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. Dr Atomic

    MIAMI FOR CHRIST, you are the kind of "CHRISTAIN" that's pretty easy to make fun of. Just thought you'd like to know. Hope you win that struggle against that homosexuality that tv forced upon you. Actually I don't think the Lord ever told us, or FORBIDE whatever the heck is, not to speak against homosexuality. I don't even find it TEMTING.
    In your case you shouldn't tell people what you think, because you sound ten years old. Get your mom to help you with the spelling next time.

    October 29, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  2. Bob, Macon, Georgia

    "How Obama stands behind this man is reflective of his character."

    Perhaps it is on the "down low" 😉

    October 29, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  3. jw, canadian,ok

    Well now that we have cured homosexuality, now maybe we can cure cancer.

    October 29, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Didn't these evanglicals get enough money from the last election to push the anti-gay agendy. My bad, they were too busy hanging out in the bathrooms up in minnesota. donnie mcclurkin needs to get his money back because he still looks gay. i don't care if you're staight or gay, the next president needs to get gas prices down, us out of iraq, deal with healthcare and social security, national decifit, bias sentencing laws(especially in the south), immigration laws, corporate windfall taxes, just name a few. I'm an african-american man, I thought most male gossip singers where gay.............

    October 29, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. A bunch of guys named Steve and Adam

    Thank you all very much for not rolling out that old chestnut about 'God didn't make Adam and Steve.'

    October 29, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. atotheron

    people should not be that surprised about this. here we have obama, a product of interracial marriage – which used to be illegal and seen as immoral – who now states he himself is against gay marriage. he instead offers up second-class status of "civil unions". how he can turn around and use the same twisted thinking against gay marriage that was once used against interracial marriage is abhorrent, especially considering his own history. here we have a man who has experienced bigotry firsthand then turning around and fostering the same kind of bigotry himself.

    as for the comments by mcclurkin...everyone complains about people who lash out against christians and the bible. well, christians are doing it to themselves. what do they expect?? they go around telling everyone in the world how they should live their lives and judging the world based on fictitious texts which they manipulate to suit their needs. and then they have the audacity to feign offense when people fight back? oh please, we see right through that. how about you live your own life, let other people live theirs and stop trying to convert or condemn anyone and everyone who does live how you think they should live.

    gay people chose to be gay the same day you chose to be straight.

    October 29, 2007 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  7. Ken, River City, Iowa

    The full quote in context:

    "How do they know that they are homosexual? If you ask them and go back far enough, it’s usually a pinpoint place. They want help. That’s what I’m there to do. I’m not in the mood to play with those who are trying to kill our children. Someone has to be the voice for them, and the children are only hearing one voice right now."

    October 29, 2007 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. Nick, Houston, TX

    I am sorry to all the gay people out there, but God didn't create you gay. It is a choice. We are born into a sinful world, we are not born with sin and the devil "whispers things in our ears" throughout our life to get us to go the way he wants. Committing gay acts is a sin just like murder, lieing, cheating, fornication, and stealing. How can you say God created you gay? That goes against everything the bible states. Donnie didn't say anything wrong or anti-gay. How come when you have an opinion that is opposite of a groups, it is anti? Being gay is not a sin, it's the sexual acts that is the sin. Gay people don't want to realize that God can change your sexual orientation because they don't want to admit that it is a sin to endulge in homosexual acts. Now I am not one of those Christians who say gays are going to hell because that is ignorant. Only those who don't believe in Christ we meet that fate. But I do believe that if you allow the holy spirit to work on you then you can transform your desires. That goes for any person dealing with sin, which is everybody. The commenter who talks about distinction – homosexuality is not who you are inside. It's the choice to allow sin to take over your life. You don't want to hear that is not a choice, but you want everybody to believe it is from birth. So how are we different in pushing what we want people to believe? I don't care if you are gay or not..I love you. I just want everybody to love Christ to see heaven..

    October 29, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Timothy Meyer, Rochester, New York

    Christians like Rev. McClurkin who claim that Christ's love is conditional – "(the) premise of Christ is love...but there is a side that deals in judgment...", miss the big surprise of classic Christianity -God's love is in fact unconditional and that's the final judgment. As difficult as this is for some to wrap their heads around, its no excuse for incendiary remarks.

