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. ThatSinger Los Angeles, CA.

    "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is the new dog whistle code for homophobia... it seems that for many people, some sinners are more "lovable" than others... when adulterers are prevented from serving in the military and marrying whomever they choose based solely upon their "sin", perhaps it will ring true... for now? Not so much...

    October 29, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Bart, Houston, Texas

    For those who want to keep espousing there Godly beliefs about homosexuality, remember this: While the United States of America may have been founded on religious beliefs, it was also founded on freedom of religion. Which means that even the biggest athiest, not to mention homosexual, is entitled to their rights as an American. I think the reason the gay movement has gotten so big is because so many straight conservatives have forgotten this. They're so busy trying to deny basic American rights to people they hate (while trying to claim to be Christians at the same time), that they don't realize that they're fueling their own fire. And since when did God, or Jesus, give a Christian, or anyone else, the right to force his word onto people?

    Granted, we need laws to deal with those who bring undo harm to people. But what two consenting adults do with each other is between them, and God. And no, they are not the ones destroying the morality of this country.

    October 29, 2007 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. Lucille Bell Maywood Illinois

    Why do the homosexual community always have to make a statement. When pastor preach about liars, murders, adulters, fornicators,etc . You don't hear them telling politians you have to seperate yourself from that preacher. We liars are not going to support you because we are offend that he said we are sinning and going to hell for lying. And the same thing for other sinners that God speaks about in the bible. Murders, theives, fornicators, & adulters. But the attention they seek goes along with the spirit that has attached itself to this sin. I hope obama knows that what God has for him is for him and no group of lobbist or anyone else will be able to stop it.

    October 29, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Gregory Randolph, Erie WI

    I fell that the Gay and Lesbian comunity needs to back off and stay out of politics, just the same as religious entities need to stay out of politics. What people do behind the closed doors of a church or thier bedroom, is thier own business. Sin is Sin, and is does not matter if is a tolerated issues.
    I do not discriminate, I have many friends who are homosexuals, and of varying religions and races. I do not preach to anyone that you must become straight or convert, It is however a CHOICE that can be made, just as Love or fiendship is a Choice to be made. Be it concious or subconcious YOU make the choices that promote or deny these things.
    Just as you must be stong of mind to maintain a marriage, you must be stong of mind to remove yourselves from sin. If you choose to be or do, Love or otherwise, it will become you.

    October 29, 2007 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Dave, Ks KS

    But if your homosexual – isnt that the way God made you ? So not being gay- is against gods wishes ? – maybe he is predestined for hell anyway. – Gee- isnt religon retarded? Obama would say he's gay if the majority of the voters were gay.

    October 29, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. niftyjwn, seymour, tn

    for those of you who don't get it, i know you still won't after this, but i have to say your arguments against the intolerance of your intolerance is so pathetically stupid and ridiculous that you should really just bite your ignorant tongues. why is it so often so impossible to educate the so ignorant? anyone should be able to see that knowledge makes apparent what religion's blind faith distorts for its own selfish purposes. may you truly understand someday.

    October 29, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. J.Crobuzon

    "The Reverend says Christ is love but he still comes in the back door"

    Stop, you're killing me. It's like Open Mike Night at the asylum.

    October 29, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Angela, Alexandria, VA

    Aren't there more serious issues we should be discussing? To gays: get over it, there will always be people that don't like you. To the anti-gays: why the heck do you care about 2 people that want to be with each other? Geez, get a life!

    October 29, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. Rodney Dallas TX

    All you folks living your lives based on the bible are really gonna regret it when you die and that's the end of it. There is no eternal home waiting for you. (If you could think after you die, you'd probably be thinking you wasted your entire life on a fictional book) I read the book cinderella and I know for a fact, (because the book says so) that a pumpkin will turn into a coach. Mice will turn into horses and dogs will turn into coachman. Why are you laughing, a book said it happened so it must be true!

