Police: Son of Obama's spiritual adviser committed suicide
Isaac Hunter, the son of a spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama, died Tuesday in Florida, police say.
December 10th, 2013
11:03 PM ET

Police: Son of Obama's spiritual adviser committed suicide

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - The son of a Florida megachurch pastor who is close to President Barack Obama has died, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to local police.

Isaac Hunter, 36, died Tuesday, according to Northland and Summit churches, two Orlando-area congregations with deep ties to his family.

Altamonte Springs Police Department spokesman Robert C. Pelton said officers responded to a call to check on the well-being of Hunter at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. They found him dead, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Pelton said. The investigation is ongoing, and no foul play is suspected, he added.

Hunter is the son of Joel Hunter, an evangelical who has been a spiritual adviser to Obama since his 2008 presidential campaign. The president and the pastor speak nearly once a week, and Joel Hunter was an adviser to the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Isaac Hunter and his wife, Rhonda, were going through a divorce, according to Florida court records. Hunter resigned as senior pastor of Summit Church in 2012 after acknowledging a three-year affair with a member of the church staff.

"All of us are grieving for the Hunter family, and we will deeply miss Isaac. Words cannot express the sorrow we're feeling," said a statement by Vernon Rainwater, a pastor at Northland, which is based in Longwood, Florida.

"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."

With several campuses in central Florida, Northland is one of the largest evangelical churches in the state. Like his father, Isaac Hunter had been an evangelical megachurch pastor, a leader of Summit Church in Orlando.

"By now you may have heard that our former Senior Pastor, Isaac Hunter, died today," Pastor Jeff Kern wrote on Summit's website. "As I write these words, it is hard to express the deep sorrow we as a staff team are feeling for this tragic loss.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Rhonda, their three children and their extended family. We love them and it is our desire to support them in any way we can during this difficult time," Kern continued.

"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. We know that Isaac is deeply loved by Jesus, even in a time of brokenness ...," he wrote.

Cameron Strang, the founder of an Orlando-based evangelical magazine, described Isaac Hunter as a friend and former pastor who had "some significant struggles."

"Isaac was my pastor for several years. He was an amazing teacher," Strang, founder of Relevant magazine, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday evening.

"Around this time last year, Isaac resigned his position at our church amid some very public scandals. He had a wife of 13 years and (three) young kids, and the time since then has been incredibly difficult for our church. His family lives around the corner from me, and I see them often," Strang continued.

"Isaac loved Jesus and was a talented and dedicated pastor for more than a decade. But he had some significant struggles. The unfathomable news today is devastating for many. Please pray for his family. Please pray for our church. Pray for his kids," Strang said.

Friends of the Hunter family also expressed condolences on Twitter on Tuesday night.

Joshua DuBois, former director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, wrote:

Kay Warren, the wife of megachurch pastor Rick Warren, who lost their son Matthew to suicide in April, wrote:

CNN's Eric Marrapodi and John Couwels contributed to this report.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity • Church • Death • evangelicals

soundoff (335 Responses)
  1. oo oo

    Sam Bo, where u b? We love Sam Bo! Come on thammie the thweet! Y ain't u blioflavintin? Yes! Thammbo's wishes come true!

    Y so quiet thammie-u filthy snake

    December 18, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • oo oo

      Yes to kissin 12 gauges! Come on dodo, rejoice, wassa matta?

      December 18, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  2. 7

    Everyone is welcome to visit ...


    December 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  3. oo oo

    They never met him

    December 16, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  4. oo oo

    They criticize pat robertson

    December 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  5. oo oo

    They criticize the pope.

    December 16, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  6. R Dee

    Yes, it's sad to see children of pastors or pastors themselves committing suicide, that means they're still humans after all. It is not a failure of Christianity, maybe of those who profess the faith.

    Being a Christian doesn't guarantee a perfect existence, not on earth. Among other things, it continues to keep you in the path of righteousness when the opposing weight of the ills of the world lead you astray.

    To the atheist, consider this: bad things happene to good people. Plane crash, people stil board planes. Road accidents happen all the time, we still travel by car.
    Water kill people, we stil drink water etc. That's just the way it is. Capisce!

    December 16, 2013 at 7:04 am |
    • guest

      So, that means it doesn't matter if you believed in god or not, are good or bad; bad things gonna happen to ya. The prayers to keep you safe,healthy or cured doesn't work. In other words, god is imaginary.

      December 19, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  7. Lord Toronaga

    Another God worshiper hits the dust. Interesting. Where is God ? Maybe Pope Francis can help us out.

    December 15, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  8. IslandAtheist

    What does Obama's astrologer have to say about this?

    December 15, 2013 at 7:49 am |
  9. etc.Dolly

    How pathetic and selfish many of these responses are! I am dismayed. Someone who was miserable took his/her life! It doesn't matter what their religious beliefs were (and yes, atheists are religious people too, but that's another discussion). This person's loved ones are still living and missing him and grieving, maybe feeling guilty, depressed, insufficient. Three children will no longer have a father and those kids will be much more inclined to take their lives according to research.

    Can't we all just keep our mouths shut if we can't say something benevolent!

    December 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • oo oo

      rejoice. christ predicted his return was imminent when preeverts like Sam Bo the son of sam r worshiped.

      December 15, 2013 at 1:00 am |
      • Sandy

        Just couldn't resist crapping on a nice sentiment, could you?

        December 15, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
  10. Ted


    December 14, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  11. haratio hartts

    Personally, once I committed to believing in atheism, I started celebrating suicides whenever an xtard wasted herself. Especially if she'd been suckin on a 12 gauge the way Satan tells them to.

    December 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • Akira

      Well, aren't you a little bundle of love.

      December 14, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Observing

      Oh my gods the irony...is there a "Satan" or isn't there?

      December 19, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  12. Norm

    IIf I was the son of a lying, thieving, hypocritical, snake-oil-salesman of a mega-church pastor... I'd probably kill myself too.

    December 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • laststonecarver

      I used to be a christian, but I like to fool around, so I followed my desires and became a fornicating atheist, free of bronze age guilt.

      I agree with Sam bo. If I had to give up screwing everything with a skirt on, I'd hate religious delusionists like she does.

      December 13, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
      • Sandy

        How vs she screw anything in a skirt when she is a she? Off your meds again?

        December 15, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  13. Reality

    To all the misguided "believers" out there, your salvation is at hand:

    Tis mind boggling that your religions can be brought down to earth in less than ten seconds. With this in mind should not the moderators of this blog and their buddy Stevie P be looking for new jobs?

    Again for the new members:

    To wit:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e. the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    December 12, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.