D.C.’s Official, Tolerant, Peaceful and Just Oppression of Donnie McClurkin

Donnie McCutcheon: Unfit to honor MLK Jr.?

Donnie McClurkin: Unfit to honor MLK Jr.?

Grammy Award-winning gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who is African-American and also a pastor, is furious that he was dumped from the roster of performers at “Reflections on Peace: From Gandhi to King,” a city-sponsored concert on August 10 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, honoring the 50th anniversary of King’s March on Washington. He should be furious; so should any authentic follower of Dr. King. By targeting McClurkin, lesser men than King shamed his legacy by showing disdain for principles the martyred civil rights leader fought for, like tolerance, courage, honesty and inclusiveness. You see, McClurkin’s politically incorrect views on homosexuality rendered him, to the arbiters of political discourse, unfit to perform.

Courage among the District’s political leaders is almost in as short supply as trustworthiness, as city Mayor Vincent Gray demonstrated by caving to complaints made by, his office explained, a dozen people, including local gay activist and longtime civil rights advocate Phil Pannell. Pannell called the gospel singer’s public statements on homosexuality “vile.” Wow, a dozen people and one prominent activist! Pretty near a whole nation was opposed to King when he started his crusade for civil rights, and his successors can’t mount the courage to tell a dozen people advocating political discrimination to pound sand.

Pannell and other LGBT voices argued that McClurkin’s participation in the event would be at odds with King’s call for ending discrimination and injustice against all people, so the city should discriminate against him. Why do I think Dr. King would disagree? I think that because it’s the antitheses of what King believed and stood for, that’s why. McClurkin’s crime is that he sincerely believes that molestation as a child  had caused him to grow up gay, and that he was able to become heterosexual through will and prayer. Thus he believes, to all appearances sincerely, that gays can become straight, placing him in the same category as Russia, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and many others. McClurkin’s beliefs indeed cause problems for the gay rights movement, as they easily translate into the contention that being gay is a choice, a bad habit, a perversion or a form of emotional disorder, all of which undermine claims of legitimacy and equality. However, McClurkin has never preached hatred of gays or tried to marginalize them. Reacting to his firing,  the singer said that it was “…intolerant. These are bully tactics, simply because of stances I took. Never, ever demeaning, never, every derogatory of any lifestyle. But this is a civil rights infringement situation. Imagine that, in the 21st-century, 2013, I, a black man, have been asked to not attend because of politics.”

It’s not hard to imagine, in the Capital of a nation where political orientation is regularly linked to treason, bigotry, cruelty, stupidity, corruption and racism as a matter of course. It is still a disgrace to the memory, words and principles of Martin Luther King.

Gray and his government couldn’t even be straightforward in announcing McClurkin’s rejection, saying, through the event-sponsoring D.C.  Commission on the Arts and Humanities, that  “a mutual decision was reached between the DCCAH and his management team that it was best for him to withdraw from the event.”  The Mayor’s spokesperson, Doxie McCoy, peddled the same tale, saying that “the Arts and Humanities Commission and Donnie McClurkin’s management decided that it would be best for him to withdraw because the purpose of the event is to bring people together.”  That was a lie, as the mayor eventually had to confirm. There was no mutual decision; it was a unilateral firing.

McCoy’s deceptive spin, however, was still useful in its transparent Orwellian hypocrisy. From noting that “the purpose of the event is to bring people together,” it went on to say that the event was “about peace, love and justice for all.”

It’s about peace, but a performer’s views on his own homosexuality disqualified him from participating. It’s about love, but gay activists hate Ronnie McClurkin and anyone who doesn’t agree with them, so he has to be shunned. It’s about justice, but McClurkin should be embarrassed, stigmatized and insulted because the Commission, filled with incompetent political patronage appointees (like the rest of the bloated D.C. bureaucracy), didn’t do its due diligence and invited McClurkin without minimal research on who he is. And of course, it’s about civil rights, and McClurkin is being punished, by a municipal government, because of controversial speech and political views, which are supposedly respected and protected…at the Martin Luther King Memorial, more than anywhere.

“You know my friends,” said King, “there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppression … If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. And if we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning.”

America’s values and principles cannot survive such intolerant attitudes from its activists, who claim to honor a moral visionary like King but don’t really believe in what he stood for, except when it suits their narrow agendas. Nor can those values and principles survive such hypocrisy from its “liberals,” and such craven character in its political leaders. What was supposed to be a celebration of King’s principles in Washington instead stood for the principle that a black pastor isn’t welcome at a civil rights ceremony, unless his political and social views are ruled “acceptable” by those in power.

It is a sick travesty when civil rights progress only means that the formerly oppressed have become the oppressors.


