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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. Myeshia

    I could care less about voting for someone based on their feelings about gay marriage. What I am focused on is what underlying issues will come with the healthcare bill, why we aren't supposed to swallow toothpaste yet it's main ingredient (fluoride) is in our drinking water, toxic and is mandatory, taxes and how they work against everyone but the rich, the major hike in cancer over the years and why we feel the need to give away U.S. dollars/aide to almost everyone (note: we don't know where any of the aide actually goes) else but the people in this country etc.

    This is just an issue to distract us from the main issues that we should be focusing on. I know what you are thinking... One that I did an awesome run-on sentence and second that I'm against gays having rights. One thing is right that yes, that was a superb run-on sentence but I do care about gays rights and their right to marry. However, there is something we all must think about and it's the fact that we all live here on this earth as human beings. Our health, safety and physical well-being should come first. Our economy is not the best right now and we need answers as to why, how and when things are going to turn around. Out of the billions of people on this planet why are money and power under the control of so few?

    They will do anything to distract us from what's really going on including this circus right here. What happened to separation of church and state? I guess when it comes to everything as a whole it's church and the union, therefore, they have the right to override anything a state deems legal. Are we actually free? All mind control and they mock us as we write in these forums. Right now it's divide and conquer. They are doing a great job at it and have been doing it for decades.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      "that was a superb run-on sentence " ok i officially love you maybe not politically or morally yet, but based on just that part so far.. lol

      July 31, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Sacmar

      You hit the naik on the head.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      "Our health, safety and physical well-being should come first."

      I agree. And I am (a) gay.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Sacmar

      I meant 'nail'.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      "Out of the billions of people on this planet why are money and power under the control of so few?"

      Because it is human nature to be greedy. Some humans are born with an extra dose of greediness – they are called Republicans. I'm not sure they've always been like this, but certainly the extra-greedy people today are in that party. Some of them try to convince you that they are not greedy and others, like Mitt Romney, the Donald, etc. just don't care what you think of them. But their inner souls are based on greed.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      "What happened to separation of church and state?" Great question. I'm really starting to like you Myeshia – you are asking the right questions. Unfortunately the separation of church and state has taken a giant step backwards since twenty-so years ago. Not that is was ever perfectly implemented, but I would have hoped that we would have progressed further as a society in how the interpretation of that should have been further clarified. But instead, we as a US society, have plunged further back into ingorance regarding that most important aspect of the US const*itution. Religoius fanatics and just uneducated people have fallen victim to people like the "ministers" that are the subject of this article.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  2. Mike

    Well, that is 3,472 churches that just lost their tax-free status by officially endorsing a political candidate. Hey IRS– do your job and get on these guys.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Myeshia

      DING! DING!! DING!!! You are so right!

      Will it actually happen... Probably not.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      Yes – get these creeps to pay.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  3. Liz the First

    How pathetic and stupid! one persecuted minority turning around and persecuting another minority and campaigning against their own self-interest in the bargain! the rethugs are laughing at these clowns. when will so-called 'christians' start acting like their savior tried to teach them to act, to love their neighbor as themselves? these idiots are throwing the country under the bus campaigning against Obama because his party has chosen to stand up to hate and discrimination. they should be applauding the Democrats for standing up for human and civil rights instead of showing as much hate as the rethugs. how sad.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      They're disgraceful.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  4. Seriously?

    I am always amazed at how people like this feel that everyone else is required to believe as they do. I'm so sick of haters who don't know what Christianity is really all about. And...why when these people insert their personal agendas into politics are they still not being forced to pay taxes for not maintaining a separation between church and state?

    July 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Meki60

      I think you are talking about muslims, they are very strong on gay things

      July 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Meki60

      muslims behead people for being gay

      July 31, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  5. d

    Bigots are bigots, doesn't matter the color of their skin.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Mary1972

      Well said.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  6. WOT

    Go back to the back of the bus! Gay are of all races, people wake up, there are just as many Black Gays as their are in any other race. Remember being gay has nothing to do with being President!

    July 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  7. Meki60

    good for you, Rev Owens. dont let the libs control your beliefs

    July 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Liz the First

      If God did judge folks, i'm sure He'd judge you much more harshly for who you hate then for who you love. think about it.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      right on Liz the 1st

      July 31, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  8. RillyKewl

    Fools, fools, fools.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  9. SNAPPA

    You know what I'm sick and tired of all this talk about fairness in taxing the American people its' abou ttime these cults started paying their fare share. If they want to become political then they should be paying like the rest of us. They are attempting to influence an election which is political and therefore they should be paying taxes. From the Mormon cult to the Christian ones saying somehting from the pulpit is one thing but going national on news channels and holding fund raisers sounds an awful lot like a campaign, enough is enough.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      Yup! We should tax the bejezis out of 'em!!!

