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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

John McCain's Bigoted Endorsers Go Largely Unremarked

Commentary by Marji Mendelsohn for, March 25, 2008

Barrack Obama dealt frankly, openly and intellectually with the issue of his complex relationship to Jeremiah Wright. Contrast that with John McCain's embrace of Christian Right leaders Pastors John Hagee and Rod Parsley. This is big picture stuff.

Barack Obama's March 17th speech was the first national tutorial on race and it was as courageous a speech as any politician has ever given. There was no anger, or even blame, in his voice as he publicly dissected one of our nation's most intractable problems. If his speech could be shown in every classroom in the country and discussed as honestly as the subject deserves, it is possible to imagine that the next generation might actually have a chance to grow up seeing past the color of a person's skin. It is sickening to see the right cherry-picking lines, creating videos portraying Obama to be a secret Black Nationalist out to take away our country.

By contrast, the media has not lingered on John Hagee's anti-Catholic bigotry, even though McCain stood smiling with Hagee to receive the televangelist's endorsement. When McCain subsequently distanced himself from Hagee's hateful statements, it was only for fear of losing Catholic votes.

John Hagee is not only an anti-Catholic bigot. He repeatedly stokes the fires of hatred toward Islam, telling his national television audience that there are between 200 and 800 million Muslims who are jihadists. His crusader-like talk makes Reverend Wright look like a piker.

McCain courted Hagee
Hagee has based his career, wealth, position and enormous power on hatred: hatred of Islam, of homosexuals, and of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Yet John McCain went out of his way to court him, in hopes that Hagee's endorsement would make the Christian Right forget his not-so-long ago disdain for them as "agents of intolerance." McCain courted Hagee knowing full well that, when it comes to Israel, Hagee is doing all he can to insure there is to be no land for peace deal. Ever.

Then there's McCain endorser Rod Parsley (pictured on McCain's left). A man who has said that Allah is a demon spirit. Parsley, a megachurch pastor in Ohio, has told his followers:

I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.

On October 30, 2007 Parsley filled his World Harvest Church outside of Columbus, Ohio with faithful lay and clergy to hear former Senator Rick Santorum and religious right leader Gary Bauer state that Islam must be destroyed if we are to survive

Four short months later, Parsley jumped off McCain's Straight Talk Express to stand with the candidate. McCain proudly proclaimed his pride in having this man as his spiritual guide.

So while the GOP, or maybe even Hillary, tries to paint Obama into a spiritual corner, take a step back to look at the big picture. Why are the media – and the Democrats – giving McCain a pass on his supporters blatant anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim bigotry?

Marji Mendelsohn has been studying the effect of religion on politics and foreign policy

Questions for the Rev. John Hagee, Megaminister

Interview by Deborah Solomon, New York Times, March 23, 2008

As a prominent evangelical pastor based in San Antonio, you were recently catapulted into national controversy when you endorsed Senator John McCain for president. Is it true that McCain actively sought your endorsement? It’s true that McCain’s campaign sought my endorsement.

How did you feel when critics called you a Catholic-basher and said McCain should reject your endorsement? My statements regarding the Catholic Church have been grossly mischaracterized. I never called the Catholic Church “the anti-Christ” or a “false cult system.” I was referring to those Christians who ignore the Gospels. Continue.

McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam
Washington Dispatch: Televangelist Rod Parsley, a key McCain ally in Ohio, has called for eradicating the "false religion." Will the GOP presidential candidate renounce him?

By David Corn, Mother Jones, March 12, 2008

Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it. Continue. <

The McCain-Hagee Connection
Why is the press ignoring this hate-monger?

Zachary Roth, Columbia Journalism Review, March 7, 2008

More than a week after John McCain’s endorsement by the anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic pastor John Hagee, the media continues to give the GOP nominee a free pass.

Consider the following pronouncements by Hagee, the man who McCain proudly introduced as an ally last week. Continue.

Letter to Chris Mathews, host of Hardball

By Rev. Robert O. Smith, Chicago, March 21, 2008

Dear Mr. Matthews,

Thank you for featuring a Hardball segment on Friday, March 21, dealing with Rev. John Hagee’s endorsement of Sen. John McCain. I was glad to learn of the interview with Hagee that will be published in this coming Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.

The context of the week’s news notwithstanding, I was concerned, however, with the panelists’ equivocation of Jeremiah Wright’s relationship with Sen. Barack Obama with Hagee’s endorsement of McCain. There is a substantive difference. While the Wright-Obama relationship has been established over decades of personal relationship, the Hagee-McCain nexus was sought by the McCain campaign to shore up McCain’s hawkish, conservative base.

Hagee is central to McCain’s base because of his founding of Christians United for Israel (, an organization inexplicably not mentioned in the segment. CUFI is dedicated to subverting any negotiation of a two-state settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, precisely because they believe military conflict over the Holy Land is necessary for Jesus to return. This return will involve the destruction of unbelievers, including Jews who do not then confess that Jesus is the Messiah. While your guest dismissed the possibility that Hagee and his ilk could shape US policy in the Middle East, Christian Zionists have proven willing accomplices in the hawkish policies of the Bush administration. Able to mobilize a large political bloc, Hagee’s is a pernicious political ideology masquerading as biblical theology. Luckily, the vast majority of Christians in North America do not adhere to views held by Hagee.

