Hangin' with the Church Lady

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Dozier cuts a compelling physical figure: tall, impossibly young-looking for his 54 years, impeccably fit, nattily dressed, with a pointed, razor-sharp flattop. He looks like a man who gets things done, and he is: In addition to his calling as a minister, Dozier briefly played outside linebacker for the Chicago Bears, fought in Vietnam, and earned a law degree. Not bad for the son of a South Carolina sharecropper.

I listened to the conversation between the pastor and Hostetter, who are old comrades in arms:

Dozier: Sunday, my sermon topic was the sin of homosexuality. I brought it out of the text, of the Old Testament and the New. I say God loves the homosexual person but hates the sin of homosexuality.

Hostetter: It's clear that adultery, fornication, and homosexuality are condemned equally by the Lord. But adulterers don't form their own churches and put it in your face.

D: The fornicator and the adulterer do not ask for special rights. But they say homosexuality is a genetic thing.

H: It's a lie.

D: It is a lie.

H: There is no legitimate research that shows there is any genetic predetermined connection. But what do we hear in the media? It's always based on the premise that it's genetic.

D: I have been pastoring for 20 years and have had many people come to me who believed they were gay, and they have voluntarily said to me that it was because a homosexual molested them.

H: There are men who have effeminate traits, but they aren't necessarily gay.

D: My partner during law school had all the characteristics of a lady, but he was not -- and I can say to this day -- he was not a homosexual. Everyone who has effeminate traits is not homosexual.

H [laughing]: You say that there are no homosexuals in your choir.

D: No, there are no fornicators or adulterers or homosexuals in our choir.

H: They have to be righteous.

D: By the way, I was to the governor's mansion in the first week in May. My wife and I had dinner with [Jeb Bush]. And his people said, "Pastor, don't be surprised if the governor isn't back at your church in January." The governor loved [his King Day visit]. He said at one point during the service that he thought he was in heaven. The governor is a saved man. He loves the Lord. And his brother loves the Lord, and I'm talking about Jesus. And they don't mind saying they love Jesus. I love those two guys.

After more amorous talk about the Bushes, Hostetter told Dozier about Foley.

D: Well, Foley doesn't qualify to be a Republican then. If you are gay or you can't hold to the Republican platform, then you ought not be in the party.

H: In my mind, the media is conflicted about Foley because they don't want to tell the truth.

There was more talk, but we soon said goodbye to Dozier, and I followed the "United Under God" bumper sticker on the rear window of Hostetter's red 2003 Lincoln Towncar to a Denny's in Plantation, where we sat, ordered Diet Pepsis, and she began telling her story. Hostetter was born and raised in Pensacola in a strict middle-class Baptist household. Her father was a churchgoing Boy Scout leader who lectured her for hours at a time. If she made a peep during his speeches, he would start over and make her listen to every word again. When lecturing didn't work, he would bring out his belt, though she says this was an infrequent practice.

She learned the Bible at a very early age and never, ever doubted a word of it. "The word of God is inerrant," she said.

When she graduated from high school, her father forced her to go to a nearby junior college rather than a university, which helped provoke the greatest act of rebellion in her life: She eloped to Alabama at age 18 with a 22-year-old fellow student. "It was chemistry," she explained.

After moving to New Orleans and Dallas and earning her teaching certificate, Hostetter and her husband moved to Plantation in 1972. Then 25, she desperately yearned for a child, but her husband, to her horror and utter frustration, didn't want kids. She says she finally gave him an ultimatum, and she had a baby girl in 1973. Hostetter decided to be an at-home mom.

"But what did I do? I went to Plantation council meetings, and I drug my little baby here, there, and everywhere," she told me. "I wasn't at home baking cookies. I was one of those mothers pushing the baby stroller on the picket lines in front of abortion clinics after Roe v. Wade. "

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman