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. Me

    Am I the only one that sees the irony here? Black persons trying to segregate against others simply because they don't agree with who they are or how they live.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:27 am |
  2. Deion Mitchell

    All the people talking about not voting for Obama again well don't and when we are in world war III and we really don't have jobs and America really defaults then it would be to late to take your vote back. Only people who has something to hide has Swiss accounts. Some one who was the begining of outsourcing and has accounts in 3 different countries and business in different countries does not seem like a man betting on America to succeed it seems like a man that wants America to go bankrupt because he is already set to make a killing off of America failure. Think about that, because Romney can care less about anyone who can't do nothing for him to make more money and if you don't see that you should ask the lord for help because you are blind and walking through the wilderness...

    August 1, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • Wayne

      Consider that Obama appointed as IRS Chief Counsel William J. Wilkins, a former lobbyist for the Swiss Bankers Association (despite Obama's claims that he has "excluded lobbyists from policy making jobs"). Also, Obama's No. 2 White House aide, Mona Sutphen, has cashed out to Swiss Bank UBS.
      Also, Obama's "new best friend," and golf and basketball buddy according to a 2011 New York Times article is Robert Wolf, CEO of UBS. Obama put Wolf on his Economic Advisory Board.According to news reports, Wolf and Obama met late in 2006 as the then-Illinois senator was about to launch his presidential bid. Wolf raised more than $250,000 for Obama's presidential bid, according to a Post report last year.

      But Wolf's firm was caught up last year in a Senate probe of financial firms that attempted to shield millions of dollars in offshore accounts from U.S. taxes.

      Last August, the Post reported, "The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations completed its report on UBS's role in helping wealthy investors shield money from federal taxes. Bank spokeswoman Rohini Pragasam said the donations were "categorically not
      connected" to the Senate inquiry. The bank also is under scrutiny by the IRS and the Justice Department." There's Irony for you.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:45 am |
  3. Brecht

    The smug look on these imbeciles faces is enough to make one lose one's lunch. Of course these same suckers if born in Nigeria would be praying to the jungle god Namassi, or if hailing from Saudi Arabia would be banging on about the infalibility of their precious Allah. It's really just a nasty reminder of how primitive we still are, and how far we have to go.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:25 am |
  4. Jan

    Wade into politics as preachers, lose your church's tax exempt status. Simple enough.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  5. Emmet

    Sheesh, these people are so incredibly thick. Does anyone really care what these frauds and screechers have to say anymore? It's 2012, we understand how the universe works and the origins of humanity. Its time to move on and try and put the last 2,000 years of embarrassment behind us. Please.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:15 am |
  6. Deion Mitchell

    I think the black preachers are stupid to the fact that its not the President job to judge people of what they love and who the love they will have to answer to God when that time comes. The president's job is to make sure all humans get treated fairly and you said you where in the civil rights movement. If so you must didn't know what it meant to be marching which is for rights and not be judged because of your color but now you so high and mighty that you can look down on someone else because they are different. No matter what gay people are going to be gay and black people are going to be black. Yes I am a black man raised in church and no I'm not gay but being gay does not make that person less than a person. Why do you think so many young black people don't go to church any more and listen to their elders because of the stupid thinking alot of them have. ONLY GOD IS THE JUDGE AND THE JURY and for you to go against the first black president is one thing but the one that has been looking out for all blacks, whites and etc... to try and rally against him. "YOU SHOULD NEVER MENTION CIVIL RIGHTS EVER AGAIN" You think Romney can do better and the only thing that came out of his mouth basically is how he will keep the poor people poor and the rich get richer..

    August 1, 2012 at 3:15 am |
    • Amen!!!!!

      That's what I'm talking about!!!!!!!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • RFBJR

      If Obama is so "fair" then why does he keep going on about rich people paying more in taxes? The argument should be that everyone pays the same. How is it fair that a rich person pays 40% and a midlle class person pays 30% and a low income person pays 0%?

