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. WS Kissimmee Fl

    THAT'S AWESOME! Don't get me wrong, I don't support Obama's agenda, yet it's refreshing to hear someone stand up against the twisted gay 'lobby'!

    I support this guy, and like the message!

    By the way....I'm one of those 'white guys' (seemingly the only ones who can be called 'bigots')

    October 29, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  2. jossie

    The experience of one is not necessarily the experience of another. I am a Christian, Lesbian, Woman, Mother. I have been both supported and persecuted in all of my distinct roles. My bottom line is that I will support the candidate who will stop the senseless war in which we are engaged as a nation. A war birthed from lies cannot be just. Gay people exist, gay "converts" exist, truth speakers exist, and liars exist. Let's just join together to bring some integrity back to our nation. Get out of Iraq.

    October 29, 2007 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  3. Frank

    Bob in Chicago – um, basically everybody used to believe the things you don't believe now. And those are the people who built the society you now say is being "destroyed"...by people who believe what the people who built the society believed.

    Seems a little obvious that if this society, built by people who were very concerned about sin and morality, right and wrong, and who were about ninety percent followers of that Carpenter is now being destroyed it is probably being destroyed by those with beliefs antithetical to those of its builders.

    You, in other words.

    October 29, 2007 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  4. Troy, Brooklyn, NY

    It is not unusual to seek deliverance through Christ from a part of yourself that you hate and which causes pain, "sin" nothwithstanding. I remember once hearing a frustrated black man on the bus saying how he hated being black in this country. I hope he is delivered from that pain by now. Self-hatred has its way of showing up in everything you do. God bless Brother McClurkin in his personal journey and struggle to survive in a Godly way. I do not believe his self-hatred has anything to do with Godly, same-sex loving people on this Earth and in Heaven proudly serving the will of God, naturally.

    October 29, 2007 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  5. Brian

    Now Barack supporters get a little taste of what GWB supporters have known for years. The liberal press targets those it doesn't like with stories and distortions to shape public opinion. Not so funny when it happens to your guy is it!

    October 29, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. TR Ryan - Oklahoma City, OK

    Many of you are missing the point – read on! McClurkin also says homosexuals are not welcome in his church and that we have to protect our children from them. THOSE STATEMENTS CREATE HATRED under the guise of don't hate the sinner hate the sin". And all of you bible quoters better be THIN – because the bible gives as much credence to overeating being a sin as it does to homosexuality. If you are fat or lazy and calling out homosexuality - then you are a big hypocrite by the standards of your own bible. WALK THE TALK

    October 29, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  7. Steve Elliott

    Gays and lesbians demand tolerance and acceptance for their lifestyle, yet where is their tolerance for someone who speaks against their lifestyle?

    Amazing it is nowhere to be found when someone speaks truthfully against their lifestyle.

    October 29, 2007 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  8. danielle, chicago il

    Obama stated “The artists you’re going to hear from are some of the best in the world, and favorites of Michelle and myself.”
    From this article Obama did not say that agreed with McClurkin's statement or not. Only that he is a very good artist. I would prefer to hear directly from Obama's mouth how he feels about gay rights rather than assuming things based on what someone else says during a concert.

    October 29, 2007 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  9. Christian, Tampa FL

    While I don't agree with McClurkin's views across the board, it's ridiculous for people to try and shut out his perspective, which is held by a substantial number of Americans.

    Human sexuality is more complicated than simply being a choice or not being a choice, and it's up to every individual to handle their sexuality according to their own beliefs and morals. If McClurkin believes that he has gained the control over his sexuality that he wants through prayer, so be it.

    It's ridiculous for gay activists to try and stamp out all opposing viewpoints.

    October 29, 2007 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  10. Scott Buffalo, NY

    This experience may be unique to the reverend, and he is certainly entitled to his own opinion. However, homosexuality is NOT a choice, nor ever will be. We must promote tolerance of both blacks and gays if this is to be a truly unifed country. Grow up and let's not be so prejudiced!

    October 29, 2007 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. Angela - Houston Texas

    Mr. McClurkin is not "anti-gay" but leave it to the media to twist everyone's words. Too bad our nation can't have our news simply reported without it being filtered through the opinions of those who should just be presenting it. No one should limit God's power or any individuals choice for their beliefs. Why should anyone who has been discriminated against turn and start discriminating. Honestly people we need to open our hearts and minds.

    October 29, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  12. GiveMeABreak, Boston, MA

    If you truly believe sexuality is a choice, stop looking at it one sided. If you are a straight male, try to convince yourself that you are gay. If you think that's absurd, you should try being a gay man listening to all of this ignorance about sexuality being a choice. Let me ask you this, if you could prevent the next terrorist attack by engaging in a homosexual act, would you do it to save the lives of thousands?

    October 29, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. MJB, Santa Ynez, California

    I'm glad someone finally had the courage to stand up and tell the truth! Homosecuality is a lifestyle choice and nothing more. Thank you Mr. McClurkin.

    October 29, 2007 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  14. Rex,Phila Pa

    As a black male I fully stand behind Rev. McClurkin's statements. He is simply stating how God has impacted his life. There is nothing bigoted about what said. Rev McClurkin wanted to change as a result of his own convictions, who is doing the hating here?

