October 29th, 2007
09:15 AM ET
2 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. Randy | New York, NY

    This is what I don't understand. If you feel that I have to respect your beliefs when you say that homosexuality is a choice or a sin, then why don't you have to respect my belief that you're full of it?

    You're free to believe whatever you want, but don't take away my right to think that you are wrong. Especially when it has such a distinct bearing on MY life.

    October 29, 2007 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Ace, Grand Rapids, MI

    All of this kinda reminds me of something! I remember reading somewhere how they picked 20 heterosexual guys. 10 with negative views on homosexuality and homosexuals and 10 who didnt have negative views regarding homosexuals and homosexuality! All of them were shown a gay porn video. What they discovered was that the arousal levels was higher amoung the "homophobes" and much lower amoung those who werent homophobic.

    Something to think about!

    October 29, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. Donald, New York, NY

    I have tolerance for "Bible-Based" morality, what I do not have belief in is the "Pick and Choose Bible-Based Morality" . You either believe in the Bible or you don't, so ridiculous to choose which parts you accept as moral.

    October 29, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. wesley, NYC

    All that is demonstrated here is that any group when give the opportunity can choose bigotry regardless of their race, sexual orientation, etc... It invalidates any claim of racism any homophobic African-American person might claim in that they choose the politics of discrimination just as quickly as any other group. god above else tells us not to judge and not to be a stumbling block to another's faith and yet look at the hate so-called "Christians" endorse.. they will be getting no sympathy from me as long as they embrace the same ideologies that they claim to be the victims of.

    October 29, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. jw, canadian,ok

    Pencil me in as – don't

    October 29, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. Osama Barak PR Managerialistic Man

    That nastah homosechsha-alitay. You trahd spraying it out, you trahd scrubbing it out, you trahd Shout(tm)ing it out. Now, with Missta Donnie, you can paaaaahray it out. Yassuh! I'ma vote fo' Osama Barak 2 tahms.

    October 29, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. Columbus, OH

    Hillary Clinton's campaign spread this story around in hopes that people will forget her support for anti-gay laws and having a homophobic minister in SC on her payroll.

    Hillary Clinton is a two-faced liar!

    October 29, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. Yvon Thivierge, Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada

    McKlurkin has got to be a real liar or hypocrite to say sexual orientation is a choice since he was "forced" into homosexuality when he was raped by one of his family members! Doesn't that sound contradictory and ridiculous to you all? He wasn't even a real homosexual to begin with but a victim of sexual abuse. If neo-cons and other rednecks can't differentiate rape or sexual attack from your basic sexual orientation, you've only got to blame guys like this phoney pastor!

    October 29, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. Z, St. Louis,MO.

    I love how people love to use the
    historical ficiton work they call the
    bible and pick and choose bits to belive.If hey belive it, and are so adament upon enforcing it upon others,
    then why do they not follow it to the letter? Why are they wearing clothing with multiple types of threads, eating
    shellfish and pork and not stoning to death their unruly children? They pick
    and choose and justify and equivocate
    their favorite bits and peices and throw out the rest.How seriously can
    you take any "preacher" who's whole
    livelyhood depends on how good of a
    storytelling show they put on from week to week to get donations to feed
    themselves and their family.They will
    sell anything to keep a roof and food.
    They sell fairy tales for gold.
    There are pleanty of us out here that
    think any attempt to justify an argument using the bible is akin
    to using an Archie Comic to teach
    orbital mechanics..

    October 29, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    There is no voting ballot that tells whether a person is homosexual or in the closet regardless of gender. Who cares if McClurkin was gay and now believes it's a choice, I don't care. What I do care about is our national security, our constitutional rights, the economic future of this country, the war and voting for the right candidate whether republican or democrat without knowing what that individuals sexual preference may be.

    October 29, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Karen/ NY

    I don't think Obama ought to have any preachers in his entourage. The message of tolerance is befogged by this kind of thing. He is pandering to values voters in including this guy and is one more reason why I, straight and Democrat, can't vote for Obama.

    October 29, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Lois McGrory Holland, Michigan

    500 years from now human beings will have figured out that the Buybull is perhaps the biggest piece of crap book every concocted.

    So called Christians even demonize humanism.

    Fact is, true humanism and reason is what will save the human race, not some 'GAWD' or JAYZUS.

    Ask any psychoanalyst and they will tell you some of the biggest neurotics are religion oriented in early life.

    Frankly, I think parents that teach kids the Buybull crap are CHILD ABUSERS.

    October 29, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. Ahmed, Albuquerque, NM

    This is not a profound statement in the world. What type of physical encounters you choose to do is a choice. If you choose to use you individual right and free will to believe in God and the Bible then various sins are spoken of. I choose to look at God's word, logic and common sense and say that opposites are meant to engage physically

    October 29, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. Mike, Middleburg, FL

    Sheesh, the venom from some liberals, even against other Dems, is quite astonishing. "Tolerance" is the by-word, unless you happen to disagree with the politically correct dogma d'jour. Then you're labeled "intolerant" and "divisive". Absurd.

