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. Media, Pa

    Rev. McClurkin and all others who say they can be freed of their homosexuality and that homosexuality is a choice are ignorant. Can you be freed of your heterosexuality? I think not!

    October 29, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  2. James, Richmond, Virginia

    He's just going back into the closet for awhile for his public image. It makes more sense that God would hate warmongers who are selling off the White House to make a buck rather then bother with harmless private concerns.

    October 29, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  3. Lisa Hampton, Newark, NJ

    Many in the gay community always preach about intolerance and how they want to be accepted by society. However, their intolerance of someone coming out saying their life has been transformed spiritually from homosexuality proves their real agenda. I support Obama 100%.

    October 29, 2007 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. Colin, Atlanta - Go Blue - Beat State!

    Another reason to vote for Hillary. 'Nuff said.

    October 29, 2007 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  5. T. Ihuodhi, Wichita, KS

    There was recently a study dealing with nematodes in which scientists were able to hardwire genetically sexual orientation. They could make the nematodes gay or straight. they theorized that orientation is, in fact, hard-wired, as there are naturally gay nematodes and naturally straight ones.

    The only conclusion: God may not be falliable when He dictated the Bible, but Man WAS when he wrote it down.

    October 29, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  6. Buggie, San Diego, CA

    Mr. Obama,
    Once again your judgment and credibility have taken a huge hit. It is concerning that you would align yourself with Rev. Donnie McClurkin. It is even more concerning that you did so without investigating his stance and any of the issues. The fact that you and your campaign were caught off guard when Mr. McClurkin started spewing his rhetoric shows that you have very poor judgment, are disorganized, out of touch and not ready to lead this country.

    After your completely disastrous decision to “pick up the torch” from Jesse Jackson, it is surprising that you would align yourself with yet another divisive and unstable character. If your friend Mr. McClurkin chooses to deny his true nature, his true feelings and the person God made him, well, good for him. But the majority of Americans will judge you by the people you surround yourself and so far, I imagine there are a lot of heads shaking across this great country.

    Your friend Mr. McClurkin speaks of choice and to the majority of Democratic voters you are not the right choice.

    October 29, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  7. Matt, Chicago, IL

    It is still very interesting to me that the moral issue of homosexuality is so polarizing in the U.S. when in fact we have much greater concerns of morality. Those who claim that homosexuality is bringing down the moral rite of the country need to analyze some of the other issues that they have obviously become immune to: murder, rape, prostitution, molestation, incest. These moral issues truly affect others. These are crimes.

    If we look at some of the Biblical quotes posted under this blog, "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 homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

    First, the Biblical translation of homosexual in this passage was for a word that no one actually knows a meaning for, but is speculated to be a form of male prostitute. Secondly and more importantly, take a look at the list of other acts that prevent those from “inheriting the kingdom of God.” Why is homosexuality such a concern when idolatry, sex for pleasure (not just procreation), robbery, and drunkenness are a much more prevalent issue?

    The shear numbers of people who pick and choose which tenants in the Bible to follow truly are the religious zealots and those who are bringing about the moral demise of the U.S.

    Is homosexuality a choice? According to most scientific research in the last 25 years, homosexuality isn’t a choice. Will either side of the polarizing issue ever concern themselves with scientific fact? Generally no, because why would they concern themselves with fact unless it is self serving?

    October 29, 2007 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  8. Patricia, orlando, florida

    i cannot believe how ridiculous this country is about religious and gay issues in politics! I really scratch my head sometimes and think, when are people going to look at whats best for EVERYONE in this country! Who cares what someone does in there OWN home, they aren't hurting anyone, i think dropping bombs on people is a little worse than what someone does with there own choices for who they love. How about we look at whats going on with the economy our international standing, the environment, everyone getting health care, like most other countries, education and money we are spending on this war and the young men and woman who are continually dying in a country that most people in this country dont even know where its at on the world map. Reverend McClurkin is just another person more concerned about himself and his own 5 minutes of fame then what really happens in this world. OH and by the way, he is kidding himself if he now doesnt have gay thoughts, if he really is a man of god, then guess what, god loves everyone, even the ones who lie to themselves, if he really knew god, he would know that.

