Washington (AP/The Blaze) – The evangelical pastor who President Barack Obama calls his spiritual adviser says he’s disappointed in the president’s decision to endorse same-sex marriage.
The Rev. Joel Hunter of Florida told The Associated Press that Obama called him before ABC News broadcast the announcement Wednesday.
Hunter says he told the president he disagreed with his interpretation of what the Bible says about marriage. Hunter says the president reassured him he would protect the religious freedom of churches who oppose gay marriage.
Hunter says the announcement makes it harder for him to support Obama, but he will continue to do so.
Hunter is the pastor of the 15,000 member Northland church in the Orlando area. He prays regularly with the president and last February, Michelle Obama visited his church.
Time Magazine did an extensive profile on Hunter in 2008. Here are some highlights of their coverage:
Hunter would be a good candidate for the next President’s bridge to white Evangelicalism, which he courted on Election Day but had only marginal success in winning over. Hunter is a bona fide megapastor in Orlando, Fla., and and a longtime mover in the Evangelical world. “For a long time now, Joel has been directly politically engaged as a Christian leader, in a nuanced and multifaceted way,” notes Andy Crouch, editor of the Vision Project at the Evangelical monthly Christianity Today. On a number of key positions, morevoer, he has shown his independence of the religious right.
Hunter shares his movement’s typical pro-life and anti-gay-marriage social commitments. But he became best known to the mainstream press in 2006 when an arrangement for him to take over as head of the Christian Coalition, the political machine founded by Pat Robertson, imploded as it became clear that Hunter intended to steer it into more moderate waters. He has since made a name (and Fundamentalist foes) combating global warming, championing comprehensive immigration reform and extolling a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Less ambiguously than any other leader (including Purpose-Driven Life author Rick Warren, who hedges more bets), Hunter is the avatar of the New Evangelicalism, which is increasingly contesting the priorities of classic religious-right figures like James Dobson. Given all this, it was not surprising that Hunter delivered the closing benediction at the Democratic Convention in August, or that he was asked to join Tuesday’s prayer circle.
Hunter is clearly a left-leaning evangelical pastor. If Obama can’t keep his support after this announcement, then the question arises – whose support can he keep?