Hagee's Howler
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 07:49:36 PM EST
In the March 25, 2008 edition of The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby asked whether or not megachurch televangelist and John McCain backer John Hagee actually described the Catholic Church as "the great whore."

Somerby raises some valid concerns about the accuracy of liberal blogs on this accusation, and perhaps more importantly whether we should be echoing the complaints of bloviators such as the Catholic League's Bill Donohue.  But the truth is that Donohue was correct --  Hagee had indeed issued a howler.

Bob Somerby's web site, Daily Howler, should be required reading for every liberal.  Monday through Friday, Somerby provides commentary on the sad state of today's mainstream media.  He focuses in particular on the ineptitute of many so-called "liberal" members of the press -- such as Maureen Dowd, Chris Matthews and Frank Rich, to name a few.  He shows how they often act as if liberalism were a form of self-entertainment for foppish individuals such as themselves rather than as a practical means of bringing about self-sufficiency and individual, but socially responsible liberty.

In his March 21st , March 24th and March 25th posts, Somerby turned his attention to Hillary's relationship with the Family and John Hagee's alleged anti-Catholicism. With regard to Hillary, he mentioned that Kathryn Joyce's and Jeff Sharlet's Mother Jones article was well worth reading, but rightly panned Barbara Ehrenreich's inane Huffington Post piece. He then made this astute observation on the recent raucous over John Hagee:

In this matter, we liberals are now taking talking points from Democrat-bashing public ranter William Donohue, the excitable head of the Catholic League. But Donahue's claims are often bogus, and we've been unable to find a clear source for his most colorful claim-the claim that Hagee has called the Catholic Church "the great whore." In Donohue's press releases, he has cited this remarkable YouTube clip  as the source for his colorful charge. We strongly suggest that you watch it, if only to ponder how strange Hagee's presentation is. But we'll admit, we don't have the slightest idea whether Hagee is calling the Catholic Church "the great whore" in this short sermon clip. Hagee told [Sunday New York Times Magazine reporter Deborah] Solomon that this charge is wrong. Again, Solomon made no attempt to evaluate this claim, and we don't really know how to judge it.

As we've read liberal posts on this matter, we've been struck by several things. First, we've seen many people citing Donohue's "great whore" claim-but we've found no one providing an actual quotation from Hagee. (Wikipedia can't even nail this one down. You know what to do-just click here.) In our view, based on a decade of work, making thunderous claims based on this kind of evidence is a good way to do bad journalism-and bad progressive politics.

Somerby raises a good point. Earlier this week Fred Clarkson and I discussed the Howler posts via E-mail. As Fred pointed out, it is often be hard, even for otherwise well-informed people to get the breadth and depth of the meaning of seemingly obscure references from the Book of Revelation.

On the face of it, Hagee has left himself just enough wiggle room for deniability-that is his video statements are not put within the context of his past writings. As I observed in a post from March 2007:

At page 114 of his recent book Jerusalem Countdown, he states:

Anti-Semitism is sin, and as sin, it damns the soul. Most readers will be shocked by the clear record of history linking Adolph Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews.

But if anti-Semitism is a sin, isn't anti-Catholicism? At page 116 he declares:

Nazi legality was immensely strengthened by the Concordant with the Vatican (July 20 1933), an agreement that the Catholic Church had refused to give the previous Weimer Republic. Hitler described the Concordant of Collaboration as an "unrestricted acceptance of national socialism by the Vatican."

Hagee clearly mischaracterizes the intended parameters of the 1933 Concordant with the Reich. First and foremost, the document was never defined by the Vatican as "Concordant of Collaboration:" that appears to be a description invented by Hagee. As Robert Krieg wrote in the Jesuit journal America:

Pius XI and Cardinal Pacelli (later Pius XII) judged that their first duty was to secure civil guarantees for the autonomy of ecclesiastical institutions and their activities. After the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918, the Holy See had tried to sign a concordat with the Weimar Republic but did not succeed. The sticking point was the church's insistence on state support for Catholic schools and for Catholic religious instruction in the public schools. This stipulation was not acceptable to Weimar's parliament, especially to its Socialists, who held that it violated the separation between church and state. As the Vatican's nuncio to Bavaria (1917-20) and then to the Weimar Republic (1920-29), Eugenio Pacelli had arranged concordats with individual German states-namely with Bavaria in 1925, Prussia in 1929 and Baden in 1932. Given this history, Pius XI and Pacelli had reason to be pleased when Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen came to Rome on April 7, 1933, to negotiate a concordat with the Reich's new government.

