating Its Own Covenant

Wright's defenders keep shooting themselves in the feet! An anonymous person provided a link to the "so-called" full text, "IN Context," of Jeremiah Wright's 9/11 speech. I write "so-called" because a less than ten minute Sunday sermon is rather short - especially in a Black church, and in the sermon Wright tells his congregation that God has told him three things to do in response to 9/11, but he never get's past the first thing in this sermon. The video stops rather suddenly.

I'm including the YouTube video here and following that is my full transcription of the sermon and Psalm 137. The video title is FOX Lies!! Barack Obama Pastor Wright

Thank you Linda, for the comment and link. The full 35 minute sermon can be found at Essence, but I have not yet seen a transcript of the full 35 minutes..

Transcript of Wright’s 9/11 Sermon “IN Context”

Every public service of worship I have heard about so far in the wake of the American tragedy has had in its prayers and in its preachments sympathy and compassion for those who were killed and for their families, and God’s guidance upon the selected presidents and our war-machine as they do what they got to do - pay backs. There’s a move in Psalm 137 from thoughts of paying tithes to thoughts of paying back. Move if you will from worship to war. A move, in other words from the worship of the God of creation to a war against whom God has created. And I want you to notice, very carefully, the next move. One of the reasons this psalm is rarely read in its entirety. Because it is a move that spotlights the insanity of the cycle of violence and the cycle of hatred.

Look at verse 9, look at verse 9, look at verse 9, “Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rocks. The people of faith are the rivers of Babylon. How shall we sing the Lord’s song if I forget the (unintelligible). . .

The people of faith have moved from the hatred of armed enemies, these soldiers who captured the king, who slaughtered his son, they put his eyes out, the soldiers who sacked the city, burned the towns, burned the temples, burned the towers, and moved from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocence, the babies, the babies .

“Blessed are they who dash your baby’s brains against a rock.” And that my beloveds is a dangerous place to be. Yet, that is where the people of faith are in 551 BC and that is where the people of faith are, far too many people of faith are in 2001 AD. We have moved from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocence. We want revenge. We want paybacks and we don’t care who gets hurt in the process.

Now I-I-I asked the Lord, “What should our response be in light of such an unthinkable act?” But before I share with you what the Lord showed me, I want to give you one of my little faith footnotes. Visitors often get faith footnotes, so that our members don’t lose site of the big picture. Let me give you a little faith foot note. Turn your neighbors say “faith footnote.”

I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday. Did anybody else see him or hear him? He was on Fox news. This is a White man and he was upsetting the Fox news commentators to no end. He pointed out. You see him John? A White man he pointed out –an Ambassador! He pointed out that what Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Mohammad was in fact true. America’s Chickens are coming home to roost!

We took this country by terror away from the Sioux, the Apache, the Aroawak, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism! We took Africans from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism! We bombed Grenada and killed innocent babies, non military personnel. We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenagers and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard-working fathers. We bombed Gadhaffi’s home and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s head against a rock! We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to payback for the attack on our embassy. Killed hundreds of hard-working people; mothers and fathers who left home to go that day, not knowing that they would never get back home. We bombed Hiroshima! We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye! Kids playing in the playground , mothers picking up children after school, civilians – not soldiers – people just trying to make it day by day. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and Black South Africans, and now we are indignant??? Because the stuff we have done overseas has now been brought back into our own front yard! America’s chickers are coming home to roost!

Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred and terrorism begets terrorism. A White Ambassador said that y’all not a Black Militant. Not a Reverend who preaches about racism. An Ambassador whose eyes are wide open, and who’s trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said that the people we are wounded don’t have the military capability we have but they do have individuals who are willing to die and to take thousands with them and we need to come to grips with that. Let me stop my faith footnote right there and ask you to think about that over the next few weeks if God grants us that many days. Turn back to your neighbor say “footnote is over.”

Now, now come on back to my question to the Lord. “What should our response be right now in light of such an unthinkable act?”

