Allison Samuels reports in Newsweek:
[Oprah] Winfrey was a member of Trinity United from 1984 to 1986, and she continued to attend off and on into the early to the mid-1990s. But then she stopped. A major reason—but by no means the only reason—was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
According to two sources, Winfrey was never comfortable with the tone of Wright's more incendiary sermons, which she knew had the power to damage her standing as America's favorite daytime talk-show host. "Oprah is a businesswoman, first and foremost," said one longtime friend, who requested anonymity when discussing Winfrey's personal sentiments. "She's always been aware that her audience is very mainstream, and doing anything to offend them just wouldn't be smart. She's been around black churches all her life, so Reverend Wright's anger-filled message didn't surprise her. But it just wasn't what she was looking for in a church." ...
In time, she found [a new church]: her own. "There is the Church of Oprah now," said her longtime friend, with a laugh. "She has her own following."Friends of Sen. Barack Obama, whose relationship with Wright has rocked his bid for the White House, insist that it would be unfair to compare Winfrey's decision to leave Trinity United with his own decision to stay. "[His] reasons for attending Trinity were totally different,'' said one campaign adviser, who declined to be named discussing the Illinois senator's sentiments. "Early on, he was in search of his identity as an African-American and, more importantly, as an African-American man. Reverend Wright and other male members of the church were instrumental in helping him understand the black experience in America. Winfrey wasn't going for that. She's secure in her blackness, so that didn't have a hold on her.''
Once again, we come back to Obama's Achilles heel being the need to prove he's black enough.
Everybody always says that "Obama is comfortable in his own skin," yet his autobiographical writing is supremely uncomfortable. Last year, I called him "an unfunny Evelyn Waugh," and indeed in its "enough, already!" self-pity, Dreams from My Father is a little reminiscent of Waugh's more overly sincere autobiographical novels, such as Brideshead Revisited. Like Waugh, Obama's analyses of other people are coldly impeccable -- it's his self-conception that's worrisome.
In Britain, it wasn't unthinkable for a novelist to become Prime Minister, as, in fact, Disraeli did. But I don't think anybody ever recommended that Waugh enter politics. Nobody read Brideshead Revisited and said, "Yes, this is the kind of steady hand we want on the tiller of state."
With Obama, I just can't tell. I don't think it's too much to ask that he figure out some way to reassure the voters that his internal conflicts aren't going to get in the way of his duties.