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. Tyrone Calgary, Canada

    Here in Canada all the marriages have been primarily White Males older men 55 plus and from the pictures most are over weight and balding and they are refered to as the WHALES (White Homosexual And Liberal Elites) they hate straight marriage George Bush. Broom Hilda seems to have a lot of WHALE support and they are a vocal well organized bunch but you can see she has aged 10 yrs in the last year its too much for her. The world needs a Mitt Romney from a Canadian perspective.

    October 29, 2007 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  2. Daniel, NY

    Meanwhile, the Democrats are dropping in Rasmussen's latest national poll, as Rudy improves by 9 points against Hillary in two weeks. Link.

    October 29, 2007 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  3. Call of God

    Oh yes you can change your sexual orientation, Posted by w9w0e90e, the same way Rev. Donnie McClurkin overcame his homosexual desires "through prayer" and great faith in God. Please don't give up. God is Love and He wants to heal you from this iniquity. Just come to Him.

    October 29, 2007 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  4. Rejoicing

    "I'm one of the guys who has been delivered from homosexuality through relationship with Jesus Christ. Homosexuality is a sin, period. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom". You want to be free, accept Jesus as your Lord.

    Posted By Jim, San Francisco, CA:"

    Praise the Lord, brother. This is amazing.

    October 29, 2007 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  5. Ben, St Louis, MO

    One has the right to believe that homosexuality is wrong, so I will not fault a man for his beliefs. However, I still find it extraordinarily distasteful: even though he means no harm, through his words he is contributing towards one of the last bastions of prejudice.

    October 29, 2007 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  6. Taha, Boston, MA

    Obama should not be represented by the comments that someone made for him in a fundraising and social event that he put together. Rather actually go out and listen to him speak. His words are inspirational and he really has a lot of great ideas. Go to his website, read his campaign ideas, and look at his past, he is a visionary leader – I hope that you all agree.

    October 29, 2007 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  7. Steve, Kingwood WV

    Why are gays and lesbians so upset about a man telling what happened to him? Why does it bother them that someone did not want to live the life-style? This is absurd. I'm not saying whether homosexuality is a choice for everyone or not. But everyone is different and He found a way out of it. The best scientific explanation for why homosexuality exists is found in behaviorism...meaning that it may be learned (not necessarily chosen), but learned (Like pavlov's dog), whether people like to admit it or not.

    October 29, 2007 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  8. PV, Phx., Az.

    More religious brainwashing. Great, just great.

    October 29, 2007 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  9. Harry, New Orlean LA

    If homosexuality is not a choice, how come some get married, have children, and wake up the next day to be gay?? On the other hand, some have been gay all their lives and boom, decided they are not straight??.What is wrong is bad, what is bad is unacceptable, and what is unacceptable should not be done. DO we have to remind you gays how you were made? ok UNION OF MAN AND WOMAN GET IT???. Stop putting your hopes in some politician to make everything right. Homosexuality is is a choice and a wrong choice period.

    October 29, 2007 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  10. Alexa, Annandale VA

    How someone's faith and sexuality fit together is a very personal, real issue for a large number of Americans. Barack Obama stands for my feelings on so many issues that my endorsement for him does not waver, but I have to admit being a bit disappointed in this situation. What I regret most is that Christianity and homosexuality have such an agonizing division between them that people seem to think they're mutually exclusive. They're not. I don't believe in the ex-gay thing, but I feel less anger and more pity for the people who convince themselves that that's how it works. The anger I reserve for the people who've told those victims that they can't worship an awesome God and feel love for someone of the same gender at the same time without it being a sin. It is anything but. I honestly don't think he was or is endorsing any kind of anti-gay or ex-gay propaganda by including this poorly deluded man in his tour- he didn't choose him for that reason. Barack Obama is a brave man for trying at all to show that having faith isn't the exclusive property of the far right. His faith is important to him and he is standing up for that, the same as he stands up for his values and opinions on any other issue. I'm disappointed that someone putting forth that propaganda remains on the tour, but again, Barack Obama is someone who I feel speaks for me and others on so many levels, it will take a lot more than that misunderstanding to negate my vote for him.

    October 29, 2007 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  11. Dave, Cheverly, MD

    CNN You stated “gay and lesbian backlash against Sen. Barack Ocala’s presidential campaign”

    NO backlash exists when a few demonstrators from a Pride committee hang outside the event. If it were a backlash it would have been 2,500 demonstrators as there were 2,500 concert participants.
    As we ALL suspected this so called uproar was a deliberate smear campaign by Obama’s opponents and the Media. But you all missed one fact in your plotting. You gave Obama FREE advertising for the event. Controversy sells. Keep up the good work

    October 29, 2007 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  12. Diane

    Lev. 18:22, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."
    Lev. 20:13, "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.” Their bloodguiltness is upon them."

    And in the New Testament,

    1 Cor. 6:9-10, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals1, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
    Rom. 1:26-28, "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."

    Of course, we are not to put any person to death, that was the law in those days. Scripture does teach of morality......and both Old and New Testament teach Homosexuality is sin, it is wrong. Man having relations with man cannot produce "fruit" or children, neither can two women having relations. The Lord created Adam and Eve, He said be fruitful and multiply. Homosexuality IS a choice, just like any other sin. Christians don't HATE homosexuals, not true Christians, what we hate is SIN. The Bible does not teach us to hate each other. It is good to see Christians speaking out on these issues from a Biblical view point.

    To God be the glory.

