A new Washington Post/ABC News Poll survey finds that the percentage of African-Americans who support gay marriage jumped almost 20 points after President Obama's announcement that he now backs same-sex marriage. One pastor doesn't believe the poll is representative of the nation's black Christians.
The Rev. Bill Owens, who leads the Coalition of African American Pastors, argues that opposition to same-sex marriage is steadfast and growing. "I know the poll is wrong," Owens told CP. "Very few black Christians I encounter support President's Obama's position on same-sex marriage. In fact, in a small poll conducted by our organization, 12 percent said they would not vote for President Obama again."
The new poll of 1,004 adults was released Wednesday and reveals that 59 percent of African-Americans say they back same-sex marriage, up from 41 percent in combined ABC/Post polls this spring and last summer. Also, 65 percent of African-Americans support Obama's new position.
Following Obama's announcement earlier this month that he believes same-sex couples should be able to get married, black pastors across the nation have expressed opposing views, with the more liberal and progressive Christian leaders embracing the president's new stance.
Dr. Brad Braxton, an academic African-American Baptist pastor who leads a church in Maryland, feels all Christians – especially black Christians – should fully embrace same-sex marriage.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Braxton made the case that when it comes to same-sex marriage and related sexual issues, the Scriptures are "a reliable place for us to have an encounter with God, but we should not substitute Scripture for God."
"If we are honest, there are times when the scriptures have misbehaved (examples include genocide and slavery)," stated Braxton. "For example, the scriptures have been used to justify slavery, thus they have not always been a friend to African-Americans. I also believe that African-Americans have at times brought hook, line and sinker into a flawed theology."
Asked if he believed the Bible is the inspired and true Word of God, Braxton responded, "I do not."
"It is inspired only to the extent if we wrestle, pray, sing and dialogue with it, it can be inspired. Morality is far more complex than [Apostle] Paul's writings. Imagine how much more careful Christian congregations would be if they caressed people with Paul's gracious words about love in 1 Corinthians 13 instead of battering them with his ungenerous words about gays and lesbians in Romans 1."
The NAACP, the nation's largest and oldest civil rights group, has also come out in support of President Obama's position on same sex marriage.
On the opposite side, an African-American minister from Tennessee, who asked not to be identified, said he was "flabbergasted and disappointed" in the position the NAACP has taken.
"They have lost their minds. This is not the type of issue of issue the group should be addressing, especially given that President Obama is only thinking of his short-term political gains and not of the long-term effects to our children and to society."
Owens of the Coalition of African American Pastors emphasized that the Bible is "extremely clear on homosexuality."
"He made male and female for a reason," he pointed out. "He did not make man for man or women for women. Even the animals are wise on this issue. There have always been homosexuals and we should love them as we do any sinner – and we are all sinners. But homosexual marriage is a different issue altogether. It is not what God intended."
The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone May 17-20, 2012, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.