October 29th, 2007
09:15 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama supporter: 'God delivered me from homosexuality'

Watch Donnie McClurkin address the controversy surrounding him at Sunday night's concert.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - The controversial Gospel singer at the center of a gay and lesbian backlash against Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign struck back at his critics Sunday night, saying that he has been "vilified" and declaring that "God delivered me from homosexuality."

Rev. Donnie McClurkin, who headlined the final installment of the Obama campaign's "Embrace the Change" Gospel concert series, did not comment on the controversy until the just before the concert's finish, when he told the crowd of about 2,500 African-Americans: "I'm going to say something that's going to get me in trouble."

"They accuse me of being anti-gay and a bigot," McClurkin said. "We don't believe in discrimination. We don't believe in hatred, and if you do you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's the whole premise of God. That's the whole premise of Christ is love, love, love. But there is a side of Christ that deals in judgment, and all sin is against God."

McClurkin has said that homosexuality is a choice and that he overcame homosexual desires through prayer, comments that drew fire from gay and lesbian activists and caught the Obama campaign, which has been using faith to reach out to African-American voters, off guard.

The Grammy-winning singer said Sunday his words had been "twisted."

"Don't call me a bigot or anti-gay, when I have been touched by the same feelings," McClurkin went on. "When I have suffered with the same feelings. Don't call me a homophobe, when I love everybody ... Don't tell me that I stand up and I say vile words against the gay community because I don't. I don't speak against the homosexual. I tell you that God delivered me from homosexuality."

McClurkin's words drew raucous applause from the crowd, who had lined up around the block to get into the Township Auditorium in Columbia.

Although a small demonstration led by the South Carolina Gay & Lesbian Pride Movement had gathered across the street from the concert venue, they were dwarfed by the crowd of black Gospel fans and Obama supporters who turned out to see the performance.

Meanwhile, Obama staff were inside and outside the building, working the crowd and trying to register new voters.

Nearly all of the African-American concert-goers interviewed by CNN expressed support for McClurkin. Some referenced the First Amendment, saying McClurkin had the right to say what he pleased. Others agreed with McClurkin and said that homosexuality is a choice. Several more invoked the Bible and said homosexuality is simply wrong.

A September poll conducted by Winthrop University and ETV showed that 74 percent of South Carolina African-Americans believe homosexuality is "unacceptable."

Michael Vandiver, president of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement said that he was disappointed by Obama's refusal to take McClurkin off the bill, but that he hopes it will be an opportunity for new dialogue.

"This is not a protest of Senator Obama, but rather a vigil in opposition of Reverend McClurkin and his statements on homosexuality," Vandiver said before the concert. "We're also here to show our support for Rev. Andy Sidden."

Sidden is the white, gay pastor added to the concert bill as a last minute compromise by the Obama campaign. Sidden's appearance was notably brief and anti-climactic: He said a short prayer to the auditorium at the very beginning of the program, when the arena was only about half full, and then he left.

Obama, while not present, appeared on a videotaped message to the crowd, saying, “The artists you’re going to hear from are some of the best in the world, and favorites of Michelle and myself.”

McClurkin said during the concert that he had been introduced to Obama by Oprah Winfrey.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (397 Responses)
  1. Alan - KC, MO




    October 29, 2007 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. Daniel, San Diego, California

    Thank god for a free press. Now we know how Mr. Obama truly feels about our oppressed brothers and sisters, and has sealed his political loss for the nomination.

    If we have learned anything during six years of Bush, it is that we must act, strongly and quickly, to root out bigotry, hatred and appeasement when we find it. Mr. Obama has disappointed Americans who dreamed that he might be a candidate of truth and justice. But he is not; he has revealed that he stands for pandering and the denial of civil rights to Americans. Shame.

    October 29, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. Ike - St.Louis



    It's funny how the loudest Anti-Gay people we all went to school with inevitably turned out to be the Gay one!

    October 29, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. Atlanta Tex

    A bigot is a bigot is a bigot is a bigot.

    October 29, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. Joseph, austin, tx

    Hey Randy,
    Us heteros' didnt have to make a choice we are naturally born that way. Natures intent is for survival of life. So I guess if it were natural to be gay then men could reproduce, and women wouldnt need anyting from men to reproduce, thus insuring the survival of the species. As it turns out men and women need each other. With that being said if you are gay, good Im glad that makes you happy, but to be truly tolerant, you need to tolarate intolerance. Grow up if someone doesnt like you who cares that is their right. I hate how PC we are to were everyone has to like everyone else, I reserve the right to not like you for what ever reason, however that doesnt mean I wont respect you.

    October 29, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. Norman- OKLAHOMA

    To Annonomous whimp!

    Yes, Norman is Gay. You can keep spreading your hate and get excited by calling me a 'homo'.

