October 29th, 2007
09:15 AM ET
11 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. Kathy, Naperville, IL

    This should not be an issue for Obama supporters on either side of the homosexual fence.

    In a speech regarding religion and politics some time ago Obama raised the subject of the separation of church and state, emphasizing the critical roll it has played in preserving our democracy, and how critical it remains, but he also firmly stated that it is wrong to ask believers to leave their religion at the door before stepping into a public arena.

    If anything this issue demonstrates that he has not deviated from his earlier statements.

    The separation of church and state created by the first amendment to the bill of rights, (further reflected in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom) prohibits Congress from establishing a national religion, the preference of one religion over another, or religion over non-religion. This prohibits the government from enacting legislation that establishes a prefernce for one religion over another or religion over non-religion, it also prevents it from prohibiting the free exercise of one's religion or belief's.

    I am happy that Rev. McClurkin has found peace in his faith.

    There are some elements included in his statement that deserve much more attention and focus, than his conversion though.

    1) "But there is a side of Christ that deals in judgment, and all sin is against God."

    This is an element of Christianity that people seem to be forgetting these days. It is Christ that deals in judgement, he made it clear in his teachings that it was not for us as imperfect beings ourselves to judge. He taught us through his examples, to reach out in compassion, love and forgiveness, when sharing his message and gift.

    2) "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"

    Many people equate the term homosexual exlusively with the sexual act, which is considered a sin in many religions. Rev. McClurkins use of the word feelings, in some ways pertains to this. The word homosexual in fact has two definitions, one refers to the sexual act, the other refers to an attraction to one of the same gender independant of sexual contact. There are in fact people who have never actually had sex, who consider themselves homosexual, because they feel an attraction to those of the same gender, and a lack of attraction to those of the opposite gender. (further down my post are references to some research that could shed some light on this aspect of things)

    While I am happy for the joy and peace Rev. McClurkin has found in his faith. I've seen and read enough to cast reasonable and considerable doubt on the concept of homosexuality as simply a matter of choice.

    My original goal in studying available information regarding this issue was simply to verify information stated as unequivical fact on a couple of anti-gay oriented web sites, regarding research showing indisputably no biological basis for homosexuality.

    While unable to verify the validity of those statements or even research(the only references I could find to the research they cited were on like minded sites, as opposed to actual scientific sites) I instead came across research that contradicted what I originally was searching for.

    Two research papers I found intesting, were based on earlier research that focused on heterosexual male and heterosexual famale based data, which was repeated with the inclusion of in one homosexual male based data, and the other homosexual female based data. They demonstrate clearly organic variations between the groups, and similarities that were surpising..but maybe not. Although it might be a bit dry reading for some, the information is quite interesting, and purely of an unbiased scientific nature.

    These research papers can be found at http://www.pnas.org/

    They are titled:

    Brain response to putative pheromones in lesbian women


    Brain response to putative pheromones in homosexual men

    In the course of putting this response together and re-examining the information I was including to ensure I didn't end up appearing to be a blithering idiot. The combination of religous reading and information, and scientific reading and information led me to contemplate some things that to me stood out, but I hadn't seen mentioned in discussions regarding these issues. While unconventional it didn't seem completely unplausable to consider so I'll share it at the risk of massive flames.

    In the old testiment God is at times vengeful, merciless, fearsome and terrifying, and it was in these times that God instructed abolute and total intolerance of homosexual sex, along with many other things, he instructed that people be stoned to death for various failings, and even instructed us to kill non-believers in Deuteronomy 13:6-10

    In the new testiment God in the form of Jesus guides us down a different path. While we are still bound by the laws and commandments handed down before in our personal lives, the laws of the old testiment were handed down by God to form and maintain order in his newly formed Nation of Israel, and with the coming of Jesus this was no longer needed nor desired as part of his new Kingdom. (The first separation of church and state?)

    From this point on Jesus instructs us that it is not for us to judge others, in Matthew 7 he refers to the person finding fault in another as a hypocrit, he teaches against condemnation, persecution, and so on. Instead he teaches us to reach out to people, with love, compassion. He does not teach us to avoid sinners, or turn our backs on them, he stated that he was not here for the righteous but for the sinners. He instructs his followers to follow these teachings and his example, to gently lead those who have not yet accepted him, as he himeself lead them, to him and his kingdom.

    His instructions to his followers in the New Testiment are very clear in regards to their behavior and how he expects them to respond those who are not followers, even when it comes to sinners, so much so, that reaching back and pointing to the old testiment for instruction when faced with an issue you really feel strongly on, denies his authority and teachings.

    Now it gets a bit twisted....all that considered. If homosexuality is in fact physiological, as the researh I referenced could indicate, that presents the possibilty it is an element of creation, and all of a sudden the tables would be turned on many.

    Yes I think too much but I hope I have provided some interesting reading.

    October 30, 2007 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  2. Nijmegen, Holland

    From Europe. SOOO funny to read this nonsense. Please, focus your attention on more important things...
    And homosexuality is a choice? So everyone who feels attracted to the same sex makes a choice to have that terrible feeling inside about some people hating you and having to prepare your coming out? HAHAHA, what year do you Americans live in? 1800?

    October 30, 2007 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  3. sean, new york, ny

    If this homosexuality-is-a-mistake rhetoric is hwo Obama 2008 feels, then they have LOST any chance of my vote.

    October 30, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. Jasper

    You Christians would all need industrial strength diapers if Obama's roadshow included an atheist or an anti-christian. So... so much for defending the right of McClurkin to have an opinion

    October 30, 2007 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. Nate, Chandler, AZ

    I, for one, am done preaching about this issue. Let them practice their gay lifestyle and see what happens. They were warned.

    October 30, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  6. Dan (Columbia, MD)

    Probably the biggest reason for the hissy fits is that far too often "Christianity" becomes a synonym for "hypocrisy".

    You're right... but I won't forsake my faith in God because some corrupt men have twisted his teachings.

    October 30, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Wanda, Washington, DC

    I will never believe a word that comes out of the mouth of any black person who still worships and believes in the bible.

    The bible was named after a known homosexual (King James VII of Scotland and I of England), who ordered the publishing of the bible from Latin to English. That bible was translated by a man who despised King James, but he just did not have the balls to say it to his face. Instead, he added untrue words and beliefs to the bible because King James could not speak or read English.

    After Nat Turner and Denmark Vessey were hanged in the 1800's, white peopele hurried out of fear to convert blacks to Christianity, and did so successfully! Blacks today still believe the bible and worship it better than white people do. The most sad part of it all is that democratic blacks voted for President Bush in 2004 because of their views on homosexuality.

    Get to know god from within, and not from a pimped out pastor!

    We as black folks can be so slow sometimes!!!!!

    October 30, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. T. Gardener, Hyannis, MA

    I had been supportive of his campaign up until this flagrant display of anti-gay bias on the candidate's part. I will now actively campaign against Barack Obama, and urge all gay men and lesbians to do the same.

    October 30, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. John, West Chester , PA

    Thanks CNN for Censoring my Comments...go ahead do it again, so I can tell 10 more people about you...

    All I wrote was homosexuality is a sin. The Bible is clear on that and thats what Donnie said. He spoke what the Bible states.. Obama is not God..

    October 30, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  10. Wayne Baldridge, Findlay, OH.

    Who promotes freedom of speech and respect for the opinions of others to be what you want to be? Gays? NO!
    I have not read all the comments but I have yet to read a comment by a gay respecting Donnie M.'s personal choice and position.
    It reveals the great insecurity and lack of tolerance by those who condemn
    others for intolerance.

    October 30, 2007 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  11. Shomari Jacksonville, FL

    LET HAVE DONNIE! You call those mannerism deliverance?

    October 30, 2007 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  12. Ajae, Baltimore, Maryland

    You know, I really don't respond to much, when it comes to news stories, but I had to take a moment to make thoughts known. Donnie spoke of hypocrisy in the church. It is so sad, that he himself stands in the shoes of the hypocrisy he speaks of. I have a friend in California, who personally knows Donnie, and saw him last month, and Donnie was trying to get with my friend, once again! Hypocrisy? Deliverance???

    October 30, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  13. jw--texarkana, tx

    Maybe homosexuality is niether a choice or innate. This issue has been overly simplified and most people are unwilling to think honestly and deeply about it. Is it possible that environmental factors in early childhood (i.e. lack of bond with father figure) could play a major role in determining sexual preference? The evidence for homosexuality being purely genetic is not substantial (contrary to popular opinion), so it is quite narrow to call either side a moron or a fanatic. There should be room for open discussion among empathetic people with differing opinions.