    October 29, 2007 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  9. Anonymous

    Only in a state as backwards as South Carolina would this fly in the first place.

    October 29, 2007 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  10. Tom, Charlottesville, VA

    This guy has got some nerve. "Hey, I'm homophobic and I'm the victim!" He says he loves the "sinner," but the people he is talking about do not view themselves as sinners. And guess what, we live in a free society and they are just living their lives how it works for them. They are not hurting anyone or trying to dictate anyone else's sex life, whereas he seeks to change them in the name of love. His words have not been twisted–his thinking has been twisted. And as for whether it's a choice, I don't care! DNA, free choice, what does it matter? It's a person's private live in an area that affects no one else. Live and let live!

    October 29, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  11. Tevin

    Shame of CNN for posting this story. I understand you want Hilary for president but this is just ridiculous. Go ahead people, vote for one who authorized the war in Iraq without doing her research. What Judgement she has, ha! It's amazing how people are making this story a voting issue. It's so pathetic.

    October 29, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  12. pat huntington ny

    It's a proven fact that almost all so called ex-gays end up back to who they always were...gay. It's not a choice. And for those ex-gay'ers who deny this fact, they probably are the ones having trists in air port and rest stop bathrooms.

    October 29, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  13. Go Green- Beat the Wolverines; Cambridge, MA

    Hillary for certain!

    October 29, 2007 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  14. bob chicago illinois

    when are all you people going to get over this dumb little myth about the jewish carpenter boy? what's destroying our society is not homosexuality, not a lack of faith or sin, not even george w bush and his reign of error; no, what's destroying our society, or at least retarding its growth, is institutionalized religion and the abuse, small- and even closed-mindedness, and infantilism it produces.

    October 29, 2007 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  15. Steve, Washington, DC

    Even the Catholic Church agrees that homosexuals are just born that way. I don't agree with their teaching beyond that point, but it's a start. I think what really angers people is when people try to say they are "cured" of same-sex feelings. Part of me wishes to ridicule McClurkin, but I also just feel sad for him, and whatever issues he is dealing with.

    To the person who said "How dare anyone try to discredit his experience with your own." I say it is my absolute right to do so. How dare Rev. McClurkin stand on his pulpit, provided by Obama, and criticize MY life? And that's exactly what he is doing. If he said "I was cured of being black, of being Irish, of being Jewish", etc., there would be an uproar.

    Here, in America, everyone gets to speak, and if McClurkin is going to do so, you bet I'm going to get my say in too.

    October 29, 2007 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  16. pat huntington, ny

    For those saying gays are showing intollerance to the views of this bible beating nut job...I have to say, that's an illogical statement. It's the same as blacks show intollerance to the views of white supremacists, or that jews show intollerance to the views of Iran's president. It's not intollerance to speak out against hate mongers like McClurkin. Sorry, but God did not deliver you from being gay. You still are gay. You're just not acting on it...or are you?

    October 29, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  17. Lee Andrew, Paris, France

    he's ocnverted? Hmmm. I doubt it – DNA is difficult to change unless you are God.


    October 29, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. ACW, Fayetteville, Arkansas

    Anyone who knows Donnie Mcclurkin's story understands that his deliverance is not really about not acting on gay desires. This is a man who was molested over a period of years of his young life. I think his deliverance is more about him not acting out the behaviors that he was taught as a child that was molested & raped and less about being gay. I don't believe being gay is choice, I feel you're born that way. But I believe that Donnie Mcclurkin is mislabeling what has happened in his life as being saved from a lifetime of homosexuality. Either way, this shouldn't reflect negatively on Obama.

    October 29, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  19. Jeremy, New York/ NY

    I think it is ridiculous when any one person generalizes something they do not understand.

    For him to say that homosexuality is a choice and God delivered him from it, is ignorant.

    But I do not agree with the backlash from the gay and lesbian community.

    There backlash is from a fear that his turn around will result in a harder fight for equality, etc. Which is understandable, since it has happened before.

    However the backlash will only feed into the negativity of his comment.

    His comment is bias. Maybe being gay was a choice for him. But it isn't for everyone.

    Religion doesn't solve everything. Religion itself is a spiritual perspective on how to live one's own life, not how to live everyones' life.

    One day people will learn...hopefully.

