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March 12, 2010

Joel Hunter Leaves the Republican Party

Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter told CT today in an e-mail that he has left the Republican Party.

For 40 years I was a registered Republican like Paul was a registered Pharisee after he became a follower of Christ - when it furthered the agenda of the Gospel (as I understood it) then I was active as a Rep. When it didn't, I wasn't.

I was never comfortable being identified with a political Party but the hyper-partisanship and the outside voices hijacking legitimate political debate is not something of which I will be a part.

Christian philanthropist Howard Ahmanson left the GOP to become a Democrat in May 2009.

CT has profiled Hunter and interviewed him several times in the past about his relationship with President Obama.

(h/t Ben Smith)

Comments

While I believe that what the Bible teaches concerning social issues is more aligned with the positions of the Republican party rather than the Democrat party, membership in either party should not be a lithmus test on whether one is a born again Christian. For instance, while I do not agree with Democrat social policies, I can understand why some Christians like Ron Sider think these policies reflect the social teachings of the Gospel. If Joel Hunter is following his conscience in leaving the Republican party, then that is none of my business. However, the comments display an arrogance and misunderstanding of democracy on the part of Hunter. Apparently Hunter does not understand the political process in this country. In the U.S., there is no such thing as "outside political voices", all sides have a right to make their voice heard. As the Republicans were shut out of the Congressional health care debate last year, it is the Democrats who have been engaged in hyper-partisanship.

I agree with John that the veracity of one's faith does not impinge upon party ID; both parties do good and evil, and faithful Christians serve in both parties in a Christ-honoring way. And if Joel Hunter wants to become an Independent, he is certainly welcome to do so.
That said, I reject the currently popular idea that the best way to engage the system is as an Independent. It is far better to participate in a party (either party!), which is a dynamic community of shared values and experiences. Put differently, if we want to make a difference, we have to invest ourselves in the process, work in the trenches, and not just critique the system from the armchair.

Hunter has supported both the current Senate Obamacare bill, which funds abortion, and the appointment of Kathleen Sibielius, who was arguably the most pro-abortion governor in the nation. He hasn't left the Republican party as much as he has left the fight to protect babies' lives. While many quit the fight to sit on their behinds and take life easy, Joel Hunter has gone over, inexplicably, to the other side!

It just shows Satan is still on the rampage.

Not surprised. Eve was easily persuaded, too.

While I don't really care if Joel Hunter is a Republican or not, he does seem to evidence a naivete regarding the political process. If he is concerned about hyper-partisanship and outside voices hi-jacking the debate, he won't be able to vote for anything because this Democrat White House & Democrat-controlled Congress is the MOST partisan and corrupt ever. Nothing is transparent, and nothing is open and honest. The Republican Party has been virtually shut-out of the entire health-care debate. And while we're at it, what's wrong with partisanship? If you're not partisan in some way, you don't have a heartbeat. You're dead!!
Hope Joel Hunter enjoys his new home in the Democrat Party, the party which believes abortion is the litmus test for whether-or-not you are a true Democrat!!

I see hyper partisanship has reared it's ugly head again!! By the comments posted, it appears that most of the comments made are for Republicans only and that Democrats are a bunch of lying bastards! Personally, I believe that both the Democratic and Republican parties should be dissolved and that one of the best ways to do that is to charge both parties with on the Anti-Trust laws! Then ALL Republicans AND Democrats should join one of the current third parties that are registered in this Country!!! I personally voted for third party candidates for 20 years and when there is no third party candidate running for an office listed on the ballot,I write my own name in. I don't care if Republicans and Democrats like it or not, If they want my vote, they will have to PAY me the amount of the national debt. Thanks

??

...the party which believes abortion is the litmus test for whether-or-not you are a true Democrat!!

Well, that's funny if not a phony is exactly the same for test for being a Republican. Which means both Parties are children of the same mother but different fathers.

???

I'm trying to imagine the pastor of my church making a public declaration (to CT or anyone) that he no longer identifies with a particular political party. If he did, the almost unanimous response from his flock would be: "why are you telling us this; and how is it relevant?” But I guess the idea here is that Hunter is a 'mega-church' pastor, and supposedly his political views are 'mega-important'. The problem, of course is that the church is too often 'mega-political', with offenders (mega and not so mega) of both political persuasions.

I'm guessing that Hunter, his flock, the rest of Christendom and, oh yes, the Republican Party will all survive this earth-shattering announcement. And I suspect things will be ok as long as church leaders continue to identify with Jesus Christ.

WOW. The vitriol! A man leaves the GOP and he's completely despised and reviled and his faith is drawn into question. You guys are amazing; that you can see into a man's soul that way. How DO you do it?

And you're surprised a pastor could bring politics into the church? Really? My pastor spent all of October 2008 on voting values. One particular value was the marriage ammendment. Here in Arizona, it narrowly failed in 2006 when it would have penalized unmarried hetero's. In 2008, it was revised to only penalize gays and it passed.

