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Pastor Who Opposes Abortion to Deliver DNC's Closing Prayer

Pastor Joel C. Hunter, center, watches as church volunteers sort through garbage during a recycling/environmental impact assessment event at Northland, a Church Distributed in Longwood, Fla., April 28, 2007. (Phelan M. Ebenhack)

By Krissah Williams
Sen. Barack Obama's team will continue its aggressive outreach to evangelical voters at the Democratic National Convention next week. Making a prime-time appearance Thursday night will be Joel C. Hunter, a Florida megachurch pastor who will deliver the convention's closing prayer following Obama's speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination.

Hunter is a registered Republican, opposes abortion and, at one point, had been chosen to lead the Christian Coalition. He has not endorsed Obama and says he agreed to give the benediction because has was asked to do so. For years he has agitated for evangelicals to refuse to align themselves with any one political party and has been a part of the so-called new evangelical movement interested in getting away from traditional culture war flashpoints.

"I'll kind of be the elephant in the room, but it really says something about how far Senator Obama is reaching out," Hunter said in a phone interview today. "We are expanding the agenda of what's pro-life. When you consider poverty, environmentalism and war ... those are the issues that are being addressed by the Democratic Party."

Hunter was initially brought into the Democratic conversation through discussions about the abortion language in the party platform organized by Third Way, a progressive group that is trying to find compromises on cultural issues. The group was in the background of tense negotiations between Hunter, evangelicals and pro-choice groups during the re-wording of the party platform that resulted in a strong affirmation of Roe vs. Wade and an addition of language that encourages a reduction in the number of abortions.

Rachel Laser of Third Way said Hunter's inclusion proves "the Democratic Party is open to faith in a new way."

Whether or not larger numbers of evangelical voters will join him in accepting the Democrats' invitation is still unclear, Hunter said. But, he added, his presence in Denver shows the party's recognition of "pro-life voices."

By Web Politics Editor  |  August 21, 2008; 5:39 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Cast of Characters , Religion  
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If having an abortion was like having a tooth pulled, who would object? "Don't like rape, don't rape anyone." Does that make any sense? Why do we permit the killing of children who are small and dependent upon their mothers? The mothers are very vulnerable and many are coerced into having abortions by the threat of abandonment or rejection by the men who irresponsibly impregnate them. Or worse, the child's own grandparents force abortion on the mother because they don't want the stigma or inconvenience. So many lives have been lost in this war against the unborn.

Posted by: LAWilliams | August 22, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Everyone deserves to be breathtaking!

Posted by: An unborn baby | August 22, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

The Democratic Party must stand up for the right to have an abortion and to be able to do so without being harassed. The federal government should not have any regulations on abortions. The individual states however should have the right to set limitations such as parents must be informed.

In the case of this particular example, if the parents prohibit the abortion, the father needs to take a paternity test. We could solve a major cause of teenage pregnancy and the number of abortions at the same time.

Posted by: RG | August 22, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't want the following GOP anti-gay hypocrites to feel left out.
David Dreier, Ken Mehlman, Denny Hastert, Karl Rove,Mary Cheney and Heather Poe, Scott McClellan, Andrew Sullivan, Matt Drudge

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 3:05 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't want the following GOP anti-gay hypocrites to feel left out.
David Dreier, Ken Mehlman, Denny Hastert, Karl Rove,Mary Cheney and Heather Poe, Scott McClellan, Andrew Sullivan, Matt Drudge

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 3:04 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't want the following GOP anti-gay hypocrites to feel left out.
David Dreier, Ken Mehlman, Denny Hastert, Karl Rove,Mary Cheney and Heather Poe, Scott McClellan, Andrew Sullivan, Matt Drudge

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 3:04 AM | Report abuse

I am especially looking forward to all the GOP speeches about marriage being one man one woman, from Rudy three times married drag queen, McCain twice married and cheated on his disfigured disabled First Wife, Newt Gingrich who left his 2nd wife undergoing chemo, David Diaper Vitter and his trail of hookers.
The simple pleasures are the best.

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 2:32 AM | Report abuse

The Republican Convention should be a bigger tent of HYPOCRICY. Having a rabidly anti-gay rights Platform and having Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Patrick McHenry, Larry Craig, Charlie Crist, Condi Rice, Glenn like having Jews at a pro NAZI rally.

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 2:22 AM | Report abuse

If people against abortions don't have abortions... thats fine.
If people against gay marriage don't marry someone gay that is fine too. The moment your opinion against either, touches MY BODY then we have a problem, and I'm not backing down either.

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Obama becareful there are those Pro Choice voters and LGBT delegates and voters who will REALLY hate this inclusion of Hunter, so I recommend other portions of the convention strongly supporting choice and equality.

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Hunter is pragmatic and sees two salient facts. Younger voters support LGBT equality, and the Morning After Pill has altered abortion, so the vast majority of women won't go past their Christian protestors at clinics to end a pregnancy. So he's broadening his message to other issues.

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 1:08 AM | Report abuse

This is the most bizarre election I've ever seen. I was an unwanted child and lived to tell about it. The poorest of the poor are the little ones who can't tell. There are NO rights without the right to life; no discussion of poverty or war, taxes or education. If a mother has the law's blessing to kill her own child, what is to keep you from killing me or me you? We have to come back to our senses.