    October 29, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Let both sides of this venomous debate show a little compassion for Rev McClurkin. He apparently has had homosexual fantasies (who doesn't?) and perhaps some homosexual contacts if not relationships – though that is really none of our business. Unfortuntately for him, he also believes that God condemns homosexuals to Hell. Millions of Americans have pretty much the same opinion. It would be a difficult thing to want one thing more than any other (we all know how intense sexual desire can be), but to also believe that an infinity of unending torture would be his fate if he yielded to temptation. I can imagine the guilt and shame that the poor man has endured.

    Let us imagine a future science fiction society in which reproduction was achieved in laboratory vats and sex between men and women was forbidden by law and anyone practicing it would be imprisoned and then shunned for life, much as pedaphiles are now. I don't know if I would make it through my entire adulthood without hitting on some good-looking, sweet-smelling, smart-thinking, irresistable woman (of whom millions are walking around me all the time).

    If this man says he has conquered his demons, so what? Does his vision of human nature differ from ours? Maybe. Is his theology different than ours? Maybe.

    Everyone who posts to this list has assured us of his or her tolerant nature, but if that is tolerance then I don't want any of it myself. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, "If this is coffee, bring me some tea. If this is tea, bring me some coffee."

    October 29, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Bart, Houston, Texas

    Dear Lucille Bell, I think the reason gays to don't keep their mouths shut is because unlike theives, rapist, and murderers, we're just honest, law abiding (notice the big difference there) Americans trying to live out our lives openly, and without persecution. And to be constantly hammered in public (even if not personally, by name) is just too much to just sit by and let it happen.

    Also, be careful in judging Obama. Because afterall, do you think that you're hatred of homosexuals is going to get you into Heaven?

    If you hadn't tried to compare the gripes of homosexuals to the non-gripes of murderers, theives, etc., I wouldn't had responded to your post. But there is big difference between being Gay, and being say, Charles Manson.

    October 29, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. MJ, Houston, TX

    Yeah, right. It's only a matter of time before we hear about this guy having a "wide stance" in a public bathroom somewhere...

    October 29, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. Gabe Martinez, Lakewood, Colorado

    As a former right-wing evangelical who battled my homosexuality for years within the church, I can truly say that McClurkin does not know what he is talking about! YOU CAN'T CHANGE! IT'S NOT A CHOICE! If he has been "delivered" as he says, he was never Gay to begin with. If he is Gay, give it time because he will eventually go the way of Foley, Haggards and yes, Larry Craig. Stay tuned. And as for Obama, his insensitivity towards the gay community is astounding and I will no longer support him!

    October 29, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. John McGurkin, LaCross WI

    Perhaps if the Homosexual comunity would stop shoving themselves into the populations face, there would be more tolerance. I for one cannot stand seeing two same sex people being afectionate in public, Just as most people cannot stand watching a hetro sexualcouple be affectionate. The addage of Get a Room actually bears truth in the matter.
    I am against Gay marriages, as a marriage is for couples who have a remote chance of bearing the fruit of a family. But a civil union is fine, Gays should be penalized for loving just like hetrosexuals. I have been reconsidering my views for a long time, but still come to the same conclusion, If you must be gay, at least you can't procreate. Now go back to your rooms...

    October 29, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. Signed - HIS Biggest FAN


    October 29, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. shannon shiflett, charlottesville, virginia

    this is just a way for mcclurkin to come out of the closet and feel safe that his homophobic friends and fans won't disown him. all he's saying is, "i'm gay" and now if he gets caught, he'll have their sympathy rather than their wrath. it's not a noble way at all to conduct your true nature.

    October 29, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Ron, Savannah, Georgia

    Keep religion out of politics, period! Your religious views do not dictate the policies of this government. And for Obama to invite McClurkin is like a Jew inviting Hitler to dinner. Furthermore, all you religous nutjobs: You do not get to "hate the sin and not the sinner." You do not have the right to separate those parts of anyone anymore than someone separating "you" from your like of religion.

