Isaac Hunter, son of Obama spiritual adviser Joel Hunter, dead in apparent suicide

(RNS) Isaac Hunter, son of megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, committed suicide, according to local police.
(RNS) Isaac Hunter, son of megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, committed suicide, according to local police.

Summit Church

Isaac Hunter, son of megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, committed suicide, according to local police.

(RNS) Isaac Hunter, the son of megachurch pastor and Obama spiritual counselor Joel Hunter, was found dead Tuesday (Dec. 10) in an apparent suicide, local police say.

Isaac Hunter, 36 and father of three, had resigned from his own megachurch after he admitted that he had engaged in an affair with a staff member. His wife of 13 years had filed a domestic-violence petition against Hunter, describing him as unstable, erratic and suicidal, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Responding to a call from his brother who received a text message speaking of suicide, police found Isaac Hunter dead from a gunshot wound, said Officer Rob Pelton, Altamonte Springs Police Department spokesman. Police are investigating the death as a suicide, and the medical examiner will have a final cause of death in the next 10 days.

“As we look back on Isaac’s ministry here at Summit, we are profoundly grateful for the impact he had in all of our lives,” wrote Pastor Jeff Kern of Summit Church, where Hunter served before resigning more than a year ago, on the website of the congregation in Orlando, Fla. “We know that Isaac is deeply loved by Jesus, even in a time of brokenness, and are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ, now in heaven.”

The Rev. Joel Hunter reads from the Psalms. Listening are (right) the daughter of Rev. Martin Luther King, the Rev. Bernice A. King; and Rev. Wallace Charles Smith, senior pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church. RNS photo by Lauren Markoe

The Rev. Joel Hunter reads from the Psalms at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 2013. Listening are (right) the daughter of Rev. Martin Luther King, the Rev. Bernice A. King; and Rev. Wallace Charles Smith, senior pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church. RNS photo by Lauren Markoe

His father Joel Hunter has been a spiritual adviser to President Obama, speaking and praying with him regularly. Hunter’s spokesman said the Hunter family does not have a statement at this time.

Isaac Hunter was the second of Joel Hunter’s three children. His resignation in the fall of 2012 was one of three Orlando pastors who left their pulpits after admitting affairs.

Isaac Hunter founded Summit Church in 2002 from a youth ministry at his father’s church that quickly grew to five campuses and a congregation of about 5,000.

Vernon Rainwater, another pastor at Joel Hunter’s Northland Church posted an announcement for the church of more than 15,000 people.

“All of us are grieving for the Hunter family, and we will deeply miss Isaac. Words cannot express the sorrow we’re feeling,” said Rainwater.

“We love this family and are so grateful for the impact they have had on each of our lives. I have loved Isaac since he was a child, and I know this … Isaac loved Jesus. And we are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ now in heaven.”

The death was the second suicide related to a high-profile megachurch pastor this year; Rick Warren’s son Matthew committed suicide in April, and Rick and Kay Warren have talked openly about their son’s battle with mental illness in media interviews.

Former Southern Baptist Convention president Frank Page published a book this year about his daughter’s suicide in 2009. A pastor in Georgia committed suicide after a Sunday morning service in November.

“My heart is broken for the Joel Hunter family in the loss of their beloved Isaac. No words, just tears,” Kay Warren tweeted.

In April, a few weeks after his son’s death, Rick Warren tweeted about the gun someone sold his son.

“Someone on the Internet sold Matthew an unregistered gun. I pray he seeks God’s forgiveness. I forgive him. #MATTHEW 6:15,” the pastor tweeted, though the tweet has since been deleted.

Cameron Strang, editor of Relevant magazine, posted on Facebook that Isaac Hunter had been his pastor for several years.

“Please pray that somehow, some way, someday, good will ultimately come of this,” Strang wrote. “That this tragic story can be used to reach and rescue others who are silently battling the same demons Isaac did.”

The World Evangelical Alliance issued a statement on the death, noting that the Hunters’ 5-year-old granddaughter of another son died of brain cancer just three years ago.

