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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. James

    More white people voted for Obama than black people did. To say he is "ignoring the people who put him in the White House" is an untrue statement

    August 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Um....

      Thats because there are more white people than black. Its not about who voted for what reason, its about simple statistics. But, you knew that, you just wanted to complain.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  2. Alan Coleman

    Do we want to put a non-Christian (by most definitions) like Romney in the White House. Someone who is decidedly against African Americans, has 0 interest in our well being and is working hard to strip away our rights as citizens of this country.

    August 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      Consider what happened in Canada. The Liberal Party of Canada was known as "the natural governing party" until it brought in gay marriage. Today it is sitting in distant third place in a 4-party political system. The Conservative Party of Canada, the only one not to support gay marriage, has a comfortable majority - a feat that was considered almost impossible in a system with four significant parties. Obama has tossed the dice and now has to wait and see what turns up.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  3. MaxVeritas

    We are ONE BLOOD, ONE RACE. Acts 17:26 - From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
    In conclusion, the real racists are those like Obama who support the highly divisive and sometimes murderous, "races" doctrine and he is doubly supportive of the myth

    August 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      More Christardian logic and the worst kind. That of the self-proclaimed apostle Paul, the most dangerous politician of the NT. Rubbish.

      August 1, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  4. MaxVeritas

    Actually Obama isn't black.
    His blood quantum is 1/2 Caucasian, 7/16 Arab and 1/16 Kenyan. A legal descriptor requires 1/8 or more which obviously rules out Ne*ro, Black, African, whatever. In terms of actual race he's no different than anyone else, there is no biblical support for races, plural, only the human race.

    August 1, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  5. MaxVeritas

    Two posts disappeared?

    August 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  6. Bernard McAllister

    Owens ignores the true injustices that plague our (the black) community. Remember those that get married chose too. What about inequalities in education, jobs,the guns running rampant in our community, violence, the overabundance of black men incarcerated???? I have NO RESPECT FOR A CHARLATAN!!!!! UNCLE TOM....
    .

    August 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      The white man ain't the one killing in the hood ,the Asian community doesn't conduct themselves like we do

      August 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  7. Ms. Lane

    The Willie Lynch formula still works I see......Stupid.....Stupid...Stupid....There is no other race that would go up against their own like some of us African American do.....Crabs in a barrell....

    August 1, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  8. Jack

    Hello folks. Everyone is invited to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    August 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  9. DEfromDC

    It is about time people recognize Obama doesn't care about black people. He only wants to use them to stay in power. He is dividing the country by intentional racial comments and positions. He will further damage the black family that survived slavery but not the democrat party since. This is about another attempt at families/marriage.
    Thank the pastors for beginning to realize Obama is an embarrassment to black Americans not a role model.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  10. AlRay70

    Hilarity! I say simply hilarity!! Black pastors against Obama fail to realize that the would-be-next president and his republican administration (if they keep up these ridiculous shenanigans) will certainly see that these black pastors find their way to the back of the line from which they came. So blinded by their own need to administer instead of minister God's Word, they fail to see who has their best interest. Just dumb.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Mannydelgato

      Yeah, I can really see where Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell were told to get to the back of the line. Next!

      August 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  11. John

    Wow. Apparently black people are allowed to fight for equal rights, but gay people aren't. This guy is a total hypocrite.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • alo1020

      Pretty soon GAY people, of any color, will have MORE rights than any other group of people on the ENTIRE planet. Just you wait and see. They will be calling all the shots. In fact, you will face a FELONY if you oppose GAY rights or GAY marriage. The country is headed for a FASCIST/totalitarian society with NO freedom of thought, speech, religion or anything else. It will be worse than Nazi Germany. All of this is very very very dangerous.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Pretty soon GAY people, of any color, will have MORE rights than any other group of people on the ENTIRE planet." – alo1020

      "the sky is falling! the sky is falling!" chicken little

      notice the similarities?

      August 2, 2012 at 6:51 am |
  12. RadZap

    Prejudice/bigotry/intolerance. Some of the worst offenders are people who belong to minority groups. This is no surprise.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • alo1020

      GAY people are FORCING their opinions, and their way of life on the rest of us. That is not going to fly.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  13. Patrick

    At the end of the day (and election) the usual 98% of blacks will vote for Obama simply because he is black. Now, we can have either a 5 hour discussion on this but, w/o any reasonable possible doubt, black people will vote fo BO. Period.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  14. Ted King

    I guess this makes me a failure as a human being then. I oppose Gay marriage.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  15. BD70

    I didn't realize Obama only represented these black folks. I do believe white people voted for him also. AND he is doing what a President should...representing ALL of the people in this here USA.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • alo1020

      Yeah, Barack is representing the people. That is okay. However, I still OPPOSE Gay Marriage and Gay Rights. Gays will bring this country to RUIN with this MESS.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  16. Jam Jam

    When the black church and it's related community allow white folks to chose to not marry a black couple in their white church, then we'll talk about being honest. The black community has too quickly forgotten that not long ago, there were churches that would not marry blacks or interracial couples.

    I just take pictures of them. Why? They are going on the internet so that 40 years from now, people can point back and see the faces of the individuals that were so ignorant.

    August 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  17. Brian

    No civil right is being violated. Every gay person in America has the same right as every straight person: The right to marry ...

    * One
    * Eligible
    * Consenting
    * Adult
    * of the Opposite Gender

    Just because gays WANT something different than the defined right doesn't mean they don't HAVE that right.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • just sayin

      You do realize that this will change. Just a matter of time. Change is hard for some. The White Southern Christians are still dealing with giving those pesky blacks "real" equal rights and a black President.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Tex

      Dude, marriage has been defined VARIOUS way throughout history, so your little self-believed bullet-list defining is not all that accurate. The definition will change again soon, as bigots like you begin to lose their ignorance.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      Thank you for giving a bulletized example of Christardian logic so that others can see how ridiculous it is.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • midwest rail

      I've seen this disingenuous idiocy used as an argument in various places. It must be one of the talking points they teach in "Christian persecution" 101.

