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Obama pastor cancels scheduled appearances

  • Story Highlights
  • The Rev. Jeremiah Wright cancels speaking engagement at Houston, Texas, church
  • He canceled for "personal reasons" amid controversy over racially charged remarks
  • Obama Wednesday: "I have condemned those [comments] outright"
  • Wright also scheduled to visit Dallas, Texas, this weekend
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Sen. Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, has canceled his plans to speak at church services in Houston, Texas, this weekend in the wake of the recent uproar over portions of his past sermons.

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Sen. Barack Obama, left, and his church's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in 2005.

Video clips of those sermons caused a public stir this month after being widely circulated on the Internet.

The clips in question include several racially charged statements and accusations the U.S. government has adopted policies to systematically oppress African-Americans.

Wright was scheduled to speak at three services Sunday at Houston's Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. But the Rev. Marcus Cosby, the church's pastor, said Wright decided to cancel the appearances amid safety concerns.

"He canceled for largely personal reasons," Cosby said, adding that recent uproar has led to threats against Wright, his family and his church -- the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

The church, Cosby said, had planned to take extra security precautions for Wright's services this weekend, but said the decision to cancel the appearances was Wright's entirely.

Cosby said his church had not received any threats directly ahead of Wright's scheduled appearances.

Cosby said Wednesday that Wright's remarks have been largely taken out of context because the media has only aired "snippets of the sermons, without the beginning or the end."

He also said he expects Wright to speak at his church in the future. Video Watch analysts weigh in on Wright's statements »

The issue returned to the spotlight Tuesday when Sen. Hillary Clinton responded to a reporter's question about what she would have done if she were a member of Wright's church.

"I think given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor," Clinton said at a news conference in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.Video Watch Clinton on the Wright issue »

Clinton avoided commenting on the controversy when it surfaced.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Clinton's remarks were part of a "transparent effort to distract attention away from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia," a reference to comments Clinton made last week. Video Watch Obama discuss the Wright controversy with CNN's Anderson Cooper »

Fresh off a vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Obama responded Wednesday to the Wright controversy at an event in Greensboro, North Carolina.

"My former pastor said some objectionable things in the days I was not in church and I have condemned those outright," he said.

"But I have to remind people that this is someone who was preaching three sermons a week for 30 years and ...[the videos] boiled it down into a half an hour sound clip or a half-minute sound clip, and just played it over and over and over again."

Obama lashed out at the controversy's role in the presidential race.

"Every time someone, somewhere says something stupid, everybody gets up in arms and we forget about the war in Iraq or we forget about the economy or we forget about the things that are going to make a difference in our children's lives," he said. "I don't want that kind of politics. I want a politics that gets stuff done."

Obama, a longtime friend of Wright's and a member of his church for two decades, denounced the remarks in a speech last week, but refused to denounce the minister himself.

"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother...These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love," Obama said last Tuesday during his Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, speech.

Wright is also scheduled to make a stop in Dallas, Texas. A stop at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, however, was canceled Wednesday, according to the school.

Joan Harrell, the minister of communications for Wright's former church, told the Dallas Morning News the schedule is still pending, but would not elaborate.

Harrell has not yet returned CNN's request for further comment on Wright's schedule.

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Wright's decision to cancel the events appeared to come shortly after a Tampa, Florida-area church decided to cancel a scheduled talk by Wright Tuesday.

The Rev. Earl Mason of the Bible-Based Fellowship Church of Temple Terrace in Tampa told reporters he was concerned about security, and said the service would likely have become a media circus. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.

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