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July 31st, 2012
04:15 PM ET

Black pastors group launches anti-Obama campaign around gay marriage

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A group of conservative black pastors are responding to President Barack Obama’s support of same-sex marriage with what they say will be a national campaign aimed at rallying black Americans to rethink their overwhelming support of the President, though the group’s leader is offering few specifics about the effort.

The Rev. Williams Owens, who is president and founder of the Coalition of African-Americans Pastors and the leader of the campaign, has highlighted opposition to same-sex marriage among African-Americans. He calls this campaign “an effort to save the family.”

“The time has come for a broad-based assault against the powers that be that want to change our culture to one of men marrying men and women marrying women,” said Owens, in an interview Tuesday after the launch event at the National Press Club. “I am ashamed that the first black president chose this road, a disgraceful road.”

At the press conference, Owens was joined by five other black regional pastors and said there were 3,742 African-American pastors on board for the anti-Obama campaign.

When asked at the press conference for specifics about the campaign – funding, planned events and goals – Owens said only that the group’s first fundraiser will be on August 16 in Memphis, Tennessee. But Owens insisted that “we are going to go nationwide with our agenda just like the president has gone to Hollywood.”

In May, Obama announced on ABC News that he thought “same sex couples should be able to get married." The president had previously said that he opposed gay marriage, but said in May that his views were personal and did not represent a policy change.

In a fiery Tuesday press conference at the press club, Owens said Obama was taking the black vote for granted and decried the idea of similarities between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement, an assertion made by the NAACP following Obama’s same-sex marriage support.

Owens has long been an opponent of gay marriage and consults with the National Organization for Marriage as a liaison to the black churches.

At the press conference, Owens said that Obama’s support of same-sex marriage tantamount to supporting child molestation.

“If you watch the men who have been caught having sex with little boys, you will note that all of them will say that they were molested as a child…” Owens said. “For the president to condone this type of thing is irresponsible.”

Owens later walked about those comments back, saying he didn’t think the president was condoning molestation.

Earlier this year, memos obtained by The Human Rights Campaign in a Maine civil actions suit revealed that NOM aims at making gay marriage a wedge issued “between gays and blacks,” according to the released confidential plans.

“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks - two key Democratic constituencies," one NOM memo states. In light of the release, Brian Brown, president of NOM, said that he is proud of the group’s “strong record” on minority partnerships.

A Pew Research Center poll conducted in April found that 49% of African-Americans oppose legalized same-sex marriage, compared with 39% who support it. But that shows a softening on the position in recent years; In 2008, only 26% of blacks were in favor of same sex marriage, according to the same Pew poll.

At the same time, black voters overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008, while more recent polling shows a nearly equal level of support for the president’s 2012 reelection.

In a Public Religion Research Institute poll released last week, 18% of black Americans surveyed said they see same-sex marriage a “critical issue,” putting it behind the economy, education, deficit, a growing wealth gap and immigration.

According to Robert P. Jones, the CEO of the polling company, there is no evidence that same-sex marriage is something African-Americans will bring to the ballot box in November.

“Among African-Americans, I think same-sex marriage will be a nonissue in the election,” Jones told CNN. “We just have no evidence what so ever in slippage of support for Obama, even after his announcement in support of same sex marriage.”

The reaction of black pastors to the president’s support for gay marriage has been as varied as their congregations, ranging from condemnation to congratulations.

"We may disagree with our president on this one issue," Rev. Wallace Charles Smith said from the pulpit of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington on the Sunday after Obama announced his support for legalized gay unions. "But we will keep him lifted up in prayer. ... pray for President Barack Obama."

At the Tuesday press conference, Owens questioned Obama’s commitment to black Americans, stating that the president is just “half-black, half-white” and has long “ignored the black press.”