“Not only is Joel Hunter a long-time member of our North American Council, a personal advisor, but he is a dear friend. Today, I join the thousands of people in grieving the passing of their son Isaac,” said Geoff Tunnicliffe, secretary general of the WEA.

The Hunter family has been well-known in the Orlando community for several years. Recently, Joel Hunter was named “Orlando’s Favorite Pastor” by Orlando magazine, while his son Dr. Joel Hunter was named “Orlando’s Best Eye Surgeon.”

Sociologists studying the relationship between suicide and religion found in a 2012 study that Catholics are less likely to accept or commit suicide. Earlier this year, LifeWay Research suggested that nearly half of evangelical, fundamentalist, or born-again Christians (48 percent) believe that people with serious mental illness can overcome their condition through prayer and Bible study alone.

About the author

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for RNS, covering how faith intersects with politics, culture and other news. She previously served as online editor for Christianity Today where she remains an editor-at-large.


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  • Man that is so rough. Really sad to see. I remember when Isaac stepped down.. Joel’s following sermons came from a place of brokenness.. yet strength in faith.

  • I remember watching Issac as a kid and seeing a strong healthy young man on his way to doing great things…My heart goes out to his family, his children, parents, and church. I hope all involved remain vigilant and stay strong…The other side knows how and where to hit us the hardest and through what avenues we are most vulnerable. Joel being one that has led the good fight and changed so many lives for so long is an unfortunate target. Keep your faith…show us how to survive through such a loss and spiritual attack and may God ease your pain. I can’t begin to imagine your loss, or your sacrifice….

  • It sad to read about a young leader of the church who has come to the end of his life on this earth. My prayers to Isaac’s father and mother, the wife and those he had been leading in the church. The sequence of events leading to his death can easily be used by the enemy to cause more harm to the body of Christ. Death is death no matter how it comes. In it all, our Lord remains the God who loves Isaac. Dr. Hunter and your family take heart and keep the FAITH. Your brother from Uganda. Isaac Anguyo

  • Becky & Joel our hearts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. Isaac will be missed by all, so sorry he made this choice but know he did believe and held Christ in his heart and soul so he is finally at peace now sitting at the feet of God. Faith will take us all home on day and know that faith was with Isaac. God Bless you all.

  • These are very tough times for all of American Christianity. Difficult times for Christian families, and may likely get worse soon.

    Yet God is able to heal, and He can still make a way out of no way, as the black churches sing. Praying for the Hunter family.

  • This very sad tragedy proves, once again, that preachers are just people. They are not special, not “above,” and have no unique calling or purpose. The rest of us should not hold them in any higher regard than our good friends and relatives. The clergy actually have a higher divorce rate than their parishioners (according to Barna’s studies). They commit adultery, take drugs for depression, abuse children, embezzle money, cheat investors and commit crimes at no lower rate than the general public. If we stopped idolizing them, perhaps they would have a more realistic self image, and maybe be less prone to cognitive dissonance, and more likely to seek real help for their mental problems — real, professional, secular, scientific help. Maybe we can help to “save the preachers.”

  • I wholly agree with Dan. How have we reached this stage of idolizing the church leaders? Seems not to save any denomination and any level of leadership. What can the body of Christ do to save our leaders? May be we need Moses’ type of Fathers-in-law. Let us continue to stand with families going through Hunter’s experience.

  • It seems very odd to me, the number of spiritual leaders, connected with this so called Obama church, elected to committed suicide.
    They should have known this is a big no-no in church doctrine, if they want to get to heaven.
    More likely, they all knew something they shouldn’t have and were going to expose the truth, so they were ‘punished’ for it.
    The number of “un-natural” deaths, surrounding big name politicians is astounding, but something you won’t see in the main stream news.

  • That is very sad indeed. In fact, it was a total shock.

    I’m a snowbird from Canada that used to attend Northland occasionally. Really great church with excellent praise and worship team. I loved Vernon Rainwater and Eleanor who had the voice of an angel. I have a video of them performing on the worship team I’ve played a few times to remind me how much I loved to hear them. Loved Joel Hunter’s preaching and had the opportunity to meet him once. I’ve always had a soft spot for them in my heart.

