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. STEVEN LOUISA VA

    WHAT 74% OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS DISAPPROVE OF HOMOSEXUALITY THEN PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY BLACK MALES HAVE THE HIGHEST HIV NEW CASES YEAR AFTER YEAR AND LIVE ON THE DOWN LOW-FURTHER MORE OBAMA IS NOT READY TO LEAD THIS NATION HE IS TO YOUNG AND HIM BEING BLACK WILL NEVER GET HIM ELECTED-

    October 29, 2007 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  2. BJ,Corpus Christi, TX

    This really confirms my opinion of most gays. Hostile and foolish. They only want their opinions to be heard, and they will hurt many others just to get their point across. Pastor McClurkin has alot of support from Christians across the world. It's not just a 'black thing' He's travelled the world for years sharing Jesus and deliverance prior to this. I'm disappointed that Barack's Camp waivered because it shows he's trying to please too many. That wasn't the right setting for Rev. Sidden, but the foolish gays probably thought it would make an impact. Wrong audience. Bible believers. Why aren't the Gay and Lesbian groups actively protesting the Republican candidates who are against their lifestyle?

    October 29, 2007 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  3. Barry, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    If he is attracted to women then I bet he was bisexual and learned to suppress his attraction to men.

    People once attacked left handed people, cruelly punishing children and forcing them to write with their right hands, even at the detriment to their education.

    People once attacked red haired people as "tainted" by the devil.

    I don't think anyone claiming God "delivered them from homosexuality" is any less horrifying than someone bleaching their red hair to avoid a "devil" image or a child being forced to switch which hand they write with.

    I bet anyone who "switches" orientations is really a bisexual. Sexual orientation is what you feel attracted to, not what you act on. You see these 40, 50 year old or older men having marriages break apart not because they don't love their wives but because they don't have a physical attraction to them.

    This is a moral issue; a moral issue to dispel misinformation that sexual orientation is some sort of "choice" and a moral issue to not expect people to change what they are to please others. A gay or bisexual person shouldn't be a afraid of getting into a relationship with someone they love, all because of misinformation, misunderstanding, and widespread bigotry.

    October 29, 2007 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  4. theprofessional

    I encourage anyone in the LGBT community who is offended by the way Obama has handled this situation to switch your support to Senator Clinton, who you know will say all the right things to you during this campaign season (just not so loudly that the rest of America will hear) and then as President will put you back in the same dark corner you were in for eight years during her husband's administration.

    Or support John Edwards, who has already stated that his religion prevents him from fully supporting gay rights and who you know isn't really that comfortable around you.

    Or support Bill Richardson, who got caught off guard saying homosexuality is a choice at an LGBT forum.

    Or support Dennis Kucinich, who will give you everything your heart desires when he becomes President of Munchkinland.

    Or better yet, support a Republican candidate, who wouldn't be caught dead within 500 yards of you (unless they're running for office in New York City or Massachusetts).

    So go ahead and shoot yourselves in the foot over this media-created non-controversy (who had ever heard of Donnie McClurkin before last week?– obviously Obama hadn't) and boycott Obama, the one candidate who has consistently and forcefully spoken out for gay rights and who you know will not abandon you in the general election or the White House. Like the saying goes, you get the government you deserve.

    October 29, 2007 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  5. Chris Raleigh NC

    Religion and spirituality are wonderful things. But using religion as to try to mold yourself into what society wants you to be is wrong. Would that not be considered to be a sin in itself? Dishonesty towards oneself, will only lead to dishonesty towards others. Being gay is not a choice, being dishonest is.

    October 29, 2007 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  6. Adam - San Francisco, CA

    OH Man – here come the bible versus condemning homosexuals!! Well Mr. "We must do everything the bible says" – lets try these on:

    "Women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but should be submissive, as the law also says." (1 Corinthians 14:34)

    Do you believe women are inferior to men? Did Jesus believe that?

    "One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the congregation of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 23:2)

    Do children of single parents not deserve to go to church?

    "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. " (1 Peter 2:18)

    Do you think the Civil War was bad and we should all keep slaves?