I asked the Lord that question Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I was stuck in Newark New Jersey. No flights were leaving LaGuardia, JFK, or Newark airport. On the day the FAA opened up the airports to bring into the cities of destination because those flights had been diverted, because of the hijacking, a scare in New York closed all three airports and I couldn’t even get here for Mr. Radford’s funeral. And I asked God, “What should our response be?”

I saw pictures of the incredible. People jumping from the 110th floor. People jumping from the roof cause the stairwells above the 9th floor were gone. No more. Black people jumping to a certain death. People holding hands jumping. People on fire jumping. And I asked the Lord, “What should our response be?”

I read what the people of faith felt in 551 BC. But this is a different time. This is a different enemy. This is a different world. This is a different terror. This is a different reality. “What should our response be?” And the Lord showed me three things. Let me share them with you quickly and I’m going to leave you alone to think about the faith footnote.

Number one. The Lord showed me that this is a time for self-examination. As I sat 900 miles away from my family and my community of faith, two months after my own father’s death, God showed me that this is a time for me to examine my relationship with God; my own relationship with God, my personal relationship with God. I submit to you that it is the same for you. Folks flocked to the church in New Jersey last week. You know that fox hole religion syndrome kicked in, that emergency cord religion; you know that old red box cord to pull in case of emergency, it showed up full force. Folk who ain’t thought about coming to church for years were in church last week. I heard that mid week prayer services all over this country, which are poorly attended 51 weeks of the year, were jammed packed all over the nation the week of the hijacking the 52nd week filled full. But the Lord said, “This ani’t the time for you to be examining other folks’ relationship, this is a time of self-examination”

The Lord said to me, “How is our relationship doing Jeremiah? How often do you talk to me personally? How often do you let Me talk to you privately? How much time do you spend trying to get right with Me, or do you spend all your time trying to get other folk right?”

This is a time for me to examine my own relationship with God. Is it real or is it fake? Is it forever or is it for show? Is it something you do for the sake of the public or is it something that you do for the sake of eternity? This is a time to examine my own and a time for you to examine your own relationship with God. Self-examination. . .

Psalm 137 (NIV)
1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill .
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
7 Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. "Tear it down," they cried, "tear it down to its foundations!"
8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us-
9 he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.


  1. This YouTube version is actually only a portion of the sermon. The whole sermon can be found here: It's around 35 minutes in length

  2. Thank you so much Linda for the link. Are you aware of any full-text transcripts of the full 35 minute sermon available on the web? If so, could you share the link here?

  3. Words mean things. We have a population that seldom reads anything anymore and certainly doesn't delve into history or motivation of commentary, they simply accept every parcel as factual based just upon who is saying it. So if a man of the cloth says something that is wrong, or slanderous or even evil, does his status make it less so? That's the problem. And until people are willing to listen to the words rather than just getting swept up by the delivery, we will continue to see gifted speakers sway crowds with untruths. I understand Hitler was a gifted speaker, which is why Germans voted for him. But that doesn't make him any less evil.

  4. Ellen you have made a very excellent point. People are often caught up in the rhythm and cadence without giving much thought to the words. Words do mean things. You asked,“So if a man of the cloth says something that is wrong, or slanderous or even evil, does his status make it less so?”

    I would say that it holds the clergy to a much higher standard. But then, there are those that believe that anything can be said by anyone if it’s within “CONTEXT.” That’s this week’s weasel word! Of course with that line of reasoning anything goes. Perhaps Hitler would have shared that view?

  5. I'm glad you posted this, it's good to read the entire transcript. However, you and I both know his translation/interpretation of Psalm 137 is incorrect

    Yes, the delivery and cadence matters, because as Ellen said, people get caught up in that rather than in the truth of what is being said.

    This does not change my mind about Jeremiah Wright. He is a racist, full of hate, and he needs to own these words.

    Debbie Hamilton
    Right Truth

  6. Debbie, thanks for stopping by. It took me over an hour to transcribe the 10 minutes to get it accurate. I'd transcribe the entire 35 minutes but I haven't got the stomach for it. You have to ask, how much context is needed for a racial slur, or an anti-American statement? How much context is required if someone used the "N-word"??? More to the point, would anyone care what the context was?

