Courting John Hagee

by Jose Medina

You would think that when the last guy to finish second in a presidential election rejected your endorsement, the next time around candidates for the nation’s highest elected office might be a little less willing to embrace you.

You would think. But you’re not Texas’ own John Hagee.

Last Thursday, former  U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced that he is looking at a run for the White House in 2012. The Miami Herald has the details of his announcement in a piece that contains the following, buried at the end of the story:

After speaking at the “Rediscovering God in America” event in Des Moines in late March, Gingrich is expected to travel to San Antonio, where he will speak at the Cornerstone Church, which has a congregation of 19,000.

While there, he is expected to meet with Cornerstone’s sometimes-controversial senior pastor, John Hagee. In 2008, Hagee apologized for comments that were considered to be anti-Catholic. Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism two years ago, has been reaching out actively to evangelical pastors for the last two years.

Yes, that John Hagee, the megachurch pastor who in 2008 endorsed John McCain only to have his endorsement returned to him when the pastor’s claims about Adolf Hitler being sent by God to force Jews back to Israel came under increasing scrutiny.

Unfortunately, the Hitler comment is just a small piece of Hagee’s hateful rhetoric. He has also claimed that the anti-Christ will be partially Jewish and called the Catholic church a false cult. The latter claim makes the Gingrich-Hagee meeting even more befuddling because, as the Miami Herald piece points out, Gingrich is a recent convert to Catholicism.

Then there was this Hagee statement about Hurricane Katrina that’s right out of the Westboro (“God Hates Fags”) Baptist Church playbook:

The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade on the Monday that the Katrina came, and the promise of that parade was that it 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. I know that there are people who demure from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment, and I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.

Thank God for hurricanes? I wonder if the homosexual parade was back on a few weeks later when Hurricane Rita prompted the re-evacuation of New Orleans.

We would be kidding ourselves if we believed both sides will be playing nice during next year’s presidential campaign. But we hope this isn’t an early sign that candidates are willing to embrace just about anyone—including those who would use religion to divide and as a political tool—in an effort to secure the support of the fringe factions in a candidate’s party.