He is “ignoring the people that put him in the White House,” Owens said.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Black issues • Obama • Pastors • Politics • Race • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (1,433 Responses)
  1. Sacmar

    So let me get this straight, these people are against Obama simply because of his stance on gay marriage?!?! What about the other issues? There are more important things going on in this country besides gay marriage. If they encourage people to vote against Obama based solely on this and people actually do it, then they get what they deserve. African-Americans have the highest rate of poverty in the country. If Romney gets in office, it will be worse.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Steve

      No I am just not for a communist, or anyone who hates America as he does, and also someone who is President should have some degree of competance.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      Exactly. Using this issue to vote against their self interests. Also, supporting a party who thinks they're incapable of making an informed voting decision.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  2. JCarty

    Any black votes we can take away from the "food stamp president" is great.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • BlackPeopleMeet.com

      Any hole deep enough to bury you in is great.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  3. CR

    By the way, the black pastors have a supporter here. I admire the man's willingness to stick to what he believes is right (not because he made it up, either), in spite of the backlash he knows will come.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • jojo

      These are men of principal.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  4. TownC

    Amen! Mr. Obama and his policies have helped very few, including African Americans. Mr. Obama will lose big in November.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • JohnK

      We'll see if the American public is gullible enough to believe Republican lies and vote for Mitt the Half-Wit.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  5. N&W 1000

    Now that we know that Obama is directly related to the VERY FIRST Black Slave in America, these "pastors" are certainly not as black as Obama.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  6. N&W 1000

    This is nothing but a bunch of hypocritical uncle Toms.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  7. CR

    OK, will the mayors of Chicago and Boston ban black pastors now? Oh, wait, maybe there's a double standard there . . . or something.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  8. Bishop Romney's Money knows no bounds

    Check Mate, peons.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  9. Karm99

    By all means, vote for Mitt Romney.

    He will look out for the interest of African Americans in this country...............

    July 31, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • BlackPeopleMeet.com

      What is the African American's interest?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • cfjermestad

      How?

      August 1, 2012 at 4:15 am |
  10. JIm

    Well this just about seals the deal for Romney. Look for a Romney surge in the polls tomorrow morning.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  11. The_Pope_is_just_another_man

    You would think that a minority as the black culture is, would be the first to stand up to uncivil rights.Its not the pigmentation mind you.It is the stupidity of a hate filled religion.Now either Jesus loves us all or he doesn't.Which is it?

    July 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • CR

      come on, pope, Jesus loves the sinner but doesn't condone the sin. don't make it so easy.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  12. gay guy

    Go Mitt Go

    July 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  13. Imvotingforobama

    Um... when the GOP was in charge of everything from 2000-2006, where were all you black pastors when it came to the issue of abortion? Why weren't you calling out the GOP for not ending abortion? After all they controlled the WH, Congress and the Supreme Court so they could have easily ended abortion.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  14. MalcolmXcrement

    I find it pathetic that gay guys are now going into Chic-fil-A restaurants and filming themselves kissing, with children around them, with the intent of getting asked to leave so they can post it on You Tube as an example of their oppression.

    This is the gutter level that gay activism has sunk to for their Godless cause....

    July 31, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Imvotingforobama

      I find it sad that the GOP has shown racism still exists in America.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  15. Jessie Colt

    If church leaders want to preach politics, they need to start paying taxes. It is the job of the church to help unify communities and see to the spiritual well being of the members of their church, not to preach politics and discrimination.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      Well it is a rare occasion for me, but ok – amen.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • gram49

      Mrs. Obama spoke from the pulpit of a church and stated she thought that was the perfect place to talk about politics

      July 31, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • vowelmovement

      and your rule applies to those black preachers who support obama from the pulpit – right?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Steve

      There is no discrimination, all have the same rights as all else.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Reality check

      If paying taxes was the measure for voting eligibility, this wouldn't be an issue, would it?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  16. Dennis

    Where were you guys 4 years ago and abortion?

