A Mixed Blessing

 

Networks cut away from Joel Hunter’s benediction at the Democratic Convention, likely sparing the conservative local pastor further criticism from his brethren




As he stepped up to the podium at the Democratic National Convention to deliver the closing benediction, the Rev. Joel Hunter of Longwood’s Northland, A Church Distributed, instantly lost an estimated 38 million television viewers. Except for C-SPAN, all networks broadcasting convention coverage cut away to pundits analyzing Barack Obama’s just-concluded, historic acceptance speech at Denver’s INVESCO Mile High Stadium.

The mega-church pastor had a live, in-person audience of 84,000, the biggest in his career, albeit one composed almost entirely of Democrats. Hunter’s appearance August 28 was the latest evidence that he is a rising star in the firmament of younger national leaders who want to shift the evangelicals’ ideological center of gravity from the far right to the center right, and to adopt a broader social agenda.  

Might getting elbowed aside have been a mixed blessing for Hunter? “Maybe,” admits the amiable preacher, a registered Republican who voted for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in our state’s GOP primary. If he had reached all those millions, “I probably would have gotten even more e-mail and pushback.” 

Ever since the Democratic National Committee announced that Hunter, 60, would give the closing blessing, he says he was privately lambasted by some Christian leaders around the country. “There were half a dozen nationally known evangelical leaders that tried to dissuade me from going to the Democratic National Convention, but their concerns were more political than spiritual,” he says. Cameron Strang, publisher of Orlando-based Relevant magazine, accepted a similar invitation, but then backed out under pressure.

Hunter says he felt comfortable with his decision to address the convention only after Billy Graham, the closest thing American Protestants have to a pope, told him that giving the benediction would be a “magnificent opportunity.” 

Hunter’s invitation to speak was part of the Democrats’ charm offensive aimed at peeling away enough white evangelical voters to pick off a few swingable red states in the Sunbelt–like Florida. As author of A New Kind of Conservative (original title, Right Wing, Wrong Bird: Why the Tactics of the Religious Right Won’t Fly With Most Conservative Christians), and pastor of a large, predominantly white, middle-class, suburban congregation, he was a likely choice. Backstage, he got to schmooze with Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Who will Hunter vote for in next month’s presidential election, Obama or John McCain? He’s not saying—and he doesn’t plan to reveal his choice, either.

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

2017 Premier Veterinarians

The 2017 Pet Guide: Pet Resource Guide

Here are some of the places you can go in Central Florida when you need supplies, products and services for your best friends.

Premier Realtors 2017

Let Orlando's best realtors help you find your dream home!

Orlando's Best Lawyers 2017

Our annual list includes hundreds of Orlando-area attorneys in dozens of areas of practice.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2017

Our annual list featuring 224 of the area's finest dental professionals.

Guide to Private Schools 2017

Our searchable annual database will help you chart an educational course for your family.

2016 Premier Doctors

Our annual list of over 500 doctors.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Dynamic Duo

Color combinations to try for a beautiful two-tone exterior.

A Bittersweet Adventure

The filmmakers behind "The Florida Project'' tell how they settled on Orlando for a story about scrappy "wefare motel" kids.

Weekend Happenings Oct 13 to 15

Know what's happening in and around Orlando for the weekend.

Maximize Your Small Space

Use these ten decorating moves to squeeze more out of a small space.

Weekend Happenings Oct 6 to 8

Find what's happening in and around Orlando for the weekend.
Edit Module