    October 29, 2007 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  13. Max, Boston, MA

    Those who are criticizing McClurkin for being a bigot simply because he believes homosexuality is a choice, are being somewhat bigoted themselves. He's not saying anything against gay people, but uses himself as an example to support his beliefs.

    I always wondered why the gay community is adamant that homosexuality is genetic. I assumed it was to be treated as a race of sorts, but I fear they will experience a "Be careful what you wish for" moment when people inevitably consider it a disease instead.

    October 29, 2007 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  14. Chris, Laguna Niguel, CA

    They absolutely sound twisted, and mostly by CNN who is targeting Obama by associating him with something that was said by a third party, not Obama or his campaign team.

    October 29, 2007 04:27 am at 4:27 am |
  15. san jose, ca

    If one chooses to jump off the Obama bandwagon because of his association with Rev McClurkin, I feel were never for Obama in the first place. Is it not possible that two groups can have differing opinions, yet maintain commom interest in other areas more relevant? Get over it. I support Obama, however my support is not contigent on all of his other supporters sharing my ideas.
    Bill

    October 29, 2007 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  16. tom, new york city, ny

    On one side, this is a man who has supported the gay community and is a strong supporter of civil union, on the other, he is a candidate who obviously did not consider the outcome of having a reformed homosexual as a performer. I'm gay, my message is that i was born gay, no prayers would change that. however, this is an example of how the gay community can become hostile in such a situation because apparently our way of life is threatening to some people. should we be concerned with a black/gay scandal even before the primary? the last thing he needed was a political debate that draws attention to black homosexuality. i think he has made a big mistake.

    October 29, 2007 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  17. Brian, Cleveland, Ohio

    Bottom line is sexual orientation - gay or straight is not a choice. You don't choose to like guys or girls just like you don't choose to be right or left handed. Ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds hate. I agree with the previous poster who said while it's possible he no longer acts on his urges, it's not possible to not have them. This captures the reality well. Finally, we're all Americans, gay or straight. Religion and politics are separate and for good reason. That has been lost under Bush who has made gays his enemy which the rest could unite against. That was planned and is politics at its worst. What we need is to restore the respect and compassion we once had for each other as Americans and let people live their lives in dignity and without judgement.

    October 29, 2007 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  18. Judy, Grand Rapids, Michigan

    I am frustrated with the energy that my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters waste condemining Rev. McClurkin. Every candidate is going to have people in their campaign that we don't like or don't agree with. The media likes to create controversy and the lgtb community often falls for it and loses focus. I'm not agreeing with McClurkin by any means but it is imperative that the progressive community not get caught up in these sideshow antics. We can't afford to lose in 2008 and suffer through more disastrous neo-con policies. There won't be a country left for gays OR straights to enjoy.

    October 29, 2007 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  19. AnaHadWolves, Philadelphia, PA, USA

    The Rev McClurkin said: "homosexuality is a choice and that I overcame homosexual desires through prayer."

    Following that twisted "logic", then ALL sexual orientation is a choice, right? That means that heterosexuals made a concious choice to like members of the opposite sex after considering liking members of the same sex?

    Or, like most ChristoFascists, does the Reverend believe that sexual orientation is a one-way street only?

    Bull manure, Rev...bull manure!

    October 29, 2007 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  20. Kathryn Phoenix, AZ

    What makes Rev's statement's inappropriate and prejudiced was that he was "SAVED" from homosexuality.

    Believe what you want but if the guy was just sharing his experience it would be all of "I tried it but it wasn't my thing." He DID condemn homosexuality – he opened that can of worms regardless of the bible, or backlash or whatever other arguments are being put forth.

    Did he show intolerance? Absolutely. As a typical religious person and reverend, he is just another hypocrit.

    Wow, now THAT'S a change. This "reverend" is a two-faced fool. Obama? Not his problem; he's playing the political game.

    As far as those upset with the rev giving GLBT community a bad name? Are you kidding me? The man condemned homosexuality – why shouldn't the community be upset with that?

    It's been my experience that "faith" causes more hatred and war than anything else. This is yet ONE more example of that. Keep on quoting that book folks.

    October 29, 2007 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  21. mark, new york ny

    If God's power can defeat death and evil. Don't you think he could also "reverse" homosexuality?

    October 29, 2007 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  22. STEVEN LOUISA VA

    SURE GOD DELIVERED YOU FROM HOMOSEXUALITY- THATS WHY YOU SNEAK AROUND LATE AT NITE SEEKING MAN TO MAN SEX- SUCH A HYPOCRITE.

    October 29, 2007 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  23. Steve, Boston, MA

    Finally, someone has the guts to be politically incorrect. McClurkin has in mind the things of God, not things of men. Do not believe the media hype, I am a bio tech scientist, and no genetic research has proved one way or the other. It is always a choice in deciding your action, even if it is against your feelings or impulse!

    October 29, 2007 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  24. jw, canadian,ok

    God doesn't deliver anyone from anything. What a fraud! Theres soon to be an opening at Oral Roberts University, might want to get your resume in there Rev.

    October 29, 2007 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Beyond the major religious tenents, I don't take the Bible or organized religion literally. Technically, the Bible says it's okay to stone people and own slaves. Moreover, the Bible has been translated many times and by many people with many different personal interests. With that, everyone is entitled to their opinion AND to separation of Church and State. Some religions are accepting and others are not. If religion and politics were truly separate then it doesn't matter what people believe or don't because it's left to the individual and others agree to disagree where necessary.

    October 29, 2007 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
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