    The thoelogical sand on which Rev. McClurkin and those of similar religious conviction base their Biblical interpretation, neglects that most all Americans today are breaking one or another legal commandment. Get over it – Gay, straight, whatever – Christ's love knows no bounds.

    October 29, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  10. Dirk, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    I am getting sick of Buybull thumping morons trying to ruin the country.

    All you folks ever do is talk about sex .....and yet your country is committing genocides, rape, pillaging of Iraq and now you are foaming at the mouth at the prospect of attacking Iran.

    Karma won't be kind to America.

    October 29, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. John, NYC,NY

    Everyone can stay away from sexual activity but that doesn't change your sexual nature, this is hardly a "divine" story.

    October 29, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. Matthew, Arlington, VA

    Many on this blog have indicated that they don't understand why people would react so negatively to these public comments. It's not necessarilly the comments themselves. Rev. McClurkin is by all means entitled to his opinions and should not be barred from making the statement he did. The issue that I and many others have is the brand of faith that this represents. The Ex-Gay movement in this country is largely radical and sometimes violent. Close-minded parents send their gay children to these programs to cure them of their perceived illness, where they are subjected to varying degrees of physical and psychological abuse. There's a reason that suicide rates are higher in gay teenagers, and it's not because they think God doesn't love them. It's because they think their parents don't love them, that their friends and families won't accept them , and that they are somehow inferior because they cannot change the persons whom they are attracted to.

    The central message of Christianity is supposed to be love for one's fellow man. So when your son or daughter demonstrates enough love and trust in you to reveal that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, why don't you practice what you preach? Be open about your feelings on the matter, have a discussion, reaffirm your love, and commit yourself to working through it together. Maybe you'll find that your child will change and come to share your views. Or maybe they won't and you'll find that your gay son or daughter is still worthy of your love and respect even though your faith backround is at odds with who they are. The bottom line is, nothing in this world is worth sacrificing the love of a family.

    October 29, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. Tim- NYC

    It is shameful for all you "GOD FEARING" folks to use a Book of stories to continue to spread hate and messages of intolerance to yout LGBT brethran.
    How dare you cast that first stone. Who DO you think you are? If you were REALLY a good hearted and caring AMERICAN, you would try to walk a mile in their shoes before casting your know it all judgement.

    Why would anyone CHOOSE to be GAY?
    So ignorant and hateful people could use them as stepping stones for their personal and professional gain or so people who hate their place in life can feel better about berating someone that looks and sounds like them??


    You have LBGT friends, family and Co-workers. I guarantee it. It's time for this country to realize that being Gay is not a Sin, it's just a FACT.

    Stop hating based on a BOOK of FICTION!
    The book was written by SLAVE OWNERS.

    How about we revert to those times just because it was so then?

    I didn't think you'd like that Hate or discriminatory idea either.

    God Bless the educated and truly compassionate.

    October 29, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  14. Bart, Houston, Texas

    I love people who say that they're no longer gay. The reason I love it is because they weren't totally gay to begin with. They were, and still are bisexual, which means that if anything ever happens to this guy's significant, opposite other, then his sexuality will again be up for grabs.

    Personally speaking, I hope this guy ask God for forgiveness for his lying about saying his liking of men was a choice. He knows that when he was twelve or so, he just automatically found himself being attracted to the same sex. And pardon me, but a twelve-year-old doesn't make that kind of choice. You just don't wake up one morning and find the new boy (or girl, if you're a lesbian) in school drop dead gorgeous.

    The only reason so many people feel the way they feel about gays is the Bible. And while I believe in God and Jesus, I remember also that the Bible was written by man, not God. And since man has this curious ability to make even the biggest lie seem believable, how do we know the part in the Bible about homosexuality was not (at the very least) exaggerated by the same like minded ultra-conservate hypocrites that exist today? We don't.

