COMMENTARY: Owens’ Past Comes to Light

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  • Rev. William Owens is a long-standing, die-hard Republican who has been supporting the GOP and its racially-divisive policies for years.

    Now it’s out here. Now we know.

    Owens, leader of the conservative Coalition of African American pastors, created a firestorm last week when he called President Barack Obama a “Judas” for supporting gay marriage and suggested that Obama’s re-election bid is now in jeopardy because black voters will abandon the president.

    “He has not done a smart thing and it might cost him the election,” Owens told reporters last week.  "Mr. President, I'm not going to stand with you, and we have thousands of others across this country that are not going to stand with you in this foolishness."

    “And for the homosexual community and for the President to bow to the money, as Judas did with Jesus Christ, is a disgrace and we are ashamed,” Owens said. “We will not take it back. We will not back down. We are going to take action across this country to change the course that this President has us in.”

    Here’s the problem: Owens tried to hide his Republican affiliation. He’s a so-called Christian leader who lied by omission. When asked by a reporter if he was a Republican, Owens sidestepped the question saying the issue wasn’t about either party, it’s about family values.

    But now we learn that Owens has been a staunch supporter of the Republican Party who has worked aggressively in Tennessee to recruit African-Americans to the GOP.

    “We have to work on it,’ Owens said in 2006, according to the Nashville Tennessean.

    Here are a few of Owens’ more high-profile Republican offerings:

    • In 2006, Owens attended a George W. Bush Event and praised Bush's speech at the Grand Ole Opry House.
    • He once proclaimed that “Blacks Are More Conservative Than White People Pray To Be,” and dismissed any political party affiliation.  “‘I'm not interested in the right wing or the left wing. I'm not interested in political parties. I'm interested in what we can do to bring people together on the things we agree on.”
    • In 2006, Owens endorsed Republican Ken Blackwell for Governor Of Ohio.
    • He addressed a Republican women’s event in Memphis six year ago.

    In 2008, Owens endorsed Mike Huckabee for President on Martin Luther King Day. “He has actually done what he talks about when it comes to the African-American community, rather than just pandering,” Owens told the Associated Press.

    But last week during an appearance on CNN, Owens was asked if he supported Mitt Romney, Obama’s Republican opponent for the White House.

    “No, I don't,” Owens said. “We do not get in politics, we don't support any party.”

    Really?

    So Owens wants black Americans to believe that his criticism of Obama, some 90 days before the presidential election has nothing to do with politics?

    I’m reminded of the old adage: “I was born at night – but not last night.”

    Owens insists that many black Americans won't vote for Obama in November, which is absolutely ludicrous. Obama won 95 percent of the black vote in 2008 and support for America’s first black president remains high among African-Americans.

    Owens is blowing smoke. Most major polls suggest that African-Americans are concerned about jobs, paying their bills, keeping their homes out of foreclosure, putting their kids through college, and being able to afford quality health care.

    “I would place the odds of African-Americans defecting the president as about the same as the odds of an asteroid hitting the Earth and wiping out all human life,” David Bositis at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, told The New York Times. “It’s not going to happen.”

    Bositis is right. And Owens knows it, too.

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