Barack Obama said on Saturday he has resigned his 20-year membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago "with some sadness" in the aftermath of inflammatory remarks by his longtime pastor, the Rev Jeremiah Wright, and more recent fiery remarks at the church by a visiting priest.
"This is not a decision I come to lightly... and it is one I make with some sadness," Obama said at a news conference after campaign officials released a letter of resignation he sent to the church on Friday.
"I’m not denouncing the church and I’m not interested in people who want me to denounce the church," he said, adding that the new pastor at Trinity and "the church have been suffering from the attention my campaign has focused on them".
Obama said he and his wife have been discussing the issue since Wright’s appearance at the National Press Club in Washington last month, which reignited the furore over remarks Wright had made in various sermons at the church.
"I have no idea how it will impact my presidential campaign but I know it was the right thing to do for me and my family," he said.