There is a history to this kind of virulent anti-Catholicism and that it lives on in the work of many apocalyptically minded fundamentalists such as Hagee. For them, the code words the whore of Babylon, found anywhere near a discussion of the Catholic Church, make perfect sense and require no explanation. It is this hateful conspiracy theory that animates many in the Hagee wing of the religious right.

Somerby was on the right track by doing a Wikipedia search, focusing on John Hagee. But that is not where the answer is to be found. I went one step further and did a Wikipedia search for whore of Babylon and found the answer under the subheading of "Catholic Church":

Most Reformation writers and all Reformers themselves, from Martin Luther (who wrote On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church), John Calvin, and John Knox (who wrote The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women) identify the Roman Catholic Church with the Whore of Babylon.[3] This opinion influenced several generations in England and Scotland when it was put into the 1599 edition of the Geneva Bible.

Identification of the Pope as the Antichrist was written into Protestant creeds such as the Westminster Confession of 1646. The identification of the Roman Catholic Church with the Whore of Babylon is kept in the Scofield Reference Bible (whose 1917 edition identified "ecclesiastical Babylon" with "apostate Christendom headed by the Papacy") and pro-Reformation writings such as those of I.M. Haldeman, and it is kept alive by contemporary figures such as Ian Paisley and Jack Chick. The "drunkenness with the blood of saints and martyrs," by this interpretation, refers to the veneration of saints and relics and the Sunday sacredness, which is viewed by Reformers as idolatry and apostasy. Some Protestants commonly used the phrase "Whore of Babylon" to refer to the Roman Catholic Church.

When we apply this knowledge to the language Hagee uses in the infamous Youtube video-references to "the blood of the Jewish people" in relation to the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Holocaust--it is easy to see that Hagee clearly has Catholicism in mind when he talks about the great whore.

As I said in a recent post, Donohue got it half right. Based on his past behavior I speculated that part and parcel of Donohue's complaint is a dislike of Arizona Senator John McCain and his deviations from religious right orthodoxy on such issues as embryonic stem cell research and global warming. Although no one can read Donohue's mind, it is not difficult to imagine that the Catholic League president is looking past this November and instead to 2012.

But in closing, I for one am grateful to Bob Somerby. He reminded us not to act like the crackpots we so abhor, but instead to do them one better by presenting the best evidence possible.

Thanks Bob.

That is what Somerby did here. In fact, that's what he excels at. It is exactly why I don't miss one of his posts--and neither should you.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 07:51:00 PM EST

The language fits what I would expect from Hagee, but I don't think Screamin' Bill's motives are entirely unimpeachable either.

by khughes1963 on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 09:59:31 PM EST
Neither should surprise us.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 09:38:50 AM EST

Since I was a teenager in the 50s it was pretty standard practice for biblical dispensasionalists to look up from their Schofield Bibles and refer to the Roman Catholic Church as the Great Whore that sits on 7 hills meaning Rome.

There is NO doubt in my mind Hagee called the Roman Catholic Church the Great Whore!

by JerrySloan on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:33:21 AM EST

Thanks Jerry for that personal note. Somerby, like me, was raised Catholic. As such, we wouldn't ordinarily be aware of that belief. But the again, I can't speak for him on that point. Maybe he is aware of that; I just don't know.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 09:44:36 AM EST
Hagee has also slammed the Catholic Church, it seems, from his pulpit and at "Night To Honor Israel" events:

[ John Hagee Ministries  March/April 2001 Vol. 13, No. 2.]


This is not pleasant, but America needs to hear it. Let's walk through world and Church history one bloody, brutal page at a time. All of the early followers of Jesus were Jewish. Then God did a shocking thing in Acts 10. He gave Peter a vision of a sheet with unclean animals (representing Gentiles), and told Peter to go to the house of Cornelius who was a Gentile and preach the Gospel. When Peter preached, many were saved and Spirit - filled, and Gentiles began to flood into the church.