    I want to see a bible verse where JESUS CHRIST condemned homosexuality – but no one can show me that. But if you believe everything that is in the bible than you are also a sexist and a racist. I hope you are then I would at least respect you for being consistent. But no – all the religious fanatics are just picking and choosing the verses they agree with and using it for their own political gain.

    October 29, 2007 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  7. Mike, Columbus Ohio

    I find it very interesting that people like McClurkin can claim that homosexuality is a choice when it has been proven by science that it, indeed, is not. For someone...anyone...to say that the only group who doesn't know that homosexuality is a choice is homosexuals is nearly as ignorant as this, the latest way politicians are trying to use a story to gain popularity.
    Senator Obama's backing of this man and his hate-inspired attempt at a popularity angle is nearly as ignorant as the man we have in office now. Unintelligent diatribe, such as that from McClurkin, shows the type of President Barack would be. That is if he even the slightest chance at getting elected.

    October 29, 2007 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  8. Blayze Kohime, Columbus Ohio

    To Bob Pickle: Bible-based morality? I would like to know what kind of a person gets their morality from a book that commands rape victims be forced to marry their attackers and that genocide is an okay thing as long as God told you to do it.
    If you quote one verse, quote them all.

    October 29, 2007 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  9. Jason - Florence, KY

    What a shame.....it is 2007 and yet still we think like narrow minded beings. One cannot change ones self from being gay just as one cannot change ones self from being straight. Get with the program.....if a person is homosexual then they will always be homosexual. The same as a straight person. Stop being stupid and for goodness sake stop using Jesus as your reason for being narrow minded bigoted people!!

    October 29, 2007 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  10. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    "What BS. Honestly, can't we as a country get beyond this whole gay-straight dillemma? People are gay, people are straight, people are bi. NOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW let's focus on the REAL issues at hand — like Iraq, and education."

    Well thats a good question. Why cant we? The reality of the situation is that this country is a nation of hillbillys. While some try and come off as sophisticated, intelligent and educated, when issues such as homosexuality and abortion come up, that veneer cracks and we can see the people of this nation as they really are, ignorant, hate filled bigots who have found the religious mumbo-jumbo justification for their own bigotry. And truly, there is little hope for change.
    As for Obama's position in all of this? Well, actions speak much louder than words. He has proven himself to be another hate filled, Bible banging bigot. My question is, why is he not running as a Republican? Thats where he truly belongs. Oh... I forgot, it's not likely that Rebublicans would elect an African American.

    October 29, 2007 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  11. Jeffery Donaldson, Tulsa OK

    God help us get past the stupidity and fear! Until the church embraces all human kind with unconditional love, it is nothing more than a political machine. Throwing stones at the homo harlots is not what the Bible suggests Jesus would do.

    October 29, 2007 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  12. Jon Cruz (New York, NY)

    Obama is a phony and a panderer. After what will be eight years kowtowing to the in-your-face religious, it's time for a change.

    October 29, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  13. Jon Cruz (New York, NY)

    I'm sure glad Julie Green is "free from homosexuality." I'm also sure glad I'll be voting against Barack Obama and people like him and Julie in the primaries.

    October 29, 2007 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  14. Deena, Porftland, OR

    Hmmm. If Rev. McClurkin is an "ex-gay", then I wonder why it is that I just read an interview with one of his (male) ex-lovers, describing a relationship that just ended in late spring of this year?

    October 29, 2007 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  15. 4REAL

    I WOULD LIKE TO APPLAUD PASTOR DONNIE McCLURKIN FOR TAKING A STAND IN THE EYES OF ADVERSITY. ANYONE CAN BOW DOWN AND BE A COWARD, BUT IT TAKES A REAL MAN/WOMAN TO STAND UP AND TAKE A STAND FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE.

    October 29, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  16. Jim Dallas Texas

    Well, know we know both McClurkin and Obama are idiots. One more reason to vote for Hillary.

    October 29, 2007 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  17. David, South Windsor, CT

    There is NO such thing as an ex-gay. They do not exist. People are born gay. It is natural and hard wired in the brain. It is absolutely impossible to go from gay to straight or vice versa. The only thing you can do is pretend to be straight.

