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 (1,434 Responses)
  1. ElmerGantry

    Giving someone equal rights does not infringe or take away rights from you.
    It just makes it illegal to enforce your prejudice and hate.

    It really is just that simple!

    Hey Preachers, remember this,

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

    And this,

    That which you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me! [Jesus]

    Stop denying others equal rights and practice the Christian family value of treating others with dignity and respect for a change.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      "Stop denying others equal rights and practice the Christian family value of treating others with dignity and respect for a change."

      THAT is not the Christian family value. The Christian family value is consistant with these bigots and includes brain-washing and worst of all, lying to children (or worse).

      July 31, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • AMMO80

      ElmerGantry, do have any idea of what it means to stand up for Jesus Christ? When was the last time you trusted the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus Christ to lead you in the way he would have you go? Satan has blinded many eyes from the immoral behavior of adulterers, LGBT, muderers, slanderers, etc. from the truth of God's word. If we fail to obey God, then we chose to accept His just judgement against us. Proverbs says lean not unto your own understanding, but in everything acknowledge Him and He will guide your path. Remember, it is God alone that created you in your mothers womb. And it is He who also tells us that our bodies are a temple, a place where He wants the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Jesus Christ, and Himself to dwell. Read 1 Corinthians 6 and find out for yourself.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • AMMO80

      ElmerGantry, do you have any idea of what it means to stand up for Jesus Christ? When was the last time you trusted the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus Christ to lead you in the way he would have you go? Satan has blinded many eyes from the immoral behavior of adulterers, LGBT, muderers, slanderers, etc. from the truth of God's word. If we fail to obey God, then we chose to accept His just judgement against us. Proverbs says lean not unto your own understanding, but in everything acknowledge Him and He will guide your path. Remember, it is God alone that created you in your mothers womb. And it is He who also tells us that our bodies are a temple, a place where He wants the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Jesus Christ, and Himself to dwell. Read 1 Corinthians 6 and find out for yourself.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • ElmerGantry


      I agree. They talk about the golden rule, love your neighbor, and etc as family values; but they do not practice what they say and they talk the talk but do not walk the walk etc.

      I am calling on them to not only talk anout treating everyone with dignity and respect, but to actually treat everyone with dignity and respect.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • ElmerGantry


      Soooo, you are rationalizing the descrimination and berating other human beings?

      July 31, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • ElmerGantry


      So you like to quote the bible. I can too.

      Here is a nice biblical family value in the bible,

      22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a vïrgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
      22:29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

      i.e. see a woman you want to marry, all you have to is räpe her and pay 50 shekels of silver and there you go.

      P.S.: If you're thinking of claiming that I am missing the context remember the burden of proof is on the claimant, so be sure to include the missing context with any apologistic comment.

      Praise the lord and pass the ammo.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  2. cliff

    There is a difference between condoning gay marriage, and believing that the government has the right to tell an individual who they can and cant marry. I dont necessarily think that gay marriage is moral, but my opinion has no place in someone else's bedroom.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • J

      It doesn't Keep anyone from doing anything in the bedroom.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  3. douglas


    July 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  4. Jeff Cox

    Seems like an awful lot of Christians need to revisit the story of Jesus coming upon the stoning of Mary. There are an awful lot of people with stones in their hands right now.

    Why don't you have enough faith in God to leave it up to Him to decide whether or not gays are violating some horrible "rule"?

    Another example of how there are an awful lot of Christians are perfect examples of how NOT to live if you want to follow Christ's loving example.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • John P

      Many so called Christians are really Jews, they only adhere to the Old Testament.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Worse, they only adhere to what their preachers use to rationalize the ignorance and prejudice they already possess.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • AMMO80

      I believe you forgot the rest of the story. Jesus told the woman to GO AND SIN NO MORE!!! This is what the gay activist don't want to hear. God's will is that no one perish but that all would come to repentance. A simple definition of repent means to turn, or turn around. God's words left his mouth and entered into the earth and will not return to him void. Believe it or not, God is not only a God of love but also a God of judgement. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Have you truely made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life today? If not, then do so today for none of us know whether or not we will see tomorrow.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • J

      Christians don't believe gays are worse than anyone else. Being gay isn't what makes it wrong. Its condoning the act of sodomy under a government law that is seen as unbearable.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  5. Robin

    This is the dumbest idea, theycould stand together for several other issues that is infesting our community and they choose this one... ??? to name a few, African Americans have the highest Aids rates, our children growing up without a father in their life... Black on black crime, our children not succeeding in school and of course African Americans making up the prison population... Way to shed the light on some real topics "Pastors" ... These pastors are complete idiots!! oBAMA 2012 .... If your going to stand up for something "Pastors"... Stand up for something that is going to move our race forward.....

