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. Ricardo, NY, NY

    Homosexuality is not a choice!!!! Why would anyone choose to be gay? Do heterosexuals choose to be straight? Instead of praying for us sinners, McClurkin should pray he doesn't get arrested in a bathroom stall.

    October 29, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  2. Brad Willis, Los Angeles, CA

    Did it ever occur to any of you who denounce homosexuals and homosexuality that Christ's message was one of love and acceptance, not judgement and hatred? In fact, Christ never said one thing about homosexuality. Not one thing.

    And do any of you remember that passage in the Bible, Mormon 8:20? It reads "...man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgement is mine, saith the Lord..."

    Just thought I'd remind all of you.

    October 29, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. AJ, Chicago IL

    The power of the Media! It is amazing at how many comments have been issued on this issue. Why does the major Gay Organizations come out so strongly against Donnie M. and Barack O.? McClurkin simply stated his opinion and his own personal testament involving homosexuality. I believe based on my experience that many heterosexual people believe homosexuality is a choice. Somehow we in America are afraid to openly speak about the power of choice in all aspects of our lives. I applaud McClurkin's openness (as a man of faith) in letting his views be known and Obama should not have to disavow McClurkin's opinions as his own.

    October 29, 2007 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Unicorns-do-exist

    YOU SHEEETED: "People are born perverted – true. People are even born idiots – true dat. But people being born homosexual is like saying unicorns exist! Get real – sexual orientation – is a choice.
    Posted By Unicorns-dont-exist! : October 29, 2007 9:21 am "

    by that logic we can now safely assert, by the contradiction below, that one IS born gay

    Deuteronomy 33:17 (King James Version)

    17His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

    October 29, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. b-rocks New York, NY

    I've been active with the gay rights movement for years, so I know what I am talking about.

    It is downright impossible for a presidential candidate to win the general election without at least some votes from anti-gay people.

    If something thinks I am wrong, please show me some polling results that show otherwise.

    What does Hillary plan to do next fall? Should she say that if you don't support gay people, than I don't want your vote? If she actually says that, I will support her. She probably won't though, and I wouldn't expect her to.

    October 29, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. Kim, Peabody MA

    The message of LOVE you refer to also is a message of obedience. You cannot have one without the other. In Ephesians 5:11, it states, "Have Nothing to do with the doers of iniquity but rather EXPOSE them". The reason is not to judge but to expose the sin.

    Without the truth, there is NO Conviction.
    Without Conviction there is no Repentance.
    Without Repentance there is no Reconciliation.
    Without Reconciliation there is no SALVATION.

    So tell me, who is the one showing Christ’s Love. The one ignoring those trapped in sin OR the one trying to rescue them from an eternity separated from GOD???


    October 29, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. August, Los Angeles, CA

    The whole CHOICE arguement is absurd.

    Who the heck whould CHOOSE to be hated, discriminated against, have less civil rights, be unable to marry, have few laws to protect them, to sometimes be cut off by family or friends, unwelcome in their church community, to serve in the military and be maimed or injured yet be dishonrably discharged when you declare who you are...and to hear the kind of rhetoric that is all over this blog.

    No gay or lesbian person I know made the "choice" to be gay. The only "choice" they made was to come out – and face all the obstaceles I've mentioned above. Humbley, I believe it is one courageous and honest choice.

    October 29, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. John, St. Paul, MN

    Senator Obama is the same as all other modern day politicians. They rely on pundits and pollsters to find out where everyone wants to go, then they campaign to drive the bus.

    Not since Bobby Kennedy has this country produced a leader who truly wants to LEAD. Our 2008 choices for leader of the free world once again boil down to trying to figure out who is the best bus driver. Obama may have moved closer to the front of the bus in a lot of people's minds because of his pandering to anti-gay Christians, but at the end of the day, he's just a candidate for bus driver.

    October 29, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Stephen, New York, NY

    I hate to add to the generalizations here, but: Why does the African American community seem to be so homophobic?

    All this homophobia does is keep black (and other) gay people in the closet and lowers their self-esteem. Only an extremely self-loathing man would say something as moronic and impossible as, "I've been cured of homosexuality."

    Homophobes claim that gay people are "hurting God"; but by actively speaking out against gay people they are hurting other actual people! It amazes me that they miss the irony here. It's about as ironic as pro-lifers who won't even back a children's healthcare bill.

    Homosexuality is not a choice, for the most part. And everyone knows and possibly loves a gay person, whether they know it or not.

    October 29, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Show Time


    "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.

    Posted By J.Crobuzon : October 29, 2007 12:48 pm

    October 29, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. Joe King


    October 29, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. From HIS Biggest Fan! : )

    McClurkin for President!

    October 29, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. Paul C

    I personally don't believe it, but if this worked FOR HIM and he's not putting others down, what is the issue?

    Sexuality is a deeply personal issue no matter where you fall on the spectrum. Why is it our business what he's doing??

    People need to stop judging just to make your case stronger. If it worked for him, fine. Let it be and stop putting your beliefs in the front of the line...