    Unfortunately some gay people fall victim to religious brain washing just like straight people do. Being gay is a God given, biological, unchangeable, innate, wonderful part of a person.

    This man should be a ashamed of himself. He is doing a great deal of harm to young gay kids, who need love, support and above all to be proud of who they are.

    October 29, 2007 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  18. Sarah, Tallahassee, Florida

    I am definetly re-considering whether I will continue to support Obama. If someone chooses to be gay or was born gay, so what. People can do whatever they want. This whole thing is very disturbing that Oback would even associate himself with this man.

    October 29, 2007 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  19. Bill, minneapolis MN

    Here's an idea, why don't all these gay atheists find their own gay candidates who don't believe in God to run for president and vote for him instead of complaining about what Christians are doing? Thats the American way. Its sad that instead of supporting Rev. McClurklin his fellow Christian, Obama feels the need to pander to the homosexuals, transexuals and atheists.

    October 29, 2007 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  20. Tiffany, Plattsburgh, NY

    Didn't God create man in his own image? So is he saying God made a mistake and is fallable? Either way, this guy is a joke. I feel sorry for him that he can't be who he really is.

    October 29, 2007 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  21. UNKNOWN

    Who cares if you are straight or gay. I know people who are both. They are still good people. The majority of us prefer the opposite sex and that is the way we are. So just learn to accept each other. It will never change. If everyone was alike it would be a boring world!!

    October 29, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  22. Chris Durham

    Good for him to have the courage to stand up and tell his story.

    October 29, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  23. Lou, Miami, Florida

    CURE? Hypocrite alarm… I hope this man does not get caught in some alley or bathroom somewhere trying to score a trick... he has the classic symptoms. From higher pupils they have fallen.

    October 29, 2007 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  24. Mike

    I guess you would just have to be a homosexual to know what it's like. I am gay and for whatever reason GOD did not see fit to change me after years of prayer, personal inner conflict, and almost suicide (wait suicide is a sin to). So I guess if you're a homo then you're just screwed. I've known many of the "changed" "delivered" "former homosexuals and they are absolutely delusional and aren't fooling anyone who is homosexual or has any intelligence outside religion. My grandfather and great-grandfather were both hellfire and brimstone southern baptist preachers. Do you not think that if some miraculous transformation is possible that surely I could be changed because of my devout upbringing and all the people who prayed for me. Well let me tell you brothers and sisters and ain't real. We are made like this, whether you like it or not. Condemnation and judgement are just as bad as being homosexual. Barak is anti-homo, but just won't come out and openly say it, he's a closet anti-homo and for that reason I can't and won't support him. I have to look out for my best interest and for many others out there that can't defend themselves and their sexual orientation. Get over this issue and move on to something that truly matters in this world, like Iraq, the hungry, good education, saving the mother earth on which we live. Come on people is it really that important to you who I love and have been in a fourteen year, very fulfilling, loving relationship. If the Lord Jesus Christ can't change us I seriously doubt you can, so move on and "live and let live".

    October 29, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  25. Franklin, Columbus, Ohio

    For those like Adam in SF who say they need a verse, rather than asking their consciences or, better yet, honestly asking Him themselves, here's one such verse (actually two, since Jesus is citing Moses):

    And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

    The Pharisees were desirous of drawing something from Jesus which they might represent as contrary to the law of Moses. Cases about marriage have been numerous, and sometimes perplexed; made so, not by the law of God, but by the lusts and follies of men; and often people fix what they will do, before they ask for advice. Jesus replied by asking whether they had not read the account of the creation, and the first example of marriage; thus pointing out that every departure therefrom was wrong. That condition is best for us, and to be chosen and kept to accordingly, which is best for our souls, and tends most to prepare us for, and preserve us to, the kingdom of heaven. When the gospel is really embraced, it makes men kind relatives and faithful friends; it teaches them to bear the burdens, and to bear with the infirmities of those with whom they are connected by marrying and having children, to consider their peace and happiness more than their own. As to ungodly persons, Jesus goes on to say that it is proper that they should be restrained by laws, from breaking the peace of society.

    October 29, 2007 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
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