Wednesday, January 15, 2014Orlando Sentinel: Interfaith prayer service honors Joel Hunter
Tuesday, January 7, 2014Barack Obama’s Church Attendance: An Interview with Dr. Gary Smith
Editor’s note: The “V&V Q&A” is an e-publication from The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. In this latest edition, Dr. Paul Kengor, the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values, interviews Dr. Gary Scott Smith, Grove City College professor and author of the acclaimed, Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush, published by Oxford University Press.
Kengor: Dr. Smith, you are one of the country’s leading experts on faith and the presidency. Reporters frequently come to you for comment. In that spirit, the New York Times interviewed you last week on the notable fact that President Obama didn’t attend religious services this past Christmas. That’s quite unusual for a president, isn’t it?
Smith: Yes, it is.
Kengor: Do you know of any other president skipping Read more…
Friday, November 15, 2013POLITICO: President and Faith Leaders Working to “Raise The Moral Imperative for Immigration Reform”
President Barack Obama gave immigration reform advocates a simple message Wednesday: Don’t let Obamacare get you down.
In an Oval Office meeting with eight Christian faith leaders, the president said he remains engaged on immigration legislation and hopes the reform effort can get a fair hearing despite his other political problems, several faith leaders told POLITICO.
“He said he doesn’t want other debates that are going on to hurt this,” said Jim Wallis, the president and CEO of the Christian social justice agency Sojourners. “He doesn’t want all the other debates going on to prevent this from passing. It’s caught up in all the other debates and he wants this to be looked at on his own merits.” Read more…
Friday, October 18, 2013Son of “Orlando’s Favorite Pastor” Named “Orlando’s Best Eye Surgeon”
Father and son honored by readers of Orlando Business Journal and Orlando magazine.
ORLANDO, Fla. (OCT. 18, 2013) — Like father like son … readers of Orlando Business Journal have named the son and namesake of nationally known pastor Rev. Joel C. Hunter as “Orlando’s Best Eye Surgeon.” Rev. Hunter was recently honored as “Orlando’s Favorite Pastor” by Orlando magazine.
Joel Hunter, M.D. opened the area’s most-advanced LASIK facility back in 2010 at the RDV Sportsplex—offering state-of-the art, bladeless laser vision correction and laser cataract surgery. This year, Hunter Vision expanded its services to include general eye care.
As a distinguished fellow at the most prestigious refractive surgery center in the world, Dr. Hunter had his choice of jobs, but chose instead to create a new and better kind of medical practice in his hometown of Orlando.
Using a new generation of diagnostic and surgical equipment, Dr. Hunter is able to perform some of the finest and most-precise vision correction procedures in the field, including 3D LASIK and laser cataract surgery—a procedure he is helping to pioneer at Hunter Vision.
Dr. Hunter concludes, “My family has been grateful to serve the central Florida community for nearly 30 years. Hunter Vision is committed to continuing that tradition.”
Tuesday, October 1, 2013MegaChange: 10 Trends Reshaping the American Megachurch
Today, megachurches (with attendance of 2,000 or more) are not only growing, they are growing in certain notable ways. To start, they are getting younger and more ethnically diverse, and they’re attracting more singles.
Not only are they growing numerically, but the combined number of them in America is growing as well; from 150 in 1980, 350 in 1990, 600 in 2000 and about 1,600 today. Fifty percent of churchgoers attend one, though megachurches account for only 10 percent of American congregations. The latest research by The Hartford Institute and Leadership Network reports that “the stated average attendance for these churches grew from 2,604 in 2005 to 3,597 in 2010.” Big churches are getting even bigger. Read more…
Tuesday, October 1, 2013Northland Film Builds Bridge Between Evangelicals and Environmentalists
SOURCE: Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel
It’s not easy turning an evangelical into an environmentalist.
But a new documentary from Northland, A Church Distributed aims to do just that by focusing on Scripture instead of science, faith instead of logic.
In “Our Father’s World,” Northland pastor Joel Hunter makes the argument to conservative Christians that saving energy, recycling waste and reducing your carbon footprint are all based on Scripture.
