Christian Zionists pledge ‘I am an Israeli’

A big pro-Israel crowd recently came to the Washington, D.C., convention center to listen to people like Joe Lieberman and to promise their eternal devotion to the Holy Land.

But they weren’t Jews.

They were…Christian Zionists.

A colorful report on WeeklyStandard.com notes that Charlie Daniels played Hatikvah (the Israeli national anthem) on his fiddle at the big Christians United for Israel bash. The evangelical Christian group is led by the San Antonio megachurch pastor John Hagee.

The Standard quotes Hagee:

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The Bible from Genesis to Revelation is a Zionist text. To read and understand the Bible is to accept the reality that the Jewish people are not living where they chose but where God chose. There is a real estate contract recorded in the Bible with the boundaries of Israel, given as clearly as the human tongue can express. And the land is God’s gift to the Jewish people. That’s not political. It is the will of the sovereign and eternal God.

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The article — by Jennifer Rubin, contributing editor to the conservative Jewish journal Commentary — focuses on Christian Zionists’ political support for Israel, especially at this tenuous time for Israeli support in general. One leader is quoted as saying that it would be a tragedy if “one of the two parties ceased to be pro-Israel.”

Rubin also lets them explain their historical ties to the Jewish people. It’s the Judeo part in Judeo-Christian, one fellow says.

Hagee says he understands if many Jews don’t trust them because of a history of Christian anti-Semitism. One pastor, who does Hispanic outreach for the group, says outright that they are not trying to convert Jews — an usual statement from an evangelical about any group of non-Christians.

The story avoids the question of whether Christian Zionists support Israel because of a much-discussed belief that the Jews must be united in Israel before Jesus can return. Maybe this was a starting point in drawing certain evangelicals to Israel before they discovered other commonalities? Who knows?

Regardless, at one point in D.C., 4,000 Christians stood and chanted “I am an Israeli.”

(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The fall-out from McCain vs. Hagee (and Parsley)

I’ve come across some interesting reactions to John McCain’s disavowal of an endorsement by televangelist John Hagee.

Hagee, of course, was first criticized for calling the Roman Catholic Church “the great whore” (for which he apologized) and for linking the Catholic Church to Hitler’s “final solution” for the Jews (a comment he said was misunderstood).

237hageeflag.jpgMcCain, though, broke ranks after it came out that Hagee (that’s him) also said that God sent Hitler to chase the Jews back to Israel (those who survived, apparently).

The Washington Post says that McCain’s rejections of Hagee and the Rev. Rod Parsley, another televangelist with a vast following, may hurt his support from evangelicals.

The Post notes:

Parsley said in a statement that he does not fault McCain, and he blamed the fallout on unidentified “political hit squads.”

Parsley has growing clout among evangelical Christians, a group he calls the “largest special interest group in America.” The pastor has said that he was divinely placed in Ohio to help influence presidential elections, telling a Christian magazine that he believes “in the geographic locating abilities of the Holy Spirit.”

Meanwhile, a Mother Jones blog says that Jewish groups are willing to forgive Hagee’s Hitler comment because of his strong support for Israel.

Blogger Justin Elliott says he asked the American Jewish Committee, the ADL and AIPAC if they would “finally take Hagee to task for his outrageous comments and for seeing Jews primarily in terms of their role in his eschatology?”

“The short answer is no,” he writes.

McCain’s minister: ‘I’m not anti-Catholic’

From Barack Obama’s pastor back to John McCain’s minister/endorser…

John Hagee is the San Antonio megachurch pastor who endorsed McCain and has since enduring a media firestorm for being anti-Catholic.

He has released a short sermon defending himself, which is on YouTube and was sent out today as a video press release.

Hagee states: “I am not now, nor have I ever been, anti-Catholic.” He explains that he supported a convent for retired nuns for 10 years and runs a soup kitchen that serves food primarily to Catholics.

He said that it is true that, as a strong supporter of Judaism and Israel, he has talked about the “past anti-Semitism” of both the Catholic Church and Protestant churches.

He put it like this:

Calling Christians to account for their past anti-Semitism does not make me anti-Catholic and it does not make me anti-Protestant.

Here’s the video:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/rCS2snM5poE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

What happens when you accept an endorsement from an anti-Catholic pastor?

As soon as I say that faith has been cut out of the presidential race (see post below), it’s back. Sort of.

John McCain’s enthusiastic acceptance of an endorsement from fundamentalist pastor John Hagee is being criticized from numerous sides.

tjndc5-5ix47gpwemgrx5rocb5_layout.jpgHagee, who pastors a huge church in San Antonio and is at the forefront of evangelical support for Israel, happens to have a history of attacking the Roman Catholic Church.

You can hear Hagee “explain” his theories on YouTube.

The Catholic League, not surprisingly, does not appreciate McCain’s eagerness to fly to San Antonio to stand by Hagee’s side. Or Mike Huckabee’s disappointment at not getting Hagee’s endorsement.

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue:

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?

ADD: McCain just sent out this statement:

Yesterday, Pastor John Hagee endorsed my candidacy for president in San Antonio, Texas. However, in no way did I intend for his endorsement to suggest that I in turn agree with all of Pastor Hagee’s views, which I obviously do not.

I am hopeful that Catholics, Protestants and all people of faith who share my vision for the future of America will respond to our message of defending innocent life, traditional marriage, and compassion for the most vulnerable in our society.

(Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert)