October 29th, 2007
09:15 AM ET
3 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. dal, orlando fl

    say goodbye to Obama's candidacy!

    Sorry about ol' Donnie McClurkin's desires of wanting a man in his bed getting in the way, and his self-hatred rearing it's ugly head and the OBAMA camp allowing him the stage at an OBAMA event to spew anti-gay filth. If he want's to do this, as a GAY man, on his own time, great, but to allow it at an OBAMA event tells me there's no way EVER I'd vote for OBAMA now. He might as well say he's a Republican after throwing us to the back of the bus and allowing the stage to be given to a self-hating sanctimonious pig to tell us that we're sinners for being who GOD made us. I don't want to be Donnie before GOD, I'll gladly answer for myself and beg again for my place with the LORD, but I feel nothing but pity for the swine that is Donnie, and his self-hatred being so strong that he has to attack other gay people to make himself feel like he's accomplishing something in his own life – which is trying to erase his being gay.

    You poor sick miserable man.

    October 29, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  2. Anita L, Atlanta, GA

    I was born Jewish, but Ann Coulter would have me "perfected."

    I am gay, but Donnie Mclurkin would have me be "delivered" from myself.

    A few decades ago, my father was rounded up by Nazis for not being perfected. Others my father knew were rounded up by the Nazis for being gay.

    I am new to this country, but I understand it was founded on the principle of religious freedom – freedom to believe and freedom to not believe. I also believe this country was founded on the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    McClurkin can say what he wants; I would fight for his freedom to do so. But by associating him with his campaign, Barak Obama associates himself with McClurkin's views. After all, this was not about supporting McClurkin's First Ammendment Rights, it was about having him represent the Obama Dream for America.

    October 29, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. Faith Cheltenham, NYC, NY

    ThisLoveHasAlwaysExisted
    (originally written for the black community, from an African-american queer)

    Once was a dude named Saul, in the Bible look him up under Paul. Raised Jew, he made it his business to pursue Christians right after Christ died and left for the sky, he even stood by and watched Stephen, the first "official" martyr die.

    But one day on the way to Damascus came a light and the Lord, and he fell to his knees.

    Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?!!!
    I am not a threat to the Jews, I fulfill all you hold true.

    And Saul was struck blind, yet Paul’s sight was restored!
    "... I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy has been found trustworthy."

    Jotted down by the apostle who wrote to Rome and told them to stop sleeping with their own sons, it’s a favorite moment of mine, a time tested version of ultimate conversion, a point I hope will illuminate a true existence of love, finding a way to stop the hate.

    For who can say that gay people today are not by the Lord's mercy, trustworthy?
    Police profiling, infighting, lack of community kindness, straight people’s license to kill, corporate ill will, crystal meth, a new black death…Many of us have LOVED without even picking up the phone to call home. We have wished we would be asked to tell and survived.

    Now, before you get up from your seats and wander away, take a second to consider what change means today, we have internet, millions of books and time to look—seen past sinners become saints: divorcees, Joan of Arc, haters and interracial daters.
    Didn't know that's an abomination to? According to the Bible only 7 or 8 exist...Interracial marriage was one tossed into the mix, women wearing gold jewelry or men's clothing, check. And now we come to… gay sex.

    THAT sex is SO NASTY you say...funny, last time I checked isn't all sex that way? Wasn't your first time a mess of wetness, slapping sounds a mix of pleasure and pain? Isn't all sex the same? Love IS TOO and here we find the righteous and true course. When one loves but cannot say, hey that's my wife after 30 years and many tears... something’s gone horribly wrong, hear?!!! To not be able to say goodbye before you die? To never feel safe and comfortable in school, to be a lil black boy who's breaking all the rules?

    I'm telling you, you know who we are. You seen us as kids, see the parents desperately trying to put back the lid, boys a lil too “sweet” or girls too sour...now you see us behind makeup counters shouting “girl power”, we’re the women on softball teams with 10 up, the drag kings holding court, we’ve also got soldiers in every fort! Some of us even become actors, but please believe that being closeted and queer is totally a factor.

    This Love exists. And biblical examples do too! Coming out to your parents? Another Saul who was never a Paul, once felt deceived by a boy about to be king. I now speak of the union of David and Jonathan, a covenant between two men; a future king and his “best friend”, the son of his biggest enemy? Total queer drama right? Oh sure, yeah maybe they were really just “tight”. But when HIS MAN died, David wept and he cried: “thy love was wonderful, passing the love of women!”.
    Listen to me, David and Jonathan were MORE THAN JUST KIN!
    THIS LOVE EXISTED!

