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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 (1,434 Responses)
  1. d

    Curious, if you can pray away the gay..... can you pray away the black?

    July 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • junior

      You can change behaviour, not your pigmentation.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • FalseProphet

      Junior - so you are saying you could see yourself sleeping with a man you just choose not to? Honey, you are gay and just don't want top admit it....

      July 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Toki Wartooth

      I ems prayings that you wills go aways LOL's!

      July 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • junior

      absolutely, It depends how you feed your Ego.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      Why would you want to?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • liberalefty

      thats what bleach is for

      July 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  2. Eric Mills

    Shame on these pastors. And they dare invoke the Civil Rights Movement.

    Dr. King must be whirling in his grave.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Tom Truthteller

      Shame on this nation of gays and their supporters who would deny one company's CEO his 1st Amendment rights because of his personal faith. Such intolerance from the very people in the gay community who repeatedly tell us that we must be tolerant of them......and they can justify hypocrisy.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:44 am |
    • Scotchguard

      Tom, no one denied a CEO of his first amendment rights. He can say whatever he wants to. But he also needs to be aware that when he says things that are controversial, people will react. If his business can handle that, what's the problem?

      September 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  3. Name*daylotaylor

    Owens is just another hypocritical black man. What i learned as a christian is that all sins are forgivin thru the blood of jesus christ. And for the whole world to nit pick at one indivisual issue all the time that divide us nothing will never get done. I think it is very selfish. We need to come together and tackle each and every problem. People need to really really really know that the issues are not the problem the people are the problem yeah i said it the people are the problem. The reason we r not solving any problems is cus of everybody selfish agenda. I want to say more.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • junior

      people behaving badly is the problem

      July 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  4. Reggie19

    I agree with the pastors 100%. I believe in the traditional marriage between a man and a woman. If you choose to live an alternative lifestyle then so be it but do not expect us to jump on the band wagon. We do not have to accept it and I believe that Obama should not have gotten involved but I suppose he will do or say anything to get the votes.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I bet your Pappy said the same thing about Inter Racial marriage.

      What is it about Fundies being obsessed with other peoples Booty Calls?

      Go and get yourself some, and maybe you wont be as obsessed with other peoples bedroom antics!

      July 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • J.W

      So you think that it will help him rather than hurt him come election time?

      July 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • FalseProphet

      1. Nobody chooses to be part of a victimized and hated on part of society. Every major, non-partisan medical and scientific body in the country has come to this conclusion; that is gay people are born gay. 2. I don't want your church or belief structure dictating how I live my life. I fully support your church's right not to recognize gay marriage, but in the eye of the law there should not be a religious litmus test if 2 consenting adults want to love each other, spend their lives together, and file joint taxes.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      I love that Obama showed some courage and spoke out on the issue. Reggie19 is a complete moron, a bigot, and a menace to society.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Well false, many of us a born a certain way, yet our behavior is regulated. Exibitionist can't expose themselves, and serial murderers can't murder even though they are born that way.

      You should be able to do as you please, because its no one elses buisness and no one is being forced Any other argument is a trap.

      Freedom for the sake of freedom. Live as you see fit, and let the Christians be damned to their own imaginary hell.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Postmaster

      I agree totally.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Tom Truthteller

      Thank you Reggie..........now listen to the intolerant hypocrites shout down your right to free expression. If they can't have the whole nation joining in with their political correctness requirement, they will not tolerate any dissenting viewpoints.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:46 am |
    • Scotchguard

      What I find fascinating is the people who will cut their own economic throats over a social issue that has little effect on their daily lives. No one is asking these people to give up anything - gay people having equal rights costs them nothing - yet they are willing to put their economic lives in peril to deny gay people rights. Unbelievable.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  5. realbuckyball

    This fundie BS is one of the reasons HIV is growing the fastest of all, in these communities.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  6. Sammy Strong

    If these retards they call pastors are worried about gay marriage then that shows that they are not at all concerned about the african americans who will be affected by a Romney Presidency boy how people are so ignorant

    July 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • junior

      Please comment on what will happen if Romney gets elected?

      July 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Tom Truthteller

      Yes Sammy, with the incredible and measurable increase in black unemployment (14.4%) under the Obama presidency and more black and white folks on the food stamp roles and a decrease in medium family household income under Obama, please tell us why the black population would be any worse under Gov. Romney? (and please stick with facts in your answer)

      August 1, 2012 at 3:49 am |
  7. Thinkstr8

    One would not think that blacks would discriminate against anybody but the again; they are christians! It is funny that the focus of the christian church, Jesus, who loved everyone; would end up with bigots for followers! You have all come a long way haters; I am sure Jesus would be so proud of you – not!!

    July 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Even funnier that anyone with ANY knowledge of human nature would realize Jeesus was gay as a blade.

      No wife, no woman, slept in caves with parties of men, thought his mom was a virgin, all the signs are obvious

      Jeebus was a fudge packer.

      July 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • J.W

      The only way Jesus would be that is if he cooked fudge out of chocolate and packaged it to be eaten later.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • obamagone2012

      Sorry to burst your bubble....but God calls it a abomination!!!!!

      July 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • William Demuth

      If it walks like a duck!

      What evidence do you have he was straight?

      Did Mary Magdeline tell stories about the back of the Temple? No

      No a piece of Booty in his whole divine life?

      Well, Priests are supposedly made in his image, so maybe he was a Pedo?

