In July, Rev. Joel Hunter was named president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America, the legendary political advocacy organization founded by Pat Robertson.
Last month, just before he was to formally take office, he abruptly stepped down after a meeting with the coalition’s board of directors. According to Hunter, it became clear that the organization was not ready to expand its focus beyond hot-button social issues like gay marriage and abortion. (Board director and acting president Roberta Combs says they simply wanted to move cautiously and poll their members first.)
Both sides insist the split was amicable, but Hunter’s departure casts a stark light on a growing split inside the conservative evangelical Christian movement. Long seen as monolithic and ascendant, the evangelical bloc is increasingly being pulled in two directions: one that would retain and consolidate gains based on culture-war concerns like abortion and homosexuality, and one that would open the agenda up to broader issues like global warming, AIDS, and poverty.