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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. JAH

    I think the biggest issue here is the fact that for his entire life, up until this past may, Obama was against gay marriage. Then it was brought to his attention that there are a lot of gay votes out there he could have is he changes his view. He is only saying it for the vote, I'd be willing you bet the house that he is still against gay marriage. Same goes for Biden.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:49 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Like any politician, I'm guessing that he could care less about the actual issues. Whatever gets votes always wins.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  2. Ramon F. Herrera

    Is it considered gay if all those pastors go perform self inter course???? I wish they would.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Let's call it autosexuality. We need to be sensitive.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  3. Ramon F. Herrera

    Does this sheet work???

    August 1, 2012 at 5:32 am |
  4. GianCarlo

    Are these Black pastors serious? With their Bling, Bling, Jets and expensive cars. Really, we are to take you seriously?

    Give up your Bling and donate all your wealth to the poor, then lets talk about not supporting Obama. Bunch of hypocrites.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • Chick fillet

      Pastors lead people to the Promise Land

      Obama leads them through the Dung Gate to Sodom & Gommorah

      August 1, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Chick: You're a bigot...outside of your buybull you would not have reason to dislike gays...you only make yourself look like an ignorant ass!!

      August 1, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  5. Caspar Mulders

    Anyone who crusades against gay marriage is NOT a true Christian. Judge not lest ye be judged (Matthew 7:1), it is written: GOD, and not YOU will be the judge, and you are just as flawed as those you fight. You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye (Matthew 7:5).

    Anyone who will abuse the Bible to repress, to hate and to pass judgement is making war on Christ. You call yourselves Christians, but you are serving Satan, and most of you know it.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  6. John

    Single-issue people of any color are stupid. These people, for the sake of one disagreement, will cut off their own noses and enslave their children. Just for spite. F them.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:23 am |
    • Chick fillet

      Sodomy is a very nasty slavery

      and we agree that slavery to sin is a demeaning position

      DungGate sodomatrimony is not good for the Black Brown or Pale face

      August 1, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • GrowUp

      @Chick Fillet: go back to your trailer and have another beer.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  7. Jerry

    It's about time the Black community woke up and took their blinders off! As far as I am concerned; it's a GREAT DAY in the Black community, for sure. Of course, other Mr. Obama 'Bender Overs" are just "frothing at the mouth" to crucify you. However, stand your ground and be unafraid. Hallelujah, Hallelujah!!!

    Now, if only my fellow Latinos could just start seeing through the haze; and, follow suit, we could sing the Hallelujah, Hallelujah praises, too!

    Univisión (Jorge Ramos), and other wannabe un-objective/unpatriotic news reporters, Latino TV personality wannabes, and GOYA Foods should never, ever be making these decisions for us.

    YES, I am a proud life-long Democrat!!!

    America, stay tuned...

    August 1, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • Ramon F. Herrera

      "YES, I am a proud life-long Democrat!!!"

      You are a LIAR. No Democrat writes such crepe.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • visitor

      You are no life long Democrat.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  8. Woody

    Fact is pastors make their living trying to tell everyone what they are doing wrong then they get caught doing the same thing . All pastors are worried about is the devil be tempting them with all the bling bling ! If churches were doing such a great job than why is there still prisons full of people, poverty, and war ? Has been for centuries ! Lets see how good they are at stoping abortions ! Not !

    August 1, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • Chick fillet

      Keeping creeps out of your dung chute is a must

      Don't let Obamas take your dignity

      Selling out your behind is no different than selling your feet and hands

      August 1, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • GrowUp

      And the prisons are mostly full of blacks. Keep up the good work black pastors.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  9. Ezekiel M.

    Talibans, they should be ashamed Jesus Christ would throw them out of the temple with a whip

    August 1, 2012 at 5:11 am |
    • Chick fillet

      Sodomites are Tailan

      Either you bend over to be violated in the dung gate or the Sodomites will try to destroy you

      Fight the Sodomite

      Fight to win

      August 1, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  10. RS, CA

    Good for them. Not everyone has lost their moral compass.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:07 am |
    • Dan

      Christian dogma does not equal a moral compass. Or if it does, we have to conclude that white slavers were very generous to provide these men's ancestors with moral compasses when they stole them from africa.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:10 am |
    • *facepalm*

      If you calibrate your moral compass with a book that says its ok to beat slaves to death and advocates execution for such heinous crimes as not being a virgin when you marry, getting raped inside of a city, or not believing in god, then maybe its time for a new compass.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  11. sparky

    Who has forgotten the price that was payed for equal rights? How does this group fail to see the direct relationship these 2 movements have/had? How can you say you fought/fight for equal rights but then say one group can't have what the other group has? I'm completely lost with people like this. Same thing when you have people willing to revolt over too much government involvement in one breath, then scream for the government to deny the gay & lesbian community the right to get married.

    Why are some people so scared of gays and lesbians? The origin of this dis-like/dis-trust/non-acceptance can only have come from one place. The 'good' book – the bible & religion. Yet another example of why we would be better off without religion. Even if your not religious, the bible largely shaped (sad as it is) our culture and our societal norms. Teaching especially the religious, but even the non-religious that this lifestyle is wrong and should be stopped. When in reality it is religion that should be stopped.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:06 am |
    • GrowUp

      They're black. They need to claim someone is below them on the totem pole to make themselves feel better about their dysfunctional community. Ever has it been.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  12. Freethinking_Black Man

    Romney can't stand black people and these old uncle tom preacher's actually want their own people to vote for him? I don't believe it. I think this story is wrong. The gay issue will come up with ANY president....do they really think voting for the dinosaur will stall progress?

    August 1, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • Chick fillet

      Try to focus

      The Dung Gate is the wrong place for Black people to meet

      The disgrace Obama casts onto Black Americans is appalling

      August 1, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • visitor

      Dung Gate – is that your nickname for your wife?

      August 1, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  13. steve

    the problem with idiot libs is that if you don't agree with them they name call you!
    grow up! take responsibility! the free lunches are about to be a thing of the past!

    August 1, 2012 at 4:50 am |
    • Dan

      Nice how you criticized libs for ad hominem attacks right before making one yourself. Please remove your head from your a**

      August 1, 2012 at 5:05 am |
    • GrowUp

      A**hat.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  14. fideauxdon

    This would be a good example of Blacks (only these Pastors) biting off their nose to spite their face. Compared to Mr. Romney, the President promises so much more to the Blacks, and everyone else in areas like the treatment of Women, Equal Rights, and Jobs, that the choice is an easy one. While I'm a little uncomfortable about Gay Marriage, domestic partnerships for loving Gay couples, including fair taxation, inheritance and visitation rights are deserved, and vitally needed.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:46 am |
    • shelehic

      Really? So, can you remind me again what the president is doing for blacks. I believe the word is "nothing." You might want to remind all of the blacks sitting in the unemployment line because of his policies as well. Sorry, four years is up. He hasn't even come close to fixing the problem, because he can't. You can blame Bush until the cows come home, but the fact is Obama didn't do what he said he would do.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:57 am |
    • GrowUp

      If black pastors want to improve the world, they can start by keeping their pants on.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  15. Donald in CA

    These black pastors are the biggest hypocrites ever. They better check for gays in their own families. They would rather you vote republican who arnt concerned about the poor. I think the bible has something to say about that. These are pastors are nothng but uncle tom sellouts. They make uncle clarence thomas look civil.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:26 am |
    • Rico

      What a load of bull. Where is your proof that Republicans do not care about the poor? Liberals have deluded themselves into thinking that the only way to prove someone "cares" about any important issue is to support a big government solution. Or to put it more bluntly, liberals believe the only people who care about something are those who agree with them. When it comes to caring for the poor however, the facts say otherwise. Republicans are consistently shown to pay more in taxes AND private charitable giving, when measures in total per capita dollars and income percentage, and when compared to Democrats at the same income level. As the great Barry Goldwater once said, "There is no virtue granted to the individual who supports taking money away from one person, in order to give it to another.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • Chick fillet

      Stay out of Satans trap

      Sodomy is a curse

      August 1, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  16. Liz Malone

    These Pastors are stupid.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • BeverlyNC

      Amen – do these idiots not realize that disagreeing with President Obama on one issue is not reason enough to abandon the ONLY true leader who is looking out for the best interests of ALL Americans??? If Romney wins, these pastors are going to find out what real discrimination and backwards return to fighting for their Civil Rights as human beings will be like again. Republicans are an elitist old white men Party whose loyalities are with corporations and the wealthy. Their plan is to destroy ALL People programs from Medicare to SS to food stamps to public education to veteran healthcare and pensions to college grants to every single welfare program and the list goes on and on. Republicans are destroyers who have betrayed the People and will do so even more if elected again.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • Chick fillet

      These Pastors rebuked the Sodomite King Obama

      August 1, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      ChickFillet=BIGOT

      August 1, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • RFBJR

      @ BeverlyNC – You're a racist.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  17. saneCanadian

    Black pastor, that's one step up from snake oil salesman isn't it?

    August 1, 2012 at 3:56 am |
    • GrowUp

      Actually, several steps below.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  18. Dee

    so, they'd rathe vote for a man who belongs to a denomination that didn't figure out blacks are people too until very recently?

    August 1, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • brunski

      "Don't through out the baby with the bath water"

      August 1, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • RFBJR

      And Obama's church hates white people, so that's OK, right? Oh, wait, you're black. Hmmmm, you're a racist.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  19. Deion Mitchell

    Like I said high and mighty and sure we came a long way from the early 19th century to place judgment on others thats another reason why we are still lost as Isrellites. You will forget who you are and where your from, Placing judgment on people. I believe it says in the bible come as you are. I bet most of the preaches still tell women they can't wear pants to church or they can't be a member. The world is changing and you don't see why you loosing so many of our youth.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:35 am |
  20. atroy

    Hahahahah...black people talking about the importance of marriage and saving families...take care of you own house first.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:34 am |
    • cfjermestad

      What a bunch of crap. First Black pastors ignoring discrimination, then racist nuts like you. Sometimes I feel like giving up.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Liz Malone

      There are Black ppl who do take care of their back yard.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • GrowUp

      Well put atroy. What a joke: black pastors lecturing others about family values. Start by keeping your pants on black pastors and that will go a long way to promote family values.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:26 am |
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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.