    Prayers go out to the Hunter family. I can’t imagine how deeply this must affect them. May God give them the peace and comfort they need so much in this time of great sorrow and grief.

  • He was just a flawed human being like the rest of us. Posing as some kind of God representative is always a false pose and the dichotomy between the two can drive a man mad. I for one am tired of all these religious posers who claim to have special knowledge of God and religion. They are selling snake oil. The only real relationship you can have with God is personal – there is no need for a pastor or a priest or a reverend to mediate on your behalf. We all have a direct line to God.

  • I’m not sure how people can find this to be a total shock. The man fell HARD from grace when he was forced to admit having an affair. You can’t recover from that when you have painted yourself as holier than thou….

  • You might take the time to pray (not read but pray) a small book called “The Secret Of Mary” by St. Louis Marie DeMonfort. Very, very, very few souls are aware of the true and only way God the Father issues His grace to His children. The natural order of grace flows from God the Father through God the Son by the working and power of God the Holy Spirit through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And all things return to God the Father in reverse order. Weather you believe it or not my friend, that is the fact that God Himself has ordained. If you are able to get through this small book of truth, please take the time to pray “True Devotion To Mary” by DeMontfort. The destination of your soul depends on it.

  • eternal rest give unto Isaac Hunter O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him,may he rest in peace, I offer my prayer through the Precious Blood of Jesus,for the sake of his sorrowful passion have mercy on Isaac,and welcome him into the joy of eternal life, amen

  • My 26 year old son goes to Joel church and called today to inform me of this devistating news. This death has already been used to bring up conversation to questions that our family doesn’t talk about. This is also the 3rd son of someone I know in the last few months that has taken his life. May God open our hearts to those that are hurting and take the time to care.None of us can imagine what the families are going through unless we have been there, do not judge any of them, it could be your family next.

  • Dan,

    Although you have a valid point that we shouldn’t idolize our Christian leaders, the overall tone of your comment seems to be a disgusting & opportunistic secularist stab at us, cloaked in a helpful condescension.

    If you are truly concerned about others, then surely you would recommend that, due to the extremely high rate of alcoholism, drug-abuse, STD’s, depression, and suicide among homosexuals, they should try conversion therapy since it has had verifiable positive results?

  • I am so very sad. I knew Issac when he was a middle school kid. through my tears my heart is breaking for his Mom and Dad

  • Roman Catholics may not commit suicide but they drink themselves to death. And considering the Kennedy family they are likely to commit other violent crimes.

  • What is truly heart breaking, is that Scriptures clearly state that murderers (suicide is self-murder) and adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God. ( See I Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21) Yet, how many believe that this man is now with the Lord? How many will feel empowered to take their own life some day when their world comes crashing down? What deception and death Satan speaks to the sinner.

    The problem with many professing Christ, is that there is no fear of God before their eyes. The fear of God is what keeps us from sin ( including adultery and murder). Jesus told us not to fear man, but to fear Him ( God) who can cast both soul and body into hell.

    Oh, that men and women across this nation would seek the Lord and read His Word. The entirety of His Word is truth.

  • The body of christ should run from these charlatans and pray for wisdom so as to find the little flock that Jesus spoke of and that is The Church of God …This church is recognizable by its fruits …. ( It is Law Abiding … all ten of them)

  • God is PERFECT=perfect Love= perfect Judgement +Mercy. Suicide=sick distorted mind. Would we who are imperfect condemn someone to eternal hell who is not in their right mind, then would God who is perfect do so. Or would He touch these sick ones and heal them and then take them in His arms and hold them close in a loving embrace? As Jesus is Isaac’s advocate pleading his case I’d say he’s in perfect hands. Catholics have two sacraments which if sincerely and regularly attended bring healing and spiritual growth. Confession offloads ones guilt and gives forgiveness immediately. Communion is literally spiritual food and as they say you are what you eat. Yours an imperfect Catholic

  • Cosmic, You are one sick and deranged person. Just like Aliex Jones you see conspiracy around every corner and in every small inoculas thing. How sad to live your life in that manner. Oh, for those willing to send this man straight to hell for committing suicide, A. God, no one or thing else is the judge. B. He was mentally ill it appears and in being mentally ill, not in full control of his mind or actions.

