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. Massoud for Boston, MA

    The rev. is just giving his opinion from personal experience. Any gays out there trying to rip the guy for giving his opinion needs to rethink what this country is all about. It's getting to the point where gays are so overprotected that freedom of speech is infringed upon, and people in the spotlight need choose their words with great discretion, which is unfortunate.

    October 29, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. Michael Blair, Clayton, CA

    As a gay man, why do I need to change my natural sexual orientation? God created me as a gay man. To get up and claim that there is something wrong with being gay and that it needs to be changed is the problem. We do not need to pretend that we are heterosexual when heterosexuality is unnatural for gay people. Mr. McClurkin only brings harm to his gay brothers and sisters by claiming that being gay is a choice. No one would choose to be gay and put up with the hateful homophobia present in the US today if they really had a choice. Mr. McClurkin should accept the natural sexual orientation God gave him and stop trying to be something he never will be nor needs to be.

    October 29, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  3. John, Dallas, TX

    As a gay and (formerly) quite religious man myself, I have a wide experience in so-called reparative therapies. Being gay is no more a choice than being left-handed or having blue eyes. Note that we used to try to make left-handed children write with their right hand-this led to emotional and psychological problems, including stuttering. Someday, we'll realize that forcing homosexuals to try be "straight" is what causes the problems!

    October 29, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. John, Johnston, IA

    I don't take McClurkin's comments as being necessarily anti-gay. However, I can certainly understand where someone would get that impression. That he feels having 'gay feelings' was something that was wrong and needed to be eradicated from his being seems to indicate that everyone with those feelings should follow his example. With all due respect, I don't agree. I'm not a masochist ... nor a martyr ... Life would have been much easier, in some respects, had I not been gay. That said, I embrace my sexuality as just one more thing that makes me a unique individual. It's unfortunate that the good Reverend didn't feel that way too.

    That said ... the whole uproar being made over his statement is a bit ridiculous. While I believe that gay rights are important they are certainly not the most important thing being addressed in this election. And in all honesty McCorkin's statement is pretty inconsequential in the general scheme of things. The one thing I would ask is why he felt it necessary, assuming he truly believes that we should love one another unconditionally why he felt it necessary to make such a statement? What was the point? He's obviously an intelligent man, which makes me believe that he knew exactly what his words would cause. That I take issue with. By making such a statement in the forum that he chose he made a mistake. Of course, that's my opinion, for what it's worth.

    I don't necessarily consider the Reverend's statement to be a reflection of Obama's political inclinations. While he is easily the most charismatic politician in the field he has much work to do before he convinces me that he's the one for the job.

    October 29, 2007 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. Brian, NYC

    Self hating homosexual is what this guy is. If Obama wants to endorse these types of people – he won't get my vote.

    October 29, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. Leslie, Kansas City, Missouri

    I totally agree with Dallas. So this guy says he's been "delivered" from homosexuality. That's between him and his God. Coming from someone who will miss out on witnessing a major organization in action, (I'm from Kansas City, and La Raza has refused to come to our city because one of the city commisioners is in the Minutemen Militia) I have to say that turning down a whole organization because you don't agree with one person in that group is pretty wrong headed.
    I mean, he's running for the presidency, he's supposed to be representing ALL of us, whether we agree with each other or not.
    Obama is know for bipartisanship in government, and building partners. Let's let him do that.

    October 29, 2007 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  7. Kristen from Memphis, TN

    It's amazing to me that people don't understand that there are a variety of people who can support a candidate. Obama's record has been inclusive of all people, yet that is completely ignored. Why? Is it so bad that he decided to include a popular artist with controversial opinions? Why hasn't anyone said anyting about his other supporters? People pick and choose the things they report in order to make someone look bad and others look good. When will society wake up and not let the media dictate what they believe? I haven't heard Barack Obama EVER condemn anyone, yet people ignore that because it's not reportable. It's sad that so many people's decisions can be changed so quickly. Where are the articles on important news? Have people forgotten about our children and their educations, the soldiers fighting overseas, the millions of people unemployed or underpayed? WAKE UP America and vote for someone supports all of us despite our differences. I'm a teacher who sees the decline in public education, and I'm not happy or satisfied. Why aren't adults just as outraged about the state of public education? I'm not a religious fanatic, but I pray this country wakes up one day and decides to focus on the real reasons we vote.

    October 29, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. Mark

    I don't think this compromises the Obama campaign even though I support gay rights. I mean, if the message is all-inclusiveness, then someone who is outspoken on their disapproval of homosexuality should be just as welcome as someone who promotes it. That simple. Neither association incriminates Mr. Obama.

