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. Rev. Jerry

    Sad that Rev. Owens doesn't remember when he was treated as a second-class citizen. "Equal protection under the law." Period.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  2. Nice

    About all Black churches have gay members, clean up your own house first. Then, focus on the Black on Black crime that's taking place around your churches, again clean up your own house first. By the way I'm a Black man who serves my community and church.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • cfjermestad

      And your point is? This was a meaningless post.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:08 am |
  3. mandarax

    Religion: There's still no better way to convince good people to fight with all their might for bad things.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  4. Sam Yaza

    you were already a traitor of the Africans when you became a christian

    you just want prosperity, equality and happiness for your self and not for others,...just like any other christian,..what the words: if it ain't Christ it ain't right, and if your not a friend of Christ your his enemy

    proving once again your religion is full of bigotry your 1000 year kingdom is not wanted your peace comes with a price the blood of me and mine, we wont convert we wont lay down and die with out a fight,...for us it is freedom or death,.. ether we have freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody,, we wont bow down to a bigot like your your Christ or your God,.. if you don't like us your going to hat to kill us,.. we are who we are and nothing you do can change that,..we will be free or we will be free in death

    July 31, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  5. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    One would think after Eddie, they would STFU.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      Eddie eddie eddie. More worried about fancy black diamonds than being a good man.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      Its a good thing he had all that money. Must be nice to settle out of court rather than face the charges of molestation.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  6. indogwetrust

    Who cares about the economic condition of the black community. Lets worry about those gays.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  7. just sayin

    Interesting...they are so consumed with what other people do that they base their vote soley on power and control. People I give you CHRISTIANS

    July 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • just sayin

      I mean, I give you Gays!

      August 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  8. Boisepoet

    Seems that racism and economic conditions are the two items that have done more to destroy black families than gay people loving each other...I'm sure the Republicans (especially those that are former Southern Democrats) will help you with those two issues.

    Religion – keeping people ignorant for nearly 6,000 years.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      Way to keep African Americans down. I wonder how much conservative money lines Owens pockets.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  9. RJW

    See . . . evens black people can be bigots. What a bunch of narrow minded idiots.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  10. therealpeace2all

    From The Article:

    " At the press conference, Owens said that Obama’s support of same-s-e-x marriage tantamount to supporting *child molestation*. " 😯

    “If you watch the men who have been caught having s-e-x with little boys, you will note that all of them will say that they were mol-ested as a child…” Owens said. “For the president to condone this type of thing is irresponsible.” 😯


    W – T – F ? What does the topic of same s-e-x marriage, have to do with child mol-estation ???


    July 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      Yeah – there is something weird going on with this guy close to home. It'll come out eventually.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • just sayin

      W – T – F ? What does the topic of same s-e-x marriage, have to do with child mol-estation ???



      Nothing but we are talking about ignorant Christ-Tards...are we really suprised?

      July 31, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  11. Jack

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

    July 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Jack is cordially invited to pay for his advertising.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  12. Hypatia

    Oh look! More xians hating each other and demanding that others be treated as less than they are. Nice bunch. Think I'll pass on those kinds of beliefs.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  13. HowCanARight

    So, he didn't march for the right of two men or women to marry, he marched for the rights of black people to be equal. So, short and sweet, he's only interested in his own race, not the freedom of all American citizens. Why, exactly, then, would I support you, as you support only yourself?

    July 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  14. Name*Joe

    Pastoe Owens please don't put the babie down the drain with the dirty water even though his personal remarks is not pleasant to you remember the words u preach is not pleasant to a lot of black folks and if they been doing it For the longest to obtain that office it was a political move y don't you talk to the president before u put him down Remember this God give us a choose let God judge him we have always been after one another black on black lets stop this yes God don't like sin but He LOVE the SINNER

    July 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  15. RC


    July 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  16. Keith

    Guess you losers can't play the race card in this case.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • midwest rail

      The usual scintillating analysis from Keith. You have to work at being this clueless.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Urban S

      Oh please, as group of stereotypical "Uncle T\oms" willing to do the white man's bidding is certainly reason enough to play the race card

      July 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      No Keith but your government can certainly play the tax-exempt card here. This is a direct violation of the separation of church and state amendment....lmao...it really is funny watching bigots overstep.
      As for you it is my sincere hope that one of your children turns out to be gay, then we'll all watch you eat crow!

      July 31, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  17. spock

    Religion is a psychopathic mental disease.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • just sayin

      Agreed...and they vote 😮

      July 31, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  18. spock

    Christians are such hypocrites, claiming persecution on one hand and then persecuting others. Christian hate-mongering.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Hypatia

      Pathetic aren't they?

      July 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  19. CT

    Yes it would be much better to elect a president whose religion said black people were cursed and couldn't be saved. They said it openly until the 70's, now it's just whispered. Another example of people voting against their own best interests. So very stupid!

    July 31, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • just sayin

      They suffer from Christ-Tardom

      July 31, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  20. ozzie

    Pastor Owens now perpetuates discrimination. His narrow mind and exclusive spirit feeds the Republical Party. Owens joins a long group of Church leaders who are bothered how people love each other and stay quiet when people kill each other, like the Iraqi war. Obama doesn't need people of prejudice.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
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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.