So the Christians had to enlist the help of the fornicators (those who were homo-phobic that is) and campaign from the pulpit for 4-weeks in order to visit their desired condemnation and oppression on the the gay community. Woo-hoo, aren't we somethin'?

And you're surprised Joel Hunter announced his party change from the pulpit? This is so much fun!

The goal of both parties is to maintain their power and status. People are disgusted and lost confidence in them.
That is why we see more people becoming independents.
In many places, you need independent votes to win elections. That is good trend!

To Scott McClintock Re. "WOW. The vitriol!..."

Scott,
Were you responding to my post, or is it just coincidence that your post follows mine? My post contains zero vitriol, but plenty of sarcasm. Additionally, my post contains no expression of "surprise" (which you mention twice), but does, I hope, convey my concern regarding the problem of Christians (clergy and lay) being hyper-politicized. I happen to be a Republican, but if Hunter announced that he was switching back, I wouldn't consider it "fun", I would consider it the continuing train wreck that it is. Any time the world looks to the church and sees, not Jesus Christ, but political partisanship, it is a tragedy.

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Jerry, my comments were a general reference to the preceding. Its not clear from Joel's press release that he's joined another party but there was a swift rush to judgement - read the comments. Re-reading your note, I can understand your defense of your comments but your's did follow the "satan is still on the rampage" and other vitriol and you certainly didn't come to Joel's defense.

Today the church rails against homosexuality but not against hetero immorality. There's no political campaign against fornication or adultery. This is hypocritical, it reflects society, politics and homo-phobia not Christ. Christ had nothing to say about homosexuality but plenty to say about judgement.

The church today is playing the same role as in Christ's day; self-righteous, arrogant, judgemental. Christ sat with the woman at the well, even though she was sexually immoral. He did not invoke a political campaign to stymie her in some way, he shared a drink with her and shared his love. There's no indication that Joel has done anything wrong or that left the flock. Will any of you above sit with Joel?

While we must all be involved in the direction our country takes (we are Americans so we are judged by the world according to our government positions)it is not our job as Christians to choose a political "side". Our task is to point out to whomever is in power the rules that God has set forth for us all to live by. It is not our job to kill an abortion provider. It is our job to convey the love of God in whatever we do and set an example through our own lives. Sounds easy, doesn't it? I am neither Democrat or Republican, just a servant of the King.

Scott - I don't necessarily disagree with everything you are saying. However, your comments that the "church" is against homosexuality and not hetero immorality. In my 38 years as a believer, and in many churches due to living in many areas, I have never seen the church condemn homosexuality any more than hetero immoraility. Sin is sin. If public, sin needs dealt with within the church. If youa re referring to the stand against gay marriage, I beleive if society tried taking a stand a promoting pro-adultury or fornication laws the chuch would, and should, take a stand against tat as well. Reading between the lines, it seems that you are picking a choosing God's word for you, not taking the "whole counsel of God."

I've never known a more Godly, humble, thoughtful, conservative envangelical than Joel Hunter. Since he's a public person, what he does is fair game for expressing personal opinions. However, as a member of his congregation, all I can tell you is that it all makes sense when he explains what he's trying to accomplish and why, and I have never seen even a slight hint of wavering. In fact, the more abuse he receives, the more he neigbor loves. I think he may understand what Paul called "the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings." Personally, I want to be more like him, not less.

Color me confused. I'm a Democrat. What that means is that I feel as if my party leaders relate to my problems and concerns more than their Republican counterparts. I'm sure that the same can be said for those of you who vote Republican. OK. That's it. No more, no less. If there are political views that go beyond that, don't lump EVERYONE with that particular view. I don't worship President Obama. I voted for him, and there are things that I am happy with, and there are things that I am not happy with. Aren't we mature enough to understand that? I'm not a "bleeding heart" and I don't hang on every word that comes out of a politicians mouth! There are other issues today besides healthcare and abortion. OK I'm done with that part, I hope you get the point.

Democrats are not evil, Republicans are not evil. We agree on some things, we disagree on some things. Being a person that has democratic views has NOTHING TO DO WITH MY FAITH! The same is true for republicans! I don't agree with every single thing that the party stands for, as that would make me a robot. The fact that we are arguing faith vs. politics is insane!

I believe that Christ died for my sins, and that he will one day return to take me with him. Christ never spoke on a healthcare bill, and if we don't want abortion problems, why don't we get OFF the subject of abortion, and get ON the subject of sexual immorality. After all, if you don't have sex, it's kinda hard to get pregnant! The Bible teaches us not to fornicate or commit adultery. Those are sins. However, we then say, "well things happen." Then the girl wants to abort, but that's murder! Again, another sin! Well, is one sin better than others? Nope. Why are we so concerned about the sin of murder, and not the sin of fornication? I'm not for abortion, but let's call a spade a spade. A sin is a sin in God's eyes, right?