Then in 70 A.D., the Roman army attacked Jerusalem. Titus laid siege to the city in a terrible massacre. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and there was terrible starvation. Although the Jews fought fiercely, the Romans slaughtered 1.1 million Jews. Hating the Jews for their resistance, Titus took 97,000 men as prisoners back to Rome. There the Jewish slaves built the Roman Coliseum, where Christians were slaughtered.

When the Gentile believers in Jerusalem saw the invading Roman army, they said, "This is not our fight. We're not Jews." They fled to Antioch. In Acts 11:26, we see, "They were first called Christians at Antioch." Titus and the Roman army returned to Rome, seething with hatred toward the Jews. Later, when the political government of Rome merged with the Church, under Constantine, in one day Christianity was saturated with idols and images. The great whore of Revelation 17 was born. And so was Christian anti - Semitism.

A Roman Church leader, St. John Chrysostom, announced to the world: "The Jews are the killers of Christ. God hates you and I hate you!" This venom rang in the ears of Christians for 1600 years. Some are still poisoned by its venomous hatred in America today.

The facts of what happened to the Jews at the hands of Christians are shocking. There were seven major crusades. During the first one which left Germany in 1096, 12,000 Jews were slaughtered in three months as the "Knights of the Cross" screamed, "The Jews have killed our Savior." When they entered Jerusalem in 1099 under Godfrey, 969 Jewish men, women, and children ran for safety into the synagogue. The crusaders locked the doors and set the synagogue on fire. As the people burned, the crusaders sang together joyously, "Christ, we adore thee." Then came the Inquisition! Jews accused of heresy were tortured by the

The eyes of God and the eyes of the world are focused on the city of Jerusalem. Why is this city so important? Because every prophet in the Old Testament prophesied that Jerusalem would be the stumbling stone of the nations. Whoever solves the Jerusalem dilemma will be recognized as the new Caesar of the world. The battle for Jerusalem has begun. God the Father wants Jerusalem for the throne of His Son Jesus Christ to rule the earth during the millennial reign. Satan (who deceives by imitating the Father) wants Jerusalem as the throne for his messiah - the Antichrist. The stage is set for the Antichrist's appearing and he will solve the Jerusalem dilemma. The urgency for every believer is this: before the Antichrist appears, the Church must be raptured. This means that Jesus could appear any minute! Are you ready? This exciting series races you toward the coming of Jesus Christ in the clouds of heaven with an urgent message to believers and unbelievers alike. ARE YOU READY?

Roman Church in unthinkable ways. People were pulled in half on the rack. Their heads were put in a vise with the screws turned slowly until the skull exploded. Other forms of death and torture devised by the Church were even more gruesome. In fact, noted historian John Toland said, "The black - clad Nazi SS was constructed on Jesuit principles by copying the methods of Ignatius Loyola." Last year, when the Pope asked the world's forgiveness for what the Church had done in its past, it was courageous...and necessary! The theology of the Roman Church led to the Holocaust! The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 declared that the Jews must wear distinctive clothing - Hitler's Star of David. They could not own property - a justification for Hitler's confiscation of Jewish property and Kristall Nacht. Jews were forced to live in ghettos by the Church. Hitler did the same thing. Jews were killed in mass extermination as "heretics"; and Hitler produced the Final Solution where six million Jews were systematically slaughtered!

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 10:52:49 PM EST
Hagee's paragraph 3 is not only pure BS, but it takes a book's worth of events/time and condenses it into a few sentences that mislead (and flat-out distort).

I heard much of the same stuff when I was an AoG cult member.  In fact, I'm having (and had) to relearn much of history because of their lies and distortions!

I'd like to see a REAL Biblical historian tear that down, Bruce.  I would be interested in learning the truth behind some of the other things I read there- what was actually said or done.  I've read enough to know that the 3rd paragraph is nonsense- and most of the rest of what he wrote doesn't jive with what I've read from, shall we say, more reliable sources.

(I will say one thing, though- unlike others I've heard, he's not friendly to Hitler!)

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 12:12:55 AM EST

Bravo, Bravo!!!

by Frank Cocozzelli on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 07:38:24 AM EST

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