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. ChristardMingle.com

    I would never date that guy.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  2. save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

    Hmm. If he only has the ability to associate gays and gay marriage with pedophilia, then there must be something very close to home for him that has given him this skewed view. I guess we'll be reading about his personal problems in the news one day soon.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      You know it.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      Just like eddie long.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  3. Mr. Moderate

    If you are concerned about saving the family, maybe you should focus on the honorific illegitimacy rate in the African American community. That is a greater threat to the family.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Mr. Moderate

      Horrific illegitimacy rate. (Stupid spell check, nothing honorable about it)

      July 31, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • cfjermestad

      Or," Mr. Moderate", you should you keep your racist views to yourself.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:00 am |
    • wmdimes


      August 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  4. Steve- Illinois

    Chip, chip, chip away! It will take a very small amount of would be Obama supporters for Romney to win this thing!

    July 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • PAM


      August 1, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  5. a.mcewe

    Fascinating. This group will not tell you that they are backed by the National Organization for Marriage, a group which endorses Romney. They are a part of the wedge strategy – playing African-Americans against gays – that NOM was discovered to be using. The majority of us black folks have never heard of this group but we know a phony when we hear one.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Deal With Me

      I am black and I can tell you that I have always supported Obama. Not because he is half white, but because he is an amazing breath of fresh air after that retard Bush. Do we really need another complete embicile in the White House?

      July 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • L Rivera

      You sound very happy with the current one, I see.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Mountain Man

      DWM. Exactly! We can't stand another embicile in the white house and that's why Obama's gotta go. Are you really better off today than you were three years ago?

      August 1, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  6. Milton K. Wiah

    Being black myself I wouldn't make the statement that the president is ignoring the people(blacks) who put him
    in the over office. It is not only blacks, whites and latinos are all helped to put the man there.
    Even if the black conservatives are making political point, then let them look at their man(Romney) on the
    subject of gay people. He is multiple choice on the subject. In 1994 he was pro-gay, 2002 anti-gay, 2007 pro-gay
    and 2012 anti-gay. We are people. People make different choices. Micheal Jackson born black and'
    died white. What wrong with the choice he made.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      It's other choices (wink, wink) which Jacko made which were wrong.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  7. Mark Smith

    The Black Church is a thing of the past, I was raised in one, but there is no place for the all Black Church today! You can't mix politics with religion. exa-(Bushes letters to the Churches) To think Christians must vote republican is nuts, Dem's did not create the alternative lifestyle nor did they create abortion. If Jesus was voting do you think he would stand with the rich or the majority the poor?I think everyone would be inclusice. The Lord loves the sinner, it's the sin that is wrong. Pastors like this are to dumb to realize they are helping a cult leader named Romney!

    July 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  8. Reality

    Some 21st century nitty gritty for the pastors to contemplate:

    (Some words hyphenated to get past the moderators "secret" word filter.)

    o "Abrahamics" believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the gay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore gays are gay because god made them that way.

    To wit:

    1. The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:

    “ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice.[60] "

    2. "Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8

    3. See also the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions supposedly abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.

    And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-se-x unions not same-se-x marriages.
    To wit:

    From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, ga-y s-exual activity is still mutual mas-turbation caused by one or more complex s-exual differences. Some differences are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.
    Yes, heteros-exuals practice many of the same "moves" but there is never a doubt who is the female and who is the male.

    As noted, there are basic biological differences in gay unions vs. heterose-xual marriage. Government benefits are the same in both but making the distinction is important for census data and for social responses with respect to potential issues with disease, divorce and family interactions.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • srm4649

      I don't think you speak for God. If you did you would know that life is imperfect and there are a lot of things that Creation puts up with but that doesn't make them right in God's eyes. Believe what you like but allow me the same right.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  9. indogwetrust

    This coalition can't even organize a decent website.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • kaera


      July 31, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  10. ReligiousPoopShoot.com

    I am saddened by all those who cling to religion and continue to endorse it as reality and insist that it somehow should govern morality and law-making. One can lay out all the evidence and build (and have built) an airtight case against every single religion on Earth past and present, but still believers will not budge from their point of view, even when presented with the lies and contradictions in the very scriptures they base their beliefs on.

    Understand, I am not talking about a belief in God. I do understand that. I am talking about religion. Every one of which has been empirically proven false but yet clings like moss to ancient rocks.

    I believe the single most important factor in this inability to see through the foolishness of religion is fear. Children’s stories of heaven and hell. The initial indoctrination for many, simply cannot be undone.

    Secondly, there is a feeling of community that comes with any “club” Naturally this is not relegated to religion so it does not qualify as an excuse.

    Lastly some minds are unable to think creatively enough to imagine the more plausible alternatives. What are those alternatives? Well we have to turn to science, but also we have to accept what we don’t know and keep looking. And in truth, we don’t really know anything about how the universe came to be, what came before and where it is going. If there are multiple universes and time lines through which we move, these would be marvelous discoveries. There is a wonderful article in Scientific American this month regarding a new spin on the Quantum theory. That being the quantum universe could have foamlike fluctuations that rule spacetime, not unlike the 0’s and 1’s that are the foundation of computing and storing information.

    If we wish to believe in the supernatural, we have to make things up. Hence religion. It doesn’t mean there is no god, or gods, or aliens, but it does mean that we don’t have the answers and most likely never will.

    Now we arrive back at fear. What will happen to me when I die? For me, I look forward to an eternity of nothing. Others fear this prospect and prefer to believe in fairies and fantasies and are not even ashamed that their mental description of an after life is akin to that of a 5-year-old’s picture book.

    I believe the Universe and the “everything” are FAR more bizarre than we could ever imagine with the faculties we have thus far obtained via evolution on this planet. And I wonder how many millions of civilizations across the vastness of space and time have pondered likewise.

    Finally, the entire planet is affected by the irrational belief systems of the various mainstream religions. It affects the global economy, it affects world peace, it affects our secular life style in the United States. These ancient belief systems are based on superst.ition and mythology. One would think humans would have moved forward by now but instead we as a species behave in the same self-destructive manner now as we did thousands of years ago with more at stake then at any other time in history. It matters.
    Religious nuts are dangerous fools. Religious leaders far more so.

    Mono-Theistic belief systems are necessarily immoral. Tyrants are not to be worshipped.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Or as Mr. Zappa said, "Don't fool yourself girl, it's going right up your poop chute".

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

      Frank also said, I've got three beers and a fist full of downs and I'm gonna get ripped so fuk you clowns!

      July 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Jduff

      Here here! Anybody who claims to have answers to the unknown is a liar. Religion is just a community of people promoting the same lie to divide themselves from their fellow man.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  11. Rational Libertarian

    I think I'll start a campaign against the Emancipation Proclomation, and call it "an effort to save my cotton crop."

    Seriously though, I'm no Obama fan, but I support any attempt to extend civil rights, so I commend him on this.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  12. Ozzy

    LOL!!! I cannot believe he actually started off talking about the Civil Rights movement, followed by fighting for equality for all, then ending on, "I didn't fight for all that so these people could have equal rights." UNBELIEVABLE the hypocrisy on display here.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      The ignorance is even more impressive.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • groinksan

      You probably don't know this, but Reverand Martin Luther King was a conservative. Many people mistaken the civil rights movement as a liberal/progressive movement. Negative!

      July 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  13. California Gary

    Yeah right.......like life for their flocks will be so much better under a Romney presidency. Give me a break!

    July 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  14. dreucalypt

    Which Right Wing super pac is paying for this?

    July 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  15. indogwetrust

    This is hysterical. A group of people that were treated unfairly trying to treat another group the same way. These pastors are the devils tool.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  16. junior

    Christianity is unifying. Great Days ahead. There may have been quarreling among denominations but like G K Chesterton once said "Quarreling brothers reconcile when there is a madman at the door"


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

      Owen is the madman.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Adamusk

      @ Junior: Christianity is unifying? Over the topic of gay marriage, sure but only because they find the topic an easy target. But real unification... no. If so, then there wouldn't be so many denominations trying to convince the masses that their interpretation of the Bible is the correct way.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:47 am |
  17. anna davis

    no black pastor is going to tell me how to vote for my vote is my vote not the church there far more thing they to get involve with how they are trying to keep people from voting .

    July 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  18. Tiera

    Ignoring the people that put him in the white house? Yes and no. He isn't doing much for the entertainment industry and other millionaires... this is true. He however is trying to do his very best to improve things for middle Americans... which are the brunt of people (of all races) that put him there. The comment was racist.....

    July 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Wells

      The majority of the black community did come out in support of Obama, I think its a fair comment that some of that community feels unrewarded for their support. Just because a remark deals with race doesn't mean that its content is racist.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • L Rivera

      Yeah, he's creating a lot of jobs. NOT!

      July 31, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  19. Jake

    the church = the root of ALL problems

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

      The Church is the bulwark and pillar of the Truth. 1 Timothy 3:15

      July 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • heavenSnot

      Timothy – lol – please. More rubbish from that self-proclaimed "apostle" Paul.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      That church keeps tipping over. It needs 33,000 "pillars". Maybe something's rotten about the foundation.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • junior

      Only One Church, the one left to us by Christ.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  20. Concerned

    About time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

      About time black people joined the ranks of the discriminators and not the discriminated?

      July 31, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • L Rivera

      Yes, the Church is called to announce the truth to the world, be it popular or not (and Jesus said it was not going to be popular).

      August 1, 2012 at 12:00 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.