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. Antonio, Tempe AZ

    I'm don't believe in a Christian/Muslim god in the same way I don't believe there is an invisible elephant living in my backyard. However, let's put homosexuality into perspective for you religious types.

    Here are the 7 deadly sins

    lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride

    homosexuality doesn't make the list. I don't see any organized Biblical campaigns against any of these except for maybe Huckabee's fitness statements as pertain to gluttony.

    Homosexuality is #11 in the 70 Major sins in Islam after

    1. Associating anything with Allah
    2. Murder
    3. Practicing magic
    4. Not praying
    5. Not paying Zakat
    6. Not fasting on a Day of Ramadan without excuse
    7. Not performing Hajj while able to do so
    8. Disrespect to parents
    9. Abandoning relatives
    10. Fornication and Adultery

    So if you're a magic-practicing homosexual who doesn't pray, pay Zakat, go on Hajj or fast while disrespecting your parents and abandoning relatives then homosexuality is the least of your worries Islam-wise.

    Why don't we here more uplifting accounts on God saving people from sloth. Hopefully that would get most us out of the forums and being productive in the real world, respecting our parents and not practicing magic.

    October 29, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  2. Lois McGrory Holland, Michigan

    Why is it that so called 'Christians' always run like scared rabbits when some very succinct questions are posed them?

    They just find it impossible to answer without quoting some 'babblical' passages.

    Grow up and start using your OWN brains.

    Explain what 'god' is ...........hint...its not a man or woman .......its a LAW. The Buddhist Law of Simultaneous Cause and Effect.

    What goes around comes around.

    And if your country continues to kill other human beings for nothing your whole country is going to suffer some very severe karmic retribution.

    YOU can pray to your Jayzus all day long and it won't change a thing,,,,why> Becuase its a BS fairytale story.

    October 29, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  3. CEE

    Homosexuality is a choice caused by a mental dificiency. Any homosexual who thinks otherwise was born with a birth defect. While he may know how to balance his checkbook, he is just as abnormal as a person with Downs Syndrome. Downs persons are not given custody of children. Neither should homosexuals be given custody of same.

    October 29, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. L. Smith

    This will be great to watch!

    If Obama supports McCurkin's comments, that homosexuality is a choice (AKA, "a sin")–ahem, for the sake of getting votes from the "74 percent of South Carolina African-Americans [who] believe homosexuality is unacceptable," then Obama has lost my vote...and countless others!

    Hmmmm, let me remind you of the huge percent of South Carolina whites who thought slavery was fine!

    Sheesh! Any intelligent human being knows that homosexuality is not a choice, anymore than choosing the color of your skin!

    October 29, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    it boils down to: are you a christian of the old or new testament? if you follow the latter then you'll understand that jesus loves you. period. if the former, then you'll certainly have battles before you as you will continually search for 'healing' and unfortunately, will never find.

    October 29, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. Paul in Alexandria, VA

    I am a straight white man but have believed instinctively, since I was a young man, that sexuality is not a choice. As an adult I realized that those that think sexuality is a choice do so out of a need to rationalize what they have been taught by religion – or by others – and have long believed.

    Amazingly, black people were long considered less than human in our nation and entitled to less than human treatment that included slavery, lynching, and segregation. There were no doubt many who found justification for that treatment in their holy books.

    Unfortunately, there are still many Americans, white, black and others, who find justification in religion for treating the GLBT community as less than human.

    The primary example of this is the issue of Gay marriage. Marriage is both religious and civil. The civil portion grants a great many rights and benefits. For government to deny a civil right to members of the GLBT community would violate America's commitment to equal justice under the law.

    It is very disappointing that none of the major candidates for President of the United States has the courage to stand up for equal justice under the law in this matter. Unfortunately, there are still not a majority of Americans who accept that either and politicians want to win.

    Barack Obama really does represent change. He is change. It cannot be ignored that his being an African American would, in and of itself, be a message of change in America and throughout the world.