    The past knows this truth, who knows how well, as Brother Huey of the Black Panther Party so eloquently put it, "Quite the contrary, perhaps a homosexual could be the most, revolutionary". They are now never alone as they wait for you: Bayard Rustin who led the March for the Dream with Martin Luther King, Langston Hughes still perched on a crystal stair waiting for YOU to know what it's like to be really disappeared. James Baldwin, up in Giovanni’s room listening to Billie sang queer blues...they turn to tell you this love has always existed.

    All the way back to African times, where there were women warriors and boy wives before Christ came and was battered into our brains. Don’t get me twisted, I’m not dissing Christ or saying we should give ‘em up. I’m just wondering why no one is listening to the son of god crying out to us from our communion cup?
    Love one another! Love one another! Love one another!
    It’s never been a riddle, ain’t no missin jot or tittle.
    He said, I am the vine and you are the branches, so stop leaving your fruit on the tree!

    So sad, that for some black folk an invisible closet has instead been key. And I’m finally here on the other side, finding it locked, kicking it down, and letting you have it; opening your ears to the tragic w\ word magic.

    So speak to your pastors and wonder aloud…ask yourself what to do now. Do it before your son or daughter starts showing the trait and before “your best friend” asks for a date. We can all be delivered if you vote to turn the tide against hate, your voice has much weight so use it and tell others for we are your sons and mothers, brothers and daughters, baby's mamas, sisters, father’s brothers, grandmothers, your baby boys and girls. We are the love that exists.

    It was by the Lord’s Mercy that I was found trustworthy...and hence suffered and suffered, like Paul I was once even beheaded and put back together…all because one day on the way to Damascus came a light and the Lord, and we fell to our knees. I am not a threat to you, I only fulfill all you hold true. I am the love that has always existed.

    October 29, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  4. Mary, Mountain View, CA

    "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."

    Right. Why don't you tell your gay friends that homosexuality is choice, right to their faces? Let's see how many friends you'll have left after that.

    October 29, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. Jenny P., Ogden, UT

    To quote a prominent Evangelical Christian: "When you mix politics and religion, you get politics." The US is NOT a theocracy, and should never become one. We don't want Taliban-like control; we want freedom of religion(s) and thought and speech. The Bible or any other religious scripture is NOT
    the US Constitution. Amen for that!!!

    October 29, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  6. Tony Hammock, Atlanta, GA

    Loving someone of the same gender as oneself is NOT a sin, nor is it a choice. It's a natural and beautiful part of God's diverse creation.

    Being willfully ignorant about gay people, however, IS a choice; and using such ignorance and superstition in the name of God to gain earthly power (fame, political power, wealth, etc.), which both McClurkin and Obama seem to be after, IS a sin.

    October 29, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  7. Buford Blankenshipt

    Well I'm a big ole 700 pound Bush redneck and if Obamasama is gonna start talkin like this boy, then I might be votin for a colored in this election. Buford Blankenship, Florence, SC

    October 29, 2007 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  8. Justin Early

    If prayer delivered McClurkin from "gay thoughts", he wasnt "gay".

    I am gay and was had "straight thoughts".

    I grew into my sexuality.
    End of story.

    October 29, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  9. Todd Johnson Chicago, IL

    YOU"RE STILL GAY! YOU WERE BORN THAT WAY!!!!! It is THE underlying problem among gays and lesbians in the black community today...they can't square their faith with their reality/ sexuality. Trust me, you're not 'cured'. You just need to live truthfully. Your GOD will still love you. You're hurting your family and friends by not being genuine. Get over it and COME OUT!

    October 29, 2007 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. Steve Hubbard

    I thought Obama was an intelligent possibility for change until his strategy of using religion as a basis for meetings. In this time of organized religions, from Muslim to Baptist, causing so much pain and suffering around the world it would make more sense to abandon the gospel meeting campaign.

    October 29, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  11. Jan Dallas Texas

    It's funny to see how some African Americans seem to have have forgotten how religion was used to justify slavery, segregation, bans on interracial marriage, etc.

    I understand that many humans need their silly superstitious beliefs to help them get through life. I just wish they could use these beliefs to do something positive for once.

    October 29, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  12. PAUL , NY, NY

    So many Christians, so few lions.

    October 29, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  13. Zero, Los Angeles, California

    Have to say I agree with w9w0e90e. It's not an issue of tolerance it's an issue of stupidity. As an out homosexual I know where my vote won't be going.

    October 29, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Can anyone really point to a specific example where our society is undermined by gays and lesbians or are you just saying that because that's what you were told to think?

    October 29, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  15. Uma, mpls, MN

    Now people started to see real Obama; he is a religious zealots hunger for power.

    Be wise and say NO TO OBAMA AN OPPORTUNIST POLTICIAN!

    October 29, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  16. jmaya, iowa

    We don't need any religious fanatic in the White HOuse; Mr OBAMA DEPERATE TO GRAB POWER IN ANY FORM!

