Gospel Singer McClurkin Cut From MLK Event Over Gay Rights

The Story: Award-winning gospel musician Donnie McClurkin claims he was uninvited to a concert in Washington, D.C. celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington due to his stance on homosexuality.

The Background: According to the Washington Post, McClurkin was scheduled to perform in the D.C.-government-sponsored concert with other singers at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial during the “Reflections on Peace: From Gandhi to King” event. But at the request of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), who fielded concerns from activists Friday, the Grammy-winning singer decided not to perform, according to the mayor’s office.

In a lengthy video statement posted online Saturday, McClurkin said Gray “uninvited me from a concert that I was supposed to headline.”

“There should be freedom of speech as long as it’s done in love,” McClurkin said in the video, adding that he believes it is unfortunate that in today’s world, “a black man, a black artist is uninvited from a civil rights movement depicting the love, the unity, the peace, the tolerance.”

In 2002, McClurkin wrote on the website of Charisma magazine,

At the age of 8, I was hurled into a chasm of confusion by a violation of rape. This Pandora’s Box was opened in my prepubescence and introduced me to adult sexualities, issues and perversions far beyond my years and definitely beyond my ability to escape without damage. . .

. . . I’ve been through this and have experienced God’s power to change my lifestyle. I believed that I was meant to be a whole man, made for one woman, and God brought it all about. I am delivered, and I know God can deliver others too.

These decade old comments were used by homosexual rights activists to justify excluding him from the event. Phil Pannell, a DC-based gay rights activist and civil rights advocate, said he raised objections with the mayor’s office Friday because he thinks McClurkin’s comments on homosexuality have not been in the spirit of the “beloved community” about which King spoke.

“I take no joy that he is not performing,” Pannell said. “I really admire Donnie McClurkin’s artistry, but this is a situation where a political polemic obscured his artistry.”

Why It Matters: Jesus healed the sick, cured the blind, and even raised the dead—and for these good works they crucified him. He warned us that because he has chosen us out of this world that the world will hate us too. (John 15:19) This hate is not a mere effect of our focusing on what have suddenly become divisive cultural issues; this is the default attitude of the world toward Christians.

Nevertheless, recognizing that we will be the culturally despised does not mean we should not protest such hateful treatment of Christians in the public square. We should be concerned about our freedom of expression now that we’ve reached the point when a famous African-American gospel singer is being excluded from an event honoring a famous African-American Christian minister and civil rights leader simply because — over a decade ago — the singer made comments critical of homosexual behavior.

“The notion of tolerance is changing,” says Don Carson, “and with the new definitions the shape of tolerance itself has changed.’

Although a few things can be said in favor of the newer definition, the sad reality is that this new, contemporary tolerance is intrinsically intolerant. It is blind to its own shortcomings because it erroneously thinks it holds the moral high ground; it cannot be questioned because it has become part of the West’s plausibility structure. Worse, this new tolerance is socially dangerous and is certainly intellectually debilitating.

And as Voddie Baucham says,

Unfortunately (and quite ironically), many Christians have been bullied into silence by the mere threat of censure from the homosexual lobby. “Oppose us and you’re no better than Gov. Wallace, Hitler, and those homophobes who killed Matthew Shepard!” is their not-so-subtle refrain.

We can and should oppose affirmation of homosexuality as a test for whether we can be allowed into the public square. Like McClurkin, we should do so forcefully but charitably, remembering that our purpose is not to defend our rights but to ensure that we can effectively love our neighbor.

  • http://outin2thedeep.wordpress.com Wesley

    I honestly feel concerned at the way this is all going. This has gone so much further than equality. Not to overstate it, but it is beginning to feel as though the gay agenda is the new, powerful, inoculating spirit of Nazi Germany, and the Christian is now the modern day Jew. Makes sense, i suppose, when you consider our Lord and Saviour was born a Jew. Kyrie eleison.

    • April

      Be careful to compare it to the Holocaust until people start torturing and killing us in Concentration Camps-which may happen, but certainly has not even come close yet in this country.

      • Mel

        April, it ended in concentration camps.

        It started with hate, slander, vilification of innocents and separating them out to keep from contaminating the prefered group with their presence.

        By the time it gets to the point of people dying, to satisfy those that say we are whiners, we will have long lost our ability to say anything in protest.

        It ended with concentration camps. It started with hate.

  • Jonathan

    Very helpful post. Thanks!

  • Justin

    After reading King’s Letters from a Birmingham Jail, the irony in this is astonding.

  • RevJames

    His freedom of speech has not been challenged, they just won’t support his message on their dime and platform at their event. What’s the issue? Isn’t that their freedom of speech?

    • Patrick

      It’s not an issue of speech, it’s just sad that Christians can’t stand on the same stage with others celebrating MLK day if all things. What’s your agenda? So you think the gospel is helped by allowing it to be excluded from the social conversation?

    • Joe Carter

      ***Isn’t that their freedom of speech?***

      It was the government office, not some private individual, that disinvited him. Whatever one’s stance on homosexuality, I think we all should be concerned when the government decides that having expressed a particular view on that issue make you a pariah.

      • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

        That begs the question: when it comes to government-run events, what issues should be off-limits? I suspect that for most people this is a matter of pet issues more than anything else. Liberals are outraged about McClurlin’s stance on homosexuality, but I suspect that conservatives would be outraged if he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

        If I understand you correctly, it sounds like you’re saying that unpopular views on controversial issues should not be grounds for disinviting a person.

