In a blunt warning to Democrats pushing openly gay Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as a viable nominee, Bishop Paul S. Morton, founder of Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, said Bible-based Christians will not support “a man with his husband” by his side for president of the United States.
“Dems I pray U will use wisdom in voting. Being too liberal will not win. I am not homophobic. But it is definitely not the time 4 POTUS 2b a man with his husband up there by his side. There are those of us who love everybody but we believe in the Biblical Definition of Marriage,” tweeted Morton, who serves as senior pastor of Changing a Generation in Atlanta, on Saturday.
Morton’s tweet came in the wake of a report from The New York Times citing new polling data from Iowa that shows Buttigieg in a virtual tie with three other candidates — former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — atop the field of potential 2020 Democratic nominees for president.
Morton pointed to another recent report in The New York Times showing that Buttigieg’s sexuality will be a problem for him among African Americans because a significant portion of the crucial Democratic voting block is socially conservative.
David Axelrod, a longtime Democratic strategist who was a top adviser to former President Barack Obama, told the publication that once the race turns from Iowa and New Hampshire, which are more than 90 percent white, to South Carolina on Feb. 29, Buttigieg will meet resistance.
“You can’t be the nominee of the Democratic Party and not engender support among African Americans,” Axelrod said.
“There has been historical resistance within elements of the African-American community to homosexuality," he continued. “We saw that in the debate over gay marriage where the community was the least accepting of same-sex marriage among Democratic constituencies.”
Morton, who has been fielding both criticism and praise for his public stance, insisted in a series of tweets that his position was rooted in both his faith and realistic political calculations and not homophobia, which he has been accused of.
“In 2008 LGBT was hard on P. Obama b/c he held fast he believed the biblical definition of marriage. We voted 4 him overwhelmingly. Never was called homophobic At end of 1st term he evolved 2 believe SSM. But the bible has not changed. Me either. So I’m not homophobic I’m Biblical,” he wrote.
“I love Pres Obama but b/c he changed & caused many of U 2 change that did not mean I had 2. The bible has not changed I Still Believe The Bible. In the Bible God allows U2 Choose. Ur Choice is Ur Choice My Choice is My Choice & I hv right 2 tweet who I think can win & who can’t,” he added.
Leading conservative voice for civil rights and pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, Dwight McKissic praised Morton for standing by his biblical convictions on Sunday.
“Bishop Morton, I am grateful for your prophetic voice standing up for the truth of Scripture. The historic belief & teaching of Black Orthodox American Churches, is that marriage is between one male & one female. Inappropriate casting a vote for a person in a same-sex marriage,” McKissic tweeted.
In a recent interview on Showtime, Buttigieg said he believes the race for the Democratic presidential nomination will boil down to a two-way race between himself and Sen. Warren.
“I think this is getting to be a two-way. It’s early to say. I’m not saying it is a two-way but I think … It’s coming down to the two of us,” the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said.
Temple University Professor, political pundit and host of BET News Marc Lamont Hill are among several critics who think Buttigieg’s analysis of the presidential race is wrong.
“Mayor Pete says it’s coming down to a two-way race between Elizabeth Warren and him. Mayor Pete is currently polling at ZERO PERCENT, which is well below... EVERYBODY. I can’t even be mad. This level of arrogance is impressive,” Hill tweeted.
Rev. James Keeton, who leads Morris Brown AME Church in South Carolina where six in 10 Democratic primary voters are black, told CBS News earlier this summer that even though Buttigieg has presented himself as a progressive Christian, he is likely to struggle to court black voters because of the role of the church in the black community.
Pastor Joe Darby of Nichols Chapel AME Church also agreed.
"Black church folks, particularly Southern black church folks, tend to be very progressive when it comes to issues of advocacy, equity, justice, that kind of thing but tend to [be] socially conservative on issues of the flesh ... there's slight discomfort that I've learned, with someone simply being LGBT," Darby said. "It's unfortunate because he's got a good message ... and he does an excellent job in articulating his faith, so I think if folks look beyond the issue of [sexuality] and listened to what he said, they would probably be impressed [but] I don't know if a lot of folks are going to do that."
In April, a defiant Buttigieg declared that his same-sex marriage has moved him “closer to God,” and told Vice President Mike Pence and conservative Christians to “quarrel” with God if they have a problem with his homosexuality.
"My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man — and yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God," Buttigieg declared during a speech at the LGBT Victory Fund's annual brunch in Washington, D.C. "And that's the thing I wish the Mike Pence’s of the world would understand, that if you've got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator."
Responding to some of his critics about his support for traditional marriage, Morton noted: “I get the biblical definition straight out of the bible. I’m only saying what God said about marriage. But He does give you a choice to except or reject. But God makes it plain.”