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...
"I said that in the eyes of God, homosexuality is an abomination. What does that mean? Something very nasty and disgusting in the sight of God. What is the effect of something nasty and disgusting? It gives you the feeling of wanting to vomit." So, forever after, this is a man who says gay sex makes God want to vomit.
In his typical mode of preaching, he takes a short passage from the Bible and spends many minutes dissecting it into its component parts, reaching back to Hebrew translations in search of an undeniable and unambiguous Truth. When this leads him to say outlandish things, so be it. It's right there in the book.
Dozier believes that churches should play a role in supporting the poor, and he continually raises money for victims of natural disasters and the homeless. But he's also a staunch free-market capitalist who is tough on those who don't help themselves. To those who depend on government assistance, he asks, "How much more do you want from us?" He reads Matthew's Parable of the Talents, in which a traveling aristocrat entrusts his servants with his savings and rewards those who trade and increase their holdings, as a straightforward argument that the rich who invest should get richer than the poor who don't.
For Dozier, a focus on working to make money can erase even racial prejudice. "America only sees money. It doesn't see color," he says. He claims he has never once been discriminated against because of the color of his skin.
Dozier says his controversial remarks have cost him a larger audience. He could be preaching to thousands every Sunday morning, amplified across a megachurch, he says, if only his message were a little softer. But the attraction of admiring masses isn't the kind of power that Dozier wants, not after all these years of shrugging off liberals and failures and pretenders. He's after something stronger.
"I'm someone who fears God more than man," he explains. "I've pretty much been kicked out of everything I've been in. When a man embraces me, he has to be ready for the part of me that doesn't compromise."
As the months passed after the February conference, Dozier prepared for the archbishop to visit his church. He imagined a scene: the archbishop wearing his ceremonial robes and hat and all the members of his church wearing traditional African attire. Dozier said meeting the archbishop was "highly important" to him, maybe "even more so than being involved with the president of the United States." He predicted that the archbishop, through his initiative, would "end up being more recognizable and famous in the long run than Tutu."
But in June, there was a change of plans. The archbishop would now visit Jacksonville and be hosted by Jackson, not Pompano Beach, hosted by Dozier. So Dozier was left to book a flight north to meet the archbishop in person.
On the evening of June 18, the Most ReverendThabo Makgoba entered a squarish building in a Jacksonville office park off I-95 to hold a news conference and make the official American announcement of the Winds of Change initiative. He walked down the second-floor hallway, past a table of refreshments, to a conference room. Wearing a purple silk shirt and clerical collar under a pinstriped suit, he entered the room leaning forward, gently beaming, shaking hands with the businessmen gathered to greet him.
The small room was set up with 25 chairs in rows. Pine trees swayed in the sun outside the window. A couple of TV cameramen set up their cameras. There was a podium at the front of the room, bedecked with the heavily Photoshopped Winds of Change logo: a globe, flags, the outlines of America, South Africa, and Florida.