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. Kebos

    What value does religion have in society anymore?

    July 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Value? Give me a break! Religion has to be the most disgusting concept man ever made-up.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      well obviously way too much.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • junior

      It determines how I treat you, and you benefit from that.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      I shouldn't expect a rational answer from you, it's obvious you haven't a clue.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • spooledup

      Religion has defined our moral foundation for which we have lived for centuries. Gay marriage is immoral, perverted and adds ZERO value to our society.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  2. larry

    I am ashame for OBAMA'S STANCE ON parading gays in front of our children and giving MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS jobs that AMERICAN CITIZENS NEED !!!!!

    July 31, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Hey larry! What if your child marches in that parade one day, then what?

      July 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • mark

      I'm gay, I have a family and my family is just as important as yours.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Jaels_Song

      Shhhh Larry... quiet. You don't want others to figure out that America is a center-right country and tens of millions of unemployed and regular American's are feeling exacly as you are.
      What are ya trying to do Larry? Expose the media's daily attempts of deluding their audience into believing that America has Obama's back (and Michele's $6,800 jacket) while all is just fine out here on Mainstreet?
      Shhhhh Larry... shhhhhh... we don't exist, our suffering isn't lingering, and they have no idea how badly they are losing. Shhhhhhh...

      July 31, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      We all know about the economy you morons, this isn't about the economy, get it?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Boytjie

      Name one job that Obama gave to an illegal alien.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  3. Voice of Reason

    Ignorance is color blind but this is just plain creepy. The oppressed oppressing the oppressed? What is wrong with this picture? I'll tell ya, fu*cking religion, a made-up god and bowl full of twisted perverted in-senseless disregard for human dignity and the right to live free.
    Take your BS and go somewhere else!

    July 31, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • bubbabillyray

      Where can I donate to this cause?

      July 31, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      Don't let-up on these azzholes.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  4. Larry

    I'm a gay man,I see this as 2 different issues.1st there is Holy Matrimony and I believe it is just that "Holy".This is performed in a place of worship by a person of the couples faith.We have absolutely no right to tell a faith to change their beliefs to satisfy our beliefs.I would stand up and fight for churches right to determine what takes place within their place of worship.I also would defend a man of the faith to not provide a ceremony against his faith.2nd There is Marriage that comes with a License.A license that is a civil,legally binding contract issued in a civil court and is a civil matter.The Marriage License has nothing to do with Religion,Faith,God,or any Church.Out of the two,the 2nd one(Marriage License)is the one the Gay Community is interested in.I should not be denied to enter into a legally binding contract with my partner of 21yrs.It is a civil contract issued by a civil court,a persons belief system has nothing to do with it.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Larry, if you're gay I'll eat my hat.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      But sadly, Larry, in MOST jurisdictions a joined gay couple still are not afforded the same rights and conveniences as married couples for many things from death rights and benefits to – well I'm sure you must know this. You can't be that dim on this. So this is most definitely a civil rights issue and an issue of separation of church and state. If churches don't want people to tell them what const*itues marriage within their church, then fine, but they can't dictate what defines it outside of their church as long as it has civil implications. Think people!

      July 31, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Lynn S. Pilcher

      My friend you are almost there. When the Founding Fathers set up the United States they remember several of the tragic events that occurred in Europe. What they decovered is that it is impossible to seperate the influence of God from the actions of man. That is why in the United States people can justify the abortion of 54,000,000 innocent babies.