    July 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  17. gay guy

    Mitt Romneys trip was wonderful he is an American hero, and me and my gay friends care about AMERICA, NOT GAY MARRAIGE OR KING OBAMA

    July 31, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • manhandler1

      "Gay friends?".....Right.!..we believe you...yeah..uh huh...right on.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • gay guy

      Yes u freak, im from the south and we gays here are moderate to conservative, Obamas out out out

      July 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      lol. It is pretty obvious that Mitt Romney's trip was an embarrassment to the US. What planet are you from?? And he certainly is no hero of any sort. Well he might be a hero for those who are in the profession of buying and selling risk money. are people really this dim or is this a joke?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • The_Pope_is_just_another_man

      Then you should know "Mittens" well.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Steve

      Thanks for your honesty and standing up for America, Obama the true racist here, you don't agree with his socialist world you are a racist, very pathetic.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  18. gay guy

    I support the fine black pastors, im gay, my ole mans mixed and we cant stand socialist lieing Obama, support chic fi a, tomorrow, gay marraige in front of kids is WRONG, GAY AND STRONG JAMES

    July 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • yourlogicisflawed

      woop woop, concern troll alert

      July 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      well every once in a blue moon i must admit i like them strong and stupid.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  19. MrsJohnson

    Hooray for common sense! Hopefully they won't cave.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @MrsJohnson

      You Said: " Hooray for common sense! " 8O

      From The Article:

      " At the press conference, Owens said that Obama’s support of same-s-e-x marriage tantamount to supporting *child molestation*. " 8O
      “If you watch the men who have been caught having s-e-x with little boys, you will note that all of them will say that they were mol-ested as a child…” Owens said. “For the president to condone this type of thing is irresponsible.” 8O
      _________________________________________________________________________________________

      And that's *just* a couple of quotes from the article.

      "Common sense" you say ???? W – T – F ???

      Peace...

      July 31, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  20. LJ

    Although I do not agree with the President's stance on gay marriage, I'm definitely not voting for Romney!

    July 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      LJ

      What is so darn wrong with gay marriage? Please don't provide me with what the bible says, tell me what YOU really think about it.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • junior

      It is destructive behaviour. Not the order of nature.
      You will probably argue "animals do it"
      Me: Animals also eat their young and dine on their own feces too.
      You will probably argue "consenting adults should do what they want with each other"
      Me: Is it ok for brother and sister to marry, or other incestuous relationship? Why not?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @junior

      How is it destructive behaviour?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @junior

      Also, by what authority do you claim it to be "not of the order of nature" and then get to dismiss the happenings in nature by adding other things that occur in nature like it should automatically invalidate a valid argument against that assertion?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      junior – ah not in your majority in nature, therefore "not in the order". Yeah, I've met your kind of thinking before. (Very limited.)

      July 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @junior

      Hi -junior...

      You Said: " It is destructive behaviour[sic]. "

      How *exactly* is giving the rights to some gays that want to 'marry' *destructive behavior* ?

      You Said: " You will probably argue "consenting adults should do what they want with each other"
      Me: Is it ok for brother and sister to marry, or other incestuous relationship? Why not?"

      Your argument about 'incest' is a version of a 'Slippery Slope' fallacy.

      You still haven't demonstrated, nor answered the original question, at least 'yet', as to what you think is the exact harm of the right for gays to marry. ?

      Just so you know, I'm really trying to understand your posit-ition here.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      July 31, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • gay guy

      Hawaiiguest, a man has a pole and a woman has a --, its very unnatural, WE CANT HELP BEING GAY MENTALLY OR EMOTIONALY, WE ARE BORN GAY BBBUUUTTT TO FLAUNT IT IN FRONT OF CHILDREN IS CHILD ABUSE IN THE EXTREME, MY OPINION, JAMES

      July 31, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @gay guy

      How do you define unnatural?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Steve

      So you would vote to continue the destruction of the country?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Steve

      Junior is right, very destructive, hiv and other diseases that have started with perverted acts, syphilis started with having relations with animals, how sick, what is next, marriage between your dog or cat?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Steve

      A non-sequitur and a slippery slope argument. Good job, how many more are you planning on using while avoiding the qestion. Evidence, not fallacies, would make your case a lot better.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.