Reverend William (Bill) Owens is the founder and president of a tiny outfit that goes by the name of the Coalition of African-American Pastors. The group’s sole reason for existing appears to be attacking African-American leaders and organizations from the right. Among other things, Owens thinks a man having sex with another man is like a man having sex with a dog. He also thinks that people become gay because they were molested as kids. But more on that later.
Yesterday in Houston, Owens held a press conference outside the NAACP annual convention to attack the group for endorsing marriage equality. Back in May, Owens generated some press by attacking President Obama, likewise for endorsing marriage equality.
I wasn’t surprised then, to learn that Owens is affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage, whose internal planning documents talk of the need to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks.” Owens was once a heroic civil rights leader in Nashville, but these days it’s hard to know – apart from NOM – who or what Owens’ constituency is. For instance, Owens is a collecting signatures for an anti-marriage equality pledge at 100000signatures4marriage.com (that’s with a 1 with 5 zeros). But he wrote in a May 31 letter that “over one thousand” people had signed (so close, just 99% more to go!).
And just last week, the African Methodist Episcopal Church took exception with a Coalition of African-American Pastors press release that claimed that both organizations would call on black pastors to “withhold support from President Obama because of his ongoing disrespect for the views of many of us in the black church.” Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry, chair of AME’s Commission on Social Action, said that “contrary to the report, neither the AME Church nor its leadership is involved with or partnering with the Coalition of African-AmericanPastors.” Oops.
Owens, it must be said, is a true believer and comes by his anti-gay wedge politics honestly (although NOM is likely providing some financial backing). At the May press conference where he attacked Obama, Owens belied his own ignorance and homophobia. He equated gay sex with bestiality and said that homosexuality is caused by, and spreads through, molestation. You can listen to highlights of the full event here:
A few months ago, the Commercial Appeal carried an article with a young man’s picture in it. He was charged with having sex with a dog. Now I wonder was that his civil right? Will we go down that road where whatever we choose to do, we’ll call it our civil rights? Well if it’s a civil right for a man to marry man, and a woman to marry woman, what’s the difference of a man deciding he wants to have sex with a dog? […]
When people that you don’t know they’re homosexuals, and they get caught into something, they will tell you it was early childhood that they were molested. Sometimes by a family member, sometimes by their father, or sometimes by a friend. It starts in early childhood. […] Homosexuality spreads because somebody abused children.
With views like these, it’s little wonder that Owens is struggling to convince people that he, not the NAACP and Obama, is on the side of justice.