John McCain continued his quest for conservative bona fides by embracing millionaire televangelist and leader of the "End-Times" Evangelical movement, Pastor CEO John Hagee.
In addition to believing that we are the last generation before God destroys the earth and that "international television" is a sign that Christ's return is nigh, Hagee has maligned the Catholic Church as 'The Great Whore' and 'a false cult.' Accordingly, the Hagee endorsement has raised the ire of Catholic activists who claim Hagee is a bigot who regularly preaches anti-Catholic hate and blames the Catholic Church for the Holocaust.
In an interview with Glenn Greenwald, Catholic League Director, William Donohue, warned that there would be hell to pay for McCain's embrace of Hagee:
He's not going to get away with this with the Catholic community...We're going to get this out to the Catholic community and Catholic
press around the country...We're going to ride this out and see
how far he wants to talk about this.
(full article here)
Donohue previously entered the 2008 presidential race when he demanded the resignation of John Edwards' blogger in reaction to writings on the blogger's personal web site.
According to Donohue, both McCain and Huckabee are equally reprehensible for courting Hagee:
If Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama were fighting over
the support of Louis Farrakhan, we'd say they're nuts. So what are we
to conclude about McCain's embrace of Hagee, and Huckabee's lament for
not getting the bigot's endorsement?
In a press release just previous to his critique of Huckabee and McCain for embracing Hagee, Donohue decried Obama for championing a culture of death during the last Democratic debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
McCain's embrace of Hagee follows on the heels of a recent expose by Bill Moyers showing Hagee as the leader of the influential Christians United For Israel. Moyers' documentary showed a host of Republican leaders including President Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Roy Blunt, as well as Joe Lieberman of the Lieberman for Connecticut Party, embracing Hagee's group. In addition to showing long sermons in which Hagee warns that Armageddon is near, Moyers showed members of Christians United For Israel lobbying Congress to stop the Israel-Palestinian peace process and to wage a preemptive military strike against Iran.
McCain's embrace of Hagee is consistent with his continued support of Bush's military policies, but it also puts in play all of the baggage that Hagee's fringe sect brings to politics.
Hagee and his followers believe, for example, that the suffering experienced by the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a caused by God seeking revenge for Israeli settlers forced to relocate out of the Gaza Strip:
BILL MOYERS: According to John Hagee, devastating consequences await those who violate God's word. God, he says, may already have sent Hurricane Katrina to punish the U.S. for its role in helping Israel remove Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip.
JOHN HAGEE, SEPTEMBER 18, 2005:I want to ask Washington a question. Is there a connection between the 9,000 Jewish refugees being forcibly removed from their homes in the Gaza Strip now living in tents and the thousands of Americans who have been expelled from their homes by this tremendous work of nature? Is there a connection there? If you've got a better answer, I'd like to hear it.
(full transcript here)
Beyond the Catholic League's objections, anti-Arab militancy, and wide-eyed application of prophecy to politics--Hagee regularly talks about Jews and Judaism in terms that many Americans find offensive.
Both in sermons and in conversation, Hagee and his followers seem incapable of distinguishing between actual Jewish people living in the world today and the symbolic "Jews" mentioned in the prophetic scriptures that are the focus of their Evangelical religious practice.
Hagee's insults of the Catholic Church are bound to alienate many voters. Just as many voters will be offended by Hagee's constant reference to Jews as a puzzle piece to be put in place to bring about the return of Christ.
Moreover, to an American electorate eager to find big solutions to long-term challenges, Hagee seems like an obstacle to progress.
And yet, desperate to be seen as a real conservative, McCain has little choice but to embrace a pastor who believes destruction of the world in a storm of fiery torment is just a few years away.
Without Hagee and his flock supporting him, McCain's campaign may burst into flames much sooner than that.
Cross posted from Frameshop.