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. tuvia





    September 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      JONATHAN POLLARD should remain a guest of the United States. What he stole:

      "The information that Jonathan provided to Israel included Iranian, Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities – all being developed for use against Israel. He also provided information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on up-coming terrorist attacks planned against Israeli civilian targets. "

      Israel felt entitled to this information, but was not entitled to steal it. Spies and thieves should be punished regardless of whether they were sent by a friend or sent by an enemy. Keeping Pollard in permanent custody will send a message to our friends and especially to our enemies that we will not tolerate spies and thieves.

      It's hard to know what Pollard stole and who he passed it to. He's a favorite son of Israel now, but Israel may not have been his only client. Something worth reading from Wikipedia (see the associated references):

      Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigator Ronald olive has alleged that Pollard passed classified information to South africa,[21] and attempted, through a third party, to sell classified information to Pakistan on multiple occasions.[22] Pollard also stole classified documents related to China on behalf of his wife, who used the information to advance her personal business interests and kept them around the house, where they were discovered by investigating authorities when Pollard's espionage activity came to light.[23][24][25]

      See the references at

      September 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  2. Chris O

    First off, the idiotic pastor Owens need to fix his drooling and wobbly mouth before saying all those stupid things about the president. Did he and his co-crazy pastors and pastresses (if there is a word like that lol) forgot that Jesus came for everybody, and not just for the Holier than thous of this world? I wonder what made Owens mouth look like that. hmmmm maybe he has been sucking a ...................... I'm just saying

    September 5, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  3. Homemade Hot Chocolate

    Helpful information. Fortunate me I found your website unintentionally, and I am shocked why this accident did not happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  4. Tyrone A. Ash

    Now that the republican ticket is set with a mormon as presidential nominee and a studied athesist as a VP nominee, how do these pastors feel or support a presidential campaign that does not have belivers in Jesus Christ? The word challenge every christian to be aware of being led by nonbelivers and nonchristians. The silence of these pastors on this point has led me to believe they perfer nonchristian leaders. Presidnet Obama as the leader of a man's government that believes in equality for all really did not have a choice when it came to marriage equality. Equality is law of the land for which he was elected to serve.

    Further, this republican ticket has not in their past nor in their plans of the future intend to be Christ like when it comes to loving thy neighbor or treating their neigbors as they would want to be treated. Does this sound like Christ and his teaching?

    Your congregations need to know about your choice of nonchristians over the christian ticket of Omaba and Biden!!!

    August 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  5. Manford Lawrence

    People of color have voted and will continue to vote for Barak Obama...The only thing he has done for people of color is be of color and be the elected POTUS...When Obama's eight years is at an end the person who runs against the next democrat will only have to campaign by stating repeatedly "I am a Republican"....Whatever doesn't go right in his administration will be blamed on Obama just as he blamed his failures on Bush...His signature health care program exempts Muslims, Scientologists, Amish etc. What a joke....

    August 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  6. Kelly Smith

    I'm encouraged by the support of these black pastors for traditional marriage. I wonder if they've heard the recent comments by an abortionist talking about what he considers the "ugly black babies" he kills - http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/caught-on-video-abortionist-talks-of-the-ugly-black-babies-he-aborts - or if they've reflected on President Obama's support for Planned Parenthood given its founder Margaret Sanger's racist intentions?

    August 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • midwest rail

      "Traditional marriage" – like One of Rush Limbaugh's 4 different ones ? Or one of Liz Taylor's 8 ? Or perhaps Britney Spears' 2 day commitment ?

      August 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  7. Abolitionist2012

    “Don’t kill him, but PUT THE FEAR OF GOD IN HIM, for he can be useful for future breeding.”

    August 7, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  8. Maria

    Maybe these pastors should remember when it was illegal for them to marry white people.