“The Bible provides a direct mandate to be caretakers of the garden,” Hunter says in the documentary. “While creation still belongs to God, he has graciously entrusted it to our care and stewardship.” Read more…
Saturday, August 31, 2013Crowds recall the faith that animated MLK’s unfinished dream
WASHINGTON (RNS) Fifty years to the day after Martin Luther King Jr. knocked on the nation’s conscience with his dream, religious leaders gathered in a historic church to remind the nation that he was fueled by faith.
Later, in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial where King thundered about America’s unmet promises, King’s children joined the likes of President Obama and Oprah Winfrey to rekindle what Obama called a “coalition of conscience.” Read more…
Thursday, August 29, 2013Can Sanford Pastors’ Success Work in Other Cities?
A diverse group of 40 pastors gathered in a Detroit hotel today to hear a remarkable tale: how the pastors of Sanford, Florida, spared their city from the racially charged protests that erupted nationwide last month after a jury acquitted George Zimmerman of murdering Trayvon Martin.
Sanford could have understandably been the epicenter of outrage over the controversial July verdict, which inspired significant protests—some marred by vandalism and violence—from New York to Los Angeles. Instead, this commuter suburb of Orlando weathered the aftermath so successfully that its pastors are now on a mission to spread the progress they’ve made toward calm and reconciliation to urban centers nationwide. Read more…
Wednesday, August 14, 2013WASHINGTON POST: “Report Argues for Lifting Ban on Politics From the Pulpit”
Even as polls show Americans broadly oppose electioneering from the pulpit, a new report by a group of faith leaders working closely with Capitol Hill argues for ending the decades-old ban on explicit clergy endorsements.
The report being given Wednesday to Sen. Charles E. Grassley — the Iowa Republican whose office for years has been probing potential abuses by tax-exempt groups — comes as the ban has become a culture-war flashpoint.
More than 1,100 mostly conservative Christian pastors for the past few springs have been explicitly preaching politics — they call the annual event “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” — in an effort to lure the Internal Revenue Service into a court showdown. Meanwhile, groups that favor Read more…
Thursday, August 1, 2013Sanford Pastors Commit to ‘Seize the Moment’
More than 15 months ago, pastors from around the country gathered near Sanford, Fla., for a historic meeting to attack the spiritual darkness of racism exacerbated by the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. Wednesday, pastors and national church leaders returned to the area to continue the battle less than three weeks after the acquittal of George Zimmerman.
Several local pastors who have been working behind the scenes to tackle the issue of race relations in Sanford were present in the offices of Charisma Media along with Promise Keepers President and CEO Dr. Raleigh Washington and Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church and a leader of the High Impact Coalition. Pastors from Ohio, California and Georgia also attended the meeting to help start a racial reconciliation initiative.
Washington said the task of bringing racial harmony and unity to Sanford has only begun, and he reiterated his challenge to spiritual leaders to Read more…
Monday, June 24, 2013CNN: Pastors aim to keep peace at Zimmerman trial
SANFORD, Florida (CNN) – As opening arguments begin, courtroom seats are at a premium at the trial of George Zimmerman, charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager.
But in an unusual arrangement, four seats in the second row, just steps from the jury box, have been assigned to a group called “Sanford Pastors Connecting.”
The multi-racial ministerial association has pledged to bear witness to the high-profile proceedings during the trial and to keep the peace afterward. Read more…
Thursday, June 6, 2013First Baptist Orlando Helps Lead Faith-Based Support for Immigration Reform
Rev. David Uth of First Baptist Orlando is taking the lead among evangelical ministers advocating for immigration reform as faith-based organizations ramp up for the debate in Congress scheduled for next week.
The endorsement of evangelicals brings near-unanimity among religious organizations lining up in support of immigration reform, said Sister Simone Campbell, whose Nuns on the Bus tour came through Central Florida this week in support of immigrants seeking citizenship.
“Once the evangelicals came on, it was huge,” Campbell said.
Uth, pastor of the 15,000-member First Baptist, is featured in a series of radio ads being broadcast for 92 days in 13 states, including Florida. The ads are sponsored by the Evangelical Immigration Table, a group that includes Lynne Hybels, co-founder of the nondenominational megachurch Willow Creek Church in Illinois.
Uth said his interest in meaningful immigration reform comes from his reading of the Scripture and his personal experience with immigrants seeking citizenship.