    BE WISE AND SAY NOT TO OBAMA. NO BUSH LIGHT ANY MORE EITHER AS REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRATE.

    October 29, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  17. Rgr, Chicago Illinois

    I don't know why heterosexuals should have such a negative opinion about homosexuals. I am a homosexual woman and who I am does not have a negative impact on anyone that I consider to be my friends or family.

    My family acknowledges the fact that I displayed signs of being gay at an early age. I am very proud of my parents for having a progressive attitude. They are republican, catholic, and have been married for 27 years. They want their children to be happy. They understand that I did not choose to be homosexual. If my own conservative parents support me and don't have a problem with it, why should people detached from it have influence in how I live my life?

    I have very little to say about this moron (McClurkin). If he wants to go back into the closet, let him. Don't expect me or any other proud gay American to follow him. I am pretty disappointed in Obama. Obama did have my vote prior to reading this story, but I believe that I may have to reconsider.

    Seriously people... the fact that I was BORN homosexual has NO affect on you. It's not like homosexual people are out trying to encourage heterosexual people to "hop the fence." I can understand that some people may not have a good understanding of what it is like to be gay. Maybe it takes the revelation that a family member or a close friend is gay to lead someone to think about it.

    Here's an interesting thought to ponder when it comes to homosexual rights and the government... I pay taxes just like everyone else. Give me equal rights, or reduce the taxes that I have to pay every year. Don't treat me like a citizen at tax time, just to deny me the rights of heterosexuals.

    October 29, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  18. Roy AKA Excalibear Dallas TX

    Speaking as a gay man, I can honestly say that Obama has lost my support. No, it's not because of the opinions that were expressed by Rev McClurkin. In fact I embrace his courage to come forward and speak his mind like he did, despite the fact I disagree with what he says. Because I disagree does not mean I condemn. However, I have lost support for Obama because he smells of Sen. Kerry, a man who is flip flopping on the issues at hand. He wants to unite everyone in peace, yet he is not only pandering to groups just to get their votes, he is also refusing to take a strong stand for anything. It comes off too wishy washy. I do not need a wishy washy president.

    Obama, I think there is a Sherman tank waiting for you to take a ride in. Dukakis has been keeping the seat warm for you.

    October 29, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  19. Eric, Sydney, NSW

    Whether he realizes it or not, Rev. McClurkin's "God saved me from Homosexuality" statement only reinforces people's homophobia. I genuinely was inspired by Barack and really thought he was bringing hope to America. Using this gospel singer to bring in more votes only makes me feel cynical about this election.

    October 29, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  20. David Mills Montreal, Canada

    I am amazed how in today's world, I being a devoted follower of Jesus, cannot speak my convictions and if I do, I am considered intolerant. However, those who would have an opposing view are considered to be tolerant and have full rights to say what they want, when they want, even to the point of trying to impose their views and thoughts on me. Yes, in the name of Christianity many have said and more importantly done things that are totally anti-Jesus type actions.
    Having said that, it is interesting to note that it became in vogue only in the lately 70's and early 80's to hear the term, "I was born this way" in relation to gay men and lesbian women. I love all people, befriended many who consider themselves gay and have become my friends over the years. Because the Love of Christ is so strong in me and love is more than just a feeling or emotion, that just like other things that Jesus deemed to cause someone to not live the life that God had planned for them, in love, wisdom, patience, care and courage, I cannot be silent because those that disagree with me tell me to be. I could say the same to them.... but I wouldn't. It's not in my nature...

    October 29, 2007 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  21. Peter, Wausau, WI

    Good to see that some people at least are willing to step out of the shadow of political correctness and acknowledge the fact that homosexuality, and all other types of sexual perversion, are immoral.

    October 29, 2007 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  22. Shane

    McClurkin interprets homosexual sex right but interprets the whole homosexuality and LGBTism wrong. True Christians do not bash LGBT people.

    October 29, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  23. Mike, Staten Island, NY

    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"?

    Of course it's OK, as long as his "womanizing" (whatever you mean by that) doesn't hurt anyone. The only immorality is causing suffering. How does being gay cause suffering of others?

    October 29, 2007 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  24. Eagles Nest, Ketchikan, AK

    Seems like a scientific experiment gone haywire. This happens when homo sapiens control the chemicals going into the test tube. Consider what a little faith and compassion might do for your relative.

    October 29, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  25. A. Olson, Chicago, IL

    Oh Obama, as a professional gay man who until now 100% supported your candidacy...both a former Columbia grad and a resident of Chicago like you, I have now lost complete faith in who you sign on for your campaign venues. Have we learned nothing from the Republicans over the past 7 years about hypocrisy and intolerance running amok in our daily political choices. You sir, have done a HUGE amount of damage to your campaign. Hillary has never looked so good.

    October 30, 2007 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
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