Black church leaders back Obama's pastor at Texas event

DALLAS — In the wake of the controversy over statements by a former pastor of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, leaders of a black church summit took issue with characterizations of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as racist.

"What is eminently clear is the degree to which the black church is still largely misunderstood and routinely caricatured in U.S. popular culture. ... We now realize why the 11 o'clock hour on Sunday is the most segregated hour of the week," said Stacey Floyd-Thomas, director of black church studies at Fort Worth's Brite Divinity School, during a news conference Friday at Dallas' Friendship West Baptist Church.

About 20 scholars from the summit stood with Floyd-Thomas, an associate professor of ethics, among them Wright's cousin, the Rev. Dennis Wiley of Covenant Baptist Church in Washington D.C. Wright was to have appeared at the summit Saturday, but canceled. The summit was moved to Dallas from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth out of security concerns.

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