      August 1, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  7. Mickey1313

    Oh I get it. Blacks deserve there equal rights, but g a y folks don't. F_ing hypocrites. But what else can you expect from the church. They would rather sport a man who suports the top 1%, not the majority. I wounder how many of this foolish flock make over 250k a year. If they don't they are voting against there best intrests.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:07 am |
  8. Homer

    Opps!! I think Obama's 'evolving" a week or so before a huge Hollywood fundraiser was a calculated risk to gain the big donations while thinking that the conservative blacks and Hispanics would hold their noses but still vote for him. Maybe not. Looks like he's taken them for granted.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:02 am |
  9. Daniel Beard

    There isn't a single good reason to reelect Barack Obama. Not one. Thank you, and good-bye.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:48 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Please list those reasons...I'm sure you'll be wrong but list away. Don't make claims without facts. As much as he hasn't been perfect you have to look at the mess your last republitard president put you in and what Obama walked in to to understand why he is having so many issues. The republitards won't let the man do anything good and decent for the country...they are your down fall, not the democrats.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:32 am |
  10. patiat

    These pastors and their flocks must live pretty well-to-do lives if this one thing on its own is their top priority in the election, and not the economy, education, the law, and the US's place in the world.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  11. Brian

    this is the craziest thing ive ever heard..yall have made gay marriage more important than any other issue and thats insanE!!!!

    August 1, 2012 at 2:36 am |
  12. UsayWha?

    I wonder if Eddie Long is is a memeber of the group?

    August 1, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • Dan

      He probably was. Before he got find out as the hypocrite that he was, and gay marriage equals pedophilia?
      I don't think so!!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:47 am |
  13. albie

    Who cares at all what religious people think – this is 2012

    August 1, 2012 at 2:31 am |
    • Wayne

      3,742 African-American pastors on board for the anti-Obama campaign.Plus the flocks of people that attend each church on board equals a lot of votes and 95% of the people in the world are religious according to statistical data whether you agree or not.Lets all blame Bush for Obama's failures, seems like the norm these days.It's all everyone Else's fault for what happens whether it's a crappy childhood or marriage.Lets see Obama said he would reduce the national debt in half by end of his first term..didn't happen. Close Gitmo...Failure Obama Promised His health care Plan Would “Bring Down Premiums By $2,500 For The Typical Family..wrong plans have gone up.
      The Nation Has Lost 1.9 Million Jobs And The Unemployment Rate Has Increased From 7.8 Percent To 8.6 Percent. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov, Accessed 12/7/11)PROMISE – Obama Promised To End The Influence Of Lobbyists. OBAMA: “You said the time has come to tell the lobbyists who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voices that they don’t own this government – we do. And we are here to take it back.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks, Des Moines, IA, 1/3/08) in fact A list of Obama’s own top fundraisers features a number of people involved in the business of influencing government, including the head of a lobbying and public relations firm, the corporate executive who oversees Comcast’s lobbying efforts and the chairwoman of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s political action committee, among others.” (Michael Scherer, Maybe you should know the facts before you post stupid #@@% lady! By the way i voted for his #$$ the first time but not again

      August 1, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Wayne: Maybe if Obama didn't have the republitards shooting down everything he did, things would be different. Your ignorance is amazing. Of course people have the right to blame Bush...Obama still has to deal with the crisis Bush put the country in. You're complete idiot if you can't see it!

      August 1, 2012 at 4:37 am |
  14. California

    According to the liberal arguments would this make these peopel racists?

    August 1, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • ott

      Oh ya big time . Now they r in a good position , they forgot where they came from .

      August 1, 2012 at 3:19 am |
    • ott

      They need someone to remind them the corn fields .