    July 31, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Fact

      Move your "race" forward? How about the whole country forward.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Vote.Mitt.and.No.Tax.for.the.Riches

      Every one of the issues you cited was caused by gay marriage! As my guy Mitt would have said it, it is all because of the culture... ;)

      July 31, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Robin

      Since you arent apart of my race, you wouldnt quite understand what I mean, and I do apologize if you are offended by my comment... My race is struggling and if these pastors can muster up some media for this, they could on other topics, and the country isnt hurting like my race ... thanks for your comment friend

      July 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Robin

      The other person who commented on my post.. you should infact kill yourself and please dont leave a note because clearly you are a waste of space on earth... VOTE OBAMA 2012 thanks

      July 31, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  6. Thomas

    You would think that black people would fully understand what it feels like to be discriminated against, called names, beat and killed and that they wouldn't do the same to another class in our society. Yet, once again – just like the religious white folks, they fail to follow the "Jesus" that they claim they do. What happened to "love thy neighbor as thy self" or "love one another as I have loved you". Maybe these followers of Jesus need to go back and read "ALL" of their bible, not just the parts they like.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Fact

      They have read ALL of the bible; that's how they came to the conclusion sin is sin, Christ died to free us from sin not wink at it.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  7. mikem

    So anybody with morals is now a "bigot"? In that case I am very proud to be a bigot.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Thomas

      Are you that ignorant on purpose or can you just not help yourself?

      July 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      I think you misunderstand "morals". You are confusing them with religious dogma.

      Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you're told.
      Religion is doing what you're told regardless of what is right.

      Treating other people as respected equals is right, and you should know that. Only religion has taught you otherwise.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • bpsf

      Nice to know it can be justified along with hate etc.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Manda

      For some reason I suspect mikem was already proud to be a bigot.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • tallulah13

      You have a very low standard of morals. What is good and right to you is simply irrational bigotry to those of us who believe in equal rights.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Neo

      Wow! So if we disagree with your beliefs we are Bigots or hateful? You may want to take some time for self reflection.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Very well stated Rufus!

      July 31, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  8. tfbuckfutter

    1) Way to miss the forest for the trees


    2) Congratulations....it's nice to see one of the most mistreated and maligned groups in the history of this country IMMEDIATELY start mistreating and maligning an even weaker minority. Bully much?

    July 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  9. Nancy

    I am very tired of religious organizations sprouting off on stuff like gay marriage, with no understanding about anything historically on the concept and function of marriage. Most of the people in the world never marry, or if they do it is not a life long commitment. Historically marriage was for the rich and powerful only and love was not a requisite it was meant to keep the wealth and power restricted to just a small percentage of any population.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Tom

      Where do you get the word "marriage". For your understanding marriage originated in the bible. Marriage was the plan of Almighty God. Not man's idea. It was God who conducted the first marriage and that was before man committed sin. Why gay people wanted to use the term 'Marriage". Marriage according to God is between man and woman. The foundation of society and country and the world as a whole is in the family which is union of man and woman to propage mankind to serve the living God.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  10. Fact

    Thank you to these black pastors who put GOD first – even before race. Thank you brothers.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Bill in Florida

      I thought God was a raging qu eer?

      July 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • bpsf

      I thought only GOD had the right to JUDGE?

      July 31, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Tom

      I agree fact. . You took the words out of my mouth. God bless.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Yes, thank you African-American pastors, for forgetting what it was like to be treated like you didn't deserve that same rights as white Americans. Thank you African-American pastors for showing how to use the bible as an excuse for discrimination, much like it has been used for centuries to rationalize the enslavement of blacks. Thank you for wearing your hypocrisy with pride, so that we can all know exactly who you are.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  11. DM

    The man has an opinion on behalf of his church. Good for him. Has nothing to do with race. Don't condemn the man. Geez. Its ok to draw a line of tolerance at some point.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • bpsf

      Tolerance, pleeeease, what a laught

      July 31, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  12. WOT

    Obama mother was Anglo/Saxton and his father was African Black not American(African) for those who did not know!