“All people matter to God,” said Uth, 56. “Our church is a very compassionate church, and it’s only natural we would get involved in this.”
Pastor Joel Hunter of Longwood’s Northland, A Church Distributed said he has seen a transformation take place within Read more…
Thursday, May 16, 2013Orlando Sentinel: Dr. Joel C. Hunter Is a “Different Breed of Evangelical”
The paper reports: “Hunter has established himself as a different breed of evangelical. He works with leaders from other faiths. He advocates for environmental stewardship, help for the poor and assistance during natural disasters rather than focusing on abortion and gay marriage. His church, Northland, a Church Distributed, plays a prominent role in most every issue confronting Central Florida from the shooting of Trayvon Martin to homeless schoolchildren. Hunter gained national prominence by becoming the spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama but asserts his leadership locally by providing a reasoned, compassionate voice that resonates across religious, economic and racial lines.” View the Sentinel’s complete list of “Orlando’s Power Brokers.”
Wednesday, April 17, 2013Is Creativity or Obedience More Important?
Reverend Dr. Joel C. Hunter and Pastor Michael McBride provide differing viewpoints on parenting from an evangelical perspective.
I recently listened to a fascinating conversation about obedience. It began with two provocative questions: Is it more important for a child to be creative or well-behaved? And is self-reliance or obedience more important in a child?
The questioner was Simon Greer, head of the Nathan Cummings Foundation and host of a new Internet video series, “Summits on Tenth,” which the foundation launched to “provoke and disrupt conventional thinking on pressing contemporary issues.” The first episode focused on “evangelicals building a just America” and featured Rev. Joel C. Hunter and Pastor Michael McBride.
In posing his questions, Greer noted that in a recent poll evangelicals were 14 percent more likely than other respondents to value obedience over self-reliance and good behavior over creativity in their children. Both Hunter and McBride are evangelicals. Hunter is white and in his sixties, while McBride is African American and a generation younger.
Greer asked both men why evangelicals place so much importance on obedience. Hunter answered with an example: Learning something new—such as Read more…
Wednesday, April 10, 2013Evangelicals Building a Just America
“Evangelicals Building a Just America” is the premier episode of Summits on Tenth, a new Internet video series featuring conversations that provoke and disrupt conventional thinking on a wide variety of contemporary issues. The episode explores the role of evangelicals in creating social change and features two dynamic church leaders who defy the public image of evangelicals: Reverend Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor at Northland Church and Pastor Michael McBride, Director of PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing Campaign. The conversation was moderated by Simon Greer, president and CEO of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and Lynn Parramore, senior editor at AlterNet.
More videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/SummitsOn10th
Wednesday, April 3, 2013Florida legislators join anti-Islamic crusade
by Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel
Last week, someone told the Rev. Joel Hunter that they hoped his family dies in a fire.
Why? Because Hunter had the audacity to speak out against intolerance, specifically intolerance against Muslims.
Hunter quickly paid the price, receiving hundreds of angry emails, including the death wish. Read more…
Friday, March 29, 2013Joel Hunter Responds to Accusations of Islamist Association
- – -
The Florida Family Association is calling Pastor Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland Church in Longwood, Fla., to the carpet for “partnering with Islamists to oppose an anti-Shariah bill in the Florida legislature.”
The Florida Family Association is claiming that Hunter is helping the Hamas-linked, Jihadi apologist, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to stop laws from being enacted that would prohibit courts from accepting Shariah law. The association also published Hunter’s personal email address and invited readers to contact him.
According to the Florida Family Association, if Florida courts accept provisions of Islamic Shariah law or other foreign laws and legal codes which are inconsistent with American laws, it will undermine public policies enacted by our representative form of government and change our value system.
Atif Fareed, a Muslim and former chairman of CAIR Florida, said Hunter, the spiritual advisor to President Obama, asked him to read the following statement: Read more…
Dr. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of the 15,000-member Northland church in Florida, has released a new documentary titled “Our Father’s World,” where he reminds Christians that God made people stewards, not owners of the planet, and that environmental issues are Christian issues.
