THE BLOG
01/27/2016 02:28 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2017

Will Cruz, Like McCain in 2008, Reject Endorsement From "God Sent Hitler" Pastor ?

ASSOCIATED PRESS

"McCain Rejects Hagee Backing as Nazi Remarks Surface", reported the New York Times on May 22, 2008. Once again, as in 2008, a short Youtube video I've compiled is making waves in national politics, driven -- as in 2008 [1, 2] initially by coverage from liberal media. Once again, at the forefront is the public embrace, by a top Republican presidential contender, of a pastor who claims God sent Hitler. Looming in the background is form of hyper-politicized Christianity known as dominionism, the mandate that believers must achieve control, either overtly or through stealth, over all sectors of society.

Ted Cruz' enthusiastic acceptance of a political endorsement from Kansas City evangelist Mike Bickle mirrors, in many respects, John McCain's 2008 acceptance of John Hagee's endorsement. As MSBNC political news show host Rachel Maddow pointed out, in a Friday January 22, 2016 segment, Cruz and Bickle have in effect co-endorsed each other; in 2008 MSBNC show host Keith Olbermann made a similar observation concerning the McCain-Hagee embrace.

Are politicians responsible for all statements and views of their endorsers ? Hardly. But when politicians publicly, enthusiastically accept such endorsements and run their campaigns based on the support ? "[Y]ou kind of own it", opined Maddow.

Amid growing media coverage of my video, will Presidential contender Ted Cruz reject his new political endorsement from Bickle, who in the video footage is shown claiming the world's Jews are collectively "under the discipline of God" because "perversion and sin" and will soon be forced, per God's will, into "prison camps" and "death camps" ?

Among Bickle's many distinctions, he also claims that same-sex marriage is a "unique sign of the end-times" and paints Oprah Winfrey as a harbinger of the anti-Christ. But perhaps even more toxic is Mike Bickle's repeated claim that Hitler was a "hunter", sent by God to persecute the world's Jews after their stubborn refusal to be converted to Christianity.

Ted Cruz' acceptance of Bickle's endorsement merited a dedicated press release on Cruz' official campaign website. Gushed Cruz, "Heidi and I are grateful to have his [Mike Bickle's] prayers and support. With the support of Mike and many other people of faith, we will fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith".

Let's revisit the 2008 Republican presidential campaign:

It was John McCain's worst campaign nightmare; in late May 2008, the Republican presidential hopeful was forced, amid an embarrassing media firestorm, to reject a long-sought political endorsement from influential conservative evangelical leader John Hagee who, my research had uncovered, had publicly claimed in a globally broadcast 2005 sermon (later packaged and sold by John Hagee Ministries as part of a 3-CD video set) that God sent Adolf Hitler to persecute Europe's Jews.

Leading up to the February 2008 Hagee endorsement, McCain had worked hard to court the religious right after having alienated the movement during the 2000 presidential election primaries when the Arizona Senator criticized Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance".

Leading up to the 2000 primaries, McCain had misjudged the electoral importance of conservative evangelicals and gambled on running against the religious right, as a secular "maverick": a fatal mistake. Religious right leaders eventually opted to throw their political support to Texas governor George W. Bush. And who helped broker that deal ? -- None other than the very young Ted Cruz.

As I reported back in 2013, in 1999, Cruz arranged a key meeting, between the Bush For President campaign and co-architect of the modern religious right Paul Weyrich, that cemented movement backing for Bush. Cruz would go on to serve on Bush's 2000 Florida vote recount team.

"Cruz For President Announces Endorsement of Mike Bickle", proclaims Ted Cruz' official campaign website, which bills International House of Prayer founder and head Mike Bickle as a "prayer and justice leader".

In repeated sermons from 2004 to 2009 Bickle has predicted that in the coming end-times God will send "fishers" to convert Jews to Christianity and later, when two thirds of Jews reject such evangelizing efforts, send "hunters" to persecute and slaughter them, as part of God's judgment for "perversion and sin" in a second, divinely mandated Holocaust.

It's hardly Cruz' first brush with religiously-based genocidal ideas. In November 2015, Huffington Post Gay Voices editor Michelangelo Signorile pointed out the shocking lack of mainstream media coverage following the participation of presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal in a "religious liberty" conference organized by pastor Kevin Swanson, who at the event called for the mass execution of unrepentant gays and lesbians.

Bickle is one of the more influential leaders in the radical, cultic Christian supremacist New Apostolic Reformation movement according to evangelical author and NAR expert Holly Pivec.