  • Whoops hit wrong key by accident, as I was saying God alone is judge not you or me. So, when you are soooo willing to condemn someone else to hell, I’d suggest you do a extensive inventory of your shortcomings instead. Perhaps by doing this instead you will actually be able to minister to people like Isaac Hunter. The putting up on a pedastal by either the pastor or his followers is dangerous indeed. Highly do not advise it because it can, and does, lead to trajedies like this.

  • prayer of Saint Ignatius of antioch 2nd century

    Receive in tranquility and peace, O Lord, the soul of your servant, Isaac Hunter who has departed this present life to come to you. Grant him rest and place him in the habitation of light, the abode of blessed spirits. Give him the life that will not age, good things that will not pass away, delights that have no end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    and also Jesus powerfully bless all people who knew and loved Isaac,with the peace that comes from knowing that you have a special place for all that love you,especially those who bring souls to you-thank you for the promise you made that “No one will snatch them out of my hand,”

    Mary holy mother of God,,Saint Michael ,holy martyrs pray that the church of Summit be blessed with the love and peace of Jesus,in this tragic time

  • When you dance with the Devil. You don’t change the Devil instead the Devil changes you. His suicide completed the damnation to Hell. Prideful to the end.
    Now consider the situation with your own soul. You can not discern between Jesus and Satan? You definitely have a dilemma.

  • Joe

    Liberty4ever- I agree with you whole-heartedly.
    . In fact, may I steal your quote. I will give you full credit whenever I post it. You nailed it.

  • Tim- if you actually read “The Bible” you’ll see that Mary has no special place in “mediating” anything…. Jesus is the ONLY mediator between God and man. (1Tim.2:5- “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus…”) Also, the Bible NEVER calls Jesus “God the Son” but “the son of God”. “True Devotion To Mary” is nothing more than the ancient cult of “mother goddess worship” renamed by the church to accomodate the pagans they were trying to convert.

    As to the article we are commenting on, this is a very sad thing indeed. When one doesn’t follow the commandments laid out BY GOD, such as do not commit adultery and the rest, the person’s conscience can cause such despair. Add to that deep despair mental illness and it’s no surprise that suicide is a real possibility. As for the declaration that this young man is now in heaven with God, (I quote) “We know that Isaac is deeply loved by Jesus, even in a time of brokenness, and are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ, now in heaven.”- The Bible says these things:
    Ezekiel 18:4b- . The soul that is sinning—it itself will die. Ecclesiastes 9:5- “For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all”. (the soul is not immortal) so he’s not in heaven or hell. He’s in his grave waiting for Jesus to call him back to life in the resurrection that Jesus spoke of at John 5:28-29: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” Even if one believes a person goes to heaven or hell immediately after death of the body, this young man would not qualify for life in heaven according to The Bible. 1Cor.6:9-10 states, “What! Do YOU not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers….(and many more) will inherit God’s kingdom.” So let’s be thankful that Isaac will have a resurrection and a second chance to get it right as a perfect man (without mental illness). When God creates “all things new”, there will be no more sickness of any kind. Isaiah 33:24 says, “And no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’ The people that are dwelling in [the land] will be those pardoned for their error.”

  • please,whichever denomination you belong to, pray the prayer of saint Ignatius above, for Isaac delivering his soul to the loving arms of Jesus,and I ask the Catholics amongst us to storm heaven with prayers,masses and rosarys, for this man who spent his life loving Jesus and witnessing and bringing souls to him,who unfortunately was weighed down with circumstances that were beyond what he could bear
    Jesus said that anything you ask in my name,I will do so that the father may be glorified through the son,ask and you shall receive so that your joy will be made complete, to God all things are possible.

    Gods promises are binding and true,he will answer,and confirmation will be given by his holy spirit

  • He had an affair and resigned from his church, and ended up in a far worse situation that led to suicide. He must have been a very gifted individual to found and grow a mega church.