      August 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • krp

      "Dude, marriage has been defined VARIOUS way throughout history" Uh how so? I have studied a number of languages and I have studied a great number of books on religious history and I fail to see any case where marriage is defined any differently.
      Up until very very recently, marriages have been ARRANGED, and fail to find any record of any family arranging to have their son married to another man or a daughter to another woman.
      A marriage is a CONTRACT between a man and a woman. There have been cultures where a man may have had multiple of such contracts but it is always between a man and a woman.
      Cultures that have allow for multiple contracts require that the man provide EQUALLY for each wife and they must be provided separate housing. It just became too expensive for men to have multiple wives. But NEVER has a man been married to another man.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • WhatADummy

      OMG ICan't take it. KRP where do you get this info? Everything you just said is again, wrong. You have studied several languages, eh? I love when Americans say that. What is considered language study or knowledge of a language in the US is laughable at best. You wanna play who is the smartest in the room, you won't beat me I will tell you that. Certified by US Department of State 4 languages Native Fluency. Also certified, an additional 3 languages at level- Fluency. Multiple degrees from University Athens, Greece/the Sorbonne, Paris/Harvard. Conferences given still at Harvard and all over US also at Oxford. PhD by age 24, second PhD coming along quickly now at age 28. So credentials out the bottom. You're wrong. IYou need to go back to study English before teaching yourself 1 to 10 in another tongue! Then you can read up on the history of monogamy/committment/marriage/ceremony/etc. in your local state university's anthropology library.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • alo1020

      You said it right Brian. My thinking is this: If Gay Rights and Gay Marriage become the LAW OF THE LAND, all kinds of bad things will happen in this country. We are going to be in BIG BIG trouble. Most counties and jurisdictions will NOT comply with the Gay Marriage Law. I don't think US Congress will pass such a Law or the US Senate. I pray that never happens.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  18. David Burris

    People like this almost make me regret the 50 years I have spent, as a straight white person, working on the cause of equal rights for African-Americans. I never would have thought that some of the very same oppressed people I was trying to help gain their rights would take the position that the rights of others should be taken away.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • David Gibson

      David, it could be that civil rights and gay rights are indeed 2 separate issues–as Owens stated above.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Tex

      Dave B. I agree with you...I'm black.

      Dave G. – While the VICTIMS and methods may be different (blacks & restaurants vs. gays & marriage) their DISCRIMINATION is still the same.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Lania

      Massa David Burris, remorseful about all the work he put in to liberate those poor little black Americans that have now broken away from the mold and DARED to disagree with his point of view regarding civil rights. I hate to break the news to you, but you don't *own* black people and we have the right to have differing views on civil rights, just like any other American. You seem to self-laud yourself as a member of the Civil Rights movement. Well, the truth is that you are nobody's savior, and if you hadn't "worked for our equal rights" something tells me that a Martin Luther King, a Medgar Evers, a Rosa Parks, a Malcolm X, or some other American would have stepped in and done the job pretty darn well without you.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • alo1020

      Black people have done nothing WRONG by OPPOSING Gay Rights and Gay Marriage agenda. It is not who we are.

      August 2, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • alo1020

      Don't know why you are so SURPRISED about the views of this Pastor and his supporters. Most black men and women in the United States agree with him. The GAYS are a true minority in the black community.

      August 2, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  19. jeru0455

    Everyone who opposes gay marriage is a failure as a human being.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      I would say majority are Christian. Remember Jesus does not reprsent freedom or liberty..just compliance or burn.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • krp

      Opposing "gay marriage" is like opposing a green sky. Gay marriage simply isn't marriage. PERIOD. You can support a green sky all day long but at the end of the day, the sky is still blue.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • WhatADummy

      Krp, again pretty comments that don't mean anything. If you missed it folks, ast KRP comment was, "Gay marriage isn't even English!" But of course, we all know the English language when we see it. And your green sky comment is like the Chewbacca defense, though I'm guessing we're too uptight to know about that one. Because people who support SSMarriage are waking up in more places every day where they can get married with the same license as you. There's no blue/green to it. They're equal. I think you're just obssessing over your toilet bowl cleansers cause you're full of doody.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      krp: given that you need a license to be married, marriage is what the grantor of the license (government) says it is.

      August 2, 2012 at 7:45 am |
  20. OMG

    OMG really.....can we say total HYPOCRITE........Lets look at his meaning not at his words......he claims to have been a civil rights leader in his youth yet today he wants to LIMIT the civil rights movement......he claims to want to save the family......why is it that religious leaders that gay couples can not have a happy family and provide all of the needed things that a child needs....it is not like straight families are all that great.......perhaps he should be a leader shut his mouth sit down and look at his life and how he has lived, how his fellow religious leaders have lived.......he can do this in his multi million dollar home, paid for by the donations to by his GAY and straight congregation. He needs to realize when you fight for CIVIL rights but then want to limit the rights of others you are NO better then those you are fighting against.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • krp

      Gay marriage isn't a civil right or any other kind of right. Gay marriage isn't even ENGLISH.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • WhatADummy

      What language IS it krp? I've used that terminology for 5 years now. Eek!.I must be possessed since I've been speaking a language I don't know...its a tell tale sign of possession. Exorcism time.

      August 1, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • sam stone

      krp: the supreme court stated that marriage IS a civil right. if you have an issue with that, take it up with them. or, wander in front of a speeding bus. either works for me

      August 2, 2012 at 7:46 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.