      However, in the end all of us are accountable to God what we did and did not do, in according to HIS WILL.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Larry

      I'm very gay been with my partner 21yrs.I just don't get what ya'll are talking about.I want Marriage Equality,I want to marry my partner.But its Civil issue not a religious one.If the church wants to deny me Holy Matrimony,so be it.I'm not interested in the Church blessing my marriage or Gods approval or a ministers words.I want to to go to the courthouse and be married by a Justice of the peace.I should have that right,however the Church has a right not to participate in anyway.I'm good with that.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Larry

      "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries." -1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches-James Madison

      July 31, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Lynn S. Pilcher

      You have no proof of your so called god so quit your blabbin', it's nonsense.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      "I'm very gay"

      Larry, I did not know there was a difference between being gay and being "very" gay. I think you're a big fu*cking liar to tell you the truth.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Larry

      DUDE I know why you think I'm not gay.The Larry you were talking to earlier in the feed is not me,I'm another Larry.Do we sound like the same two people compare our writing,what we say,and how we say it.I'm really on your side

      July 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Pete

      Actually just going to a church and getting married is meaningless, you are not married until the gov. gives you a marriage license.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  5. Alan

    I suppose that these black pastors have no experience with other people trying to restrict their civil rights or with being treated like second class citizens. I'm sure that they aren't hypocritical.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  6. Elwin

    I believe Obama will lose more independant votes from his stand on gay marriage that he will gain. A lot more independants in this country that gay, and besides most of the gays were going to vote for him anyway.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  7. Katie

    I feel like this is such a weird stance for the African American to take. They endured their own discrimination, hate crimes, and heated debate over what to do with the slaves – and then there was that war; you know, the one with the Emancipation Proclamation? It seems that they'd be working with the gays and other oppressed groups, not against them.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • bubbabillyray

      Obama has done zip for the black community since he was emaculated in 2008, they should all turn on him.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      It is. Follow the money.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  8. Jaels_Song

    Oh yes, and watch these brave pastor get attacked by the same scandelous media that has been carrying water for this failed president for the past 3 1/2 years. We will soon find out (as we did with feminist who care more about progressive ideolgy over women) that NAACP will care more about progressive ideology than it cares about black people when the full assault against these pastors– who standing for righteousness– begins. Obama should not have dragged Christians into his sordid perversions and equated the gay lifestyle with the civil rights struggles of black Americans.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Bill in Florida

      Scandalous media? You mean like Faux News, which is incapable of positive reporting about the President?

      July 31, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      wow – well this is too much for me to address. i would just advise that you start over and get a decent education next time. although, to be fair, you might have just immigrated from the jungles of Brazil for all I know. in that case, well – the solution is still the same – get a decent education.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Jaels_Song

      Typical knee jerk liberal response "faux news?" Damn that old expression is so wore out. I don't even watch Fox News, my news sources come over the Internet, also scanning twitter is very useful. Fox News is though, the #1 news outlet for a reason and CNN is in the dumps for a reason. CNN is no longer counted on unbias reporting and is no more than the long arm of the Obama reelection campaign. Most media outlets have lost their credibility directly because of their bias blatantly hack reporting that has protected this failed president and his administration. Television media now days is not about journalism, it is entertainment. Andrea Mitchell, Wolf Blitzer, Oberman, Schultz, Maddow, and so many others have completely destroyed their reputations over Obama. As well, news outlets have bankrupted themselves. Even Oprah took a dive.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • mrcarter

      Fantastic stuff, the third great awakening has truly began. And the church will lead the way. Praise God.
      Obama needs to import voters, create class's of supposed oppressed voters. And all the other radical ploys he can think of.
      The left is about to see the biggest loss in American history, and It cant come soon enough. And I mean the phoney's on the right also. Your either for American values or your not my countrymen.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      (regarding mrcarter)

      omg we have awoken Carrie's great-grandpappy.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  9. marioguy

    This guy is basically saying, "I was a civil rights leader, but I never wanted gays to have rights too."

    July 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Gene

      So is this Money Grubbing Pastor going to fire most of his Gay Choir? When people wake up and stop giving their hard earned wages to these SNAKE OIL SALESMEN, they will see just how Religious they really are.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  10. Bill in Florida

    Conservative African-Americans,eh? Maybe 3-4% of all African-Americans? So instead of getting 96% of the AA vote, maybe Obama will receive "only" 93-94%? Tragic ...