    August 5, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Peter

      Marrying someone of a different race isn't and has never been against natural law. There were bigoted laws created in this country prohibiting interracial marriage but it was never against natural law.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      Peter is right, comparing a prohibition on same-gender marriage to interracial marriage is a false analogy. Throughout history, whatever form marriage took, it was the union of a male and female (with the rarest exceptions, such as the depraved Roman emperor, Caligula, who, in addition to his wife, married his manservant and his horse).

      But you are also right in the sense that these pastors seem to be motivated by a bias against hom.ose.xualiity, just as the ban on interracial marriages was based on a comparable bias. But, approval of hom.ose.xuality in no way implies approval of same-gender marriages.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  9. Simon

    This is powerful. There have been many statments made recently implying that the black community is almost obligated to vote for Obama...??? If he is being voted for because of the color of his skin, we are moving backwards. When someone is given the office of being King – they must rule all people. Mitt Romney is capable of ruling all of America without bias. We need the economy and many other areas to change!! Now we need someone very wise over this same s-ex issue and Obama is showing that he is not thinking ahead on this one. He spoke to soon and did not consider the long term problems that will spring from this......but he got alot of extra money!!

    August 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  10. A Messager of holy TRINITY

    Those who believe in Jesus follows Romans 12 as if it is their destiny, however, these pastors have spoken against the peace God made and commandments to follow. Nothing in my father's commandments says anything against judging your fellow brother or sister for their choices and who they love. Yes, it is true that God made man for woman, but we humans who has been born for the short time we are here must not judge each other for our indifferences and beliefs; we must help each other dodge the evils of this world and come together as the children of God. We must respect the holy trinity and give our thanks by showing LOVE to everyone, regardless if they are of the church and doing god's biding or not. You are deemed a hypocrite and shadow of satan if you are peaching anything different. Lucifer is using the church of God (these black ministers) to spread hatred, however, know the lord sayeth that you should be able to see a false prophet and a false preacher by his words and actions. The Lord thy God is not one to teach hatred and anger, but to teach common sense and love in every form. To these pastors, you have heard the voice of thy Lord, if you continue to act in hatred, you will be condemed in all your ways and feel the judgment of God here on earth and beyond this life unto the next. You will pay for showing hatred to other brothers and sister based off your own beliefs. You are not representing God but yourselves for public attention. You should be trying to give God more attention because he is the reason, not you, therefore, you will be tortured in your life, and punished by God for you indegressions. Soon, even you will bow down to my father and beg for your forgiviness. Ask for it now, for if you don't, the lord may turn his face away from you and not hear what you have to say. Silly human, you are a stain to christianity, GO... bathe yourself and ask for Christ to forgive you and step down for the true prophet to speak and act.

    August 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Judge Not, Indeed!

      I see you are against judging, execpt for the part where you say, "Silly human, you are a stain to christianity". Hippocrite

      August 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Peter

      By what authority do you have to interpret the Bible?

      August 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      Your handle is insulting. A group of pastors cannot support traditional marriage but you can interpret scripture to fit your warped view?

      August 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  11. MsKiraGo

    I wish SOME black people would stop speaking for ALL black people! Its annoying. I do not support gay marriage BUT I surely am not going to go out of my way to oppose it. If gay people want to get married it is between them and GOD. They should know that being that they STUDY the bible. It also says not to judge. Why dont they spend more time doing charity and helping people less fortunate.... AND WHY is President Obama JUST half black.. so are MANY MANY MANY black americans including myself... So maybe I will still vote for Obama since I am Just half black therefore not technically part of the black community.... They would rather be under a party and president that promotes hate than to se gay people happy because they can get married... GET A LIFE.... TEAM OBAMA!!!!

    August 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • GetReal

      According to my religious teachings (many years ago), God gave mankind the right to choose between good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Given that choice is God given, who are we to take it away by using politics to our personal religious beliefs upon others?

      August 4, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  12. Hana

    Do we or do we not vote for a person to represent us in political office?

