That Didn’t Last Long

Back in October, the Christian Coalition announced that it had chosen Rev. Joel Hunter as its new president.  At the time, Hunter was touted as someone who might be able make the Coalition relevant again, primarily by helping the organization move beyond its traditional anti-gay, anti-abortion agenda.  Hunter seemed to recognize that he had his work cut out for him, saying that he had “always been drawn to lost causes.”

Now, it looks like it was more of a “lost cause” than even Hunter imagined and he has resigned before even assuming the post

The Central Florida pastor recently tapped to lead the Christian Coalition of America resigned his position in a dispute about conservative philosophy — more than a month before he was to fully assume his post, he said Wednesday.

The Rev. Joel Hunter, of Longwood’s Northland, A Church Distributed, said he quit as president-elect of the group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson because he realized he would be unable to broaden the organization’s agenda beyond opposing abortion and gay marriage.

He hoped to include issues such as easing poverty and saving the environment.

“These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about,” Hunter said.

The resignation took place Tuesday during an organization board meeting. Hunter said he was not asked to leave.

“They pretty much said, ‘These issues are fine, but they’re not our issues; that’s not our base,’ ” Hunter said of his conversation with the group’s leadership.

A statement issued by the coalition said Hunter resigned because of “differences in philosophy and vision.” The board accepted his decision “unanimously,” it states.

The coalition’s rejection of Hunter’s approach means it is unwilling to part with its partisan, Republican roots, Hunter said.

As Hunter notes, when given a choice between potentially expanding or moderating its agenda or sticking with its “partisan, Republican roots,” the Christian Coalition preferred the latter.   

The Hunter episode is one more indication, like Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Summit,” that while some Religious Right political leaders may claim to care about things beyond homosexuality and abortion, in reality they have no interest in moving beyond those issues and are, in fact, actively hostile to attempts by others to encourage greater involvement in issues like poverty and the environment.