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. Dan, New York, NY

    Bible-based morality is entirely outmoded and utterly inapplicable to modern times. Indeed, most of the Bible's moral declarations were never appropriate and never had the slightest bit of worth.

    Consider the passage in which a man is stoned to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. Not only did god tolerate this punishment, he actually prescribed it.

    Gathering sticks leads to agonizing death by stoning?

    Something smells rotten to me.


    October 29, 2007 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  2. Monte Brown, New York, NY

    Donnie McClurkin and anyone who shares his views is a self-righteous, indignant hypocrite whose beliefs don’t count for a hill of beans. It is understandable why Obama would associate with the likes of McClurkin because, like McClurkin, Obama is a Republican light who sells bridges. We need to stick with Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama is someone we just don’t NEED as a leader. The fact that a candidate actually has to go to church to get the black vote just tells me one thing, WE NEED TO CLOSE THE EDUCATION GAP. Our kids need to learn more math and science. People only use religion to hide from themselves. They cover themselves with fig leafs. They are the reactionaries. One day we will understand each other and the McClurkins of the world will be silenced. “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect has come then that which is in part shall be done away”. (1Corinthians 13:9)

    October 29, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. Joey New York New York

    McClurkin has brainwashed himself into thinking that he is not a homosexual. Right! Keep on reading that bible guy. Let's see how long it takes for you to "backslide" all the way into a public restroom like senator Craig. I do not hate you for your bull but I certainly pity you for the pain you must feel inside.

    October 29, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. RJinChi, Chicago, IL

    BOLOGNA – a man who couldnt come to terms with himself, thats all this is. So I guess if you have homosexual thoughts and do not act on them, you are not a homosexual any longer? He was born gay, just like he was born black.

    October 29, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. GKC, Tulsa, Oklahoma

    BEING GAY is not a CHOICE! I was born with it and no one understands it. I'm not gonna vote for Obama because he allow McClurkin make a joke of being ex-gay. go look up the American Psy Association's statement about the sexual orientation based on their observation and research. STOP playing with "Faith"! Focus on the actually medical journal that can prove it when the Bible is just a bible with words without prove. Obama, please stop playing the black card along with the gay card. Focus to the real issues of American. I'm for Hillary coz she focus to the real issues, not just faith only.

    Give me a break, Obama and McClurkin.

    October 29, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. Isaac, Boston,MA

    I can never make the claim to understand the feelings of the homosexual community, and as a "former" member of this group I suppose Rev.McClurkin does. However I do understand as an African-American the frustration dealing with those who use subjective, misinformed and self-righteous set of beliefs to judge me based on race and then use God as their ambassador. NO group of people should be judged by another. As a current member of one group and a "former" member of another I would think Rev.McClurkin would understand that, and for those of the African-Afrmerican community who do follow this psuedo-spiritual homophobic line of thinking you are being counterproductive.

    October 29, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. 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 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 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. Clift, Burlingame, CA

    Homosexuals react explosively to any comment not supportive of their sexual antics. Sidden is a white, gay pastor, why no vile attacks on him by anyone? Obama, by not standing up for McClurkin is showing himself to be a political switch-hitter. Obama sends McClurkin to the back of the bus, how does that make other black Americans feel? Homosexuals judge everything by what they do with their sex organs and Obama is letting that behavior channelize his campaign. That is a serious weakness. One point five percent of the population has Obama wrapped around their, uh, finger?

    October 29, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  9. Patrick B., Washington, DC

    Haven't we seen this before? A public religious figure is "cured" of his homosexuality...until he gets caught in the act and makes the usual "I have sinned - please forgive me" plea. Its just like Baker getting caught with a prostitute and Rush getting caught with drugs. Same nonsense.

    October 29, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. Denise, Cleveland, Ohio

    Okay. Let's just say gays and lesbians are born that way. Fine. Just be born again.

    Also, none of us would be here if we didn't have a mother (woman) and a father (man). It takes a male and female for human existence to remain. An egg can't fertilize an egg!!!

    October 29, 2007 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. blake, richardson, tx

    "I cant beleive Obama even panders to the militant gay comunity, everyone knows homosexuality is a choice but them.."

    -Toledo, Ohio

    wow. kinda like everybody knows you're a fool but you.

    October 29, 2007 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  12. RJSSD

    Is being straight a lifestyle choice? No, because you were born that way. the only reason you see more gays out and about is that they are no longer hiding or getting married because they feel they have to in order to fit in.

    October 29, 2007 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  13. GAE, Chicago, IL

    Barack panders to the hate-mongering superstitious christian twits. Big surprise there. The Gay Community played a big part in electing him in Illinois, we'll play an even bigger part in making sure he's NOT elected this time. I read the posts on here and realize exactly how ignorant the members of that cult are and how they put their religious cult before mine and my children's civil rights. After all we are supposed to be second class citizens...right christians? Right Barack?

    October 29, 2007 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  14. Tiffany, Atlanta, GA

    Considering all the church going, praying African-American "straight" men on the down low, McClurkin's claim that prayer took away his homosexualty rings very false.

    October 29, 2007 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  15. Avon, Ohio

    Why aren't more people speaking out against the other sinful lifestyle choices in the Bible? Where are the protesters against shellfish eaters? Maybe it's because people choose to ignore some aspects of the Bible while concentrating on others in order to mask a bigotry in the name of religion.

