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Black Pastors, Africans Having Difficulty with Obama Same-Sex Marriage Decision

As America’s first black president, Barack Obama has enjoyed a strong backing from African-Americans, as well as African natives. However, his recent backing of same-sex marriage has shaken the faith of what was once an unwavering community of supporters. For many in the black community, same-sex is indeed a matter of faith as much as it is a social issue. Whether Obama’s support for homosexuals hurts his standing with black voters remains to be seen.

Obama has already turned to religious leaders in the States to explain his decision, according to the New York Times. A conference call with “eight or so African-American ministers,” was held the same day as Obama’s interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts revealing his position on the issue of gay marriage. Obama told them that he had struggled with the decision, and the call was no doubt an attempt to soften the potential blow to his image. Still, some of those on the call expressed their disapproval with the president.

“Some of the faith communities are going to be afraid that this is an attack against religious liberty,” the Rev. Joel C. Hunter told Obama on the conference call. Hunter is one of the five spiritual leaders frequently contacted by Obama for religious guidance. When asked why the president didn’t contact him before the announcement, Hunter said he wasn’t surprised. “I would have tried to talk him out of it,” he responded.

Overseas in Africa, the public opinion on homosexuality is much more extreme. Openly gay individuals face oppression, violence and even imprisonment based on their sexual preference. Strict religious beliefs are the source of Africa’s rejection of homosexuality, and many African countries have laws in place that make homosexual acts illegal. Obama has had the backing of almost the entire continent in the past, but his stance on same-sex marriage has created a moral conflict for many of its people.

“President Obama, I just can’t imagine that he supports gay marriage. Why do I say so?  In fact, I’m very much bitter with him, the president of the USA supporting gay marriage?  Lesbian?  No, it can’t happen,” those were the words of Kenyan citizen Vincent Ondera.

Voices of America recorded the responses of Africans in the sub-Saharan region.

“I would say to our beloved president of America to rethink about the statement that he made and know very well that it is against our religion; we as Christians, we cannot support gays at all costs,” Kenyan pastor Nelson Otieno said.

A similar sentiment has begun to spread across Africa’s large religious population.

Among voters here in the States, Obama may have an easier time convincing Christians to tolerate his decision, even if they don’t support it. USA Today reported last Sunday’s message from Bishop Timothy Clarke in Columbus, Ohio. While Clarke opposes gay marriage he chose not to attack the president’s choice. “I believe the statement the president made and his decision was made in good faith. I am sure because the president is a good man. I know his decision was made after much thought and consideration and, I’m sure, even prayer,” he said. “We can disagree on this, as we do on many things, and still love each other.”

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