Sources: The Advocate, Washington Blade, Washington Post, Examiner

Graphic: Gospel Mashup

53 thoughts on “D.C.’s Official, Tolerant, Peaceful and Just Oppression of Donnie McClurkin

    • Huh? I think McClurkin’s conversion by prayer theory is nonsense, but I think King’s reliance on prayer was equally misguided.

      Nothing in McClurkin’s beliefs or prior statements justify banning him from performing. The Democrats in DC will be arguing that Republicans are unqualified to honor King next—more than a dozen activists in DC would surely make that case.

      If you think there’s any inconsistency in holding that the pastor has a right to his opinions, you’ve missed a connection somewhere.

      • But the pastor is not being treated as though he does not have a right to his opinions. He is being treated according to the privileges he can reasonably expect to enjoy, having made clear what his opinions are.

        • No, in fact, in a ceremony honoring an advocate for tolerance, freedom, respect and dissent, he can EXPECT his divergent views to pose no problems at all.

          It’s kind of hard to understand you with your tongue all wadded up in your cheek like that.

          • No, I can’t go with what you seem to be saying. A person with “divergent views” does not have a right to expect those views to pose no problems – including rejection of opportunity for certain privileges.

            • No, in fact, in a ceremony honoring an advocate for tolerance, freedom, respect and dissent, he can EXPECT his divergent views to pose no problems at all.

              It’s kind of hard to understand you with your tongue all wadded up in your cheek like that.

            • I think Jack is saying that for this specific TYPE of event- honoring King, and his support for “tolerance, freedom, respect, and dissent”- one might expect that views out of the mainstream wouldn’t be banished as such. Because the event is paying lip service to just that- respect of views out of the mainstream (unless they are out of the mainstream in a way we don’t like).

              • He knows what I’m saying…he woke up ironic this morning.

                You know, it is a lot worse to disinvite someone from a ceremony than not to invite them in the first place. I was once disinvited from a friend’s wedding because of “objections.” I’m still pissed off about it.

                • I was once threatened with having my speechmaking priveleges as best man removed if I didn’t promise not to tell the true story of how the couple met, but I can’t imagine getting disinvited from the whole shebang. That sucks.

                  • I was disinvited, believe it or not, because another guest at a small dinner I hosted for the couple told a story involving me that embarrassed my friend’s soon-to-be spouse. The spouse disinvited me and my wife and the guest and his wife too. You bet it sucks.

                    • To clarify: I am not just goofing off here with my comments. I am trying earnestly to be a diligent, honest and rational devil’s advocate. If I had been the organizer of the event, would I have let the pastor speak? Of course. I get the wrongfulness of disinviting the pastor altogether. What I don’t get (as the devil’s advocate) is the charge of “unethical” for deciding on second thought, as it were, to not include the pastor’s speaking as part of the event agenda. Surely you are not claiming that the pastor has a right to speak at the event?

                    • He wasn’t going to speak, and wasn’t invited to speak—he was going to sing a gospel song, and not one about how he was cured of being gay! As in “he was dumped from the roster of performers.” Check the post.

                      This is like firing Sammy Davis Jr.because he hugged Nixon. He’s being banned because he once expressed something that well-placed allies of the mayor don’t like and because he harbors in his head beliefs that they object to, so even though his appearance will have nothing to do with that issue, he has to be shunned. YES, that is an unethical, un-American, civil rights-offending and anti-MLK act.

                  • >> in a ceremony honoring an advocate for tolerance, freedom, respect and dissent, he can EXPECT his divergent views to pose no problems at all.

                    I dunno. That seems a little like saying you shouldn’t get thrown out of a rock concert for throwing bottles, because it’s so rock-n-roll, man.

                    If it had been discovered that McClurkin openly advocated cannabalism, nobody would think such a view ought to be welcome on the stage. So it’s not a matter of “divergent views” in general, just his particular divergent view. It was the organizers’ call.

                    One sees MLK used as a sock-puppet on both sides of the gay rights issue – if he were alive today he’d apparently be a passionate gay rights advocate AND a proselytiser on homosexuality’s harm. Personally I think it would honor King not to have him invoked in choices about the guest list.

                    • I don’t know what that last comment’s supposed to mean. I think King;s principles would clearly support gay rights—whether the man himself, who died in 1968, would is irrelevant: I doubt a single Founder would be able to get his brain around gay marriage, and so what?

                      The point in, and I think it should be obvious, that the firing of the pastor is pure discrimination based on belief and speech. He never has advocated second-class citizenship for gays, so his presence does not undermine a legitimate civil rights message. His exclusion does.

                      So you think an unrelated issue like the “curability” of homosexuality should control the guest list, but staying consistent to the man the event purports to honor should not? What sense does that make?

                    • I think whether “gay cures” is an unrelated issue is precisely the question. You can think it’s whack-a-doodle science that nevertheless has no bearing on a ceremony honoring a civil rights hero, or you can think it’s noxious anti-gay sentiment that is precisely the sort of thing King would have stood against. Saying that King would want McClurkin there in the name of “tolerance” is as speculative as saying he wouldn’t in the name of “equal rights.”

                    • No, it’s not. King would not, based on his speeches, ever shun someone because of a belief, especially one based on faith (not “science.”) And whether he would or not, a foundation principle of King’s was tolerance, and the expulsion of the pastor is not tolerant, and thus a defiance of King’s values. It also is a breach of the pastor’s civil rights for a government entity to punish him for his substantive religious and political opinions.

                    • King would shun priests who preached cannibalism. King would shun rabbis who preached rape. As I said, it’s not about tolerance for divergent views. It’s about these specific divergent views. King’s views on homosexuality are almost entirely speculative.

                      Disinviting McClurkin might be rude and cravenly political, but it’s not a breach of his civil rights. Nobody has the *right* to be up on stage at an organized event.

                    • Government may not punish citizens for their political views or attempt to chill expression. It may not be a violation that has any remedies, but it is a violation in principle—ergo, unethical. One has no right to be hired by the government, but a government that refuses to hire a company because of the views of its owner is chilling speech. As is the DC government here.

                    • “Government may not punish citizens for their political views or attempt to chill expression.”

                      See the actions of the IRS against the list of Obama’s enemies.
                      It’s all so phony, one must take the Fifth Amendment to keep it real.

                    • For the umpteenth time, if McClurkin had been discovered to be preaching cannibalism, he would be disinvited and nobody would complain how his “punishment” was chilling expression. His remarks would be over the line. Anti-gay sentiment is, in this day and age, precisely on the line. DC weighed the concerns of a small but vocal group, and the possibility of an ugly media swarm overshadowing an event honoring a hero, and made a call. McClurkin’s “punishment” was being disinvited from talking on stage. He joins the millions of people worldwide who were similarly “punished” by not being invited at all. The greatest sin here is the poor vetting done by whoever was selecting the speakers, as everyone knows that anti-gay remarks are a) controversial and b) common among certain stripes of clergy.

                    • I don’t know how much more wrong your analysis can be. The fact that gay advocates don’t like the claims that gay-ness can be changed does not make that position anti-gay, as McClurkin correctly points out. It isn’t even necessarily insulting to gays. I don’t want to be gay—is that an insult? If McClurkin felt that being gay was going to handicap his career, he could desire a change. My son is short, I’m not. I’m glad I’m not short. So what?

                      Advocating cannibalism is advocating anti social and illegal conduct, and is the worst analogy imaginable.

                    • It’s not an analogy. It’s an example that challenges the notion that “Government may not punish citizens for their political views or attempt to chill expression.” Plenty of expression is “chilled” by societal disapproval and the government is within its bounds to not invite or disinvite people to the stage who express views inappropriate for the event at hand. Everyone agrees that cannibalism would fall into this category. Not everyone agrees that McClurkin’s views do – they seem pretty mild to me – so the organizers made a judgement call.

                    • “Judgment call” is rationalization by euphemism. They made a cowardly, unfair, unjust and politically biased “judgement call” that punishes religion and opinion, and lied about it, which shows me that they knew they were wrong.

                    • It’s neither unjust nor unfair to exclude a gospel singer who some people find objectionable.
                      As for cowardly and politically biased, it’s the government, so no argument there.

                    • “It’s neither unjust nor unfair to exclude a gospel singer who some people find objectionable.”

                      If the standard is “some people”, then no one ever could be invited to speak on any topic ever. Because “some” people will always find something objectionable.

  1. I am probably too jaded to be shocked by this. In college, the student newspaper instructed all white students to stay away from the MLK events ‘out of respect’ because it might make the participants uncomfortable. That action has made me very cynical of all MLK events ever since.

  2. Why are you surprised, Jack? Thuggery, thought control, and coercion have been features, not bugs, when it comes to gay rights. Remember that comment of the day? Go to FoxNews.com and look up many of the stories reported by Todd Starnes. Look at the Alliance Defending Freedom’s website, with a growing number of cases where florists, bakers, and photographers are being threatened with legal action, simply because they don’t wish to provide services to a same-sex wedding.

    My opposition to the re-definition of marriage was rooted a lot in the conduct like this I was already seeing. long before the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling.

    Get used to it, Jack. Eventually, practicing evangelical Christians, Catholics, and Mormons will become second-class citizens.

    • IM projects accurately. And this time, I am devil’s advocate against what I was the devil’s advocate for, earlier. Speaking, singing, performing…makes no difference. Wait and see: events like graduations for private schools of certain sects will not be allowed in public facilities. There will always be a “correct” excuse.