    October 29, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  9. Louis, Berlin, CT

    It is extremely disturbing that in 2007 there are so many people that are uneducated about the biology of human sexuality. Once again people are using their relgion to justify ignorance.

    People are born gay. Period. Just like in the animal kingdom homosexuality and bisexuality are a normal and natural part of nature. There are over 1500 animal species that display homosexual and bisexual behavior including our closest relatives the primates.

    A percentage of the human population has always been born gay and always will be. An even larger percentage of humans are naturally bisexual with varying degrees of attraction. The Kinsey scales explains this.

    It is only now in recent decades that gay peope have shown the courage to stand up and fight for what is right. To teach and educate people about the subject.

    It is a complete myth that everyone is born straight. Homosexuality is hardwired in the brain in the developing fetus, hormones, genetics, or both are thought to be the biological causes. It is a completely natural behavior and the way God and nature intended for our species.

    Homosexuality most likely developed in our species for evolutionary reasons which is still being researched.

    This issue is extremely important because this is a human and civil cause. Gay people have lived an extremely hard life, ONLY because of a misguided culture and society that uses religion to justify immoral discrimination.

    Gay people are part of your families. We are your sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, close friends, neighbors, co-workers, and we are in every walk of life. From police and firefighters to the person who delivers your mail. We are human beings, who are NOT sinning, we are being who "The Creator" created us to be.

    This man McClurkin is spreading false information and not being truthful. Education is desparately needed in this subject. This man is doing a great deal of harm. Since he is a public figure he needs to stand up and fight for gay children everywhere. He is not being true to himself and that is tradgic. He should be reaching out to gay kids and teaching them stand proud and be who God intended them to be. He could be using his position to educate and help change the world. Instead he is spreading IGNORANCE which is the greates sin.

    I'm praying to God he renounces his past statements, frees himself from this type of religious indoctrination and learns to accept himself, the way God made him.

    Education is the key to combat ignorance.

    October 29, 2007 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. Scott, Jacksonville, FL

    So if my homosexuality is a choice, then I ask my hetrosexual friends to choose – just for a short time, a homosexual lifestyle. Consider it a "scientific experiment", a walk in their shoes time to see how really easy it is to turn on/turn off your hetrosexuality. I'd like to learn how easy it is for them to choose being gay is.

    October 29, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. Angel Lazo Homestead, FL

    Rev. Donnie McClurkin is just another bigot in the crowd not worth mentioning. Drowing himself in religion is his opiate, may he find solice is his delusion. As for Barrack Obama, This affiliation will be the least of his worries. As a democrat I want someone who is experienced and seasoned in international relations and I'm not talking about vacations in Europe, Asia, or Latin America. His biggest Gaff so far has been that he will sit on par with dictators and have meaninful conversation. If that's not incredulous what is? Hillary Clinton all the way baby! She's my FAVORITE!

    October 29, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. Curtis Balls, Nashville TN

    And may the Lord God Almighty deliver us from you Donnie.

    October 29, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. Kyle Indianapolis, Indiana

    This man is a fool and has made Obama into a joke! Give me Hillary!

    October 29, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. J.W. Adams, Chicago, IL

    If god delivered McClurkin, we got him C.O.D.

    And I believe intolerence toward Bible-based morality, given what god's followers have chosen to do with it, is not only something I'm VERY VERY VERY proud of, but an absolute obligation to a decent society.

    October 29, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. JohnB, Dallas, TX

    I’m Gay and a Christian. Surprise, surprise you can be both. I’m sorry McClurkin was raped as a child by two family members and now links his trauma to having mixed feelings about being a homosexual. I’m certain prayer did help him heal his scars. However, he was obviously never a homosexual. Being forced to engage in homosexual sex, as McClurkin was, is not the same as having a homosexual orientation. It’s disheartening to hear him mislabel his experience as some kind of deliverance from homosexuality. Furthermore, I have a personal relationship with Jesus and have since I was 8 or 9 years old. I wish people would stop using the Old Testament to justify their intolerance and hatred of gays. I’ll pray for those sinners tonight.

    October 29, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. Opressed by religion, writing to you from Second-Class America


    I don't want your love. Take ALL OF ME or LEAVE ME.

    You can't pick and choose, but sadly your religion preaches to you to do exactly that.

    October 29, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Jon S. Ann Arbor, Michigan

    Ah, the usual of using the Bible to spread hate. The Bible says a lot of things that are repugnant to most people (yes, conservatives?) like killing certain sinners and keeping slaves, but we don't do those things, do we? Follow the Bible or not. Picking and choosing what you follow in such an important matter is the height of hypocrisy.

