Barack Obama belongs to Trinity United Church of Christ, which serves predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Chicago and has a mostly African-American membership. But you do not have to be black to join Trinity. The church, which has been overwhelmed with media inquiries, said in a statement that it welcomes people of all races and has white members.
"There's no question (the e-mail) is a distortion," said Martin Marty, a retired Chicago-based historian of religion and public life, who is white and has attended services at Trinity several times.
Dwight Hopkins, a professor of divinity at the University of Chicago who attends Trinity and is black, said he also regularly sees a few white people at Trinity.
Many churches are ethnically homogenous, but that doesn't mean they require members to be a certain race. We find the e-mail's statement that Trinity United Church of Christ only accepts African-Americans for membership to be False.
UPDATE: Barack Obama resigned from Trinity United Church of Christ on May 31, 2008, after church pastor Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. made controversial remarks about U.S. foreign policy and other matters. Obama said he intends to join another church after the election.