    Hillary, being a woman, also offers change but it doesn't feel as revolutionary because we have already experienced what she and Bill have been like in the White House, so there is not the usual fear of the unknown that normally accompanies change and accompanies Barack's campaign.

    Still, change on this matter can only come when society is ready and that requires society to talk, like on this thread, and reconsider its past positions.

    That brings me to the current controversy. If every candidate must vet every supporter for all their views before accepting their support, candidates will have little time for anything else.

    What is important is what the candidate believes and he has made his views clear. Unlike Ronald Reagan, who sought the support of segregationists with code terms like "state's rights," Barack has left no doubt that he believes that sexuality is not a choice.

    Given that, and given the reality that America is still evolving on this subject, we should applaud Barack's stance, speak up for what we believe is right, and give both him and/or Hillary an electorate they can lead forward.

    October 29, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. Dr Atomic

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster just told me that McClurkin is still gay.

    He didn't tell me how He knew, and I didn't ask Him.

    October 29, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. Sally H., New York, NY

    my mother and i met hillary at grand central, years ago, when she was campaigning for senator – the thing i remember most was that she didn't allow her security detail to be anywhere close to her – so when people came from the street [the backside of the station] once you walk right in, she was RIGHT there to shake your hand – she's actually beautiful in person – on pictures she appears wrinkled and cracked .. not the case, very elegant and poised woman. so, we go to shake her hand and she has this utter sad/weary countenance but yet very lively – she touched my heart that day – i never cared much for her before but after that moment i can understand what a heavy burden she'll be carrying if she should be elected but am certain she is the one to get things in somewhat, back to shape, in the u.s. she's a woman so she's sensitive to many things but stern enough to rule – plus, her hubby can help her out with restoring the economy as it was when he was in office – hence why all women should vote for her 🙂 Obama just rubs me the wrong way. He looks like he will fire any and everyone that may disagree with him – he just looks volitile – plus, he supports Donnie whom I absolutely LOATH so, it's quite clear who I'm not voting for. Anyway, with all this gay this and that, I think the best thought for anything in life is "do you" don't bother about personal choices of others, you'll only have yours to account for ... everyone stay blessed

    October 29, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Antonio, Swartz Creek, Michigan

    Homosexuality is not a choice. You can choose not to have sex, but the attraction is not a choice. I am particularly saddened that the black community – in large numbers – continues to justify their ignorance and bigotry toward the gay community with a bible that has so often throughout history been used to justify discrimination and bigotry toward them – from Slavery to black and white marriage, for example. It is not okay to say, "love the sinner – hate the sin" anymore than it would be justifiable for me to say love the black man – hate the fact that he married a white woman. Stop using the bible to justify ignorance! When the oppressed become the oppressor it is not progress.

    October 29, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. Mark, Brooklyn, New York

    The quote: "Love the sinner, hate the sin", was actually made by Gandhi and is nowhere found in the Bible.

    But yes, the Bible instructs Christians in that we should love our neighbor despite whatever they may think, say or do in life. The Bible teaches us that the Christian should love others because of God's love toward us.

    And the fact remains that homosexuality is a sin, that tends to be controversial and frowned upon by our American culture yet it remains true nonetheless. Unlike many would have us to believe there are such things as truth in life. This just happens to be true as well. Whether or not the culture agrees with it, whether or not naysayers may believe it is inconsequential.

    October 29, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. sfnirvana, San Francisco, CA

    It’s rather ironic that people who often suffer the most from bigotry and prejudice turn out to be the most bigoted and intolerant. It’s been my experience that black Americans are the most xenophobic, homophobic, and intolerant group of people that I have come across since living in this country. So it does not surprise me that Obama does not find offensive to associate himself with that “Rev” McClurkin – incidentally, I am a black guy.

    October 29, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Doug Robinson, New York, NY

    As a very proud African-American gay man, I was deeply sadden and appalled by singer Donny McClurkin comments about our sexual identity. I do not believe that being gay is a choice as the singer has stated. He is however a fine example of the work that all of us must continue to do in educating those who are misinformed and/or use the bible as a weapon against us.

    Regarding the Obama campaign, I continue to stand by him with my campaign contributions and will definitely vote for him in the primary.

    The most important matter for me is to remove the Republicans from the Whitehouse and bring back a moderate to progressive leadership to America.

    God bless our troops who SHOULD NOT be in Iraq. May they be safe from harm. God bless our America!

    October 29, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Paul, Bridgewater NJ

    Reasonable people understand that Obama is caught in a political firestorm. He wants to appeal to the gay vote and yet realizes his bigger voting audience are the evangelicals, most of whom think homosexuality is immoral. In the same way, Donnie McClurkin must speak the same language of his ardent supporters. Otherwise both Obama and McClurkin will lose their popularity and fame. So I suspect that neither is truly speaking from their hearts but simply telling the majority what they want to hear. Isn't life "safer" that way? The most courageous in this world stand up for what they believe in and usually fall from grace for doing the right thing.

    October 29, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  14. G, North Hollyood, CA

    If McClurkin was indeed delivered from a life of homosexuality, why is it necessary to make this public? If he believes that God loves all, then let gay men and lesbians celebrate their lives, peacefully and with all the rights that heterosexuals enjoy. The truth is that McClurkin doesn't think that homosexuality is natural, he thinks it is a sin. And that is why we, progressive types gay and straight, find it objectionable that Obama would ask him to participate in one of his events. It doesn't matter if Oprah introduced him to Obama or not. Obama has failed in keeping McClurkin on the bill. He has failed miserably. Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality. If it were a choice, you wouldn't need God to deliver you from it.

    October 29, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. markie obrien, traversre city michigan

    well, guess we'll just have to wait for that email or text message from jesus telling us what is the correct point of view. oh that's right, jesus can only whisper in peeps ears and his dad was only skilled at inscribing stone tablets. maybe the holy ghost is computer literate???

    October 29, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. bobsommers, chicago, IL

    ..."74 percent of South Carolina African-Americans believe homosexuality is "unacceptable."

    These people are bigots, pure and simple. The same as if someone said black people are "unacceptable."

    October 29, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Corrie Gillikin, Harkers Island, NC

    I Was A Supporter Of Mr. Obama, Until This Past Weekend's Fiasco With Mr. Donnie McClurkin, I Have Seen Mr. McClurkin In Concert & Thought He Was Gay, But I Didn't Knows What His Views Were On Homosexually. If I Had, I Would Have Never Gone To See Him. I Was Born & Raised In "The Bible Belt" & Have Heard All The Retoric He Spouts, But I Know First-Hand That It Isn't True. I Was Born Homosexual, Certainly Never Chose It & I Truly Believe It Is As Much A Part Of Me, As My Eye Or Hair Color. I Will Be Voting Hopefully For Hillary Clinton Now!!

    October 29, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. Joe, Boston, MA

    It seems Barak's "people" are making a very big mistake in letting this bigot join in on his campaign. It's true that he may gain the black conservative fundamentalist vote – but when this story becomes more mainstream he can probably say goodbye to the majority of the gay vote and those who support him – I really don't care since Hillary is the best candidate anyway. Also, since we are talking about the infallability of the bible – please make sure that you let the believers know that the bible also condones slavery, separation of the races and stoning adulters. By the way, it's probably a good idea to boycott Oprah too! Let the gay voice be heard and stop being so politically correct.

    October 29, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  19. K

    gay is still unacceptable? really? and i'm supposed to be tolerant towards intolerance. sorry, the whole because it's in the bible isn't good enough for me. how come christians can't figure out jesus's message? live and let live. don't worry christians. I'll not only pray to God and Jesus for you, but also pray to Buddha, Vishnu, and Allah for you. you're gonna need as much help as possible.