      July 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Yes, tax them, period.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  10. spooledup

    Gays are the selfish haters who are intolerant of religion. They are disgusting and perverted.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • SNAPPA

      "Intolerant of religion" are you serious? Have you read some of their comments? From "saving the family" as if gay people didn't come from a family as if they simiply dropped in from some place else. From gays always being blamed by the likes of Hagee and others when natural disasters strike like 9/11 Jerry Falwell had much to say on that subjuect. Your post only goes to show how ignorance in this nation is rampant. Of course gays are intolerant of religion since those in the religions are intolerant of gays it does work both ways you know.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      Something's up your buttt I see.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      Impaction can be a problem and can keep you from learning. Try this. Sunsweet has these delicious things called D'Noire Prunes. Have a few of those with some water before you go to bed and walla, next morning you'll be able to reason again.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  11. Trent

    No black anywhere has any right to oppose gay marriage.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Beansie

      That doesn't make sense. Everyone can feel have any opinion they want. D-bag.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  12. maynard G

    is nice to see a few people taking a stand. who cares what color Barry is. He does not believe the bible and can only quote scripture when some one puts its on his teleprompter. he is in the gym shooting hoops on sunday morning when the rest of us are doing as God asks, worship.
    He has done nothing for the country and even less for his preciuos black community. Gay marraige is not a black thing, its a God thing. Getting rid of Barry aint a black thing either, Give me JC watts on my ticket anyday. Get over the race thing and religiuos thing, Barry is running our country into the ground and he must go.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Matt

      Do you have any logic to back up the incredible claims you make in your post? Any evidence, a few links, anything?

      July 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Liz the First

      How blinded by hate is it possible for someone to be? you're the one who can't get over the race thing and wrap your mind around the fact that we have a black president who is doing as good a job for the American people as it's possible to do in the face of intractible opposition from the people who really ran this country into the ground. if you think the rethugs are working for your benefit, you're the biggest sucker on the planet.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  13. Fitz Matgerald

    There's a payout involved here. Look for these pastors to have some recent tailoring down to add new deep pockets. They can't possibly be doing this work solely because of the gay marriage issue. Not with black unemployment low. Not with the black dropout rate so high. This CAN'T be there cornerstone issue unless someone has slipped them a few bucks to make it so.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      You think? I think you nailed it.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Fitz Matgerald

      Sorry...black unemployment so *high*

      July 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Matt

      I agree, and I think it's NOM that has slipped them a few bucks.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      Absolutely – there had to be a calculated anticipation of (even just) a smidgen of payoff from "new supporters" for whatever cause it is – clergy folks are creflo DOLLAR-savvy this way.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  14. Runandtellthat

    I get so tired of these black preachers critiquing and complaining about gays when they need to fix what's going on in their own churches and backyards. Most of them are closeted gays, sleeping and impregnating their church members and so forth. They are still going to vote for Obama anyway.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  15. Marrod

    Obama does not play the race card so I don't think he is gonna be a bit disappointed that this group does not support him. Instead of worrying about gay marriage I think they should use that energy going around neighborhoods full of black gang members killing each other. I am not stereotyping because I am a minority my self and am outraged of people not seeing what the real issues are. I am a Christian and I accept people just the way they are. God is the ultimate judge.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      god does not exist.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  16. rteaseta

    Being gay is a choice, just like having a lisp is a choice. he wasn't born that way!

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

      Why would someone want to choose being gay when society is so cruel and judgemental towards gays?

      July 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Matt

      Being gay is a choice, just like being tall is a choice.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • SNAPPA

      I'm just wondering when it was that you made your choice? Do you experience any hate from your choice? Are you certain it was the correct choice to make?

      July 31, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  17. Mclark

    What a pathetic excuse of a so called man of god. Hypocrites come in all color's.

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

      apparently.

      July 31, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  18. Anubis

    If they think gay marriage is the biggest problem and enough of a reason not to vote for him then they are sadly ignorant indeed

    July 31, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  19. Jmm

    Those African American "pastors" get their first African American President in history and they turn against him. Talk about priorities...

    July 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Peter Courtenay Stephens

      Obama is neither Black or the first African American president. You would have to change the science of genetics and or basic mathematics to make him so.

      FREEDOM or Obama.
      You Can Not Have Both.

      Sic Sempe Tyrannis !

      July 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Mike

      Peter Courtenay Stephens: By any commonly used definition of "black" or "African American", Obama is the first black/African-American president. Beyond that, I have no idea what you are talking about.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  20. keyser

    Well, here they are again, punishing people for their thoughts. But then again that's been the job of priests since the beginning of time. What is astonishing is that people actually listen to them and obey them. What a perverse lot our species is.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:45 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.