      August 1, 2012 at 3:21 am |
  15. Jacoby

    African Americans dont really realize that thier votes are not deciding the election nor did they decide the 2008 election, its the majority vote that has decided it, white, black, asian, latin, etc. I voted Obama for change in 2008, that change did not really come as I was hoping. I am willing to give Romney a chance this time around, he is better equiped for turning the economy around.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • albie

      Keep in mind that the economy we are still trying to recover from was caused by 8 years of republican leadership - Bush drove this country into the ground

      August 1, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • hz

      well, subprime mortgage started during clinton administration, just saying 🙂

      August 1, 2012 at 2:48 am |
    • Dan

      I'm worried about the economy just like you are, but I'm also worried about The Supreme Court, Women's Issues
      Gay rights, and the future of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and I think a vote for Romney would take us
      backward not forward. We need a forward thinking President in the White House, not a conservative puppet who
      will just do what he's told to do by his fellow Republicans.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • phil

      That a boy vote for the guy who hides his tax information and on record sending u.S jobs overseas. But just like the typical american We want change right now even though a republican tea party filled congress is holding back many progressive initiatives so blame the President huh. America the stupid home of the stupid I swear.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • srm4649

      Jacoby, I wish everyone got your message. Obama is OUT. And Romney has 4 years to learn to talk the language of the people. Starting with the tax code, built by criminals for criminals. Romeny gets 4 and if we don't get change, vote em'out. Sad but true the American people have NO power to effect real change. Wake up American! Vote em ALL OUT! They deserve our health care, our pensions, and the right to be spyed upon.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • John

      ...and you are dumb for thinking Obama could actually "change" something in four years. What a dumb and gullible voter!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:31 am |
  16. jonny boy

    What a bunch of crap story, 95 percent of blacks support Obama and regardless of junk stories like this we will vote for Obama. We are descendants of slaves, do you think we don't see your game and think we would stay home and not vote becuase we believe you? That we would listen to propaganda like this?

    August 1, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • tk007e

      Johny Boy, Stop the BS, already! You're not a black American, for starters. You're a KKK member posing as black to sow your own disinformation and perpetuate the myth that 95% of blacks will vote for Obama. That way every white person will think that this is about race. Take your bigotry and shove it up your white you-know what!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • RFBJR

      You may have slave ancestors, but Barack don't.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  17. Irish 41

    To all Blacks on this blog, who was it that freed your relatives from slavery?? Abraham Lincoln (Republican). How many died in the Civil War to free you?? About 600,000 total on both sides(North & South). Who was in in 1965 that voted in the US Senate to pass Lyndon Johnson's Civil Rights bill?? Everett Dirkson (Republican -Illinois) and all the Republican Senators in the Senate. How many years have Demoncrats promised you they would "FIX" all your troubles? Since about 1932 and the New Deal. If they have NOT fixed them by now maybe you are being used by the Dems. and kept fat, dumb, and happy with gubmint handouts, bought off so you will vote for more gubimnt $$$$$. In the process you sell out your freedom for the handout. WAKE UP. The DEMS use you for SUCKERS!!!!!!!

    August 1, 2012 at 2:05 am |
    • Rogue351

      You are 100% correct Abraham Lincoln was a republican. But he was NOT the same kind of Republican we have these days. The GOP could care less about you. Just to let you in on a little secret about the Republican party of more modern times. Which party do you think Skin heads, KKK member claim ? It certainly is not the Democrats. You are comparing Apples to rocks. Rocks that will be throw in hate because that is exactly the type of people the GOP open their arms to. Home many african american kids are killed everyday by law the protect the NRA ? And how many millions of guns have gone on the street and end up in poor black areas ? You need to pull your head out of the sand and have a look and todays world. Abraham Lincoln would not even recognize the republicans of today much less side with them.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • Rogue351

      BTW – I noticed your nick name. Educate yourself on how exactly the Irish people that came to this country got treated and by who. You are drinking the Mitt cool aide and not checking history. The GOP will bring war and hate and suppression of the rights for the working middle class, nothing more. And if you think different your head is just not stuck in the sand, it is stuck some place else.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • damo12345

      Who freed the slaves?
      Social Liberals.
      Who didn't want them freed?
      Social Conservatives.
      Who is the Social Liberal party now?
      Who is the Social Conservative party now?

