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. Texas777

    Mormons ain't Christians...


    July 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  2. liberalefty

    the black church is full of gays...HAVE THEY TALKED TO BISHOP EDDIE LONG

    July 31, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  3. jubei3

    key word.....conservative black pastors!

    July 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • liberalefty

      BUT THEY ALL BELIE VE IN affirmative action

      July 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  4. Fact

    Good! Finally some black pastors standing up for morality and truth. Thank you very much, sir!

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

      yeaH bigotry and hate just like the consrvatives of the 50's and 60's who used the bible to deny blacks their rights

      July 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Nare

      Proving, yet again that hate is more powerful than love....I"ll pass.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  5. Chuck

    Here we go again. It's always the same old thing with the black church, I wonder what happen to prayer and forgiveness. What the hell is this guy talking about when he says that supporting gay marriage is like support child molestation? I do not see the comparsion. So what now Rev Owens, I guess you and your chruch will be going to the polls for Mitt Romney, your conservative followers will be proud. Congrats on your dedication to your beliefs no matter what the stakes are for the black community should Romney get elected. Thank you and we will see what happens in Nov.

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

      Sin is sin – that's what the hell he means.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  6. JM Stintle

    How could I forget that no one who is a democrat is allowed to have a different opinion...except atheists who mock the religious left...who you may end up losing, not because of gay marriage but because you constantly beat them up over it.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  7. I Have a Dream

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

    I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former gays and the sons of former bigots will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

    I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

    I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their se.xual orientation but by the content of their character.

    I have a dream today.


    July 31, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • ironman59

      How quickly people forget such powerful words.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • SPW

      I'm laughing a little bit too hard right now.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Fact

      I have a dream that one day people will understand that the gay lifestyle has nothing to do with the civil rights issue. We are all born sinners and are inclined to sin but we don't have to act accordingly. In a few years are you going to defend beastiality as a civil right? How about incest? Where do you draw the line and by what standard?

      July 31, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • I Have a Dream

      Well....I think normal people have human relationships with other humans. You are a sicko!

      July 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  8. Kenny

    I grew up being taught that Blacks could never become a power to be reckoned with because they cannot ever agree on anything as a mass. At the ripe old age of 64 I think I am mot qualified to say that this is a 99% true statement as about the only thing I have seen Blaccks unite on in my lifetime has been the Civil Rights issues. Now we are watching Blacks threaten the re-election of President Obama because they disagree with him on this issue. I'm sure there are other issues some may disagree with him on, however,one issue many Blacks are allowing themslves to be used to drive a wedge for the purpose of lowering the Black votes the President stands to get. When you combine that action with Republican Legislatures blocing Minority voters at the pools the end results can only be a win for Mitt Romney and that can only lead to the untimely demise of all grounds gained from the Civil Rights Movement through today and maybe even the demise of the US as a Democracy. I hope these Pastors realize that by moving against Obama they are becoming the Lambs being led to the slaughter by Mitt Romney. Maybe they should think about "The Devil They Know vs The Devil They Don't Know" before doing something that will destroy this nation.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Fact

      OMG! You think the civil rights of blacks are going to disappear if Obama doesn't get re- elected? The guy is a Marxist- look at his policies!
      Lord help us!

      July 31, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  9. Dave R.

    It is pretty stupid to let this issue get in the way of what makes good sense. The alternative Republican candidate is far worse.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • dc

      It's pretty stupid for you to drink the kool-aid.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  10. Thewidow@thiswidowswords

    Would these be the same, self-hating people who're sucking up to the church that would not bless their marriage?

    July 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  11. Richard

    What a breath of fresh air this guy is. Wow. Love to see people taking a principled stand and not basing support on skin color. Obama has been taking his black support for granted. Looks like he can't do that anymore. Bravo!

    July 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • ironman59

      How about the fact that the issue is nothing more than a distraction tact initiated by the far right. How about the fact that marriage between consenting adults is not the business of government. Yet the "smaller government" gop is pushing every social issue that government needs to manage or restrict. These fools religious doctrine should not be the basis for my secular law. Plain and simple the gop doesn't have answers to the economic situation and spends all of it's time distracting the masses with non-issues. There is nothing noble about this nonsense.

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

      so their stand is principled because u agree with it, huh?

      July 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Chuck

      Who cares what you think.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm |

    I have said MANY times that nobama takes the black vote for granted. Most recently when nobama snubbed the NAACP by not going to their convention, and instead sent joe biden. What a SLAP IN THE FACE to black America!!! And the liberal media helps him protect his supposed grip on that sector. The BEST Republican candidate this election was Herman Cain, but the liberal media attacked him till he quit because he would have stolen much of the black vote from nobama! The media controls politics more than most of you realize!

    July 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • liberalefty

      nobody attacked CAIN, ..his past came back to haunt him. he was to weak to stand up to the public scrutiny...but he wouldnt have been nominated anyway by the racist gop...theyre glad he dropped out

      July 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  13. Dan

    I'd love to send these idiots back to the 40's to remind them of a time people used the bible to justify what they could and couldnt do in regards to marriage.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Harry

      Amen to that! You are absolutely correct. How quickly we forget.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  14. RillyKewl

    This pastor should've extolled the virtues of prejudice.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  15. Gerry Daley

    Thanks, Uncle Tom. Your GOP masters appreciate all your efforts.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Richard

      So, you don't think black people can think independently? I call that racist.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  16. Dave

    This is nothing new. African Americans have traditionally opposed any person who is not "perfect" in their race. That includes handicapped, gay, lesbian, women, etc. My wife is handicapped and out of all the people over the years that have been mean and nasty to her the overwhelming amount of them have been African American. I have heard more nasty gay comments out of my African American colleagues than I ever heard out of my colleagues of other races. Tolerance is not in the vocabulary of the African American culture. It just does not exist.

    If these black pastors think that they and their flock are going to be better off under a republican president and congress they are truly goofy. Have they not been listening to the hate filled rhetoric being spoken in the last 4 years? Were their ears turned off? I guess these pastors need to have a republican congress, senate and president in to really learn the error of their ways. Of course, at that time it will be too late.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Michael

      Dave, that is unfortunate that your wife has been degraded by anyone. I have to disagree with you on saying that "Tolerance is not in the vocabulary of the African American culture." To generalize a group is wrong. Tolerance is based on a person to person basis. It is not solely a trait of one race or a lack of it in another. Racism is the same; it is not a trait or characteristics of one race or is not lacking in another.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  17. Ramon F. Herrera

    Hey, Pastors! Go to the Republican Party!! See how they treat you!!

    July 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  18. MalcolmXcrement

    Gays will get their's in the end...

    July 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Runandtellthat

      Really, when?

      July 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Baa Weet

      don't they already?

      July 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  19. Heather

    Being gay or lesbian didn't even make the top 10 in the Bible. But you know what did?? "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery!"
    Anyone want to talk about the amount of affairs happening at churches (regardless of color?!) How about the rate of single moms?! Hypocrites! Even the great REV. Martin Luther King, Jr. cheated on his wife!!!

    July 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Ramon F. Herrera

      "Even the great REV. Martin Luther King, Jr. cheated on his wife!!!"

      Not to mention the even greater John F. Kennedy... (huge fan)

      July 31, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Vincent

      Preach. Yes Yes

      July 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • TAJW

      So...do you think those churches condone adultery?

      If so...you are sadly mistaken.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Nare

      @TAJW - of course not, their bread and butter is calling out their perception of other people's sins....I think that's where the concept of HYPOCRITE comes from.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  20. Meki60

    the muslims behead people for being gay

    July 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Chris

      Whites castrated and burned 9 yr old black children for having books 50 years ago.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:08 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.