  3. Jack, I agree with your stance here. But, I’m puzzled. Not long ago, you called out a sports commentator who, asked for his stance on Jason Collins coming out of the closet, answered honestly and said that, because of his religious views, he has issues with homosexual behavior, though he had no problems with gays as individuals. He was asked, remember, and wasn’t preaching; and he spoke, it seemed to me, with no undue heat. Why is it that you thought him wrong; yet McClurkin, doing the same thing, is a victim of intolerance?

    • The ESPN pundit should not have been disinvited by the DC Government from singing at an MLK ceremony either.

      He was injecting religion and his views on gays into a sports issue, where it didn’t belong. The pastor’s comments have involved his own sexuality, in the context of religion, and he is in the religion business. His context was ethical, and unlike the ESPN talking head, he didn’t criticize or denigrate anyone, by name or otherwise.

        • Precisely my point, and thanks for the emphasis, AM. He was ASKED. I suppose he could have, after being asked, dissembled, stalled, or otherwise avoided answering but, personally, I’d have found those responses more offensive than the one he did offer up. He made clear that it was a personal opinion and that he was not placing any onus on the rest of us to either agree or disagree with him. I hear lots of people offer up opinions, some of which I agree with, others not so much. I can agree or disagree as I choose, and am not injured either way. Their pedigrees for offering up their opinions are of little interest to me.

          • He wasn’t asked to do what he did, which was to pronounce a gay man, and hence all gays, sinners. The question may have been imprecise, but the interviewer asking for his personal opinion about the player’s announcement did not give him a blank check to hold forth on his religious views (irrelevant to anything) and his opinions on homosexuality generally. I could have complained about the interviewer more. I suppose, except that being asked an inappropriate question (“What do you REALLY think about Jews?does not excuse an inappropriate and ultimately hateful answer (“I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is… If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.” ) And I said that ESPN should tell him to shut up, not fire him. I said that his employers should draw the lines that he seemed incapable of drawing himself for his on the air commentary (“ESPN should reprimand Broussard. He has a right to his opinion, but his opinion was inappropriate for ESPN or a broadcast discussion of the Collins announcement in a sports context. He’s not a religious commentator, and his commentary on Collins had nothing to do with sports, basketball, or gays in the NBA. Who cares about Broussard’s personal opinion of homosexuality? What’s his point? That gays shouldn’t be able to make a living? That they shouldn’t be professional athletes? That telling the truth about himself is something Collins is wrong to do? Broussard is employed to analyze basketball, not spew his Bible interpretations and render pronouncements on who is a good Christian. ESPN wouldn’t tolerate him going off on a rant against the policies of Barack Obama: why is an equally off-topic discourse on his religious beliefs any more acceptable? Broussard used his position as a basketball analyst to tell the world that he thinks Jason Collins is a sinful individual and a bad Christian. That’s neither his job, nor the area of expertise that justifies his appearance on ESPN as an analyst.”)

            DC did fire the performer, and fired him for his beliefs, not anything he said (or was going to say) while in their employ.

    • Who knows what MLK would think TODAY about this issue. It’s silly to speculate. Some people have become more progressive, others have not.

      • It isn’t “progress” – it is just changing the target of discrimination to a different group of people that our legal, entertainment, and media elites are more comfortable discriminating against.

        • Only insofar on the question of whether we should persecute people for having gay feelings. Persecuting people for thoughts and feelings is something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.

          On whether buggery is acceptable, the answer is a resounding no, for it is a sin and malum in se.

        • Well, I try to be fucking retarded do I can argue with you at your level, but it’s hard because I’m just so dammed smart. If you think you know what a very public figure would think 50 years into the future, then you are raving lunatic AM – in addition to your other more dubious charms.

      • It can be fun to speculate, but it’s as irrelevant to consider “What would MLK think?” as “What Would Jesus Do?” Count me as one Christian who is annoyed to the point of his head exploding about that kind of stuff. I might celebrate “progressivism” a little bit, if the day ever comes when the First Sexual Minorities’ Baptist Church of Tehran, Iran holds a sidewalk bake sale that sells out all its product to all the nice Shiites.

  4. This would be analogous to excluding a gospel singer who admitted he once worshipped idols, but through the grace of God, ceased to do that.

    I use idol worship as an example because it is clearly a choice, it is clearly malum in se, and it is protected by the First Amendment. Our society clearly states that persecution of people because they worship idols is against the values of a free people.

    The inclusion of a gospel singer who was an ex-worshipper of idols would pose no controversy. Why should there be a controversy over McClurkin?

    • Because activists are activists because they reject proportion and tolerance, and because politicians, and DC politicians more than most, if you can believe that, have no spine or principle whatsoever, other than “do what your base wants, except for that stealing and bribery stuff, which hopefully they’ll either ignore or never find out about.”

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