      July 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Sorry to burst your bubble. HUMANS writing human books, in undeveloped HUMAN cultures, called it *AN* abomination.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Postmaster

      HAHAHA and you think he would be proud of men marrying men?

      August 1, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  8. Clara

    Religion sticking its ugly head into politics yet again, and making already ugly politics even uglier. Please, separate the churches and stick them on some other planet far far away.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Tom Truthteller

      Such intolerance Clara, but that is what liberal, progressive people really are, just completely intolerant of other people's faith and beliefs. So anyone who doesn't share your worldview needs to get to another planet? I guess if I questioned you about any closely held beliefs or core values you might have and then told you that you needed to leave our society, that would be okay with your friends?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:53 am |
    • Heathen

      God forbid people become intolerant of your intolerance, Tom. I can hear the same words coming from the KKK - "You liberals are intolerant of our Biblical belief that interracial marriages are wrong!".

      August 2, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  9. William Demuth

    Fools on their knee's still terrrified of their slave masters God.

    They are to stupid to realize when their ancestors were kidnapped and made into slaves they were Muslims.

    They are living proof that if you beat a racer long enough, you can make them pray to whomever you choose.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  10. d

    Good, they don't want to support gay marriage.... we don't have to help when the racists bring back segregation. Remember separate but equal. Funny how it only applies to gay marriage any more.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  11. Belinda Lowery

    I am really begining to get sick and tired you people who "THINK"that you have the right to judge others. I am not a pastor but I do remember in one of scriptures GOD says come to me as.you are!!!!!!!!!! That means however and whatever a petson is GOD LOVES his children!!!!!!!! 99.9 percent of pastors are doing any and everything under the sin and they think that they habe the right to judge somebody else gtfoh........ALL of you bible toten hypocrites need to get your s..t together before you tell somebody else what GOD.does noy want or like!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Grace

      If you're going to use scripture to back up your position that God says "come as you", you should also realize that He does not expect you to stay as you are. He says "I forgive you, now go and sin no more".

      August 1, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      so how is that ham and cheese sandwich

      August 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  12. Connie in Tennessee

    There are probably a lot of gay black men who think this pastor is crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  13. beevee

    Get over it Mr. Owens. Focus more on economic problems facing blacks in this country and think about how to change that than worrying about gay problems. It is not going to go away any where in the world. Accept it and move on instead of blaming the president. Don't mix religion with politics. Do what you can do best – preach religion. period.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  14. ReligiousPoopShoot.com

    Any religion based on Jesus Christ is gonna lick balls, because Jesus does in fact lick balls.
    Alice

    Fuk Jesus and Mohammed, fuk them up their stupid as.ses.
    Frank

    Jesus and Mohammed are one-note jokes that only retards follow. They’re fuking clown shoes. If they were real I’d beat the sh.it out of them for being so stupid.
    Marilyn

    July 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Jesus and Mohammed

      All you motherfukers are gonna pay! You are the ones who are the ball-lickers! We’re gonna fuk your mothers while you watch and cry like little whiney bi.tches. We’re gonna make you eat our sh.it, then sh.it out our sh.it and then eat your sh.it that’s made up of our sh.it that we made you eat!

      July 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • comparch

      the kind of language you use is a clear reflection of your character, so much haterd will eat you alive.

      July 31, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Hello comparch!

      Thank you for visiting ReligiousPoopShoot.com. We appriciate your feedback!

      July 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Winston

      Amazing – CNN allows these posts but I mention "Godless" in my post and it's denied.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  15. ed p

    Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin's bus tour was really canceled last year? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she's not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin isn't in this race and won't be at the RNC because too many people now know the truth.

    Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the BIGGEST cover up in world history before it disappears forever.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Reggie19

      You are a real sicko. Somebody needs to say some prayers for you or maybe you are already a lost cause!!!!!!

      July 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  16. Dana F. Blankenhorn

    This wasn't a group of "independent black churches" opposing the President. This was a small group of people who have always been affiliated with the so-called National Organization of Marriage, a far-right group of long standing, demanding that their flocks adhere to their politics just as the Catholic Church demands that its flock adheres to its conservative politics. It's only a big deal because the pastors are black. And politically it's not a big deal at all.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      3,700 plus pastors might seem a small group. But, if they reflect the sentiments of their respective congregations, I suspect the numbers balloon quickly. More importantly, it shows that blacks are not in lockstep with Obama simply because of race.

      July 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Bob

    It's been revealed that a few years ago, the very anti-gay group, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), had long planned to pit blacks against gays. This group of pastors have been organized and funded by NOM as version 2.0 of their racist plans. How much bigotry can this catholic group, NOM stir up?

    July 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • J.W

      How do you know they are Catholic? I looked on the website and could not find where it said that.

      July 31, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Bob

      J.W., I've been following NOM for four years, if you had you too would know. NOM is a very secretive organization that was founded by Catholics and ran by catholics. It's internal workings have been revealed by a defector last year.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  18. jim terwiliger

    Is Reverend X one of the pastors?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cpIJO5U9Ts

    July 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  19. not surprised

    Pastors telling lies about how many members they have? Nawww,that couldn't be. You have all heard the saying "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story." It was first used by a preacher. This was more of a publicity stunt to get in front of the camera's. It will be cute for our grandchildren to look at footage of "press conferences" from 50 year ago and laugh at these people sounding so foolish and ignorant in 2012.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  20. Portland tony

    I think these guys should be more worried about "white" churches refusing to marry black couples than carrying on a bigot's dream of their own!

    July 31, 2012 at 4:39 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.