“Scientific evidence now is very much backing up the Scriptural mandate that we need to take care of this Earth. All of the credible scientific organizations of the world are showing the degree to which the environment is being harmed by our pollution, by the disobedience to the first commandment that He (God) gave us,” Hunter says.
The 26-minute long documentary is available for viewing and download free online, and includes interviews with leading evangelical scholars, including Bill and Lynne Hybels, Tony Campolo, James Merritt and Mark Liederbach.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013White House Names New Faith-Based Office Director
The White House announced today President Obama’s appointment of Melissa Rogers to serve as the new director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and special assistant to the president.
In this capacity, Rogers will provide President Obama with spiritual support and guidance, and assist the Administration in its efforts to collaborate with faith-based and nonprofit organizations throughout the country.
Rogers previously chaired the president’s Inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In this capacity, Rogers collaborated with members of the Council to adopt consensus recommendations regarding ways in which the federal government could strengthen its partnerships with religious and secular nonprofit organizations that serve people in need.
Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed in Florida and who was a member of President Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said of Rogers, “She worked diligently [as Council chair] to find common ground. Melissa has a gift for Read more…
Wednesday, March 20, 2013Joel Hunter’s environmental documentary seeks to inspire Christians, avoid controversy
Evangelical mega-church pastor Joel Hunter has never been afraid of controversy. He’s taken bold positions on a range of topics throughout the years and has been attacked by some for serving as a spiritual advisor to President Obama. But as he and his media team release a new documentary urging Christians to care for creation, they seek to sidestep the scandal and opt instead for inspiration.
The film is titled “Our Father’s World” and features a wide range of evangelical influencers including, Tony Campolo, Bill and Lynne Hybels, Matthew Sleeth, and Mark Liederbach, a Southern Baptist seminary professor. The video was carefully developed over several years, and you’ll notice Read more…
Monday, February 11, 2013White House Director of Faith-Based Office Is Leaving His Post
President Obama announced on Thursday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington that Joshua DuBois, the young pastor he appointed four years ago to lead the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, would step down on Friday.
Mr. DuBois played a central role when Mr. Obama was making his first run for the presidency, cultivating relationships on his behalf with religious leaders of many faiths. Mr. DuBois, 30, has also served as an unofficial in-house pastor to Mr. Obama, sending the president an e-mail each morning with Bible passages intended to Read more…
Friday, February 8, 2013Rev. Joel Hunter: Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast Message Marks a Shift
President Obama struck a humble tone at the National Prayer Breakfast, the Rev. Joel Hunter said on Thursday [Feb. 7, 2013]. The senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed said the President spoke less of his own faith as he has in the past and more about the role of humility in leadership. “We must keep that same humility that Dr. King and Lincoln and Washington and all our great leaders understood is at the core of true leadership,” Obama said in his speech. The president began his address by announcing that his head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua DuBois, will leave his position on Friday. Ben Carson, a pediatric surgeon at Johns Hopkins University and a Seventh Day Adventist, was the keynote speaker at the breakfast.
Video from Odyssey Networks.
Monday, January 21, 2013WASHINGTON POST: Obama’s use of Scripture has elements of Lincoln, King
President Obama will publicly take the oath of office with Bibles once owned by his political heroes, Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. One Bible was well read, but cited cautiously. The other granted scriptural sanction to the civil rights movement.
When Obama lifts his hands from the Bibles and turns to deliver his second inaugural address on Monday (Jan. 21), his own approach to Scripture will come into view. Characteristically, it sits somewhere between the former president and famous preacher.
His faith forged in the black church, Obama draws deeply on its blending of biblical narratives with contemporary issues such as racism and poverty. But like Lincoln, Obama also acknowledges that Americans sometimes invoke the same Bible to argue past each other, and that Scripture itself counsels against sanctimony.
Obama articulated this view most clearly in a 2006 speech, saying that secularists shouldn’t bar believers from the public square, but neither should people of faith expect America to be one vast amen corner.
“He understands that you can appeal to people on religious grounds,” said Jeffrey Siker, a theology professor at Loyola Marymount University in California who has studied Obama’s speeches. “But you also have to be able to translate your case into arguments that people of different faiths, or no faith, can grasp.”
Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, a close spiritual adviser to the president, said Obama Read more…