    There is a problem with this mega church phenomenon. It places senior pastors and others on a pedestal where they can do no wrong. And they feel above reproach because they are God’s anointed. Going from this kind of adulation to having no job, and not being able to continue working in an conservative Evangelical ethos, would be depressing indeed.

    Some castigate Ted Haggard for starting a church after his well publicized adulterous affair, and an affair that carries even more stigma among Evangelicals. I don’t. I have to kind of admire someone who starts all over again after a massive moral failing. I wish Isaac could have done the same which is start all over again. People are entitled to many chances. Isn’t it written in Scripture to forgive 70 times 7 times? It might have helped Isaac if he had heard this from people he had offended and who shunned him. If he had heard “we release you and forgive you.” Perhaps the world wouldn’t have lost someone who had a lot to offer. So sorry for his loss.

  • We can’t know everything and we can’t judge unless we walk in another’s shoes. So sorry for your friend’s loss and the loss so many people who knew and loved Isaac Hunter must be feeling. It is written in Scripture that the peace of God surpasses all understanding. And He is far more merciful than we in our limited understanding give Him credit for. People who make comments that persons who commit suicide will not see the kingdom of heaven are making a statement based on a limited, human understanding. May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding be with your friend and the Hunter family/ friends during this sad time. God bless!

  • The truth that we have failed to realize is that we cannot pray someone to Heaven/ wish them into Heaven neither can we pray them to Hell! It is what you have done on Earth that will determine you eternity! It is the LIFE THAT YOU HAVE LIVED ON EARTH that will determine what God’s Judgement! If someone lived righteously and holy on Earth before he died, no prayer we can pray on Earth for him to make Hell will change his eternal fate of making Heaven mainly because the prayer is against God’s will! So also is our prayers against God’s will when we think the fate of someone making heaven or hell can be determined by us and not God! Dear friends, your prayers would not help him neither will your wishes convey him to Heaven! If he didn’t live a life of righteousness, he will never and can never be with God in Heaven and God would not look at the fact that He was a Pastor or he helped many to be saved while on Earth, he will judge him as he will judge a sinner/ a holy man! Remember, the Bile says not all those who say Lord, Lord will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven! So enough with the Agnustus Prayer!

  • The article WAS fair and balanced until the last paragraph. First this catholic statistic quote is non sequitur. This article is not about anyone in the catholic faith.
    Second, the part about belief in help for the mentally unstable through prayer and bible reading alone seems so out of place it can only be seen as a dig at “stupid Christians.”

  • What is wrong with praying for the dead? How is it any different than praying for a friend next door? …..Isaac is a blessed son of the church who loved God loved people,spent his life in love,made mistakes -who hasn’t

    the practice of praying for the dead is very ancient. It goes back to Judaism and is mentioned in the second book of Maccabees (2 Mac. 12,43-46). The author tells how a number of Jews, who had fallen in battle, were found with idolatrous amulets, forbidden by the law, and how Judas Maccabeus took up a collection and sent the money to Jerusalem to have a sacrifice offered for their sin.

    The writer praises his faith in the resurrection and his action; “If he had not expected the fallen to rise again it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead, whereas if he had in view the splendid recompense reserved for those who make a pious end, the thought was holy and devout. This was why he had this atonement sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sin.”

    Protestants do not accept the books of Maccabees as Scripture, but even so it bears witness to the faith of pious Jews.

    No doubt the Apostles, pious Jews most of them, shared this faith especially Saint Paul, who posed as a Pharisee and a champion of the resurrection (Acts 23,6). In the New Testament itself, there is only one allusion to some kind of purification after death (1 Cor. 3,11-15), and another reference to some of pious practice in favor of the dead (1 Cor. 15,29). But we have abundant evidence of faith in a state of purification after death in the earliest ages of the Church.

    There are sepulchral inscriptions in the Catacombs, some of which are themselves prayers for the dead while others ask for prayers for them. There are also prayers for the faithful departed in the most ancient liturgies and there are many texts in the Fathers on the value of these prayers and on the necessity of a perfect purification in order to enter into heaven.