Posted by: LAWilliams | August 22, 2008 1:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm openly gay and worked for safe legal abortions in MN prior to Roe vs. Wade.
While this Hunter isn't my choice, he also isn't an anti-queer fire breather. Hunter's philosphy says it could support gay civil rights even marriage, but he feels the Bible is totally anti-homosexual. He teaches to be Christ-like and treat others as he would be treated. I expect very little from heterosexuals, which is why all my friends are gays/lesbians. My Democratic allies need not support me 100%, 80% is enough for now. After 8 years of Bush's Christian Reich hate-fest, this seems fairly benign.

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 1:01 AM | Report abuse

"he agreed to give the benediction because has was asked to do so"

how about i ask you to think before accepting huh?

Posted by: sugardaddy | August 21, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

oh well what's new? obama would say and do anything just to be president

Posted by: rusty | August 21, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Rev Hunter: you are causing scandal to Christ's people! Even if Obama was perfect on all other issues (which he isn't), you're willing to tolerate the slaughter of 1.2 million unborn children a year? The danger to the souls of these childrens parents and whoever else supported the abortion? Laws which keep parents ignorant of the abortion decisions of their 12 year old daughters? Obama is abhorent on these issues! Furthermore, Obama , while an Illinois Senator voted against a law which would have mandated that physicians save the lives of babies accidently born alive after an abortion? If you can give lip service to being pro-life because of other issues, the I can see how you would have accepted to say the prayer at the Convention in the 1800's where the candidate supported laws which promoted slavery but justifying it by saying "he's good on other issues." Obama is one of the most anti-life Presidential candidates ever!!! Shame on you Reverend Hunter."

Posted by: Tony | August 21, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

I think the GOPs ought to show a similar spirit and ask a secular humanist, black, homosexual, pro-choice OBGYN to give a benediction at the RNC convention. Fair is fair.

Posted by: Meg Shugina | August 21, 2008 8:35 PM | Report abuse

On a funnier note, the comedy website 236 has a great feature on the Edwards scandal:

Posted by: Taylor | August 21, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: jatox | August 21, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I am truly saddened by this Nation's arising culture of idiocy, and a pride in ignorance.

The fact is, abortion is complicated issue. War, Energy, Poverty... these are all complicated issues. At least Obama challenges thought (McCain has the intellectual rigor of a block of cheese). Obama realizes he cannot eliminate abortions completely (Bush has tried, and even he hasn't been able to). But Obama understands that alleviating poverty, adding health benefits to women, educating communities about adoption and so on, these are actions that could drastically reduce abortions... I think both sides could come together on that...

So what's wrong with reaching out to a broad spectrum of people to actually get something meaningful accomplished? Bush has been strictly party line - and we all see how well THAT has worked out... c'mon people, THINK!

Posted by: Holly | August 21, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

A person can oppose abortion but cannot stop anyone from having an abortion. A person can be pro abortion and cannot stop anyone from having an abortion. The only person who is accountable for the abortion is the person having the abortion. A person can oppose abortion and commit adultry and another person can be pro abortion and not committ adultry. The only person who did wrong is the person who is against abortion and committed adultry. The person who did not commit adultry and is anti abortion is not wrong, because he is not the one having an abortion. To sum it all up, the person who has the abortion is wrong and have to answer to her maker and creater.

Posted by: lclon | August 21, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Here's Obama again trying to be all things to all people. This is a cheap ploy to try and assuage evangelicals and conservatives but all it really shows is that Obama has no real position on these issues. He won't take a stand. If this guy gets elected, people like Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad will have him for breakfast.

Posted by: OhYeahBabe | August 21, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

What is this, a church service or a political convention?

Politically-staged prayer. Lord have mercy upon us. Jesus is weeping.

Posted by: Chris | August 21, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Be sure to bring your kazoo!

Posted by: lambert strether | August 21, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

what's this guy think about gay rights?

Posted by: caliqueer | August 21, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Obama sucking up to all people, nothing new,
He's got to cover all bases. Hillary might have beaten McCain, but not Obama.

Posted by: Rusty | August 21, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the pastor will agree with Obama's stance on clubbing babies like seals if they have the nerve to come out alive.

Or I suppose it should be club them like babies since the liberal environmentals wouldn't want that to happen to the seals.

Posted by: Cryos | August 21, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

two toes in the water as the feminazies control the debate in the Party. HRC would have not even entertained the thought. But to those in that world of the unknown world ... black fundamentalist Christians comprise the largest abstract of the black vote mosaic.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | August 21, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Boy, these guys are just devoted to losing this election aren't they? I'd like to extend a big [INSERT OBESENITY HERE] to the DNC.
From a 20-year Democrat.

P.S. Go Republicans for Choice! The fastest growing segment of the RNC.

Posted by: AmIVotingforaPreacheroraPresident | August 21, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Very interesting ...

Posted by: JakeD | August 21, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

There is danger in going too far with this outreach. How will the arena filled with liberal Dems react to this pastor going up on stage and potentially making anti-abortion statements? It could turn out to be a gaffe that loses him more votes than ticking off some left-leaning evangelicals...

Posted by: matt | August 21, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

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