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By Jonathan Rubin
Religion News Service

(RNS) Northwestern University has retracted an honorary degree offer to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Sen. Barack Obama’s embattled former pastor.
“In light of the controversy around Dr. Wright and to ensure that the celebratory character of commencement not be affected, the university has withdrawn its invitation to Dr. Wright,” read a statement from Alan K. Cubbage, Northwestern’s vice president for university relations.
The statement said that the offer had been made earlier in the academic year “on the recommendation of faculty committees” to present Wright with an honorary doctorate in sacred theology during Northwestern’s June commencement ceremonies in Evanston, Ill.
Wright has become an increasingly controversial national figure. In sermons at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, he declared that U.S. policies were partially responsible for the 9/11 attacks and that the U.S, government was responsible for using the HIV virus as a weapon against African Americans.
Wright defended himself at the National Press Club on Monday in Washington, saying his remarks were taken out of context, but Obama renounced Wright’s comments as “destructive” and against “everything that I’m about and who I am.”
Wright could not be reached for comment, but in a speech in Dallas last weekend said, “The president of the university called and told me he was withdrawing the degree because I was not patriotic,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
A spokesman for Northwestern, responding to Wright’s patriotism remark, said, “If Dr. Wright was quoted accurately, that statement is not true.”
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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