    October 29, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. Cleveland, Ohio

    Because of this event, I NO LONGER SUPPORT BARACK OBAMA. He is a two-faced liar to the GLBT community and should NOT be trusted.

    October 29, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. Paul, New York, NY

    I personally don't believe it, but if this worked FOR HIM and he's not putting others down, what is the issue?

    Sexuality is a deeply personal issue no matter where you fall on the spectrum. Why is it our business what he's doing??

    People need to stop judging just to make your case stronger. If it worked for him, fine. Let it be and stop putting your beliefs in the front of the line...

    October 29, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. Leslie, Detroit, MI

    Since so many here believe (as though they have PROOF) that one's sexuality is a choice, tell me ... when do you CHOOSE to be a heterosexual?

    October 29, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Ricardo, NY –

    You have taken it a bit to far with your perverted sense of humor – that is not funny! Actually it attest to your ignorance!

    October 29, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. Lois McGrory

    This so called "Reverend" is just like most of the charlatans that fleece the flock.

    They are preachers because is an easy buck.......they are in fact EVIL.

    Tax all these scum and I am also fed up with warmongering Christians that worry about fetuses but could care less about human beings who have actually been born.

    Listen up you idiot American Christiands.....if your Jesus is coming back he will going to be highley ticked off.

    October 29, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. Joey, Des Moines, IA

    there are a lot of things to consider here. one, McClurkin seems (seemed) bi-curious more than anything. who's to say he doesn't still feel those desires or even act on them in private. he wouldn't be the first "man of the cloth" to lie about it.
    second, it has been proven that homosexuality is not a choice, it's genetic. no matter how much you pray it will still be there.
    third, not everything in the bible is the direct word of God. in the ancient world they used the fear of God to make people stop having sex with animals and the same sex among other things. man put these such rules in the book of God. to take the literal word in a book full of parables and written by man is irresponsible. besides, who are any of us to judge someone. it's up to that person and God. third parties are out of the picture.

    October 29, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Killswitch667, Johnson City, TN

    "The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your babel fish.
    Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as final clinching proof of the nonexistence of God.
    The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing." "but," says man, "the babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED"
    "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
    "Proof denies faith," anything that proof can deny is unreal and unfounded. I know this is from a work of fiction, but as a literature scholar, the bible, the koran and any other religious text is too. c'mon, we stop believing in Santa when we reach the supposed age of rationality. Why can't we move past the guy in the sky who will hate you forever if you do what he made you to do? Again I say... "GROW UP!"

    October 29, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. Ellen, Emeryville, CA

    So I assume McClurkin chose to have these gay feelings in the first place?

    October 29, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Ace, Grand Rapids, MI

    Here are my two cents! If you feel like you have to tell everybody that you are ok or "cured" you most likely really arent!!

    October 29, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. MaryAnn Jackman, Nashville TN

    McClurkin's insistence that homosexuality is a choice makes my stomach turn. I have been hearing that lie for nearly 70 years now, and I've had enough. Right, it's a choice, like having blue eyes is a choice, or being left handed. They actually used to punish kids in school for writing with their left hands! There is no sin in being who you were born. No one has a right to an opinion, pro or con, about anyone else's innate reality. That, in my opinion, is the real sin, because it justifies hate in the name of religion and endangers people's lives. Mine, for instance.
    Maybe Mr. McClurkin can repress his feelings, but if he truly had been gay, so long as he does so he will never have an authentic love relationship with another human being. And I do I mean love, not sex.
    People think being gay is all about having sex, but it is not. There would still be gay people if sex didn't even exist. Gay people can't form deep affectional ties with the opposite sex in the way that straight people can. It is a very complex issue. It is certainly not a choice or a sin, and passing misinformation and lies about it is certainly not a virtue.
    Promoting this kind of dangerous nonsense to get votes makes it clear to me that Obama would make equally poor choices in the name of expedience as president. Ignorance is not bliss, it's destructive and dangerous.

    October 29, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Adam, Philadelphia, PA

    For those telling gay people to "stay out of politics" or to "get over it–not everyone is going to like you," I'd be glad to. Show me equal rights and leave me and my partner in peace, and I will get over it. It's not my choice to continue this fight; it's my obligation. Hate me all you want. News flash: I don't care. As long as you don't physically hurt me or my family, you can talk about me and my "sin" all you like. You don't have to accept me, because you know what? I don't accept your fairy tales. The difference is that my government has imposed your warped agenda on me, a law-abiding and tax-paying citizen, and it has forced me and my allies to fight back. Justice will prevail and you are bound to lose. So YOU go away.

    October 29, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. Bob

    I am a Gay Senior guy who grw up when segregation was accepted and justified as God's Way & Plan. The Bible was oft used to justify this with cpius quotes that "slaves shoudl obey their master" and others. Now the black community is returning the favor with its homophobia. If gay is wrong, so are laws against slavery and misengenation. Either accept the whole bible or none.

    October 29, 2007 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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