Pastor Johnny Hunter standing at the General Assembly press conference podium during a media event in 2011.

RALEIGH, N.C. — An anti-LGBT pastor known for his advocacy against LGBT equality and marriage went on the attack against an openly gay judicial candidate at a press conference yesterday hosted by Republican House Majority Leader Paul Stam. The candidate, who could become the first openly LGBT person elected statewide, said he is outraged by the comments.

Pastor Johnny Hunter of Cliffdale Community Church in Fayetteville, N.C., said Judge John Arrowood should drop out of his race for the North Carolina Court of Appeals, saying openly LGBT people should not serve on state courts.

“I understand there’s a judge out there that’s a flaming homosexual who’s going to be running,” Hunter said, with Stam and another anti-LGBT pastor, Patrick Wooden of Upper Room Church of God in Christ of Raleigh, standing at his side in the General Assembly’s press conference room.

“I hope he just steps out of the race, because he is already stepping in with bias, and we know why he is running,” Hunter added. “I’m saying he worked with [Equality North Carolina], fought against the marriage thing, bravely let everybody know, yes, he’s a homosexual, and now he is running for one of the judgeships. I say he should step down because he’s already biased.”

Asked specifically by a reporter which candidate he was referring to, Hunter replied, according to WNCN, “John Arrowood. He was the treasurer of Equality North Carolina. He’s already biased. He fought against the marriage amendment.”

Hunter added: “Why would I put a Klansman in charge of civil rights? Why would I put a person who fought with an organization against the marriage amendment as a judge who will be deciding cases that has an affect on it?”

Arrowood, who served from 2007-2008 on the Court of Appeals and is seeking a return to the bench, told qnotes he didn’t feel it was necessary to respond directly to Hunter’s anti-gay slur.

“I don’t want to dignify their accusations with anymore comments,” he said.

But Arrowood did strike back on the general topic — Hunter’s assertion that openly LGBT people aren’t qualified to serve in public office.

“I’m just outraged that in this day and time people would make the allegation that my or anyone’s sexual orientation disqualifies them from serving as a judge,” Arrowood said. “I’m particularly offended given that I have a record of fairness and unbiased decisions from the bench. I’m just amazed that anyone would say that. And I think it shows just how out of touch some folks are.”

Stam’s press conference was held in response to legalized same-sex marriage in North Carolina. He and the pastors want new legislation protecting those who seek to use their so-called religious beliefs as justification for discriminating against same-sex couples and LGBT individuals in marriage, employment, housing and other areas.

Senate President Pro Tempre Phil Berger, also a Republican, has already announced he’ll seek new state legislation in the General Assembly’s next session that would exempt magistrates and registers of deeds from having to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or officiate at their civil wedding ceremonies.

Hunter has been known for his anti-LGBT advocacy in the past. In 2011, in the same General Assembly press conference room, Hunter stood again with Wooden and other pastors and advocated in favor of the anti-LGBT marriage amendment. Hunter held up to closed locks, banged them together and compared them to same-gender anatomy.

“Two locks cannot open each other,” Hunter said at the time. “They don’t work together. They weren’t designed to work together. In fact, even if you have two keys — two keys don’t work together. What it takes to consummate a marriage is a lock and a key.”

Wooden has called homosexuality a “wicked, perverse lifestyle that destroys people” and a “death style.” In 2012, on a radio show with anti-gay leader Peter LaBarbera, Wooden said it was “normal” for people to have violent reactions to LGBT people. “We’ve always had a hostile response, or a disrespect if you will, for that kind of behavior,” Wooden said.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

12 replies on “Pastor attacks gay judicial candidate at GOP press conference”

  1. Give your money to god but write the check to Johnny Hunter, right pastor? Seems to me I remember a guy named Jesus that was surrounded by bigotry every day and he spent most of his short life telling everyone to get over it and take care of each other with compassion and unconditional positive regard. This is how we know Pastor Hunter only represents himself, and not Jesus.

  2. Is Emmaus MCC of Fayetteville an active organization? In response to this article, I’m donating to a Fayetteville congregation that explicity affirms the dignity of LGBT people and the value of marriage equality. I’ve already written to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fayetteville.

    1. Diversity in Faith: A Christian Church for All People is an inter-denominational Christian community, in Fayetteville, committed to sharing the Word of Jesus and doing the works of Jesus with all people, without prejudice or discrimination

  3. From the photo haven’t these guys faced bigots, stereotyping, and hate? Funny how blind and self centered and self serving people can be. Sad.

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