    October 30, 2007 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  14. Suge, Raleigh, NC

    Rev. Donnie McClurkin words are not in accordance with the facts or reality.

    October 31, 2007 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  15. Raphael, Houston, TX

    It is always interesting to me when people speak with absolute authority on any subject, especially one that they have no personal knowledge of or experience with. As a gay, Christian, African-American male, I can without reservation say that I did not ever make a conscientious decision to be attracted to a man. My innate aversion to females sexually is as I would expect would be experienced by heterosexuals attempting to be attracted to the same sex. I have also talked with many individuals over the years that have stated that they were converted through faith or some other means, and have always noticed a common theme among the majority of them. As in Donnie McClurkin's case, there seems to always be some form of childhood sexual abuse that may have precipitated the beginning of a certain type of lifestyle. Does this make one a homosexual? I don't think so. In these instances I would agree that the continuation of homosexual behavior is indeed a choice, and I would wholeheartedly agree that with God's help you can stop actions that were/are contrary to your initial make-up. For those of us who were not abused and did not learn homosexual behavior from another person, and definately would not have chosen to be an "outsider" or "sinner", I must strongly disagree with the "every homosexual has chosen to be one" argument.

    October 31, 2007 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  16. Tasha Manning, New York, NY

    The bible was named after a known homosexual (King James VII of Scotland and I of England), who ordered the publishing of the bible from Latin to English. That bible was translated by a man who despised King James,

    Posted By Wanda, Washington, DC : October 30, 2007 5:10 pm

    How come I never heard of this before? tell me more, I am interested in the historical facts of the bible

    October 31, 2007 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. Miss Thang...

    Firstly, Donnie McClurklin IS STILL GAY! My cousin lives in Atlanta. He bought one of his lovers a house.

    Most white evangelicals feel the same way. They've had far more success at derailing and vilifying the plight of homosexuals in this country than black Christians. You have many politicians win elections because of the the anti-gay push brought on by white evangelicals.

    FACT: These same homophobic black evangelicals always vote for the pro-gay democrat politician. So, gays really need to re-think this....

    October 31, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. John, Nashville TN

    I think all of those people criticizing Donnie McClurklin need to take a close look at the hate and intolerance in their own hearts. Donnie McClurklin was raped as a child by his uncle and older cousin. It's a well known fact that male rape victims later have issues with their sexuality even if they had been straight before. In the documentary "The Donnie McClurklin Story" he clearly said "I'm not trying to change those who don't want to change. But there are some people out there who are hurting and want help." Anyone who is sympathetic to victims of rape should applaud Reverend McClurklin. Frankly I'm disappointed with Barak Obama for not giving him a more vigorous defense.

    November 15, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  19. Steph, Dallas TX

    Our politial system being over run by religious zealots! It has been for most of my life. Now the democratic party is starting to get overrun?

    I don't think I'll be voting for Obama. *sigh* I don't know if any of them on either party (since we are stuck in a 2 part system) are worth voting for.

    We need good leadership so badly!

    November 20, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  20. Gaedon

    Well what can I say. If I speak out against this self proclaimed reformed homosexual then I will be called racist and homophobic. Well let me get rid of the homophobic thing since I am gay and its not a choice. Good for this guy. Perhaps he's had to deal with more intolerence than my white privledge. Perhaps he just hasn't had the opportunity to welcome his sexuality. I don't think politics is a place for religion. The Christian agenda always seems to take the presidency and dominates the political climate. So much for seperation of church and state. Well what about all the Musleums, Jews, Budhists, Wiccans, Pagans, Hindus and all other religions. What candidate represents the constitution? Does this one? Or does the Christian populist vote only count. Let me see! duhhh another day at the office of promoting the conservative christian agenda!

    January 5, 2008 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  21. FormerObamaSupporter


    Obama's Church (As professed to Oprah Winfrey)...(It's a black only church that supports Africa- nowhere does it say its support of America. Very alarming- research it for yourself to prove its validity.

    January 8, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. timika


    November 15, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
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