    You too my weak minded and spined friend are also a 'homo'.

    I am going to use a big word here, so take off your HOOD and get out the dictionary.


    Keep making you and your type look as ignorant as the old south. I am sure you probably wish Slavery was still in fashion as well as women shouldn't drive or vote and blacks should not drink from the same water fountains and be allowed to go to the same schools as whites.

    Your ignorance is only fuel to educate the masses as to the effects of unfettered racism, discrimination and hatred regardless of the intended target.

    Stand up America! Stand up for those who are being treated as less than equal.

    October 29, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. August, Los Angeles, CA

    Ever hear of Sean Kennedy, probably not. He is an 20 year old South Carolina man killed in a recent gay bashing. THIS is the reason that the gay community is up in arms -homophobia kills. South Carolina is one of five states that has no hate crime law. If you put a man on the bill that represents redemtion from homosexuality you are validating the position that being gay is curable - and you are inspiring people to continue to hate one another. If we've learned anything over the last 7 years it is that "homosexuality" is a lightening rod. Why would Obama use this same ol' tired song to court voters?

    Barack was my choice until this display of political pandering. If he seriously wanted to leave this man on the bill he should have countered it with an open dialogue about homosexuality and this issues gay people face in the African American community, He could have used this event as a teachable moment – even giving time to reparitive thereapy pointing out that some gays and lesbians ARE gay but don't WANT TO BE gay – and that is their choice. Instead, Brack let the entire HUMAN community down by fanning the flames of hatred and homophobia

    Any man or woman who intends to lead this country needs to do more than promote disinformation using devisive rhetoric. He/She needs to go the extra mile to bring peole together, not continue to tear them apart.

    October 29, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. Kris, Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Bye bye Richardson, bye bye Obama.

    October 29, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. J.Crobuzon

    Daniel, I'm not ready to write Obama off yet. He said earlier that he preferred to confront issues rather than evade them, and that he would debate or otherwise confront foreign leaders instead of flee them as Bush does. Look at this debate as evidence that Obama is looking at the issues.

    October 29, 2007 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. Stan, Gary, IN

    A choice. Amen, brother.

    October 29, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    "Going back to the old, bad ways of the Old Testament is going against both Jesus and God. So, as a Christian, you should follow the teachings of JESUS, not a lot of old Jewish stuff. If you want to be "Old Testament" then convert to Judaism.
    So we no longer have to hear about the Ten Commandments, Noah's ark, and that evolution is wrong?

    October 29, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. Bart, Houston, Texas

    Is being straight a choice? Do straight men wake up everyday and wonder whether or not they want to sleep with a guy today? I don't think so.

    Saying gay people are gay by choice is nothing more than a cheap shot by a straight person who doen't have a leg stand on. And no, the Bible is not a leg to stand on. Also, a leg is not these studies that 'prove' homosexuality is a choice. I mean, if you're not using truth serum on these people (in your studies), then anyone trying to fit in with society are going to lie. Plus, these studies are probably indeed 'stacked' with known bisexuals, thus almost guaranteeing a preferred end result.

    I have a rule of thumb: if it's controversial (and homosexuality is controversial), then don't believe everything you read, even if does support your own pre-conceived notions.

    I learned the above lesson after studying the JFK assassination. Because while conspiracists have a habit of stretching the truth, so do lone nut believers. In other words, they both cover up the facts that would weaken their case, which is not so far removed what continues to happen with the case of homosexuality, and whether it's a choice or not.

    Show your intelligence. If you're straight, don't just assume homosexuality is a choice, just because someone, or something, told you it was. Afterall, would you buy a bridge from someone, just because they say they owned it?

    October 29, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  13. Nina Cleveland Milwaukee Wisconsin

    This is the problem with this country. We put aside our beliefs to get ahead. When God will exalt us in due season. Rev. Donnie is not ashamed of the gospel and will not compromise himself for anyone. That is a real man of God. You can't be homosexual and preach the gospel. That contradicts the Bible. You can't pick and choose what parts of the Bible you want to obey. Personally I am happy someone is taking a stand for what is morally right and holy.

    October 29, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. RL Dallas, TX

    Speaking as a gay man, this man is a hypocritical liar. You cannot switch sides. I'm currently conducting a research paper on natur or nurture and every journal states that you are born gay, you don't become gay. Oh wait, there is one that says you choose to be gay, but it's a religious journal so of course it's going to be biased. All of you straight people out there ask yourself a question. Have you ever thought about being with someone of the same sex. If you can say yes, then you may have an argument on it being a choice. If you say no, then that means you were born straight. How can you argue with that. Religion has no place in this world. It causes hate and war and has for centuries. We must first erase religion if we really want world peace.