    July 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Jason

      Right on! I can pull numbers out of my ass too.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  11. Nemoque

    It doesn't matter. Blacks will put skin color above theology or morality.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Bill in Florida

      That's generally true for all races. Most whites voted for McCain, most blacks voted for Obama. What"s your point?

      July 31, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Bill in Texas

      uh, Bill in Florida, if that were true then President Obama would not be president since African-Americans only make up 12-14% of the US population it took a majority of whites to elect the President, so your logic is fundamentally flawed.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  12. Pat

    The beauty of our country is people can hold to their religion. On the downside there are those who choose to apply the race card to anything. The opinion of Black Churches is their opinion and their opinion only. Marriage of any sort is not a civil rights issue. It is an issue only by definition. If Mr. Obama chooses to side with the Gay and Lesbian quadrant of our country it is his business and his alone. However, to every action there is a reaction. Again though I would like to make the point that his decision to "come out" in favor of Gay Marriage is nothing but a political ploy to garner the vote. A lie which is not out of the ordinary for his character, or lack thereof.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • cipher

      Agreed. The shame of this is that Obama's stand is not based on his core beliefs, but rather on shoring up another 5% of the electorate in November. The all but amnesty thing is more of the same. Watch for student loans to be forgiven sometime soon. I am happy to see people of all colors judging people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Now I'm left to wonder how the mainstream press will attach the racist tag to these pastors, as they do with anyone who opposes obama...

      July 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      "Marriage of any sort is not a civil rights issue."

      Ridiculous. Of course it is a civil rights issue. Any categorization of part of the population that gives some kind of advantage (tax, health benefits, life insurance, etc. etc.) over another part of the population (single or a limitation of what marriage can be legally within a state or the nation) would always be a civil rights issue – or should be if you're really believing in the words of the const*itution.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  13. LMC

    There are so many issues at risk in this election–it's hard to believe some people would pull their support from the President over gay marriage.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Ting

      Religion based predjudices are the hardest to overcome.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      People vote on what they understand and feel strongly about and the issue goes far beyond religious bigotry.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • CV

      They protest as if the other side is going to openly welcome them and their social issues other than gay marriage. Good luck!

      July 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  14. Arvoasitis

    Obama should be more than a little worried. He could lose the election over this issue. He is fortunate to have a relatively weak opponent, but if Obama supporters stay away from the polls in droves, look out.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      He won't.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  15. visavis101

    I wonder how this is going to work regarding the demcratic party as I heard they are going to have a plank supporting gay marriage. Is this the beginning of the end of the demorats having a lockhold on blacks?

    July 31, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  16. Ismael

    I can't believe this. As a black person, I think that this is about civil rights and have nothing to do about religion. Have we forgotten how it was before 1954? Have we forgotten how hard still is? And when some group or minority is trying to fight for their rights, we are going to turn our backs? It's crazy. 
    Take care,

    July 31, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • indogwetrust

      Yes it is. Someone needs to start an African Americans preachers for gay rights coalition.

      July 31, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      Please don't confuse a ban on same-gender marriage with a ban on interracial marriage. Interracial marriages are as old as history; an interracial marriage does not change the definition of "marriage." But, in all its forms marriage has been the union of a man and a woman. even in ancient Sparta, where hom.ose.xual relations were the norm and heter.ose.xual relations for the begetting of offspring were often considered an unpleasant duty, marriage was always between a man and a woman. Gay marriage opens a Pandora's Box of problems. Throughout history, same-gender marriages are limited to a few potentates, such as the roman, Caligula, who married himself to his manservant and his horse (but he may have been demonstrating that he was above the common law).

      July 31, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  17. California Gary

    Just wondering how much the Koch brothers put in the collection plate for this group.......just wondering.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Keisha

      Absolutely wondering the same

      July 31, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  18. liz48

    Blacks are very committed to the Biblical value of marriage when they are into G-d. They were largely responsible for the vote against prop 8 in California. The message has to get out, and this pastor, should be supported...

