I cried a little, and that's no shit....sitting there in the towering black man's office as he told me in heart-rending terms how he came to Jesus watching Roy Rogers on a TV talk show.
His eyes, big as quarters but dark, seemed to probe to the bottom of the polluted river that is my very soul.
What a waste, I thought, wiping a tear, this guy could be one helluva politician.
But he is a politician--and one whose position and charisma provides him way more power and influence than most elected politicos I know.
He's Rev. Ken Hutcherson, former linebacker for the Hawks and the Cowboys, friend of Dr. James Dobson, Alan Keyes, and fishing buddy of Rush Limbaugh. He's made a national name for himself as the organizer of the huge rallies decrying equal marriage rights at Seattle's Safeco Field and The Mall in DC that proved so effective in galvanizing evangelical Christians for George Bush.
His “Hutch Rush” mini-sermons can be heard (m-f ) on Seattle right-wing talk station, KTTH (770 AM) at 8:50 am just before Limbaugh. A Sunday sermonette can be heard 8:30-9 am also on KTTH. He's been a welcome guest of the syndicated Michael Medved Show (KTTH m-f, 12-3 pm); John Carlson (KVI m-f, 3-6 pm) Kirby Wilbur (KVI m-f, 6-9 pm) and Mike Siegel (m-f, 6-9 pm).
I was interviewing him to write "Straight Talk," an in-depth profile that appears in the new issue of Seattle Magazine. For political junkies, horror fans, and spiritual intensity seekers, it's worth a read. Unfortunately, you'll have to buy it, it's not on-line...
Hutcherson helped found Kirkland's mega Antioch Bible Church and attracts 3000 souls every Sunday with his fiery, funny preaching. It's a fully digitized, multi-media event that's entertaining at best, frightening at worst. Beneath the skillful comedic timing, the earnest preacher-speak and the delicious music, it's the same hard-pan, you're-going-to-hell-if-you-don't-love-Jesus Christianity that made Jerry Falwell one of the most hated men in America.
It's hard to hate "Hutch," as he likes to be called, and Antioch is a mostly benign world unto itself, providing services like child care, free adoption; ministries for every spiritual pickle you might find yourself in; social groups for every age or ethnic flavor.
It's open to all but you better keep your nose clean--if they catch you shacking up or your personal closet door chances swing open--they'll make you stand up in church, shame you, and boot your sinful, backsliding ass to the street.
Though he'd never use the word, Hutcherson is pissed.
“I want to teach the church what I learned as an African-American, that is—you don't have to take it. We got just as many rights as anybody and the advantage that God's on our side.”
He organized the rallies because he was alarmed by King Co. Exec. Ron Sims' and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels’ support of equal marriage rights. Hutcherson takes credit for Sims' gubernatorial defeat primary. “We put the nail in the coffin,” he says.
The juice given evangelicals by the 2004 elections gave them a sense of entitlement and inflated misperception of their own power which will be their political downfall--we've seen it before.
The Republicans took over the reins of the Legislature in 1994, but ran roughshod over practicality with a lot of right-wing Christian ideological indulgence and they blew it. Most of the goofballs were defeated by '96.
But they're back and feeling their oats. “We’re gonna win,” says Hutcherson. “Is it gonna be civil or hostile? If you surrender and accept Him as your Lord and savior, it’s gonna be civil. You reject Him, it’s gonna to be hostile.”
Most grass roots Christian fundamentalists don't really give a damn about politics or government, except in the narrow focus of their parochial moral concerns. Most, like many other Americans, don't pay attention between Presidential years and only do politically as they're told by preachers like Hutcherson. An unapologetic Republican power broker, he's not unlike a sectarian ward politician: he can deliver votes.
I don't care about someone's religious peccadilloes, but when they use their wonder-working power, hands-on in the political process, I get nervous--like when Dobson recently warned a list of politically at-risk Democratic US senators they'd better fly right or face the wrath of the Christian jihad come '06.
I'd wager that if you polled evangelicals, and could get down to their philosophical short hairs, many--like the kids in the recent poll--would be agreeable to suspending some of those naughty bits in America's owner's manual, the Constitution. I'll bet if you framed the question right, they'd find something to love about a few theocratic tweaks..
As Hutcherson told me, “Christians stood up and said, ‘we ain’t taking it any more.’ We’ve got enough people to vote and push our way on you--like you-all been pushing on us.”
We can laugh as they find perversion delving into SpongeBob's private life; and in the long haul, I believe they'll fail. But the time is past when progressive elites can afford to underestimate the wicked combination of anger, ignorance, and god-driven self-righteousness.