Apparently when the topic of abortion was raised in Monday's debate, Hogan declared his pro-life views, then stated that the only thing he wouldn't do to oppose abortion would be to bomb abortion clinics, but added "...but it may cross my mind".
Ouch. An attempt at humor, or an attempt to show his absolute disdain for abortion. But really it is a foot-in-mouth comment that achieved nothing but to give fuel to his opposition making his victory that much more difficult. Articles are in the local news outlets here and here and here and the comment streams are running wild.
But again, this points to another example of how these sort of things make it difficult for evangelicals to get elected by the general population, especially a member at FBC Jacksonville as Hogan is.
Hogan is not the first member of First Baptist Jacksonville to make a serious run to be elected mayor of Jacksonville. Back in 1987, FBC Jax member John Lewis ran for mayor against Tommy Hazouri. As reported by the AP back in 1987, Lewis actually made Hazouri's ancestry an issue, saying Hazouri could not be elected because he is an "Arab" (Hazouri is actually of Lebanese descent). Hazouri called Lewis "John the Baptist" and claimed Lewis would not be able to bring the community together and would be a divider.
John Lewis' pastor, Homer Lindsay, Jr., created a controversy during the campaign. In 1987, Homer Lindsay, Jr. sent a letter to First Baptist Jacksonville members saying that Lewis was a "real Christian", implying of course that Hazouri, a Presbyterian, was not a real Christian. This outraged the Hazouri campaign, and it became a hot campaign topic. Hazouri ultimately beat Lewis, and Lindsay later regretted sending that letter.
While candidates who are members of a mega church like FBC Jax have some advantages as written about here in this 2001 Times Union article, Hogan's membership at FBC Jax could still be a campaign issue especially if he is in a run-off election when the gloves would really come off.
While Hogan won't have to deal with letters from his pastor declaring him to be the "real Christian", there have been teachings emanating from the FBC Jax pulpit that may causes voters concern. And I'm not speaking of theological teachings - but teachings about how people of other faith are viewed and about economic issues - that may have an impact on how a candidate would govern. On top of Hogan's abortion clinic bombing comment, and his embarrassing logic used at a sentencing hearing to claim the innocence of a youth pastor convicted of child pornography, here are some other tough questions raised by his affiliation with FBC Jax:
- Hogan's pastor Mac Brunson has said on multiple occasions (most recently here in October 2010 and before that in 2008), that our economic recession is the judgment of God on our country for disobedient Christians who won't tithe 10% of their income to their church. Does Hogan agree with this nonsense?
- Hogan's pastor has said that if church members don't tithe, that "God collects", and God will take the money from them through misfortune, so they had better tithe. Does Hogan agree with this?
- Hogan's other pastor Jim Smyrl - who was just recently promoted to "Teaching Pastor" at FBC Jax - has claimed that Catholics are "living and believing a lie" as Catholics, and FBC Jax members must try to befriend Catholics to convert them. Does Hogan agree with his Teaching Pastor?
- Hogan's Teaching Pastor Jim Smyrl wrote a series of articles making the case that Catholicism is a "cult". Smryl has referred to a Catholic priest as a "cult leader", and lumped Catholics in with other Christian cults such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and other non-Christian religions. Does Hogan view Catholics as cult members and priests as cult leaders?
- Hogan's Teaching Pastor Jim Smyrl expressed alarm over the Islamic Center simply painting their worship domes, declaring Muslims must be converted else "..your grandchildren are going to come under Muslim law if you keep silent." Does Hogan view Muslims in our community as a threat, and if not converted will put us under Muslim law?
- Just a few weeks after Obama was elected, in November 2008 Hogan's Teaching Pastor Jim Smyrl wrote an article on their church blog entitled "Voting Yourself Out of Fellowship" characterizing Obama voters as voting for the "continuous murder of the unborn", and need to repent of their sin for voting for Obama to be restored to full Christian fellowship. Does Hogan view voters in Jacksonville who cast a vote for Obama as having committed a sin, and Obama voters needing to repent of their sin to be restored to full Christian fellowship?
These are extreme views that certainly most Christians don't agree with - and views that would have non-Christians just as concerned about as voters were about the views of Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright during the 2008 presidential election.
To ask Hogan whether he agrees with these views of the top two men at FBC Jax - his Senior Pastor and Teaching Pastor - are reasonable questions, and questions he is likely to face if he gets into a run-off election, which is entirely possible.
I hope Hogan doesn't agree with any of the above teachings at his church. If he does, I wouldn't vote for him, as I don't think one can be a mayor of a large city and view Catholic priests as cult leaders, Democratic Obama voters as sinners not worthy of Christian fellowship, or that economic difficulty is a judgement of God for non-tithing Christians. There are other conservative candidates from which to choose.