    If you get a chance you must read "White Racism" at

  7. The "N-word" doesn't appear in this transcript.

    In this transcript Wright advocates two actions: 1.) to "think about" the "faith footnote" and 2.) to examine one's personal relationship with God.

    Most distortions of this sermon try to cast the "America's chickens" phrase as the point of the paragraph, and completely eliminate the next line. When I transcribed them, I did so as a single line, punctuated in this way:

    "Americans chickens are coming home, to roost -- Violence begets violence; hatred begets hatred; terrorism begets terrorism."

    I took this to mean, As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

    Wright is warning against consequences of retalition in which "hatred for armed enemies" escalates into "hatred of unarmed innocents" and rebounds negatively. In the longer version he sets it up his point in a more much traditional and biblical context.

    Instead of retaliating, which might escalate hatred, harm unarmed innocents, and which may rebound negatively upon us, Wright advocates "thought" and "self-examination."

    I'm having a hard time seeing this as a hate sermon.

  8. hiya Faultline..this is flat out racism and we all know frustrating eh!

  9. "Wright's defenders keep shooting themselves in the feet!"

    Isn't that something else!

    Have a great Easter!

  10. Anonymous. I don't believe it appears in my transcript. Did you transcribe the 35 minute sermon? If you have transcribed it, why not send it to faultlineusa (at)yahoo (d0t) com?

  11. Watch Rev. Jeremiah Wright's 9-11 sermon in context

    Jeremiah Wright's God Damn America in context

  12. What is not being talked about is that church is a cult and the mainstream christian churches want nothing to do with it.

    To say most black churches are like this is insane, This is not even Christianity. No Christian thinks Jesus was an Africian and was killed because he was a black man.

    Its almost a joke its so off. The media is so inept they keep painting this as the way most blacks feel. I dont know a single black Christian who thinks Jesus was black and I certainly dont know any who preach racism. No Christian supports Roe V wade--yet J. Wright preached its evil to want to overturn it. It is simply against God to endorse crushing a babies head with forcepts. Its one thing to accept this law wont be overturned because the baby is in the womans body--its quite another for a so-called Christian to advocate it.

    This is where Obama chose to make his home. To not understand that a Harvard educated man knew exactly what this cult was all about is absurd. Simply put...he is either the most inept Harvard grad ever or he is deceiving us.

  13. If I knew a church where someone was taking America's role in the world, for what it is, with its faults, and advising his or her charge to apply genuinely Christian principles, like THIS, I'd go back to "the Church" -

  14. My Dear White Fellows-

    White-racism s the biggest straw-man I've ever seen. How can we feel even remotely threatened? Of course one may have legitimate problems with Obama's politics, but to attribute racism, and that he is a threat to whites is absurd.

    To think that whites have a tough time in this country. Ha!

    I'll eat crow, if we ever find ourselves tied to a bumper and dragged to death by black men.

    I listen, if our white heroes are assassinated for what they believe.

    When black judges routinely give us stronger sentences for the same crimes, you'll gave my attention.

    But Wright and Obama do not have it in for us, and I think we're safe. We all know they'll lose that fight anyway. They have neither the numbers or the bloodlust. Nobody kills and enslaves a race of people like a white man can. (That's not racist, that's history).

  15. I don't think any average person has the market cornered on good luck. Sure people have it tough, but as the quote goes "things are tough all over." I worked two jobs to go to school. I didn't have any scholarship or handout. My Dad worked until he died-he had no retirement fund, no nestegg. He grew up in the oil patch with his dad following the wells. My grandparents were subject to pressgangs and curfews under British law. We all have stories. And until we stop trying to top one another with excuses and start acting like grownups, nothing is going to change. You can't have multitudes of single parent families and succeed. You can't continue to expect for people to make the road smooth because nobody except the ultimate rich have that done for them. Everyone has a story.Everyone struggles. That is what life is about from birth until death. But I know one thing for sure, if you blame everyone else for whatever goes wrong in your life, you will never ever be more than you are. And that rule applies regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual preference.