As deplorable as Hagee’s statements are regarding Hurricane Katrina, women, and the Roman Catholic Church, it is his vehement disregard for peacebuilding efforts in Israel/Palestine that should disqualify him as a worthwhile advocate. Politics makes for strange bedfellows. In pursuing and then not distancing himself from Hagee’s endorsement, however, Sen. McCain invites us to ponder whether he is in fact quite comfortable in Hagee’s arms.


Obama's Minister Committed "Treason" But When My Father Said the Same Thing He Was a Republican Hero

Frank Schaffer, The Huffington Post, March 16, 2008

When Senator Obama's preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father -- Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer -- denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr.

Every Sunday thousands of right wing white preachers (following in my father's footsteps) rail against America's sins from tens of thousands of pulpits. They tell us that America is complicit in the "murder of the unborn," has become "Sodom" by coddling gays, and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children. They say, as my dad often did, that we are, "under the judgment of God." They call America evil and warn of immanent destruction. By comparison Obama's minister's shouted "controversial" comments were mild. All he said was that God should damn America for our racism and violence and that no one had ever used the N-word about Hillary Clinton.

Dad and I were amongst the founders of the Religious right. In the 1970s and 1980s, while Dad and I crisscrossed America denouncing our nation's sins instead of getting in trouble we became darlings of the Republican Party. (This was while I was my father's sidekick before I dropped out of the evangelical movement altogether.) We were rewarded for our "stand" by people such as Congressman Jack Kemp, the Fords, Reagan and the Bush family. The top Republican leadership depended on preachers and agitators like us to energize their rank and file. No one called us un-American. Continue.

Adding Up The Race-Religion Math
Wright seen hurting Obama more than Hagee harming McCain. Is a double standard at play?

James Besser, The Jewish Week, March 19, 2008

Several polls this week indicated that Barack Obama’s controversial Chicago pastor is hurting his presidential campaign — a reality that prompted the candidate’s roll-of-the-dice speech on race in America on Tuesday. But there is no evidence Sen. John McCain’s relationship with another controversial cleric is having a similar impact — either in the polls or in the media.

While there are parallels in the controversies surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who Obama once described as a major influence on his spiritual life, and Pastor John Hagee, the apocalypse-minded televangelist who has endorsed McCain, there are also differences that offer clues about how an Obama-McCain general election contest might play out.

“Wright is a scary black guy arguing that America is bad,” said a prominent Jewish Democrat this week. “Hagee is a nutty-sounding white guy who thinks Armageddon is just around the corner, which is hard to take seriously if you’re not a believer.” Continue.

On Fox News Sunday, Kristol claimed Hagee and Parsley are "just individuals who've endorsed" McCain

Media Matters, March 23, 2008

On Fox News Sunday, when Bill Kristol was asked whether "it's fair" to compare "[Sen. John] McCain's, quote, 'ministers,' " John Hagee and Rod Parsley, "to [Sen. Barack] Obama's pastor," Kristol replied: "No, because these are just individuals who've endorsed Senator McCain." However, McCain stated in a joint appearance with Hagee that he was "very proud to have Pastor Hagee's support" and reportedly called Parsley a "spiritual guide." Continue.

It's Time to Kick Jesus Out of Politics

Nathaniel Hoffman, Alternet via Boise Weekly, March 19, 2008

Boise -- Every day at Idaho's temporary statehouse, broadcast over loud speakers, you can hear prayer. Sometimes it's the House chaplain recalling the travails of Daniel or perhaps dipping into a New Testament reflection. Or maybe it's the Senate's pastor asking for divine guidance in matters of state.

Every day we withhold our judgment until the amens are about to begin.

In the Senate last week it was, "... in the name of the great physician who came with healing in his hand." Continue.

It's still a question of Wright and wrong

Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe, March 19, 2008

I have known my rabbi for more than 20 years. The synagogue he serves as spiritual leader is one I have attended for a quarter-century. He officiated at my wedding and was present for the circumcision of each of my sons. Over the years, I have sought his advice on matters private and public, religious and secular. I have heard him speak from the pulpit more times than I can remember.

My relationship with my rabbi, in other words, is similar in many respects to Barack Obama's relationship with his longtime pastor, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright. But if my rabbi began delivering sermons as toxic, hate-filled, and anti-American as the diatribes Wright has preached at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, I wouldn't hesitate to demand that he be dismissed. Continue.

Obama addresses the race issue

Erin Roach, Baptist Press, March 19, 2008

After a short precis of Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama's March 18 speach and a recounting of his Pastor's remarks the article conveys the opinion of Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow for family empowerment with Family Research Council Action. Black well said, "those are the beliefs of liberation theology. Those are the offensive root beliefs underlying many of Rev. Wright's sermons. And though Barack Obama does not embrace Mr. Wright's offensive language, he does embrace this government-solves-everything-through-socialism worldview." Continue.

Culling Obama's Flock

Debra Saunders,, March 18, 2008

Conservatives ought to be careful before they insist that Barack Obama further renounce his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. This vicious guilt-by-association political game cuts both ways.

The left has used this game to marginalize conservatives. In 1993, the Rev. Eugene Lumpkin was fired from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission because he said he believed the Bible told him that "the homosexual lifestyle is an abomination against God." This year, critics called on GOP nominee John McCain to denounce supporter Pastor John Hagee, who called the Catholic Church "the great whore." Continue.