    Now I do think some gays go out of their way to be a pain-in-the-butt, but at the same time, I can understand the gay movement. Afterall, if the ultra-consevatives of this country got their way, gays would be locked away in exile. Why? Because ultra-conservatives only believe in giving people their rights as an American, as long as that person does things the way they see fit. In other words, ultra-conservatives want gays to be obedient. And it's because they aren't, that they hate them so much (even beyond the sin, it's not a sin factor).

    Oh, one more thing. These studies that prove homosexuality is a choice, is a lie, at least when it comes to most gays. And please, don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. Because you, a straight person, don't know what it's like to be a gay. And quite frankly, a bisexual, who's trying to fit in with 'proper society', is going to always say it's a choice, or that they're cured, when they know that they aren't.

    October 29, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Calvin Preddie, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

    If all one reads about homosexuality in the Bible is Leviticus 18.22, then considering homosexuality to be just a choice is understandable. However, there are other rfereences in the Bible to homosexuality that should be considered. Jesus, in Matthew 19:12 spoke of some men being "eunuchs" by birth, and by being made so of men and also being so in the service of the Lord. However, the most startling reference to homosexuality and Lesbianism appears in Romans 1:23 – 27, where God is reported to have given man up to uncleanliness to dishonour their own bodies. This was God's actions because he/she/it decided that man had changed the image of the "uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man". It appears that homosexuality may both be a choice and something that one is inclined to from birth and possibly something that one is forced into.

    You can't take just one thought from Leviticus without considering some of the other outrageous statements such as in Leviticus 25:44 about slaves, and 21:20 about approaching the altar with a defect in one eye, and in several other passages.

    October 29, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  16. Bob, Macon, Georgia

    "Lev. 18:22, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."

    Leviticus says a lot of other interesting things as well. For example, you shouldn't eat shellfish. You should ENSLAVE lesser people (hear that one, McClurkin?). Do you follow ALL of Leviticus? I think not!

    The thing about the Bible is, the New Testament is the UPGRADE that Christians get. It "over-writes" all the bad parts of Judaism in the Old Testament.

    So, "an eye for an eye" is upgraded to "turn the other cheek".

    That's why God sent his only Son – because we were getting His Word all wrong! Going back to the old, bad ways of the Old Testament is going against both Jesus and God.

    So, as a Christian, you should follow the teachings of JESUS, not a lot of old Jewish stuff. If you want to be "Old Testament" then convert to Judaism. Seriously.

    If you read the NEW Testament (Bible 2.0) you'll see that Jesus says nothing at all about Homosexuality. He teaches about LOVE.

    So-called "Full Gospel" Christians are not really Christians. They are little more than pagans.


    October 29, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  17. w19 CA

    McClurkin interview in the Chicago Tribune recently:

    "I don't believe that even from a religious point of view that Jesus ever discriminated toward anyone, nor do I," McClurkin said in an exclusive interview with the Tribune.
    "Most of the things that were said were totally out of context and then other things weren't true."
    "My only concern is to be in place with Sen. Obama in unity and bring all the factors together for the sake of change," he said. "That's my only thing. Of course some agents have twisted it as though he [Obama] were embracing a racist or a Nazi, and that is anything but true."
    "I believe in his stance. I believe in his platform and his agenda. So when they asked me if I would be a part of it, there was no problem," said McClurkin, who has performed at both parties' conventions and identifies himself as a Democrat. "We don't have to agree on everything, but we do have to agree on the main thing: that there needs to be change and I believe he is the candidate to bring it."
    For years, McClurkin has talked from the pulpit about how he was raped by a male family member as a child. It was that act, he has said, that sent him into living as a gay man for the better part of 20 years. He now says he is straight and that his ministry is open to those who say they no longer want to live as a gay person. What he doesn't do, he says, is crusade against homosexuality.
    "There's never been a statement made by me about curing homosexuality. People are using that in order to incite anger and to twist my whole platform on it. There's no crusade for curing it or to convert everyone. This is just for those who come to me and ask for change."

    October 29, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. Randy S. Lawton, OK

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

    OK MJB, you must be THE expert, and you know this...how?

    "Gay people know being gay is wrong."