    October 29, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  20. r sisk, Nevada

    "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.

    Posted By Rejoicing : October 29, 2007 3:04 am

    I think I am going to barf. Have you ever considered you were Bisexual? That is, if you actually DO have sex with someone of the opposite sex. Or, are you so hung up on the Lord that you are repressing your true nature and being celebate.
    (treating Church like AA so you don't "fall off the wagon").

    In any case, if you are happy, great. But have the decency to be accepting of those who won't deny their true nature and are proud of the lives they live. And here's a news flash, many gays include religion in their very fullfilled lives. God loves us all and it should be about how we treat our fellow man, not fear of God.

    October 29, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. Louis, Cincinatti

    McClurkin's comments are neither appropriate nor courageous. In fact they are self-serving and vile. He, of course, hasn't changed anything about his sexuality, he is merely getting people like Mr. Pickle in Nowhere, MN to support him and send him money.

    October 29, 2007 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  22. Jonathan, Richmond VA

    I take exception to this! The head line on CNN.com reads "Anti-Gay, Obama supporter blasts critics". Why is Rev. Donnie McClurkin demonized as anti-gay? He said nothing hateful to any homosexual. What he said was that God delivered him specifically and that he believes homosexuality is a choice. I believe I woke up this morning still living in America were we have a first amendment right to share our thoughts and ideas publicly even when many may not agree. I would hope CNN, as a leader in the media, would respect that right enough to be accurate and not spin Rev. McClurkin words around to get a more interesting headline!!

    October 29, 2007 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  23. Philip, Kansas City Missouri

    Anyone that believes homosexuality is a choice has mental deficiencies. Why would anyone choose to be ostracized, ridiculed, and attacked all the time? McClurkin is still gay, he just hides it well. Why is this even an issue? I for one do not care one iota what anyone's sexual preferences are, just as I do not care what their religion is, I vote based on how they would potentially deal with certain issues. We are wasting time and breath on something that is not our business to bother with. We have a war in Iraq, a dollar that is spiraling down to peso value, a new scandal in time for the evening news every night, and the whole country is worried about a couple of dudes or women kissing?!

    Wake up people! The sad thing is that those who spend all their time lambasting homosexuality are usually closet homosexuals themselves (Larry Craig, Mark Foley, 70% of the Senate) and out of self-hatred feel the only way to redeem themselves is to spew hateful speech or claim that their god does not condone it. I personally want nothing to do with a God who is loving and caring and yet hates the homos and those who do not fall to their knees at the mention of his name, sounds like a megalomaniac to me.

    I will not vote for any politician who wastes our tax dollars and time on these stupid policies, and I am not the only one who thinks this way.

    October 29, 2007 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  24. Kyle, Fayetteville Arkansas

    I appreciate that many of you who believe that homosexuality is a sin responded in a respectful manner – not against the homosexual, but rather the action of homosexuality. Despite this, however, I find that many of you are claiming with confidence that homosexuality is a choice. Being a homosexual myself, I can say with complete certainty that my interest in men was never a conscious choice and began at a very early age. Many of us do not hesitate to condemn homosexuality as a sin, but what is it that makes my love for another man any different than another man's love for a woman? I don't believe there is a difference, and until someone can offer a credible reason other than "this book says so", I think we should makes decisions based on logic rather than blind adherence to a philosophy. It is also worth noting that heterosexuals often claim that it is a choice, while homosexuals claim it is not. Who do you think is more likely to know whether homosexuality is a choice?

    October 29, 2007 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  25. Tim, Chicago, Illinois

    I am amazed by this on so many levels. First, who cares what a singer who's MUSIC Obama enjoys says? This is not someone who will impact policy or determine the rule of law in this country in anyway shape or form.
    Second, to the Gay and Lesbian community, you are doing more harm than good by making such a fuss. Before this "firestorm" how many of you had even heard of this singer? By raising such a fuss, you have allowed his messsage to be broadcast to millions more people than it was before, basically before now, the only people who heard his message were ones who already agreed with him.
    Third, we need to get past this issue as a country. There are people who are gay and lesbian and there are people who believe it is wrong. That will never change, the key is to find a way to work together to make this country better for ALL people.

    October 29, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
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