    October 29, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. Pickles, Monaca, PA

    I'm glad I was a Christian before the Bible-thumping hate-mongers came out of the woodwork. Nothing in their vindictive and bigoted diatribe could have convinced me of the love, mercy and salvation that are found in Jesus Christ and His message.

    October 29, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  19. Virgin, Fort Worth, TX

    Pastor McClurkin's comments is supported by all born again believers in the Nations not just African Americans, Not only in America but world wide. If God before you Pastor Donnie, and I know God is for you standing on his word; who can win against you!!! People God loves the sinner, God loves the homosexual, and has made a plan for you to be free. You have a choice whether you want to be free, and if Pastor McClurkin chooses to be free through Christ, why are you hating on him. Focus on the election and what Obama can do for our nation.

    October 29, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    Jeez, you bible thumpers are just plain ignorant. I will never understand why you focus with laser like precision on someone's sexual orientation. The bible speaks more about social justice and poverty issues than homosexuality, but when was the last time you harped on that?

    The LGBT community has every right to be upset by this re-closeted pastor's statements. Bigotry in any form MUST not be tolerated. If this man had made statements about a particular race or religion not being up to par, there would have been an uproar about it.

    If the man wants to slink back into the closet, that is fine, but he doesn't have the right to encourage hateful attitudes and bigotry towards the rest of the LGBT community.

    The American Taliban Bible Thumper League would get along well with the zealots in Iran as they share the same disdain for gays.

    October 29, 2007 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  21. Chuck Palm Springs CA

    This is Senator Obama’s John McCain moment and end of his Presidential bid.

    I was a strong supporter of Senator Obaman until he embraced Rev. Donnie McClurkin in a manner similar to Senator McCain’s embrace of Jerry Falwell.

    You can’t be on both sides of an issue. You have to make a stand and support it. I thought the Senator was this man after having read his book “Audacity of Hope” but realize he is just like every other politician pandering to whims and prejudice.

    My vote will now go to Senator Clinton.

    October 29, 2007 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  22. Mike, Staten Island, NY

    The only sin against God is to speak for Him, as in "God wills this or that" (even if we are quoting the Bible).

    For me, that is what really uses the Name in vain. How can anyone know the will of God? Because it's preached or printed in a book?

    All the real sins are against our brothers & sisters.

    October 29, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  23. Kim, Peabody MA

    CNN keeps Censoring the Truth! 8th Post that has been censored by the Liberal Left !!

    I applaud Rev. Donnie McClurkin for his courage to profess his Deliverance from Homosexuality! Amen and AMEN!

    Sin has a consequence that ALL should be aware of...

    Read Carefully: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?id=28434

    For the Censors at CNN, Stop the hypocrisy! This is a forum of supporting and apposing views – which should NOT be bridled!

    October 29, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  24. pat huntington ny

    I am sick of blacks saying to gays don't compare our discrmination to yours. As though blacks have some kind of monopoly on discrimination. Yes, you were enslaved, and endured jim crow. BUT discrimination against gays is thousands of years older than racial discrimination in this country. And gays were and continue to be killed for who they are genetically. So, perhaps our's plight is indeed more dire than what's happened to blacks…so perhaps the comparison isn't warranted…but that's so not because blacks have been treated worse, but because gays have been and continue to be treated worse.

    October 29, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  25. pamela, decorah, iowa

    I do not believe that McClurkin's inclusion in this concert was some Rove-like strategy to court black voters because prior to this incident
    the African American community viewed McClurkin as a great gospel singer not a symbol of anti-gay sentiment. I support Senator Obama, but I would not have included McClurkin in the concert. However, when I am campaigning here in Iowa, I always tell people that I may not agree with everything Senator Obama does, but I trust him as a leader who can bring our nation together.

    October 29, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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