    And Mike Vazquez from Richmond, since you are apparently the speaker for all gay people everywhere; would you care to substantiate this most ignorant of all statements?

    "One point five percent of the population has Obama wrapped around their, uh, finger."

    Clift in Burlingame: Would you care to share with the class where you derived this totally arbitrary statistic?

    In closing I'd just like to ask all those that "chose" to be heterosexual, at what point in your life did you sit down and make that conscious choice? There must have been a moment when you did because apparently all the homosexuals had such a moment and they decided that they would like same gender people.
    So if they had to make that choice so must we all have. QED

    October 29, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  19. v.miller columbia,sc

    Look people, When are we as a Nation of People will understand that Homosexuality is totally against the will of God. Lets stop making excuse. Yes God can Forgive,And he will., If we Confess. Yes it is Totally Wrong, And no I do Not Agree with it. Because it is Against Nature.Congragulations to MR.Mcclurkin for taking a stand on what he believes we need more like him.

    October 29, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. Maleek- NYC

    I love how all you Bible Thumpers are so well educated about choosing to be gay.

    Have you chosen to be straight?

    You would think that with so many countries around the world already past this ignorant and hateful stage in our development, that we as the supposed LAND of the FREE, would realize that to legislate hate is unacceptable in ANY TERMS.

    You would REALLY believe that African Americans more than any other group would remember what it was like to be discriminated against.

    Love your brothers and sisters regardless of their sexual orientation. This business of hating and pretending its ok because of some book written by WHITE men, is utterly ignorant and SHAMEFUL.

    If God has his way, he will send all you haters a GAY child so you can see once and for all, it is NOT A CHOICE.

    October 29, 2007 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. Andrew in Ohio

    The term "deliverance" in religious use describes the process by which a person, believed to be under the control of an evil supernatural entity called a demon, is set free – delivered – from the control of that demon.

    Is THIS what you mean happened? Are Homosexuals "demon possessed?

    So....all you who are claiming to be "delivered".....are you celebate? Are you married? Do you have 0% homosexual thoughts now? Anything less than 100% on these is NOT Biblical deliverance.

    October 29, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  22. Belo, Baltimore, MD

    I am saddened that Obama could not stand by his initial choice to solely use Donnie McClurkin and not add any other gay preacher/pastor to the roster. You can not please all the people all the time. Take a position and defend that position and people will respect you because you took a stand.
    Donnie McClurkin can only speak on his personal experience and give an honest answer. Often gay people are the first to get upset when someone voices their opinion but would like for everyone to respect their alternative lifestyle. Give me a break. God is the only one that can judge. Do the research and study so you will be in the will of God.

    October 29, 2007 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. Harold Dixon; Murray, Kentucky

    Julie Green states: "I understand what it is like to struggle with homosexual thoughts. I too, believe it is wrong and I am glad that he is standing up for what he believes in. I think it is great that Mc Clurkin was able to be free from homosexuality."

    I too appreciate whenever someone finds their true self. But the fact that God delivered McClurkin from his homosexuality, doesn't mean that God does this for everyone.

    God creates all kinds of people. Homosexuality may not always be a choice. For instance, God obviously creates hermaphrodites, or people with both sex organs. They didn't make a choice to be that way.

    So the Bible may be wrong in condemning homosexuals. It sure was wrong that epilepsy is demon possession.

    And let's not lose track of Jesus, who embraced the downtrodden and outcasts of his day, even if it meant breaking with scripture.


    October 29, 2007 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. Norman- OKLAHOMA

    I'd like to know more about Reverend McGurkin's sexual experiences.

    At what point in his life did he 'Choose' to begin to have sex with MEN?

    When he was having SEX with MEN, did he enjoy it?

    Did he too get caught in the act like the other Ministers, Priests, Reverends, and Republican Senators???

    It's amazing how everyone finds God or Rehab when they get caught with their pants down.

    These HATE SPEWING HYPOCRITES are your spiritual and Political leaders.

    Maybe it's time to quit being lead around by hypocrits and time to just accept your neighbor for who they are and enjoy the world that God made for everyone.

    October 29, 2007 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. Anonymous


    October 29, 2007 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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