    There is in the acts of the martyrdom of Saint Perpetua the account of a vision she had, and this has historical value. She saw her brother Dinocrates, who had died a pagan and was suffering terrible torments, released through her prayers.

    Calvin himself recognized that this had been the faith of the ancient Church, but called it an error; “For over thirteen hundred years it was the approved practice to pray for the deceased. All ancient fell into error; it was something human and therefore they did must not be imitated.” (Instit. 3,5,10).

    The doctrine of Purgatory and of a purification after death appears at first sight most reasonable. Once I was explaining it to a good Protestant, who much later became a Catholic and who is an old friend of mine, and he remarked: “To me it sounds quite reasonable. Of all the people I know, I don’t see many who are good enough to go to heaven, and yet they are not bad enough to go to hell.”

    Years later I came across a quotation from a Protestant theologian, a Dr. Hase, who wrote almost the same thing: “Most people when they die are probably too good for hell, yet surely too bad for heaven.”

    Catholic theology is not content with just this common sense judgement. It explains that, even when sin has been regretted and forgiven some of its consequences remain the so-called temporal punishments due to sin, which must be expiated either in this world or in the next.

    So if someone dies without having made satisfaction for his sins, he has to make that satisfaction after his death before entering heaven. This post-mortem expiation is what we call purgatory.

    However, these “temporal punishments” must be explained, lest God appear as vindictive and unforgiving, and also to show why they are a necessary consequence of sin.

    We must remember that man has been created to love God first and second to love everyone for the love of God. This is not confined to our earthly life. This love must continue forever in heaven and is in fact the condition and measure of happiness in the world above.

    Heaven is nothing else but an ecstasy of love given and received.

    Not all the saints, however, will love with the same intensity. Each will love with the capacity for love that he received and developed during his life on earth, each will receive love in return and be happy in proportion to his degree of love.

    But while all the saints in heaven do not love with the same intensity, they all love with the same purity. Nothing impure can enter into heaven (Apo. 21,22) or share in divine wisdom (Wis. 2,25); therefore, the love of the saints must be perfectly pure.

    Since the love of created things, even when it is not sinful, defiles the soul, as Saint John of the Cross explains at length (Ascent, Bk.1, Ch.6-12,) perfect purity means perfect detachment from self and from all created things.

    It means that one never seeks one’s own satisfaction; never acts for a purely natural motive, but seeks only, always, and in all things to do God’s will and to please him.

    All sins, mortal or venial, proceed from an excessive attachment. Even when they are regretted and forgiven, this increased attachment remains, and the soul must be purified from it.

    God uses suffering to purify the soul and to detach it from created things. Scripture more than once repeats the comparison: as gold or silver is purified by fire, so also the soul of the just is purified by tribulation (Ps. 66,10; Prov. 12,3; Wis. 3,6, EccL 2,5; Pet. 1,2).

    It is easy enough to understand how suffering purifies the soul. It is impossible to love suffering, humanly speaking. It can be accepted only out of love for God. If, therefore, we have not reached that pure love of God before death, our love for God must be purified by suffering after death.

    there is no doubt that Isaac suffered a tribulation that was more than he could humanly bear

    Out of the depths I cry to thee O Lord
    Lord hear my voice
    let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my calling
    if thou O Lord should observe our iniquities
    Lord,who could survive?
    but with you Lord there is merciful forgiveness
    and by reason of your law
    I wait upon you O lord
    my soul relies on your word
    my soul hopes in you Lord
    from the morning watch even until night
    let Israel hope in you lord
    because with you lord there is merciful forgiveness
    and with you there is plentiful redemption
    and you shall redeem Israel from all iniquities.

    eternal rest give unto Isaac Hunter O Lord
    and let Perpetual light shine upon him
    may he rest in peace

  • My Gosh! There is nothing to criticize about Dan’s remarks. “Disgusting”? really?
    Dan Barker hit the mark perfectly. There is nothing but compassion and empathy in his very diplomatic remarks.

    The mistake religious people make in these matters of ‘mental illness’ is that they prefer to call upon prayer to rid people of ‘demons’ instead of the more useful, secular methods which have been shown to WORK.

