On the first Sunday after President Barack Obama made history as the first U.S. president to openly support gay marriage, black voters were at odds.
At Victory for the World Church in Stone Mountain, Georiga, Senior Pastor Dr. Kenneth Samuels said he’s lost members since he first voiced his support for gay marriage years ago and had strong words for pastors who don’t agree with his position.
“Some of them are on the down-low too,” Samuels bellowed from the pulpit. “You know some of them got wives in the front of them and boyfriends behind them! Rather than tell the truth and set people free, they’d rather preach a lie.”
WATCH: Black pastors react to Obama same-sex marriage stance
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There was different tone from Jessica Prix. She’s in the process of going into full time ministry and says although it pains her, President Obama lost her support the moment he supported same sex unions. “How can I vote for something in good conscious when I know my God is against it,” Prix said. “This isn’t about down-low or living a lie. It’s about God and his word.”
African Americans overwhelmingly support President Obama, but traditionally, most are socially conservative when it comes to gay marriage. The ballot box shows black voters coming out in large numbers against same sex marriage in previous votes. In North Carolina last Tuesday, where voters passed a ban on same sex marriage by a 61-38 percent margin, blacks voted 2 to 1 in favor of the ban.
Civil Rights Icon Reverend Joseph Lowery, who just one generation ago fought side by side with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. for social equality for blacks, says the facts just don’t add up: “It’s an oxymoron of sorts. How can you say you are for civil rights when you can’t support the civil rights of others,” Lowery told NBC affiliate WXIA.
Nevertheless, there is a growing group of conservative blacks who say they are compelled by their obligation to support civil rights, yet grounded by scriptures which they say define homosexuality as sin.
Darrell Gidron, a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Atlanta, is looking for ways to explain the same sex marriage debate to his young members. He says the message we all need to comprehend is that faith doesn’t always coincide with the world in which we live.
“I think expecting us as blacks to support gay marriage just because we have, and are still fighting for our civil rights, is absurd,” Gidron says. “It’s not about what I say, it’s about what God says.”
Gidron added: “I think people are throwing the word ‘civil rights’ into the debate so they can play both sides of the argument, but we all know you can’t play both sides with God. Don’t scriptures teach [that] if you are lukewarm, God will spew you out his mouth?”
At Ebenezer Baptist Church, often called America’s “freedom church,” Rev. Raphael Warnock told his congregants on Sunday that the gay marriage debate is a tactic to distract and to divide. He urged them not to make it the main issue in the 2012 presidential clection. He was quick to add President Obama is not America’s Pastor.
Abigail Scatliffe, a member of Faith Christian Center in Smyrna, Georgia, echoes some of those same sentiments. “I do not agree with the president’s decision,” she said. “However he is still president. God appoints people to the office that they sit in. Yes, we vote, but at the end of the day, God makes the final decision.”