It’s hard to figure out exactly what motivated Rev. William Owens to compare President Barack Obama to “Judas” on national television.
Owens, the leader of the Coalition of African American Pastors, is angry at Obama for supporting same-sex marriage, but the timing of Williams’ noisy diatribe raises questions about his end game and his politics.
To call Obama’s actions “evil” seems overly dramatic, wrong-headed and misguided. Moreover, Owens’ suggestion that Obama is in jeopardy of losing the November election because black voters are outraged, is ridiculous.
“He has not done a smart thing and it might cost him the election,” Owens told reporters this 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."
“So the President has forgotten the price that was paid. People died or they suffered or they gave their blood to have equal rights in the United States,” Owens said at The National Press Club in Washington. “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. 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.”
But Owens completely crossed the line when he suggested that Obama condoned child molestation.
“If you watch the men who have been caught having sex with little boys,” said Owens, “you will note that all of them will say that I was molested as a child. A man molested me in my home, wherever they will say they were molested. And for the president to condone this type thing knowing the full facts is just irresponsible.”
Owens has issues. As a man of God, Owens should choose his words more carefully and think through his peculiar accusations against the president before going public. His assertions seem reckless for a man who claims to be a Christian leader.
So let’s review: Ninety-five days before Election Day, as Obama faces a tough re-election battle against Republican rival Mitt Romney, and while every civil rights organization in the country is mobilizing black voters for Obama, Owens wants to rally black voters against the president.
Is Owens supporting Romney? Does Owens think black Americans will be better off with a Republican in the White House?
Owens wants black Americans to “re-think” their support for Obama simply because of the president’s stand on gay marriage. What’s to re-think? In a race between Obama and Romney – a billionaire who hides his money in offshore bank accounts, who wants to reward the rich and says he doesn’t care about the poor – Obama is the candidate of choice.
Poll after poll suggests that most African-Americans are concerned about jobs, paying their bills, keeping their homes out of foreclosure, putting their kids through college, and getting access to affordable health care. I haven’t seen any surveys indicating that black Americans would abandon Obama because of his position on same-sex marriage.
Now, that’s not to say that some African-Americans are not upset at Obama, there are many to be sure, but at what cost? I don’t believe we’ll see thousands of black voters following Owens into the streets to march against Obama, or voting for Romney. Obama won 95 percent of the black vote in 2008 and support for America’s first black president remains high among African-Americans.
It’s unclear just how many African-American pastors Owens' coalition represents or how many black ministers will actually "re-think" their support of Obama.
As a minister, there were plenty of spiritually-guided ways Owens could have addressed his concerns. He didn’t have to call a high-profile news conference in DC. before dozens of national journalists; he didn’t have to appear on CNN to criticize Obama or set up interviews with newspaper reporters.
Owens clearly wanted the media spotlight and he knows how to draw a crowd: By attempting to undermine Obama, the nation's first black president, 95 days before the election.
So the real question for Owens is this: Why?