    July 31, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  13. Rufus T. Firefly

    Considering that Jesus never said word one against gay people, it seems that conservatives are just invoking the name of "The Lord" as an excuse to exercise their own personal prejudices. It's like they are taking His name for their own vain motives...like just taking the Lord's name in vain...wait...isn't there one of those Commandment thingy's about that?

    July 31, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • bpsf

      They always go back to Leviticus when all else fails. I always thought the first rule was love God above all else, and then lover one another. It's just so important to have someone to step on. Think of all the people murdered in the name of God. He/She must be so disappointed.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Joe R.

      4 “Haven’t you read,” he [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? Matthew 19:4

      July 31, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Joe R.

      At BPSF: There have been more people murdered under the name of atheism (Former Soviet Union, N. Korea, Cuba, Communist China, etc.)

      July 31, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Tom

      I would like you to read from Bible the book of Romans Chapter 1 verses 26 and 27.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Sorry, Tom. Those are Paul's words in a letter to the Romans. And even so, there is no commandment against it – it is only used as an insult. Jesus never said those words or anything like them.

      You, like the others, are reaching for something that isn't there to justify your own judgements.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  14. bpsf

    Nice to see that bigotry wins again, even at their own expense. It's like a chicken voting for Col. Sanders.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • dave

      best... comment.... ever!

      July 31, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      omg. lmao.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  15. liberalefty

    BLACKS NEED A SCAPEGOAT TOO...WE'RE only human...eventhough we have 70% out of wedlock birtha,make up 40% of prison inmates,record high school dropout, who cares...lets bash gays

    July 31, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  16. Klancy Schmertz

    Dumb and Dumber

    July 31, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  17. liberalefty

    its a shame that blacks want to be bigoted towards gays

    July 31, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Drew

      Disagreeing with those that choose to live an immoral lifestyle isn't bigotry. It's not different than telling a drug addict that their lifestyle is wrong. Calling someone a "bigot" because you disagree with traditional lifestyles delineated in most world religions shows your ignorance.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Bill in Florida

      They're a small minority of African Americans, probably <5% Not a big deal.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • bpsf

      Drew, you need to look up the word. A person who is INTOLERANT. esp on religious issues. It's all about power and keeping control, something a black man SHOULD understand.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  18. ass9

    Its funny how he mentioned equal rights.I guess that only pertains to blacks.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • bpsf

      When are white people going to wake up, they don't want you to be equal. They want seperate and superior.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  19. Gail the butterfly

    Owens says this campaign is "An effort to save the family"? Are you insane? This will hurt families more than help them. So we will have more bigotry and bullying at school the kids of gays will be forever picked on. Gay people will be met with more hatred. Have you learned nothing from history? Go on to church but leave the rest of us and our damn civil liberties alone. Remember those? Mr.Owens? Isn't this America? Don't ALL Americans have the same rights? Or just the Christians with narrow minds.....They get to make decisions for all of us. They know what's best. It's in the Bible. Or I mean THEIR bible. And as far as black culture & the family gays have played a limited role of messing up families I assure you. Straight blacks have done fine job on their own. Obama is the only one who can set blacks straight to clean up their mess in their communities. He is offering common sense solutions, oh lets just say Jobs? Education? Those who want a better life black or white just need to take responsibility . And what is all this crap about gays molesting young boys? You're a pastor! Pastors and Priests have done their share of abuse . Who are you kidding. I wouldn't doubt if you are a closet case. That's why it upsets you so. And a pervert too. So many of the clergy are perverts. That's a disgrace.I would trust a gay nanny with my kids and not you!

    July 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Peggy Munro

      My dear brothers and sisters, The Lord tries to lift us up and you spit in his face.Remember when it was us. Remember when it was us and others fought with us. Now is our time to fight for equality for all people, less when we need others for our next fight, they would remember this day. I am totally shocked and disappointed. I never thought I would see this day. I pray that you come to your senses.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  20. dc

    Great to hear people are thinking about issues instead of color! Funny how anyone this open-minded is declared an "Uncle Tom" or a racist! Looks to me like the kool-aid drinking left are the REAL racists!

    July 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • bpsf

      Not racist, a BIGOT...bet he wants women in the kitchen also.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:27 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.