Obama submitted a letter of resignation to Trinity United Church of Christ on Friday, saying he was leaving his spiritual home for nearly all of his adult life "with sadness." He told reporters last night that he didn't want to have to answer questions every time someone at the church said something controversial.
"This was one I didn't see coming," Obama said of attacks on his links to Wright and the church. "I did not anticipate my fairly conventional Christian faith being subject to such scrutiny."
Obama said he prayed about the decision with his wife, Michelle, and another Trinity pastor, the Rev. Otis Moss III, and didn't want the church subject to added scrutiny because of his candidacy. "I am not denouncing the church. It's not a church worthy of denouncing," said Obama, who also said he hadn't been there in months.
The move comes as Obama is poised to claim title to the Democratic nomination as early as next week - although Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York also remains in the race - and appears designed to try to put the racially charged controversies behind him as he turns to the fall campaign against John McCain.
Obama clearly hoped he had already done that by cutting all ties with Wright, his fiery former pastor who once preached that the United States was to blame for the 9/11 attacks and that God should "damn America" - much-replayed comments that seemed to undercut Obama's appeals for political unity.
Republicans have signaled that they plan to raise Obama's 20-year association with Wright to question Obama's judgment and values in the fall campaign. Obama was married at Trinity and both of his daughters were baptized there.
This is only going to get better - the Republicans haven't even started yet.
As insane as they all are, I'm starting to think Bob Barr might end up looking like the most rational candidate. Progress.