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Once Jackson met with the archbishop and with officials from Royal Bafokeng Holdings, he offered up a new Jacksonville-based company, African Business Development Group, to carry out the business end of the archbishop's plan on the ground in Africa.
A member of O'Neal Dozier's church suggested to Jackson that he meet the pastor, who might be able to round up investors. Dozier says he initially turned down the invitation. But Jackson called him again and put him in touch with the archbishop. Eventually, he accepted, buoyed by the prospect of making money and spreading his gospel message to Africa and beyond. Now he had a new title, one that could enable his dreams of acquiring both money and global influence.
"I am the president," Dozier said recently in his trademark slow diction, touched by a Southern twang. "My official title is 'President of the North American Sector of Archbishop Makgoba's Economic Development Initiative for Indigenous Africans and the Diaspora..." — he paused for a breath — "and the Friends of the Diaspora.' "
The walls of Dozier's church office tell a story of his life. In one corner are pictures of him in college football uniforms and, later, Army uniforms. Next to them, a certificate of honorable discharge. Books from his law-school days. A collection of anti-Islam writings and a plaque from an anti-abortion group. On the desk is a metal sculpture of Atlas, lifting the world on his shoulders. On a shelf: a tall-masted model sailing ship and a TWA jet, poised for takeoff.
Dozier, tall and lean, relaxes in a chair as he talks. He's wearing black slacks and a white T-shirt, translucent over a tank top. His giant hands are adorned with rings and a gold watch. His head, small for his gym-toned body, appears youthful, although the hairline of his flat-top has crept improbably backward. He is wearing sunglasses indoors.
He has been in the blue-collar town of Pompano Beach, originally an agricultural center, for most of his life. He arrived here, he says, "on a migrant farm bus" from South Carolina in 1955, when he was 7 years old. His family moved into a nearby migrant workers' camp. At midcentury, Florida was deeply segregated, and the prospects for black farmers' sons were dim.
"I had a choice to go the way of many of the people I grew up with," Dozier says. "But I decided not to go that way. I do not like poverty."
At nearby Blanche Ely High School, he played football and basketball. He moved on to play football in college, then professionally for a stint. He earned his J.D. from John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. He was drafted to serve in Vietnam, he says, and then volunteered to go back for a second tour with the Army in Germany. While overseas, his official church biography adds, "he competed in and won several European bodybuilding contests."
The law degree was prestigious, but Dozier says he found his calling to serve God. In fact, his looks and demeanor make it hard to imagine his doing anything else. Dozier opened his church 27 years ago and started scaring people away with his sermons until the only ones left were those who would truly listen to every word he had to say.
"My granddaddy used to tell me, 'One who will not tell the truth when they know they should tell the truth is a liar,' " says Dozier. Thus, burdened with knowing that the sinners would be punished, he felt compelled to warn his congregation and began mixing sociopolitical issues into his homilies. He dwelled on the passages of the Bible that have been glossed over by pastors more tolerant of gays, Islam, abortion, Democrats, or women's liberation. When other black churches were celebrating the election of Barack Obama, the pastor was there to, as he puts it, "quench the fire." A typical sermon at Dozier's church may include a rousing, hand-clapping celebration of the scriptural verse that says a woman should be meek and obey her husband. He once held a public funeral for an aborted fetus.
His conservatism and relentless networking have earned him friends in high places. A wall in the office is covered with framed pictures of the pastor meeting dignitaries, religious leaders, and politicians: Dozier with Jeb Bush. Dozier with George W. Bush. Dozier blessing Charlie Crist, dark-skinned hand pressing down upon the white-haired head. When Jeb was governor, he named Dozier to a judicial nominating committee, where the pastor helped choose judges who would support conservative and religious principles. "Jeb befriended me," he recalls fondly. "He saw me as an asset."
For every friend Dozier has made, there are people who despise every word that comes out of his mouth. And that's just the way he likes it: Jesus, he says, was also hated and feared in his lifetime. So Pastor Dozier plays chicken with the world.
In January, when then-presidential candidate Rick Santorum named Dozier as an adviser to his campaign and visited the church, national media outlets dug up the pastor's old quotes on homosexuality. In particular, his statements at the Reclaiming America for Christ Conference that homosexuality is an act so nasty and disgusting that... well...