Saturday, March 22, 2008


By William Fisher

While conservative pundits like Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and Pat Buchanan teeter on the brink of apoplexy about Barack Obama’s refusal to throw his incendiary former pastor under the bus, they – and virtually the entire mainstream media – have gone silent on John McCain’s shameless pandering to the toxic wing of the religious right.

If we’re so intent on applying Joe McCarthy’s guilt-by-association mantra to Sen. Obama’s relationship to his former pastor, how come we’re hearing virtually nothing about Mr. McCain’s support from Rev. John Hagee?

(Maybe the media feels it needs to show Mr. Straight-Talk-Express some deference because of his age. That might also explain the free pass he got for his absurd four-time assertion that (Shia) Iran was training (Sunni) Al Qaeda terrorists -- he had to be corrected by Sen. Joe Lieberman, his Middle East traveling buddy). Sometimes age brings memory deficits.

So who is this Rev. Hagee? He is a multi-millionaire televangelist, founder and senior pastor of the 16,000-strong Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, and head of John Hagee Ministries, whose broadcasts spew bigotry to some 99 million homes on 160 TV stations, 50 radio stations and eight networks in the U.S., Canada, Africa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and many third world nations.

And what’s he saying?

He speaks out against homosexuality. As noted by “Media Matters,” he believes Hurricane Katrina was “an act of God for a society that is becoming Sodom and Gomorrah reborn…a level of sin that was offensive to God".

He claims that another reason for God's wrath was the Bush administration's pressure on Israel to abandon settlements and the land associated with them. Therefore, God took American land in a "tit for tat" exchange during Hurricane Katrina.

Hagee asserts that Muhammad was a man of war and that this influence on Islam is the cause of the troubles of Jerusalem.

He calls Roman Catholicism "A Godless theology of hate that no one dared try to stop for a thousand years (and which) produced a harvest of hate."

He denounces abortion and stopped giving money to Israel's Hadassah hospital when it began performing the procedure.

He calls the head of the European Union “the anti-Christ,” for trying to create a confrontation over Israel between China and the West. “A final battle between East and West at Armageddon will then precipitate the Second Coming of Christ.”

He condemns literature such as J. K. Rowling's “Harry Potter,” calling it contemporary witchcraft.

Despite his claims of opposition to anti-Semitism, Hagee believes that the persecution of Jews throughout history, and even the Holocaust, was caused by their own "disobedience…Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come.... it rises from the judgment of God upon his rebellious chosen people.”

He believes that "The most important thing to the Christian community is not the environment but evangelism."

And he asserts, "Christians don't steal or lie, they don't get divorced or have abortions. If the Ten Commandments were followed by everyone we would be able to fire half the police force and in six months the prisons would be all half empty."

Now, these canards are not all that unusual in the extreme wingnut section of the Christian right. What’s unusual is that, unlike Sen. Obama – who had a 20-year relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright – John McCain actively sought Hagee’s endorsement when he began his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

And is apparently happy to accept it. "I’m very proud to have Pastor Hagee’s support," McCain said at the time.

Previous incarnations of John McCain had the courage to label fanatics like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Bob Jones "agents of intolerance." The 2008 edition has shamelessly pandered to the religious right, even refusing to disown his statement that "the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation."

What happened to the “maverick” John McCain many of us respected? Maybe, at the end of the day, he’s no different from most politicians -- willing to do or say anything to get elected.

That’s not an edict from God. That’s a choice.

And McCain’s choice has taken the wheels off the Straight Talk Express – again.