    October 29, 2007 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. RM, Dallas, TX

    There is a vast community of people who have been delivered from the homosexual lifestyle and many more who desire to be free from it. We rarely hear from these folks. Why is it intolerant for this man to speak the truth in love? The life expectancy of homosexuals is shorter; many suffer with physical and emotional scars. If "choice" is such an important right, why can't we applaud this man for the choice he made? It is the militant gays who demonstrate over and over who is really intolerant. The real question is what will God tolerate? Read Romans 1. The Gospel is the power of God. Those who reject it will, by their own choice, experience the consequences. Homosexuals are sinners like all of us are sinners. God offers His salvation to those who will trust in Christ and His payment for their sin.

    October 29, 2007 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. Clive, Columbia, SC

    Doesn't the Bible say that we are all born into sin (i.e. that we are created with a sinful nature), and that until we are redeemed, we are condemned by such nature? So it's not a conflict for a Christian to believe that a homosexual (one who has natural attractions to people of the same sex) was born that way and also that acting on such attractions is a sin.

    The same goes for any sin. One person can be born with a shorter temper than another or with a particular propensity to be lazy. But that doesn't mean that God is accepting of every time such a person lashes out at another or sleeps when he should be working. The Bible makes it clear that is displeased with such behavior. At the same time, when those people are able to resist such natural, in-born temptations, God is more pleased with them than he is when others without such natural inclinations act the same way.

    For example, I am not a homosexual. So when I don't have relations with another man, God is indifferent. However, when someone with those inclinations is able to resist them, God rejoices.

    With this view, it is easy to see why Christians are so opposed to a society that embraces any sin, albeit a natural one. It makes it nearly impossible for a person to resist a temptation when society tells him to embrace it. I imagine that if gluttony were as highly publicized as homosexuality, you'd see the same reaction.

    October 29, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. Thomas Garnett, Miami FL

    I am religious, I am a human being & I am a proud citizen of this country but I will not sit here and judge anyone on the alter of morality when this country has done more "wrong" things in the name of religion than I have time to write.

    After reading all of the comments on this article, there are a couple of things that are very clear: 1) Our country still tolerates and promotes discrimination; and 2) we have not learn the lessons of the past that discrimination, anti-comments, bigotry and hatred do more to divide a country than bring it together.

    October 29, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  19. Jubie, Kansas City, Missouri

    Politics or not, we in the gay community don't believe homosexuality is wrong, or a sin. Only "straight" people have told us this. By saying it's a choice, you're telling us all that we are aberrations of nature, and choose everyday to be bad. I, for one, won't listen to it anymore. I was sick in my soul from listening to "straight" people tell me that who I am, down to the core of my being, is bad. I was sick of living with the guilt brought on by the constant haranguing from hetero-centrists. I was sick and tired of dealing with the resultant depression brought on by allowing this hetero-centrist world to kill my spirit -gay though it may be- little by little with their negative messages. I had to fight for the will to continue on despite being told daily how awful I am because of who I choose to love, no matter how good of a person I may be. If there is a god, she/he/it did not make a mistake in creating me this way. I did not choose it. Are you kidding me? The mistake is in a genetically-imposed mindset that says anything other than heterosexuality is wrong. My solution is to become as combative as possible until people like this so-called preacher are further enlightened, and stop living behind a cloak of religious self-righteousness.

    October 29, 2007 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. Mark, Newfoundland, Canada

    It's hilarious listening to the religious folk talk about God and helping gay people. If these people really truly listened to Jesus or whatever God they believe in, they would have no problem with gay people. Jesus loved everybody and no where in the Bible does he say he doesn't. Not that the Bible is a reliable source of fact. Religion puts rules and regulations on humans that are impossible for them to adhere to. The difference between secular and religious people is that secular people don't hide their true feelings/urges/sexual orientation whereas religious people do. And like another poster said, it's time to focus on real issues like social services (health care, education), Iraq, the economy, and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. People who vote for a candidate based on religion need their head examined. It's those kind of people who get the Republicans elected and look at the mess they've got us in. Not to mention they play on your religious beliefs and your stupidity because they focus on issues that are so unimportant to society like homosexuality and abortion so that you don't focus on the fact they're squandering all your money and sending all your jobs overseas. Like the author Christopher Hitchens says, "Religion poisons everything." History has and always will prove that.

    October 29, 2007 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. John Romano, Los Angeles, California

    What's being overlooked is what a hypocrite Obama actually is.

    He is a panderer.

    October 29, 2007 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. EX- Obama Supporter, NYC

    You cant PRAY away anything... you can ask for self control however... but you will never be fully free .. your life will remain contrived...because you are supressing what is true and authentic.. but i guess God wants that for us right?...Ingnorance is bliss... "Never Underestimate The Power Of STUPID People In Large Groups".. For they continue to rule our country

    October 29, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |


    October 29, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Moe, NY

    This religious nonsense is just another reason we need to elect a president (NOT OBAMA) who will be a strong leader and make strides in Science, Technology, Foregin relations, bring back America from the edge, and NOT pander to religious sects in this country. I cannot believe some of the almost hysterical, religious brainwashed blogs on this story. It is almost like people feel threatened...wake up people...it is a genetic condition, not sexual preference. You cannot catch homosexuality...you are born with it! Get over it people!

    October 29, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    MJB, I decided to see if gayness is a lifestyle choice, so I went down to the gaybar. There were some really pretty guys there, all perfumed and made up, but y'know, they gave me the creeps and I decided not to go out with any of 'em. And it wasn't exactly like I had a big choice there, MJB. Maybe YOU could just go gay any time without any trouble, but I sure as heck don't feel attracted to any gay guys. Especially that Purvis guy. They got a nice bar there, and they seemed like nice folks, but sexually attractive they weren't. I think I'm gonna disagree with old McClurkin here and say it might be a lifestyle, but not a choice.

    October 29, 2007 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
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