LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, referred to people who wrongly believe that Obama is Muslim as “psychopaths'' and criticized supporters of the war in Iraq during a sermon Sunday in Arkansas.
In a fiery sermon at New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Wright also defended former state Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen for speaking out against the war.
Griffen serves as the church's pastor.
Wright's only reference to Obama came when he compared Griffen's opponents to those who incorrectly think the Obama is Muslim. The president, whose full name is Barack Hussein Obama, is Christian.
“Go after the military mindset … and the enemy will come after you with everything,'' Wright said.
“He will surround you with psychopaths who will criticize you and ostracize you and put you beyond the pale of hope and say 'you ain't really a Baptist' and say 'the president ain't really a Christian, he's a Muslim.
"There ain't no American Christian with a name like Barack Hussein," he added.
A poll released this month found that nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, said they thought Obama was Muslim, up from the 11 percent in March 2009. The proportion who correctly said he was Christian was 34 percent, down from 48 percent in March of last year.
The poll, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center and its affiliated Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, surveyed 3,003 people. Obama cut ties with Wright in 2008, after Wright's more incendiary remarks hit the Internet during the presidential election.
At a National Press Club appearance in April 2008, Wright claimed the U.S. government could plant AIDS in the black community, praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrahkan and suggested Obama was putting his pastor at arm's length for political purposes while privately agreeing with him.
Obama denounced Wright as "divisive and destructive'' and left Wright's Chicago church Griffen lost a re-election bid for the Arkansas Court of Appeals in 2008, after high profile battles with a state judicial panel over the rights of judges to speak out on political issues.
Griffen in May won the election for a judicial post in Pulaski County. Griffen said he invited Wright to speak at his church as part of a month long focus on the relationship between faith and the community. Wright defended Griffen's outspokenness on political issues, saying it showed he was willing to speak out even if it would cost him politically.
“Griffen took up the mantle of Martin Luther King Jr.,'' Wright said. “That made Griffen a target for the powerful who backed an illegal war in Iraq and the powerful who ran roughshod over the rights of the blacks, the browns, the women and the disadvantaged.''
Wright's sermon, entitled “What You Can't See,'' focused on the Old Testament story of the prophet Elisha thwarting an attack by the Aramean Army. Wright repeatedly made references to the war in Iraq and suggested parallels with the Biblical story.
"What was his motivation?
Elisha had embarrassed him, like Saddam had embarrassed George Herbert Walker,'' Wright said, referring to the former president.
Wright spoke as Arkansas Republicans hope to capitalize on Obama's unpopularity in the fall election. Obama has not visited the state since 2006, and lost its six electoral votes in the 2008 election.
Pictured Above: Rev. Jeremiah Wright