    July 31, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      and I will remember the people who supported him when his little secret comes out. you know there is something weird going on close to home for him to only be able to associate gays with pedophilia. we remember eddie long.

      July 31, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Joyce

      I agree with you Liz. If you are going to claim Biblical Christianity then you claim what the Bible states. The Bible also a historical book states marriage between a man and woman for 6000 yrs.If your not going to accept the Bible is the inerrant Word of God then don't bother with picking and choosing out of it what suits you and claiming Christianity. Claim to be a religious person but not Christian.

      July 31, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      Not true Joyce. The main reason for this is at the very beginning of the church. Jesus said things very differently than Paul for instance. He was not about people judging one another. Paul the self-proclaimed apostle, horribly skewed jesus' teachings by allowing people to easily use his words to judge one another. Whether or not he intended this is up to debate, but the fact remains that it is easy to judge one another using Paul's words (and there are certainly a lot of them in the NT). So I suppose if you are a Christian and only follow Jesus' words, then you might be let's say the kind of Christian that Ghandi would say is true to their originator.

      But throwing in Paul's words and the political evils of the early church we wind up several types of Christianity where: women are put down (and not allowed in the priesthood); priests can't marry (and abuse young people); gays are put down; people die because they are encouraged not to use contraception, etc. etc. So there are different ways to take Christianity if that's your thing. But you should at least be educated about it before making such a blanket statement about this one book speaking to you (even though it is a mish-mash writings by men), otherwise you are easily found to be what's called a lemming and a fundamentalist and a bible thumper and a bigot.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      liz48: Your imaginary friend god and the buybull can not be used in law making decision and therefore have no place in politics. It is with the sincerest hope that this bigot loses his tax exempt status. He is in direct violation of separation of church and state. If your only issue with same gender marriage comes from your belief, then you too are a bigot. Ignorance is bliss amongst you christards.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  19. Michael

    im black....and ill be the first one to tell you

    we arent all stupid enough to forget the environment, income equality, healthcare, and all the important issues today

    to rally behind some old guy who is angry that two guys can marry

    its just not that serious lol

    July 31, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • liz48

      It is about honoring G-d...if you don't care about G-d and just the stuff you can have, I can assure you this is not important for you. It may become important when all the things you are thinking are important, are taken from you and you wonder if G-d does exist....

      July 31, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today


      Honoring God with hate and judgment of others shows you are a what's called a lemming because you have bought into one of the world's most dangerous books. A book that was written and translated by men (and used for political purposes by its authors as well).

      July 31, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • lsgyrl


      July 31, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Jduff

      @Liz, It must seem that things aren't important when you are waiting for Revelations to come true every day. I assure you it won't, so things that are important to the here and now, are, well, important. The most devastating belief in the Bible is that Revelations will come true because it makes it okay for people to trash the world, trash each other, so maybe it will play out because as my favorite chinese philosopher Laozi once said, "If you don't change directions, you will end up in the direction you are heading."

      August 1, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  20. shooti

    Thank goodness there are some blacks who put their relgious beliefs and cultural traditions before skin color...praise the Lord! And thanks for standing up to what will be lots of pressure from Chicago...just look how Cory Booker immediately caved after his stand. Remember, Obama will only be a very temporary presence in your lives but you have to live the rest of your lives in your church and among your community and be able to look everyone in the eye.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      You really should be saying "Praise the self-appointed apostle Paul" because he is the one from the bible that twisted Jesus' teachings around to use them for hate and judgement rendering most of the NT evil and dangerous.

      July 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • LMC

      I don't remember reading any direct teaching of Jesus that could be misconstrued to be against gay people. Do you really think Jesus did not expect the religion to evolve over time and culture? I con't think Jesus was that shortsighted.

      July 31, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • niknak

      He was farsighted enough to dump that whole carptentry bull and take up store front preaching as a way to make a living.
      And look just how lucrative it has become.
      Too bad in his day the leading religion had the power to kill him.
      Because killing is what all religions have in common, after the collection plate that is.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
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.