    On another note, being "born gay" doesn't excuse someone from being immoral. Would it be okay to excuse a man from womanizing because he was "born with a high libido"?

    October 29, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. Zack, NJ

    The Obama campaign has the right to schedule McClurkin in for whatever strategic benefit they feel he can bring.

    It was wrong for McClurkin to selfishly and desperately use this opportunity to preach and desperately try to prove to the world that he is "changed".

    Rev. McClurkin, you were invited to sing, not to preach or speak about your personal views. It was wrong for you to take advantage of this opportunity/invitation to showcase your vocal talents to create your own personal forum.

    Furthermore, it is sad that when he spoke those words, the crowd cheered. It shows that our country and citizens still have a long way to go.

    October 29, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  16. Toutwest, San Francisco, CA

    After reading many of the comments I am astounded by how it's still okay to bash gay people. Many have commented taht this issue is stupid...great our issues are stupid. It's sad that many comments are coming from African Americans.

    I will NOT be voting for Obama. I don't know who I am voting for but his complete failure on this issue and his subconscious desire (or idiot staffer whispering in his ear) drive a wedge between the two communities has turned me completely off. Oh and btw I am the kind of supporter who send money and walks precincts.

    October 29, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. David, Dallas Tx

    If you're straight and argue that orientation is a choice.... Do you really love and lust for members of your gender the way you do for members of the opposite gender?

    Newsflash, people. If your inner urges aren’t bi, there’s no choice. Not everyone can find happiness in the arms of either gender. We’re not all bi.

    Rationalizations for prejudices are never pretty. Religious rationalizations are no exception.

    October 29, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. Joel, Pleasanton, CA

    It's interesting how Scripture is used to propagate certain agendas. How convinient that those who site Scripture to condemn homosexuality ignore the fact that racists and segregationists used the same book as an excuse for their bigotry. I appreciate that Obama wants to work with both sides and find common ground, but it's just the same old song.

    October 29, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Virgin,

    Obviously you are in both word and deed – Mr. Obama cannot do anything for this country!

    October 29, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Rex

    Sheesh, the venom from some liberals, even against other Dems, is quite astonishing. "Tolerance" is the by-word, unless you happen to disagree with the politically correct dogma d'jour. Then you're labeled "intolerant" and "divisive". Absurd.

    On another note, being "born gay" doesn't excuse someone from being immoral. Would it be okay to excuse a man from womanizing because he was "born with a high libido"?

    Posted By Mike, Middleburg, FL : October 29, 2007 2:57 pm

    What a stupid comparison! Who are you to choose what's moral or not? How about Poverty,War,Homelessness, disease,47+ million without healht care? I think they seem to be IMMORAL!

    October 29, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    "Would it be okay to excuse a man from womanizing because he was "born with a high libido"?
    – - –
    Ask the "family values" right-wing about why they continue to support Sen. David Vitter, Newt Gingrich, Sen. Henry Hyde, Sen. Larry Craig, mouthpiece Bill O'Reilly, and Ronald Reagan and Fred Thompson who had to marry their pregnant girlfriends.

    October 29, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. John, St. Paul, MN

    For 2000 years the children of Jesus have been lead astray from the message of Jesus by their own false profits and preachers. All for their own financial and political greed.

    They have corrupted his words and his message of hope and peace and love and tolerance to the point that were Jesus himself to re-appear today on earth he would be reviled by Christians. He would be called a "liberal", a "humanist" and a lover of sin. He would eventually be recognized by Christians as the Antichrist himself, and he would once again be crucified for his love.

    What Would Jesus Do? He would start a whole new religion, for the one that bears his name has nothing left to do with him

    October 29, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    WHY ARE WE GIVEN THE OPTION TO POST IF IT WILL ONLY BE CENSORED? CNN EITHER YOU LET US TOTAL AND UTTER FREEDOM OR DELETE THE COMMENTS LINK!

    October 29, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  24. Kimber

    "Homosexuals judge everything by what they do with their sex organs and Obama is letting that behavior channelize his campaign. That is a serious weakness. One point five percent of the population has Obama wrapped around their, uh, finger?"

    Try more like 10%, and it's those who are against homosexuality that make it all about sex. Most homosexuals just want to be loving committed relationships, that yes do involve sex, but are not entirely composed of just that.

    October 29, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  25. racetoinfinity

    People who believe homosexuality is a sin, not an innocent inborn trait are pre-rational, myth believers in a book written by MEN 3,000 – 2,000 years ago, when humanity had not even evolved past slavery. Jesus said not one word on the subject. True spirituality is beyond the literal belief in a book. These medieval beliefs are ruining our country. True spirituality is unconditional love for all people as they were born. It is rational and trans-rational, not myth and dogma bound.

    October 29, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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