Let's teach our kids that is is NOT ok to sleep around for fun. Let's teach them that in a society of "do what makes you feel good," that there is still right and wrong.

This is not about what party stands for what. This is about US doing our jobs as Christians. If we do our jobs for Christ, HE will do his job for mankind. We are so caught up in politics, the economy, healthcare, wars, and abortion, that we are missing the big picture..being disciples for Jesus Christ, and spreading the Gospel! Grow up, drop the blame game, and let's get to work people. Please!

Vic Christian - you write: "I have never seen the church condemn homosexuality any more than hetero immoraility." Then you have not been paying attention. For the past several years a huge swath of the church has taken an active political stand against homosexuality and formally and financially supported new laws that comdemn and penalize gays. Nothing of the sort has been enjoined by any part of the church in reference to hetero immorality.

Sure, the church gives lip-service to a consistent condemnation of all sexual immorality. But hetero immorality is far more common and therefore more threatening to marriage than homosexuality and yet there no is action commenced by the church to legislate against it. This selective condemnation is hypocritical and might be cause for us to do some soul-searching. Now, I am not proposing some draconian action against heteros, instead I prefer withholding judgment and extending mercy. This is not an easy topic because action is neccessary in some cases, like child abuse. When we have to step in; that's another discussion. The question here is one of self-righteousness in the church.

As I mentioned above, the marriage ammendment in Arizona narrowly failed in 2006 when it would have penalized unmarried hetero's. In 2008, it was revised to only penalize gays and it passed. The implications of this are unbelievable. The law could not pass without the "fornicator vote". This amounts to a tacit approval by the church. Not only did the church ulitmately NOT comdemn hetero immorality in any way, instead the church stood shoulder to shoulder with the sexually immoral to formally, financially and legally visit condemnation on the homosexual community. Its as though Christ saw the woman at the well and immediately went to the town council and introduced legislation to prevent her future access so as not to contaminate the well.

I'm not debating the bible's stance on sexual immorality but submit this as evidence of the church's natural human tendency for blind self-righteousness. This condemnation makes the church inaccessible to a certain group to whom we could otherwise show the love of Christ. We've ostracized them, how dare we? Christ went to the woman at the well and drank with her, something no self-righteous Jew would have done. There's our example, we may do with it what we will. Regarding judgement, Christ suggested the very measure with which we judge will be used against us.

Forty years ago CT was rife with articles comdemning divorce. In my own church one could not be a member if divorced. Today divorcee's are no longer ostracized in the church but accepted mercifully as having a difficult burden to bear. A divorcee's salvation is not automatically brought into question anymore. We've pretty much rolled divorce right through the church doors and divorce rates inside the church are now similar to society at large. Its the same story for mixed-marriage and one day, maybe, we will treat homosexuality the same way. One can hope. Is that such a terrible thing for the church? To be a place of acceptance, a refuge for those heavily burdened?


This whole discussion starts with the conspicuous condemnation of Joel Hunter and for what? He left the GOP? Are we serious? Its the same old thing, the natural human tendency in the church; the pharicees condemn the unclean. What did Joel do wrong? Christ eschewed politics too. Joel's in good company!

To: Scott: Re: "Jerry, my comments were a general reference..."

Scott,

Thanks for the clarification. You’ve turned to the issue of homosexuality, so I’ll turn with you.

Your comment that, "Today the church rails against homosexuality but not against hetero immorality" is sentiment that I encounter often, and one that I'm sure comes from strong feelings on the issue, as well as concern for homosexual persons. I think the church has always railed against a wide variety of perceived social ills. Individual believers as well as denominations seem to have their pet vices to condemn. My Mother-in-Law, for example is rather fanatically anti-alcohol; while her and my denomination tends to fixate on things like abolishing the death penalty and curtailing gambling.

But, yes the homosexuality debate certainly is the 'loudest' nowadays. Looking at the entire church universal, it is not remotely close to consensus on things like the use of alcohol or the deleterious effects of gambling. And all indications are that the homosexuality debate will rage on ad nauseaum. But hopefully, as we debate, we Christians will learn to speak (individually and collectively) in a tone that is commensurate with the love that has been shed abroad in there hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Peace,
JR

JR, you might be interested that I have attended two churches that do take the Bible seriously (1Cor 5), and they have expelled the immoral brother out, so to speak, which is what that chapter is about. Only in both of these cases, the husband and ex-wife were expelled because they divorced for unbiblical reasons in both cases, even after undergoing counselinng, etc. This is not something done or taken lightly. But it is following what we are being taught in the Bible. We are not to fellowship with other Christians who are continuing in a sin. The hope and prayer is that they will repent and reconcile and then again be reconciled with the community of believers.