    October 29, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. Ty Jones

    A bigger "sin" than being gay or lesbian is gluttony and greed, which this country is full of!!
    Gay means that you don't have to hide behind the Bologna curtain!!! Come out cowards!!!

    October 29, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. bb, eagle pa.

    I have a (serious) question for the posters who believe that homosexuality is a choice. This is hard for me to comprehend, since I have never wanted to have sex with another woman, so I never had to "choose". I just liked men–no conflict, no temptation to overcome.
    Perhaps some of you who believe in the choice could share your stories of being drawn to same-sex relationships, and your resulting conflict and struggle to become straight.
    I don't question your belief– I simply have never met anyone who made the "choice" you all believe in.

    October 29, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. John,Phila PA

    This is the problem with this country. We put aside our beliefs to get ahead. When God will exalt us in due season. Rev. Donnie is not ashamed of the gospel and will not compromise himself for anyone. That is a real man of God. You can't be homosexual and preach the gospel. That contradicts the Bible. You can't pick and choose what parts of the Bible you want to obey. Personally I am happy someone is taking a stand for what is morally right and holy.

    Posted By Nina Cleveland Milwaukee Wisconsin : October 29, 2007 11:46 am

    hey Nina...Educate yourself dear on Women's past ie: 1908 to 1920! The Women's Suffrage Movement was fought against by MEN, and Religious Institutions..who USED the Buy-Bull to argue that Women should NOT have a say in Gov't ie: NO VOTING & 2nd class citizenship. Women were told to stay home, Listen to thier husbands/obey and have babies like GOD intended. Hows that? Nice huh..? The Buy-Bull has been used to KEEP MANY PEOPLE odnw throughout human history! EDUCATE YOURSELF hon, and STOP being an Emabarrassment to the Women who FOUGHT for your RIGHTS!

    October 29, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    bb in Eagle, PA

    You seem to be a bit confused, it is not the homosexual population that believe it is a choice. It is the 'straight' folks who don't have aclue that insist it's a choice.

    October 29, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. MC- atlanta

    McClurkin is dead wrong, speak for yourself sir but don't hash out the judgement that all that are homosexual are sinners for it just since you see things thru your eyes – the world is bigger than all of you on here.

    cmon people, stop poking your noses in other peoples lives, we all have the right to live free and prosperous, and that includes free from judgement by small minded hypocrites like McClurkin, he will answer for those comments one day.

    October 29, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  20. boo boo

    An ignorant man supporting an ignorant man!
    I wonder if they were lovers and God told them to work together and save America.
    I'm gay and I find Obama to be a real fool to believe that a gay person can be turned straight, this is as ignorant as saying god can turn a black man white!!!
    If god saved him why didn't god stop the Iraq war that is killing 1,000's of god's kids.
    Who is god and can he make me stop biting my nails?

    October 29, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  21. Aileen, Newark, NJ

    Why is homosexuality EVEN a "political" issue? It's an issue because of religious folk who, rightly or wrongly, condemn it. Let's not forget on which principles this country was founded, and what is one of the important points of the first amendment- SEPARATION of CHURCH and STATE.

    October 29, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. Dale Barr, New York, New York

    This is *not* just a comment on his personal experience. How hard is it to figure out that when someone who says God has "delivered" him from homosexuality, he's asserting that it's something vile from which one must be delivered? This is hate propaganda, disguised as "Christianity." I've got no intention of voting for Obama if he continues to promote this point of view.

    October 29, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. Sterling, New Jersey

    Rev. McClurkin and the Rev. Ted Haggard...both gay men caught in the wicked web of a dogma of hate and law-minded twisted gospel.
    They'd make a nice little coupling.
    –And I'd feel sorry for these confused crazed religious bigots–if their preachings weren't so dangerous to so many others. All his religion has done for MClurkin is force him to deny himself and live a lie.
    Shame on Obama. Hillary–you have my vote.

    October 29, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. Lona Tucker, Long Beach, CA

    The Reverend says Christ is love but he still comes in the back door; "there is a side of Christ that deals in judgment, and all sin is against God." So, to sum it up, he means to be who you are sexually is a sin if you happen to live honestly as a self-realized homosexual. Of course, if you think you all have chosen your own sexual orientation God will punish you for lying. It is not a choice people! I'm so sorry Obama has aligned himself with this misguided man, big mistake! And as for the Reverend, to even make this an issue is prejudice and intolerance of ones very essence, it is against God.

    October 29, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. Linda

    Political manipulation for votes; Obama is using his skin-color to dredge up support for his failing campaign. Nothing religious or faith-based about political maneuvering, he's just doing whatever it takes as long as it's good for him. He's same-old, same-old. This has nothing to do with homosexuality, just his bs ambition. This jerk does not deserve to be in office.

    October 29, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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