    There MAY have been a practiced disregard in this young man who died – he may have eschewed psychiatry because of his belief that prayer works better.

    We need to stop that sort of nonsense. Prayer does not work for mental illness – in fact it makes mental illness worse since it relies on invisible ‘forces’ and wish thinking.

  • I hope you dont call yourself a christian , if so may the Lord forgive you , you know not what you do !!!!
    God camp your angels around Pastor Joel and his family at this time during this time.

  • I am a Christian researcher of near-death experiences and I know from my research that suicide is not a “one way ticket” to eternal damnation and that there is always a higher reason for those who do take their own life. The perfect example of this can be found in the death of Christ. In the Bible, Jesus said he would voluntarily give up his life for his sheep (John 10:11). The Bible also states that Jesus wanted to die (John 12:27) and that God wanted him to die (Matthew 26:39). Jesus was given the opportunity to choose life for himself or follow the path given to him by God – voluntary death – in order to create a greater good. Jesus chose the greater good and entered Jerusalem knowing full well it would result in his death. He freely chose to act in a manner which he knew would result in his death and he willingly accepted it. Even when he was on the cross, when people taunted him to save himself, he could have called down legions of angels to rescue him but he chose not to. True, Jesus’ death can be equated to that of a soldier falling on a grenade to save his comrades; but this analogy falls short because it was God who permitted the situation to happen in the first place. In other words, it was divinely ordained that “a grenade would be thrown” for Jesus to fall on it in order to bring about a greater good: the salvation of humanity. In the Bible, Jesus repeatedly foretold his own capture, torture and death. Although he asked God to “take this cup away from him nevertheless thy will be done” he voluntarily obeyed God and practically walked into his captors’ arms with the intent of dying at their hands. Pontius Pilate did everything he could to free Jesus because he could see that he was innocent: “I have not found him guilty of any of the crimes you accuse him of. There is nothing this man has done to deserve death.” (Luke 23:14-15) So, the only conclusion drawn here is that Christianity is centered upon a voluntary suicide. Therefore, Christians who say suicide is a “one way ticket” to eternal damnation should instead consult the Lord on this manner. If the voluntary death of Christ resulted in the greatest good; then there is reason to believe the voluntary death of anyone can result in some kind of good. God always takes “bad things” and turns them into a greater good. As for Judas, there is no Biblical evidence that his damnation was for committing suicide. Rather it was for betraying Christ which is another matter.

  • I hope you don’t identify yourself as a Christian! What a mean, hateful comment. I pray that The Lord softens your hard, Stoney heart. The young man who committed suicide may find a place in heaven before you do!

  • There is a sure and certain cure for marital infidelity in the ranks of pastors. Simply put, don’t be alone with a female who isn’t your wife, mother, grandmother or daughter. Do you want me to say it over again slowly? Please take notes. Yes it works. Yes I’ve practiced this formula for 30 years and I enjoy women at least as much as the average man. It’s also a sure thing that all those pastors who fall into adultery, do so because they fail to observe this simple(and easy to observe) custom. Not one person who has ever practiced this discipline has ever fallen. It’s 100% guaranteed. For those who have already fallen into this pit, you have my deepest sympathy and my heart breaks for you. For those who haven’t fallen into this cesspool yet……..just bring someone else into the conversation when you go to counsel. Your wife would be preferable!

  • The reason for less suicide in THE Catholic church is that they originally taught that you went straight to he’ll, no purgatory to be prayed out of. A counselor on a Native American reservation told me (high number of Catholic on reservations) that they almost never had suicides but after the church changed to you go to purgatory and can be prayed out the suicides skyrocketed and are 9 times the U.S. average. For those of you who run around at say the Bible teaches you not to judge you need to read where God rebuked a church for NOT judging a member according to scripture and told them to remove him from membership and pray for him like any other lost personGod said YOU (the church) judge those inside (calling themselves Christians) and he wouldc judge those outside. We are also told to judge by righteous judgement (what does thwarting word say)

  • The Word says that it appointed unto man to die and after that the judgement . There is no scripture that says you go to purgatory and can be prayed out. The Catholic church started this to raise funds many years ago and many no longer teach this .