1Cor 5:11
11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."

John 7:24 - "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

For those who seem to know one single verse in the Bible about not judging, please read the context, and also please read the New Testament. Get a concordance, look up the word rebuke, etc. We ARE to judge those inside the church, the verse says to leave the judgment of unbelievers to God. But Paul is correcting them for not expelling "the immoral brother" out sooner. For those who want to correct me, are you not yourself judging??

Barbara, we seem to both be saying that confrontation is necessary in the right circumstances and that there is no call for the church to condemn those outside the body. Better the church deal with its own internal issues. On these things we appear to agree.

I expect your last paragraph is directed at me? Jesus teaching is generally considered to be the canon within the canon. I'll stand by his behaviour as an exmple for us to model when dealing with the sexually immoral outside the church and that the way the church treated the gay community the last few years is inconsistent with that example and hypocrital.

In this case as with the condemnation of Joel Hunter above, it seems the GOP's success in mobilizing the church is evident. The GOP is calling the tune and the church is dancing. If this is true, its a travesty and some soul-searching is called for. If its not, go ahead and prove me wrong but do more than suggest I haven't read the bible.

Scott,

First - I tend to agree with you in that Mr. Hunter has every right to leave the Republican party - as does anyone. However, why would he want to let the whole world know his private decision. I too no longer consider myself republican, but other than this time I don't go public. Second - are you condemning or judging churches who take a stand against our government promoting sin? Homosexuality is a sin - at least according to God. As is sexual immorality, lying, stealing, etc. However, our government and those committing these sins are not striving to get everyone to believe that they are acceptable. Gay marriage is an affront to God's establishment of marriage - period. Scott - to continue this please fel free to contact me at vicndonna@earthlink.net. Looking forward to hearing from you.

As a member of Joel Hunter's Church I can tell you that I have never met a more humble, concerned man than Joel Hunter. Joel Hunter is as pro-life as any other Christian, he just chooses not to hate those who disagree with him on the abortion issue. He tries to find common ground with others with which they can help build together Gods kingdom here on earth. I also left the Republican Party after 30 years due to the radical "every person for themselves" mentality. Anyone who can read the words of Jesus and interpret them to mean what the Rush Limbaugh's and Glen Beck's of the world think has a different outlook on Christianity than Joel Hunter.

Hi Mark,

You seem to be using the word "hate" quite freely, which from your description of Mr. Hunter he does not use. I hope that I am not in the camp that "hates" anyone. Could you please give a few examples of the "hate" you are describing. Also, since you mentioned Rush Limbaugh - please give a few examples of his hate as well. I listen to him every once in a while, do not thing he is a Christian, but do agree with him on many issues. He has more common sense and knowledge of the U.S. Constitution than most people, including many Christians. Thank you

I'm just trying to figure out what political party a man -- even a megachurch pastor -- has to do with news of any sort. I used to attend Dr. Hunter's church. I know Dr. Hunter's character. And I think it wrong of anyone to question that. While I certainly question the sense in leaving the GOP, for the life of me, I can't find the news story in it either. Maybe the story, the real story, is when Christians come together and understand the truth behind the words, "One nation under God."

One.

I attend Northland Church, but I am uncomfortable with the trend I see: Joel embedding political innuendos into his messages, even when the message is not political. I love my faith, and I am neither a "bleeding-heart liberal" nor an "everyone for himself" conservative. However....

We are in danger of becoming a society of people who look to the government to take care of us. This reminds me of a child who is overindulged (I'm a teacher so I see this frequently). If Mom and Dad provide for the child's every need beyond a reasonable age, where is the motivation for the child to grow up? Likewise, if the government becomes our caretaker, why strain ourselves to improvise, innovate, create, or earn a decent living? What happens to overindulged people? Whether their provider is a parent or a government, the "overindulgee" eventually disrespects the overindulgent caretaker. The "overindulgee" shows his "gratitude" by draining the overindulgent until there is nothing left to drain.

I am by NO means wealthy. My husband and I will certainly work until we are at least 70 years of age because we will probably not be able to retire until then. However, the parable of the talents shows me that if we use our blessings responsibly, God will award us with MORE than we would otherwise receive from him. My point is that financial blessings without responsibility are rarely used well, and our politicians will tax us until they have drained us (the middle class) into non-existence. We are already indebted to the Chinese, and we're plunging into further debt. The true rich have the loopholes. Hollywood moguls, Warren Buffett, and professional athletes will keep their wealth, but the rest of us will pay dearly.

When a Pastor Joel Hunter leaves the party he was a member for 40 years, it will be a matter of discussion in the church, though I don't see how it concerns them - or maybe he feels that he can influence at least a few of them to follow him as well!! I have never liked the idea of Pastors of people in similar positions joining any Party as such but generally work for the good of the people they serve in general!!
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