    If people are basing their votes mostly on the fact that someone is the same racial profile as they are, that's bigotry and frankly does more harm than good. What these pastors are trying to do is bring attention to that fact. It's fine to be proud of someone ie the President, for their accomplishments because they share something in common with you ie race: that's human nature. But to make that the sole reason for your judgement... well, that's just dumb.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  13. 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 3, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • GetReal

      Contrary to right wing rhetoric, President Obama does not legislate for his own political advantage. He does what is right for our nation. If gay marriage rights were so popular, as you profess, why is it subject so controversial? Why are we having this conversation? This was very risky for the President to get involved with. Now, he is taking flack from those who should be his strongest supporters.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  14. kirby

    How about checking their records: Some Black ministers are the biggest "pimps" in their neighborhoods..! This guy is a quack funded by GOP pacs, he'll be driving a big o luxury car off that money in few months..! LOL. LOL. What a joke................

    August 3, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • GetReal

      It is against tax laws for nonprofit religious organizations to preach politics from the pulpit. Anyone who does so should have their tax exemptions revoked.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  15. Blackman Know Yourself

    As balck ministers you guys are ignorant; allow people to make their own choices you decided to become a minister no one argue with you, that ws your choice. America is a free country anyone should be able to make choices, who makes you God to make decisions for black people. You ministers are more crooks than anyone else, you guys needs to leave young kids alone instead of molesting them probably then people will listen to you as it stands now you have no say until all of you clean-up yur own back yards becasue if we check most of you standing on the podium have dirt in your closets, fools, supoort the black president do you see white america supporting anythinig black other than bring racisim back to america shame on you balck minister and if I was in your congregations and balck I will stop attending. We know you was not one who help the president get elected we know you areon the other side of the house so continue to be a minesteriung fool to the white america, fool!

    August 3, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  16. Arvoasitis

    The first unfortunate fact is that the gay-marriage debate has morphed into a contest between civil rights versus universal values. Civil rights overriding universal values is akin to the tail wagging the dog; therefore, the pastors are on the correct side of the debate. The second unfortunate fact is that they are there for the wrong reason: "same-se.x marriage is tantamount to child molestation" does not belong in the debate. Nevertheless, don't discount the potential influence of the pastors. If enough people feel that their values (which are consistent with universal values) are being debased, they may well fall into line with the pastors.

    August 3, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • kirby

      Poor dumb sheep.......................

      August 3, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • GetReal

      God gave mankind the freedom to choose in the Garden of Eden. Religious zealots give themselves the right to deny God's will.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      "The will of the Lord is the law of righteousness." No?

      August 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  17. Bill

    I am as white as the new fallen snow and cannot agree with these black pastors more. I am so proud of them to go against their own race to try and right a wrong. I hope I see a place where I can donate to their cause. I don't normally do that but this case certainlly does deserve it.

    August 3, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Bill ...you can also donate to the atheists helping the deluded Christians.. we think that your delusion and love of an alien is in need of special care..Of course loving an alien you have only been told about is natural...right...

      August 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • GetReal

      So, you want to buy the votes of anyone who opposes our President, eh? Typical Repug, who uses money to impose a personal agenda upon others.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  18. GOP Failure

    CONS that SERV corporate Executives (CONservatives) or well known as Americas Judas'! Sell out for a FEE. HOW much are these GOP clowns being paid and WHO is funding them? Any Godly person knows that if you are to work with the so called social unacceptable you don't tell them your faith is "love" whole you preach Evil with "hate"!

    August 3, 2012 at 2:43 am |
  19. Joshua

    How about getting over it? God called his people to be a light without trying to run the world..."Evil" will always exist and it will get worse. With all do respect, many of those preachers who are bashing the President on these issues should take lessons in fathfulness to their husbands & wives. Just a thought people. Don't want to argue!

    August 3, 2012 at 2:19 am |
  20. aaron

    Why don't they join up with the Klan to try and ban interracial marriage since they're in the mood for massive bigotry?

    August 3, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • MsKiraGo

      Exactly.... willing to team up with the same people who would be happy to lynch them because they think they have a common enemy.... lol once the republicans are done with gay people who do you think the will refocus on?

      August 3, 2012 at 7:02 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.