    Why do conservative seem to emphasize the hateful and exclusionary things most? Very sad.

    October 29, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Rob, Chicago, IL

    I am so tired of homosexuality being singled out as the end all, be all of sins. Until premarital sex (fornicators) is lumped in with homosexuality as it is in the scriptures, this IS bigotry. Also, I do believe that god does not approve of divorce (the only exception being adultery). Until such acts are condemned and vilified with equal volition, the gay community has a right to feel targeted. Jesus Christ always mentioned these groups together for a reason, so that one cannot place one over the other in the hierarchy of sins. Its time to stop the cherry picking and condemn all or none of these so-called offenses toward god!

    October 29, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. JJ, Washington DC

    I believe that is was Pascal in the early time that said " if i am wrong i have lost nothing, BUT if you are wrong you have lost your soul forever and will burn in hell" atleast that is what they said taught at Millersville University. So i ask you do you really wish to take that chance, heaven and hell are real. and the bible says i set before you life and death those are choices, and then the bible even gives you a hint, he says CHOOSE life. and have your life more abundantly, whether you are stealing, or lying, or fornicating, or homosexuality. Sin is sin and you will be judged accordingly.

    October 29, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. pat huntington ny

    I am sick of blacks saying to gays don't compare our discrmination to yours. As though blacks have some kind of monopoly on discrimination. Yes, you were enslaved, and endured jim crow. BUT discrimination against gays is thousands of years older than racial discrimination in this country. And gays were and continue to be killed for who they are genetically. So, perhaps our's plight is indeed more dire than what's happened to blacks...so perhaps the comparison isn't warranted...but that's so not because blacks have been treated worse, but because gays have been and continue to be treated worse.

    October 29, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. Ron, TX

    Pandering would have been if Obama took McClurkin off the roster for the event. Clinton fans love to try and stuff people into a catch-22. You do anything honest and forthright, and you're pandering. If he removed McClurkin from singing, the Clinton fans would have screamed "pandering! pandering!" He added a pro-gay reverend to the event, and the Clinton fans screamed "pandering! pandering!"

    All the meanwhile, they refuse to recognize that you must talk and have a dialogue with those you disagree with. Barack is vehemently pro-gay rights, he's said it time and time again, and everyone knows it. If you turn your back on people who are anti-gay rights, they will never change. They will never have a chance to see that you're a normal person just like everyone else. A certain portion of the gay community needs to stop being so ignorant, and start working towards speaking out and letting people realize that they aren't all that bad. If, however, this small sect of the gay community keeps distancing themselves from the average American, and keeps trying to "force" people to like them, there will never be ANY change.

    October 29, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  22. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    Exodus 31:15 “Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death”.

    This directly relates to one of the Ten Commandments and therefore is more important than homosexuality, which isn't one of the commandments. So why are all you who are advocating your objections based on religion not screaming about this? Why are you not condemning Sunday NFL games?

    Can you give any answer other than HYPOCRISY?

    October 29, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. Corey Baltimore MD

    Only a degenerate moron would CHOOSE to be a member of the last minority in the world that it's still considered acceptable to hate and discriminate against.

    Telling yourself otherwise is simply surrendering to the painful ignorance that grips this country.

    No one WANTS to be gay. Especially not in a country where ignorance and intolerance seem to be considered holy.

    It's just something that people have to learn to accept, both in themselves and in others, and get on with their lives. I have no problem with people who are gay but choose to be celibate and chaste for religious reasons, they have accepted the reality of who they are and just simply choose not to follow that nature.

    Those who claimed to be "cured" are sad examples of deception. They lie to themselves and to others with their claims. Most of the time, it's really nothing more than a way to sneak back into the closet.

    October 29, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. Kyer, New York City

    This is interesting...remember how the Mormon Church once had as its doctrine that the stronger one's faith becomes, the more white they become.
    How many more white, racist people out there still believe that black people are sinners and use the Bible to justify their beliefs? Remember that the Bible justified slavery...should we continue to use that standard today?

    October 29, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. John, Erie PA

    I spent some time doing research, and it is clear that Barack Obama is a stronger advocate for the gay community.

    You can find out on the LGBT page of his website- http://www.barackobama.com. He also has a GLBT myspace page- http://www.myspace.com/obamapride

    Hillary Clinton has no such section of her webpage, which mentions nothing about gay issues in general.

    Do your homework before calling a candidate anti-gay.

    October 29, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
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