As religious conservatives gather in Washington this weekend for the “Values Voters Summit,” Senator Barack Obama’s campaign announced its latest effort to attract people of faith to the campaign: a gospel concert tour.
All three of the dates of the “Embrace the Change” tour are in South Carolina, where Mr. Obama is locked in battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for black voters.
Gospel acts including Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and Hezekiah Walker, Byron Cage and the Mighty Clouds of Joy are scheduled to appear.
Who’s Donnie McClurkin, you ask?
Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who has detailed his struggle with gay tendencies and vowed to battle “the curse of homosexuality,” said yesterday he’ll perform as scheduled at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, despite controversy over his view that sexuality can be changed by religious intervention.
“I can’t let off. I didn’t call myself — God called me to do what I do,” McClurkin told The Post’s Hamil R. Harris. The Grammy winner declared, “If this is a war, we are willing to fight. Not a war of violence, but a war of purpose.”
McClurkin wrote on a Christian Web site in 2002 that he struggled with homosexuality after he was molested by male relatives when he was 8 and 13. “I’ve been through this and have experienced God’s power to change my lifestyle,” he wrote. “I am delivered and I know God can deliver others, too.”
McClurkin, who said he’s sung for Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, blamed “the hatred of a few activists, not the gay community,” for the flap. “They act as if my singing on the ticket is the same as singing at a Nazi rally endorsing Nazism. The bottom line is that I sang at the Democratic convention” in 1992.
Well, the fact that he sang at the Democratic Convention in 1992 doesn’t reassure me. And as for the comparison to Nazism — from a man who flacks for a “movement” whose basic premise is that gay people should not exist or that gay people do not really exist? Well, he said it. I didn’t.
But that’s beside the point? Why is Obama touring with him? Why is a candidate who wants so much to be a friend to the gay community touring with an anti-gay “ex-gay” who’s said some decidedly unfriendly things about gay people?
McClurkin is the gospel singer the Republicans chose to warm up the crowd for President Bush on Thursday night. His name had been on the schedule for a week. But this had only seen print in The Charlotte Observer, which mocked him and the NYPD’s singing cop as among the GOP’s “most notable musical acts,” and The Baltimore Sun, which cast a seconding vote: like most of the bill, “not a star outside their narrow world.”
This world the Sun calls narrow surely encompasses within its borders viewers of the 700 Club. That means one million viewers each day. Among them McClurkin is notable, and cherished, as the man with the guts to say homosexuals are “trying to kill our children.”
…The media didn’t call the Republicans on Donnie McClurkin. He came. He sang. He conquered. He was surrounded on the stage by a cloud of singing little children, sitting cross-legged, wearing white, pure and innocent—a semiotic coding unmistakable to that narrow world where millions of people know that Pastor McClurkin has devoted his life to saving children from the cult-like snares of the homosexual recruiters. “The gloves are off,” he told the 700 Club. “And if there’s going to be a war, there’s going to be a war.”
The media missed that message.
Is the media missing the message again? What is the message, when a candidate goes from dodging a question on whether gays are immoral to appearing on gay network’s Democratic candidate forum touring with guy who says gays make easy targets?
In an interview with www.FamilyChristian.com McClurkin said, “Homosexuality has really ravished our children. It started in my generation. I was touched by it and I struggled with it and all that for years and there was nobody to deal with it. I started dealing with it in my sermons and even when we do our concerts.”
McClurkin, currently a senor pastor at Perfecting Faith in Freeport, N.Y., was particularly outspoken against New York’s funding of Harvey Milk, a gay high school in New York, suggesting that the school will lead to molestation of children.
“The gloves are off,” he said on the Sept. 23, 2003 episode of Rev. Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. “And if there’s going to be a war, there’s going to be a war. But it will be a war with a purpose. This is not a privately funded school. It is a public school funded by taxpayers’ money. Why isn’t anyone else speaking out? Everyone knows that everyone at the high school is homosexual. That makes for an easy target.”
What is the message to gay voters? Is there room in the Democratic party for me and the Donnie McClurkins of the world?
Or is the message for me in the first place? Is the message for African American voters whose homophobia must be placated, lest enough of them bolt to the GOP to change the margin of victory? Is the message for evangelical voters whose homophobia must be placated? Is it a message for the evangelicals whom Obama says has hijacked his faith?
Why, oh why would Obama — or any other Democratic candidate — tour with the likes of Donnie McClukin? And why should gays and/or progressives not take him to task for it, as they did with the Republicans in 2004?
For that matter, are any Democratic candidates speaking up about this and urging Obama to break ties with this guy? And if not, why not?