Friday, February 29, 2008

Statements By Pastor Who Endorsed McCain Drawing Scrutiny

CBS NEWS - On Wednesday, John McCain received the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee, the evangelical Texas mega-church leader.

The endorsement could help McCain shore up support amongst conservatives in a state where Mike Huckabee has been running relatively strongly. Huckabee complained about Hagee's decision to back McCain, saying, “I felt that it was totally out of character for what I knew he believed. Or at least I thought he did.”

But what Hagee believes could turn out to be a problem for McCain, if the reaction over the past few days is any indication. As CBS News' Dante Higgins points out, Catholic leaders asked McCain to distance himself from Hagee over anti-Catholic comments such as calling the Catholic Church "The Great Whore."

McCain responded to a question on the issue today by saying that while he is "very proud of the Pastor John Hagee’s spiritual leadership to thousands of people and I am proud of his commitment to the independence and the freedom of the state of Israel," it "does not mean that I support or endorse or agree with some of the things that Pastor John Hagee might have said or positions that he may have taken on other issues."

And there are, it turns out, a fair share of "other issues" to worry about. Bloggers such as Salon's Glenn Greenwald have been pouring through Hagee's record and uncovering controversial statements on a whole range of issues. The pastor made this comment in an interview with NPR:

"All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.

The newspaper carried the story in our local area, that was not carried nationally, that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it would was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other gay pride parades.

So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing."

Hagee also said, in the same interview, "Islam in general -- those who live by the Koran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews."

And the pastor suggested in a book called "Jerusalem Countdown" that, as Sarah Posner puts it, "military confrontation with Iran is foretold in the Bible as a necessary precondition for the Second Coming."

Liberal bloggers are uncovering other controvertial past postions as well, including a fundraiser that included an appeal to "Make plans to come and go home with a slave."

All of this has critics wondering: Why has Barack Obama been asked to repudiate the backing of Louis Farrakhan when McCain has thus far not faced similar pressures?

"This is no worse than some of the inflammatory comments Farakkhan has dropped over the years," wrote The New Republic's Dayo Olopade after listing some of Hagee's quotes. "But given a minor toasting (as oposed to the full-panini-press Barack Obama got on Tuesday evening) on Hagee's comments, McCain said, 'all I can tell you is that I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee's support.' Not a rejection or denouncement in sight."

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