    October 29, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  20. Cecile H. Boothwyn PA 19061

    I really don't know why the media makes such a big deal about comments regarding gays and lesbians. I do believe that homosexuality is a choice because God did not create us to be with a same sex partner and the Bible strongly prohibited such union(lev18:22). If being homosexual is not a choice then the Bible itself will not be credible, and we know It is. As human being, we all have rights but it seems that homosexuals have the right to expres their feeling and it is ok but as soon as hetero people say something it is viewed as discrimination why? Does the world forget what freedom of speech and equality for all mean? I would like to know America's position on the subject.

    October 29, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  21. James - St. Paul, MN

    I cannot vouch for every specific religious, social, cultural, or moral belief of those persons I choose to call my friends. For the same reason, I find it silly and more than a bit ridiculous to demand that every politician cleanse him or herself of supporters that do not match my personal belief system. This entire argument is surreal....and I strongly suspect it is being stirred up by the Clinton camp for their own self-serving reasons.

    October 29, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  22. Mark Anton, Dallas, TEXAS

    I agree with Rev. McClurkin's views, and rejoice in his own personal testimony of God's ability to heal and change lives. God does not only deliver homosexuals that want to change, but also habitual liars, thieves, alcoholics and the list goes on. There are no limits to where the love and grace of God can reach.

    I don't see why Gay activists always point a finger at those who have been delivered out of the lifestyle- by accusing them either of bigotry or being insincere.

    I TOO, was delivered out of it by the mighty hand of God. There was nothing Gay or happy about my experience in it, and I am glad that now 20 years later like Rev. McClurkin I too serve God completely free from the bondage of that particular choice.

    I see nothing Homophobic about Rev. McClurkin's statements quite the contrary- He is a tender hearted and sincere individual who can identify with the pain, isolation and anguish of many who are still trapped in the "lifestyle".

    I too believe it's a choice, in the same way that no-one is born with a cigarette in their mouth. On the contrary- those who have experienced the pain of the gay life- are even better qualified to speak of God's amazing power to deliver a person out of it because you've walked along the same path.

    In my view, it is no reflection on Sen. Obama- that he allowed Rev. McClurkin to take part in the concert. Regardless of your views about the issue, Rev. McClurkin is a very talented and gifted performer, who has an ability to bring healing, encouragement and much joy through the power of Song. Why deny the audience an opportunity to be so wonderfully blessed?.

    October 29, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. Zach

    Umm all you people out that are saying this guy change's your view because Obama believe's in this, Well we all have our flaw's don't we none of us is perfect. That guy need's to cut the religion stuff ok. No one care's about religion anymore he's running to be president not the pope so who care's what this guy has to say about religion anyway hje is just trying to make himself look important. Obama is the right guy just give him a chance you would know if you listen too him

    October 29, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  24. Former Anti-Racist Now I am a Happy Racist

    I once was anti-racist. But god, the republicans and the evangelical churches - especially the southern baptist church and the KKK showed me the error of my ways.

    They cured me from my anti-racist, pro-social 'justice for all' urges. Now I can do the easy thing and not worry about whether african americans and people of color ever receive equal justice and equality of rights because God has decided for me that RACISM IS GOOD in the same way that HOMOPHOBIA IS GOOD since it comes directly from God (and the Republican Party, and now from Obama).

    Now I am delivered from no longer being a bigot - I am a racist bigot just as god and the republican party and Obama intended.

    Hallelujah, praise jesus and pass the ammunition.

    Just sign me: Former Anti-Racist Now I am a Happy Racist the Way God Intended Me to Be

    October 29, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. John, Napa, CA

    God delivered me from the dark mind of the religious zealot who would claim to speak for all of His creation. God delivered me from having to choose between those who are different from me and those who see the world in a different light. God delivered me from a life of separatation and lies perpetrated by divisive and deceptive interpretations of Scripture carefully and deviously manipulated by fear mongerers and charlatans. God delivered me and gave me the opportunity to embrace happiness and joy in life. I am still homosexual and I thank God for it. It is a gift not an abomination.

    October 29, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
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