During the 2000 presidential election, one of the NAR's acolytes, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, shut down a vote recount that might have tipped the razor thin Florida vote margin from George W. Bush to Al Gore. As noted in a 2006 Charisma magazine story, Harris had been close to top NAR leaders such as Dutch Sheets and Cindy Jacobs.

Not all NAR leaders are backing Ted Cruz' presidential bid; a significant faction of the NAR's apostles and prophets has thrown its weight behind the candidacy of Donald Trump. The split in NAR endorsements may reflect a growing strategic maturity; in 2011, the NAR decisively backed the presidential bid of Texas governor Rick Perry, who launched his campaign from a prayer rally dominated by the NAR's apostles and prophets.

Perry's 2012 election presidential bid and proximity to the NAR brought unprecedented mainstream media scrutiny to the NAR and its dominionist strain of politicized Christianity.

That scrutiny, in turn, provoked a fusillade of denial from elite media op-ed writers such as the Washington Post's Michael Gerson, who claimed dominionism "is a movement that could fit in a phone booth" and the New York Times' Ross Douthat, who portrayed concern over the political influence of Christian dominionism as poorly informed and rooted in conspiratorial thinking. After mainstream media turned its attention away, NAR leaders resumed exhortations, to their followers, that "You Must Take Dominion Over Everything".

But both Michael Gerson and Ross Douthat are tied to the spectrum of the evangelical right that bleeds over into overt dominionism -- the two have been repeatedly welcomed to speak at the elite invitation-only yearly event known as The Gathering, during which multimillionaire and billionaire philanthropists who bankroll the evangelical right, including overtly dominionist factions and Mike Bickle's ministries too, assemble and strategize to maximize the impact of their philanthropic dollars.

The biggest foundation at The Gathering, representing a dominant fraction of the community's philanthropic dollars, is the mammoth National Christian Foundation, now one of the biggest philanthropies in America.

NCF is one of the biggest financial benefactors of elite organizations of the dominionist evangelical right such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, and Campus Crusade for Christ -- all of which are in the vanguard, globally, of pitched battles over LGBT rights. The most recent available NCF 990 tax form submitted to the IRS, for 2013, shows NCF gave Mike Bickle's various IHOP ministries over $260,000 that year.

Ted Cruz' proximity to the dominionist movement is hardly a passing one. In the years leading up to his current presidential bid Cruz' father Rafael Cruz has been crisscrossing the nation speaking at evangelical churches, in preparation.

In an August 2012 appearance at an Irving, Texas megachurch, Rafael Cruz indicated his son was one of those chosen by God to "take dominion" and effect a great transfer of wealth, from the "wicked" to the "righteous". Explained Cruz, who had talked of "Kings who are anointed to go to war, win the war, and bring the spoils of war to the priests",

The pastor [Larry Huch] referred to Proverbs 13:22, a little while ago, which says that the wealth of the wicked is stored for the righteous. And it is through the kings, anointed to take dominion, that that transfer of wealth is going to occur. God, even though he's sovereign, even though he's omnipotent, he doesn't let it rain out of the sky -- he's going to use people to do it.

Bearing in on a theme characteristic of the New Apostolic Reformation movement, Cruz outlined a version of the "Seven Mountains" mandate which instructs believers to gain positions of power and influence atop seven key sectors of society:

What's the battlefield ? The battlefield is the marketplace. To go to the marketplace and occupy the land. To go to the marketplace and take dominion. If you remember the last time I was in this pulpit, I talked to you about Genesis chapter 1, verse 28, where God says unto Adam and Eve, 'Go forth, multiply, TAKE DOMINION over all creation.' And if you recall, we talked about the fact that that dominion is not just in the church. That dominion is over every area -- society, education, government, economics...

In 2013, Ted Cruz himself was directly blessed and anointed by dominionist evangelical leaders including Christian history revisionist David Barton, who has claimed that ideas in the U.S. Constitution were based on Old Testament scripture including the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

In September 2013, Senator Ted Cruz told Politico reporter Stephanie Simon that,

David Barton is a good man, a courageous leader and a friend. David's historical research has helped millions rediscover the founding principles of our nation and the incredible sacrifices that men and women of faith made to bequeath to us the freest and most prosperous nation in the world.

Cruz' friendship with Barton is especially telling; the factually challenged Christian nationalist history narratives of David Barton (who himself is quite close to the apostles and prophets of the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation movement) play a crucial role for America's Christian supremacist right, explains researcher Frederick Clarkson:

The notion that America was founded as a Christian nation is a central animating element of the ideology of the Christian Right... The idea that America's supposed Christian identity has somehow been wrongly taken, and must somehow be restored, permeates the psychology and vision of the entire movement.