ORLANDO, Fla. - The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America has declined the job, saying the organization wouldn't let him expand its agenda beyond opposing abortion and gay marriage.
The Rev. Joel Hunter, who was scheduled to take over the socially conservative group in January from Roberta Combs, said he had hoped to focus on issues such as poverty and the environment.
"These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about," said Hunter, a senior pastor at Northland Church in Longwood, Fla.
Hunter announced his decision not to take the job during an organization board meeting Nov. 21. A statement issued by the group said Hunter left because of "differences in philosophy and vision." Hunter said he was not asked to leave.
"They pretty much said, 'These issues are fine, but they're not our issues, that's not our base,'" Hunter said.
His resignation is the latest setback for the once-powerful group.
The Christian Coalition, founded in 1989 by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, became one of the nation's most powerful conservative groups during the 1990s, but it has faced complaints in recent years about its finances, leadership and plans to veer into nontraditional policy areas. The group claims more than 2 million members.