      August 1, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • albie

      The sad truth is that the republicans of today are the puppets of the religious right – it is an embarrassment for this country. The rest of the developed world is becoming less and less religious (the more educated they are) and yet in this country we still let Bubba the bible thumper run the show – makes me sick

      August 1, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • Dan

      ...and the Republicans didn't the same with the Tea Partiers? The Republicans used the fear, hatred and bigotry of the
      Tea Partiers against Obama to win the House, and this year, they will use them to try to win back the White house and
      the Senate.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:59 am |
  18. Rogue351

    Since when did hate become such a big part of mainstream religion. And the religious wonder why people are walk away from religion in record numbers. If it's not Obama it is gay rights, and I have to say the righteous have not been very jesus like on either topic. Heres and idea, let people be. Let people choose who and what they want to be and just except it. Wow what an interesting idea. Tolerate is not good enough. I on occasion will tolerate a fly. These are people you don't just tolerate your friends of family that think different that you you except then for who and what they are. The GOP has washed so many brains and I am sorry you are setting yourself up for a very rude awakening. The rich getting all of the tax breaks, a war with Iran , like we need yet another war, for which none of the rich kids will serve I guarantee. How about excepting and backing our president and actually making the GOP elected officials do their jobs instead of blocking everything. Hate is not solving and problems and pastors that preach hate and every bit as bad as the muslim clerics that do the exact same thing. The only difference is who they call god. THINK – would god really want us treating each other like this. Everyone says how loving a god he is. Wake up, hate is not divine regardless of what these two bit `hustlers are telling you in order to get you behind them or pry open your wallet to support their life style. Bo yourself a favor and let go of the hate, you will feel better, live longer and be happier. It is your choose, this is a nation of free don and it will remain that way even if Obama is in office. Believe it or not it will. We survived Bush for 8 years and look at the mess he got us into. We will survive Obama. I know you don't like change but the GOP stand Que. is not working we have it 8 years and it failed. Obama was robbed of the first 4 years by congress not working with him. I know one thing is for certain. A lot fewer of our sins and daughters will die in horrible places with Obama in office. I know for a fact that will not hold true with Mitt. GOP member you cannot possibly think that if Mitt is elected your life will suddenly improve, it is not going to happen it never does in politics. Another little bit of logic here, would you rather have congress and the president working on making jobs and fixing the economy of arguing over gay rights. Get past it start excepting people and let government fix the real problems. If we are not a socialist country then why does the GOP keep pushing social issues to the front over the real problems. Let Obama get to work, lets get some support for our president and if it does not work we try another plan. Stop the hate it is slowing us all down. Between ho radical religion has gotten and these pitiful social issues we are starting to look more and more like the culture that attacked up on 9/11. And I will tell you right now if you let religion start running your life with these political agendas the next think you know we will be stoning witches. And what exactly fuels religions that do this ? Hate...... Don't become your own worse enemy.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:05 am |
    • cn

      hate is an inherent part of organized religion, no matter the simpering tone it takes. it always causes conflict precisely because it makes claims that cannot be verified (in this instance, that god said marriage is between one woman and one man).

      August 1, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • GrowUp

      Hate is a cornerstone of organized religion because once a group claims to be "the chosen ones", by definition those not in the group have not been "chosen" by God and the fun begins!

      August 1, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  19. GeorgeMc

    Go ahead!, ...Vote your Romney, you fools! When asked, the President expressed PERSONAL feelings!, ...NOT his policies! Any vote for Romney is stupid.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:02 am |
  20. youpetthatkittynow

    Dat dang long-legged mac daddy!

    August 1, 2012 at 1:56 am |
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About this blog

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.