At Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s gospel concert in South Carolina this weekend, singer and ex-gay activist Donnie McClurkin had an opportunity to take the high road: Show good will and extend an olive branch toward his gay co-singers and audience members.

Instead, according to the New York Times political blog, The Caucus, McClurkin took the low road.

The whole controversy might have been forgotten in the swell of gospel sound except Mr. McClurkin turned the final half hour of the three-hour concert into a revival meeting about the lightning rod he has become for the Obama campaign.

He approached the subject gingerly at first. Then, just when the concert had seemed to reach its pitch and about to end, Mr. McClurkin returned to it with a full-blown plea: “Don’t call me a bigot or anti-gay when I have suffered the same feelings,” he cried.

“God delivered me from homosexuality,” he added. He then told the audience to believe the Bible over the blogs: “God is the only way.” The crowd sang and clapped along in full support.

As XGW has noted previously, pro-tolerance advocates do not object to McClurkin’s decision to identify as ex-gay and to refrain from homosexual behavior. They object because McClurkin:

  • told The 700 Club — a Christian media outlet — that same-sex-attracted persons are child-killers and vowed to wage “war” — not peace nor Christian outreach — against gay people
  • mischaracterizes his ongoing sexual attraction to men as if it were fully overcome and declines to discuss his lack of significant attraction to women
  • asserts that because a handful of individuals with unstable or fluid sexual attraction claim to change, anyone can

In reaction to the initial controversy, Obama sought to deflect charges of antigay bias by including a gay Christian representative in the tour. But Obama passed over two black gay pastors and two black gay-affirming pastors and instead hired a white gay pastor, the Rev. Andy Sidden. According to CNN’s Political Ticker blog, Sidden appeared only briefly at the concert, before much of the audience had even arrived, and refrained from mentioning sexuality.

South Carolina African-American gay activist Alvin McEwen attended a small protest outside the concert and wrote his observations:

No matter how many times it was emphasized that none of us care about McClurkin’s personal decisions regarding his orientation, folks have continued to claim that we are angry at McClurkin’s belief that he is “ex-gay” rather than his statements against the lgbt community.

Hat tip: AmericaBlog

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