Michael Pfleger, the controversial Catholic priest who made racial remarks about Hillary Clinton and defended Louis Farrakhan, has been removed as a keynote speaker at a diversity day event sponsored by a federal government agency.
A spokesperson for the Broadcasting Board of Governors told me that Pfleger’s office has been notified that his invitation to address the group has been rescinded.
“This is an event that is meant to celebrate inclusiveness and diversity,” spokesperson Lynne Weil said. “It was deemed by our senior management that it was not appropriate to have him as a speaker.”
The BBG is an agency responsible for non-military international broadcasting sponsored by the federal government – including Voice of America.
Pfleger has a history of making controversial statements. He once defended the Nation of Islam’s Farrakhan and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Obama’s former pastor.
“He’s a good man, he is a loyal American, and he’s a prophet of the Gospel,” Pfleger said of Wright. “And I’m not allowing people to call him a racist, anti-American or bigot. Him nor Louis Farrakhan because neither of them are.”
He also attacked Hillary Clinton during a 2008 sermon at Wright’s Trinity Church.
“When Hillary was crying, and people said that was put on – I really don’t believe it was put on,” Pfleger said, referring to an emotional scene before the New Hampshire primary. “I really believe that she just always thought, ‘This is mine. I’m Bill’s wife. I’m white. And this is mine. I just gotta get up and step into the plate.’”
Pfleger continued, “And then, out of nowhere came ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama.’ And she said, ‘Oh, damn. Where did you come from? I’m white. I’m entitled. There’s a black man stealing my show.”
So who thought it was a good idea to invite Pfleger to speak at a day meant to honor inclusiveness?
Weil said the BBG’s Office of Civil Rights was responsible for inviting Pfleger to speak – first reported by The Weekly Standard.
“They didn’t check on the appropriateness of the speaker for this particular program with anybody else in the agency,” she said. “The agency learned about it several days ago.
Weil said concerns had been raised by their own employees as well as others.
“Just a check of his background shows there’s a history of divisiveness in some of his public remarks,” she said.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, welcomed the decision to rescind Pfleger’s invitation.
“What lamebrain would invite a man like him who’s done more to divide the races than bring them together,” he told Fox News. “Maybe they thought it was Divisive Day.”
“They made a bone-headed decision in the first place to invite him,” he added, calling Pfleger a renegade priest. “He has done more to separate the races rather than bring them together.”
"His record is rather checkered and in some cases totally marred by racially inflammatory rhetoric and the fact he has never found it within himself to condemn the racism of the Reverend Jeremiah ‘God Damn America’ Wright I think is indicative that this man has some problems," he added.
Weil said she did not know about the financial arrangements between Pfleger or the agency – and it’s unclear whether they will still have to honor the agreement.
She also said the future of diversity day at the agency is uncertain.
“The agency wants to celebrate diversity as it does every year,” she said. “We may be looking at a different date and format.”