    Posted By Mark Tyler, Bloomington IL : October 29, 2007 9:21 am

    Would Blacks be supporting a Whiet Candidate, if that said white candidate had a Rev.Hillbilly...if he had many "unflattering,well know opinions" about Blacks, while using the Bible to Justify them? Even if that Said Candidate did not support the comments,by Rev.Hillbilly? Would you? After all the Bible endorses slavery. Sheeesh...I say we KEEP ALL Religion out of politics and to ones self, where it belongs, and USED to be!

    October 29, 2007 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  15. Mike, Houston, TX

    If you read the Old Testament, it does not say that God hates homosexuals. It does say that homosexual relations is sin.

    Thank God for people like McClurkin that have the courage to speak the truth.

    October 29, 2007 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  16. John Romano, Los Angeles, California

    Mr. McClurkin is still gay. In this life your either straight, gay, or bi. I couldn't stop liking girls if I tried. Gimme a break. McClurkin is GAY.

    I am amazed that any homosexual could support Obama after this. Very odd this world we live in.

    Imagine if McClurkin was supporting Rudy or Romney? The protests would of been insane. Instead we get a small group who's leader wouldn't even say they were protesting Obama for using this in the closet dude to raise money for him.

    Democrats are truly strange individuals.

    October 29, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  17. robert eugene oregon

    so how long will it be before the skeletons start falling out of your closet sir? i am a lifelong gay man and no amount of praying has helped me. being gay is not a choice nor is it something you can give up like abad habit. please stop lying to yourself and others. you hurt everyone with those untruths. be a man and admit the truth to yourself. homosexuality can't be to bad because god supposedly made us all. correct? the bible was not written by god himself, so who's to say that he said it was wrong? it was man's interpretation of what god supposedly said. and apparently he had his own ghosts to deal with.

    October 29, 2007 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  18. Franklin

    OK, TR, I'll go on a diet if you'll stop engaging in sodomy.

    Seriously, a lot of people responding here have said their homosexual feelings are innate. Well, I have a slow metabolism. Doesn't change a thing about sin. I need to watch my eating habits in order to honor the body God wants me to have.

    The basic disjunction in the whole "God made me gay" argument is that it doesn't acknowledge the biblical view that we are born into a fallen world. It is the secular/pagan/New Age view that we're all perfect at birth, and society warps us. The Christian view is that we are born with flaws because this is not the perfect world that God created, it is an imperfect world, a world that is fallen due to the first sin. A world moving toward redemption.

    You can accept or reject this view of our fallen nature, but you are wasting your time using on Christians the argument that God made you a homosexual and therefore blesses your behavior.

    October 29, 2007 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  19. Ivan Nunez, Minneapolis MN

    When "Bible based morality" attempts to influence public policy (i.e., defense of marriage act), talking against it is not intolerance toward Christians. It is imperative to speak out against Christian self-rightousness that leads toward intolerance.

    I would applaud McClurkin or any Christian that would say:
    I don't speak against the homosexual. God delivered me, but I support equal rights for homosexuals that do not share my experience or have other beliefs.

    Now, that would be tolerance, would it?

    October 29, 2007 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  20. Anonymous

    His words are twisted, and its the same homosexual agenda all over again. He is saying he disagrees with the sin, not the sinner.

    October 29, 2007 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. Itisnotthesameandyouknowit!

    STOP comparing BLACKS to HOMOSEXUALS – The struggles blacks have faced are not rooted in perversion but rather creed, nationality, race, and racial intolerance.

    October 29, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. A. Thompson Indianapolis, IN

    I saw Mr. Obama in St. Louis over the weekend. He walked with a few feet of a group of college students and others who were standing there waiting. Mr. Obama never once looked our way, we got no wave, no hello, no thank you for standing in the rain... nothing. The group all felt the same, "what a waste of time". He was a consideration before we were snubbed but I think my decision just got easier.

    October 29, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  23. Chad, Cincinnati, OH

    There is no such thing as a "former gay" and he knows it's not a choice but how he was born. He really needs to listen to "GOD" a little more and appreciate he is who GOD made him to be and embrace it. Former gays are right up there with Santa... you see people dressed like him and you may want to believe but in reality you know he really doesn't exists.

    October 29, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  24. Mike vasquez, Richmond, VA

    Great. It is about we have a politcan that stands up for what he believes in. Gay people know being gay is wrong. Go Obama. I am voting for you now.

    October 29, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  25. Rex phila pa

    As a black male I fully stand behind Rev. McClurkin's statements. He is simply stating how God has impacted his life. There is nothing bigoted about what said. Rev McClurkin wanted to change as a result of his own convictions, who is doing the hating here?

    Posted By Mark Tyler, Bloomington IL : October 29, 2007 9:21 am

    Would Blacks be supporting a White Candidate, if the white candidate had a Rev.Hillbilly speaking at a fundraiser, and this Reverend had a history of making "unflattering, racist & well known opinions" about Blacks? ..and this Reverand used HIS Interpretation of the Bible to Justify them? Would you STILL support the White candidate even if that Candidate said that,they themselves did not support the comments made by Rev.Hillbilly? Would you support the white candidate? After all the Bible endorses slavery. Sheeesh…I say we KEEP ALL Religion out of politics and to ones self, where it belongs, and USED to be!

    October 29, 2007 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
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