        • Mel

          No view point should be off limits in this country unless it calls for violence or extermination of someone. That is not the case in this situation.

          The difference between Republicans and Democrats (I am neither) is that Republicans would complain very loudly about someone being there. They wouldn’t like it. They would grumble and complain. Democrats tell people that they are not welcome in the name of free speech and tolerance.

          You maybe would even have a case if McClurkin had stood in the crowds of Westboro with a sign saying that homosexuals were hated. You do not have that.

          I’m inclined to think that a picture of McClurkin at the age of eight is required for people to wrap their heads around the damage created by someone’s perversion. I don’t know if even that would make any difference to some people’s hearts that need to make him the bad guy.

    • Mel

      Wasn’t he supposed to sing? I’m assuming that is why he was invited in the first place. What message are you referring to?

      Do I understand this right? He was raped but he is not allowed to have a problem with it? He was raped and he is not allowed to speak of it ever because it will offend someone? Is this because he is old?

      When did a victim become the person that should be silent in this country?

      • RevJames

        No Mel, in answer to your question, you do not have it right. In fact you totally missed the point and purposely reframed in a ludicrous fashion.

  • Dei Verbum

    No one is asking what King’s stance on homosexuality was:


    King has been co-opted by the gay movement.

    And, of course, no one at these rallies wants to ask the harder question: where do rights come from?

  • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

    You left out the most controversial elements of his essay. If I had only read your excerpts, I wouldn’t be able to see what the problems was. But entitling a section of his essay as “A Time To Hate” is sure-fire way to generate an angry response.

    • Joe Carter

      What’s so controversial about that section? For example he says, “I don’t hate the men who sexually abused me in my childhood, nor do I hate the predators who tried to prey on me in my weakness. I hate what caused these men to do this. I hate the thing that infected their minds and brought them to the point of damaging a child’s life.”

      What is wrong with hating sin?

      • Phil Martin

        Joe, although I agree with everything you’ve said, you must agree that the response by gay rights activists was probably provoked primarily by the section titled “A Time to Hate.” Even though McClurckin was in fact talking about sin, the wording makes it very easy to misunderstand, especially if one doesn’t have a vocabulary for sin. Including this information in your article would have been helpful to the readers, and I believe would have contributed to the strength of your article. Nonetheless, thank you for bringing this issue to our attention.

  • joanne

    what has our world turned into, what happened to freedom of speech and expression as well as tolerance?

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  • http://textsincontext.wordpress.com Michael Snow

    I wonder who many reformed groups would dis-invite Charles Spurgeon, today? http://spurgeonwarquotes.wordpress.com/

    • Patrick

      What does this have to do with reformed groups?

    • Melody

      I didn’t know Spurgeon was a great singer.

      Lots of Christians are pacifists and others see it differently. It’s not a hill to die on.

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  • http://thatishouldgain.wordpress.com Matt G

    Thanks for this post, Joe, it’s a good one. I’ll admit, at first, by the title and early part of the post, it almost sounds like some half-slanted thing that might grace the headlines of Fox News. However, I’m thankful that there emphasis isn’t simply on how people with some agenda have excluded a Christian, but on the irony of their “tolerance” and especially that in the wake of honoring Dr. King. I was thinking of Carson’s book as I started reading and am thankful you quoted it because it is interesting that a movement to promote tolerance spends so much time and energy excluding and disenfranchising others. All this and especially the quote within Baucham’s quote reminds me of a Tim Keller message where Keller contrasted the differences between those who are who believe the Gospel and those who don’t in how they respond to those who have different views than themselves: One group will disagree but still love the others despite their differences, the other group will disagree and can’t help but demonize those who are not like themselves. As believers of the Gospel of grace, we can’t help but love others even when we disagree because we have in our minds and in our hearts, the not so distant remembrance, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us and that we have been reconciled not by everyone agreeing with one another and being the same, but by Jesus Christ. We love because He loved and loves us. Our hope and our trust are in Christ, not our human arguments or positions. We can be trampled on with slander and argument and accusations, but it doesn’t phase us because our hope and trust is in Jesus Christ and He has taken upon Himself our burdens already at the cross. Indeed, we can be “crucified all day long” because One was already crucified for us and we may count it a blessing in being marked with persecution and should not be surprised when others say false things about us because they did the same to Jesus Christ and the prophets. As you ended Joe, we don’t need to defend, but simply to love others.

  • j

    so disgusted. everybody has rights to believe and say anything that they want in this day and age EXCEPT the christians.

    • RevJames

      Yep, that why there isn’t a Church on nearly every corner in every town in the USA, why every president and at least 90% of all public officials are Christian, why ALL Christian Holidays are statutory holidays, why the money has “In God we trust”, why the pledge of allegiance has “One nation under God.”, want me to go on? Your statement is ludicrous.

      • Melody

        Christian is a very relative term with this administration. You have to be of the approved denomination with the correct view point or you are not welcome to even sing about God in the public square. Proven over and over again from the facts. If you believe the bible to be true and relevant today then you don’t fit. You certainly are not allowed to be saved from a sin that this political machine has declared not to be sin. How dare Jesus cure him!!

        Your argument is weak and exaggerated.

  • Melody

    I’m in disbelief by the comments even more than this continuing to happen to Christians.

    When MLK said that he looked forward to the day when people were judged according to the content of their character and not the color of their skin, I’m sure this wasn’t what he had in mind.

    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.MLK

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