Mr. Obama’s declaration last week that he supports same-sex marriage prompted ministers around the country to take to their pulpits on Sunday and preach on the issue. But in the clash over homosexuality, the battle lines do not simply pit ministers against secular advocates for gay rights. Religion is on both sides in this conflict. The battle is actually church versus church, minister versus minister, and Scripture versus Scripture…
On Sunday, after Pastor Wooden quieted the standing ovation in his sanctuary in Raleigh, a sea of pink hats and dresses in honor of Mother’s Day, he went into a sermon that portrayed the fight for the same-sex marriage amendment as a divinely ordained cause.
Quoting from Exodus, he said God had led people to the polls with a “high hand,” just as God led the Israelites out of Egypt. Mr. Obama went “against God,” the pastor said. He invoked the New Testament passage from Romans in which men turn away from women and burn in their lust, “men with men.”…
“The only thing that has changed in the church since the first century is who is considered ‘us,’ and who is considered ‘them,’” [Pastor Schneider] said. “The essential issue is the same: We aren’t sure ‘they’ belong with God at all. When I was young, a pastor said, whenever you draw a line between us and them, bear in mind that Jesus is on the other side of that line.”
“I, like the president, have evolved to a point of marriage equality,” Clyburn said in an interview on MSNBC. “I have not always been there. I grew up in a parsonage, a fundamentalist Christian parsonage, and I grew up with that indoctrination. And I have grown to the point that I believe that we have evolved to marriage equality.”…
“I will remind you that in my lifetime, it was illegal in some states — this state, one of them — for black and white couples to get married,” he said. “I think that we have seen in many churches that call themselves fundamentalist and Christian teach a theological tolerance of slavery and servitude.”
In Atlanta, at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church – where Martin Luther King Jr. got his start – the Rev. Ralph Warnock addressed the president’s remarks near the end of his sermon.
“The president is entitled to his opinion,” Warnock said. “He is the president of the United States, not the pastor of the United States.”…
Black pastors who preach in favor of same-sex marriage know they may pay a price if they take Obama’s position, says Bishop Carlton Pearson.
The Chicago-based black minister says he lost his church building and about 6,000 members when he began preaching that gays and lesbians were accepted by God.
“That’s the risk that people take,” he told CNN. “A lot of preachers actually don’t have a theological issue. It’s a business decision. They can’t afford to lose their parishioners and their parsonages and salaries.”
“This is the Bible Belt, and we still believe what the Bible says,” said Harty Wallingford, a civil engineer in Ohio’s Appalachian region. “They can change the Bible in the city, but we won’t change it here. We’re not like California. They’ve just gone crazy there.”…
“No. 1 for me is the morals of this country,” said Wallingford, who believes his friends and neighbors will feel the same. “He (Obama) just lost this county. There’s no way.”…
In the end, though, these Democrats and Republicans in a swing county of a swing state found one more point of agreement. As glasses were drained and dinner plans made, they had a final chance to reflect on what they all thought would, in the end, make the difference on Election Day. To them. To Ohio. And, maybe even, to the nation.
They offered up a two-word response, and it had nothing to do with the news of the past week but rather the issue of the times.
Almost in unison they said: “The economy.”
Pat Robertson offered a tepid hint at an endorsement after the interview, reminding his viewers that Romney is their best option.
“It looks like the people who were worried about his Mormonism, at least that crowd is diminishing somewhat,” Robertson said. “The question is, if you have two candidates, you don’t have Jesus running against someone else. You have Obama running against Romney.”
“I hope you evolve… I’m just teasing.”
“This is the heart of the cultural war, Megyn, it is the fundamental beliefs … in Christianity, in scripture and tradition, and all those ideas of right and wrong against a new secularist idea which is quite militant, no doubt gaining in strength. That is the root of the culture war. It’s just like abortion. Is it okay, I mean is that a progressive move or is that the killing of an unborn child. These are the things that are really dividing the country and they’re going to continue. I didn’t declare it a culture war, we just admitted it was there.”