Parsley, Hagee, John McCain and Time
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue May 13, 2008 at 02:42:41 PM EST
The Wall Street Journal reports that controversial McCain backer John Hagee has apologized to Catholic leaders in person, and in a letter to crank conservative Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.  He has apologized for making classic anti-Catholic remarks in his books and sermons in which he has called the church the Biblicaly prophesized "great whore" depicted in the Book of Revelation; and that the church was complicit in the holocaust with Hitler. Donohue, who has a grim record of anti-Jewish, antigay and other repugnant views himself, has accepted Hagee's apology stating:  "This case is closed."
Not long ago, McCain declared that Hagee had nothing to apologize for.

I will say that he said that his words were taken out of context, he defends his position. I hope that maybe you'd give him a chance to respond. He says he has never been anti-Catholic, but I repudiate the words that create that impression.

Of course, McCain courted Hagee for more than a year before gaining the coveted endorsement, and has wanted to limit the damage to his campaign.

Now perhaps Hagee can apologize for his efforts to whip up war with Iran; and for his numerous anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim and anti-gay remarks, that are part of a host of extreme views and statements that each epitomize the worst, most dangerous features of the politics of the religious right. Unless of course, John McCain feels that he has nothing to apologize for.

The Journal wrote:

"Out of a desire to advance greater unity among Catholics and Evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful," Hagee wrote, according to an advanced copy of the letter reviewed by Washington Wire. "After engaging in constructive dialogue with Catholic friends and leaders, I now have an improved understanding of the Catholic Church, its relation to the Jewish faith, and the history of anti-Catholicism."

In the letter, addressed to Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League and one of Hagee's biggest critics, Hagee pledges "a greater level of compassion and respect for my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ."

Hagee met with 22 Catholic leaders in Washington, D.C. on Friday to apologize for his comments, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Despite the McCain's condemnation of Hagee's anti-Catholic remarks, the campaign had no role in that meeting or Tuesday's apology, according to the source who said it was something Hagee did because he felt it was necessary.

Donohue is expected to release a letter in response today, accepting Hagee's apology. The Catholic leader slammed both Hagee and McCain in February, releasing a statement titled "McCain Embraces Bigot."

"For the past few decades, [Hagee] has waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church," Donohue wrote then. The Catholic League also compiled a bullet-point list on things they object to about Hagee titled "Veteran Bigot."

Of course, veteran bigot Bill Donohue, as Frank Cocozzeli has pointed out often turns a blind eye to the anti-Catholicism of his religious right co-belligerants.

And then what about McCain backer, televangelist and religious right organizer Rod Parsely of Ohio?

The Columbia Journalsim Review wrote back in March that the media have pretty much given it a "free pass."

At a rally in late February, McCain appeared with Rod Parsley, the pastor of an Ohio mega-church, and called him a "spiritual guide."

Parsley has his own history of controversial statements. As David Corn reported this week for Mother Jones, Parsley has called for Christians to wage war against the "false religion" of Islam, in order to destroy it. He does not distinguish between Islamic extremists and ordinary Muslims. "What some call `extremists' are instead mainstream believers who are drawing from the well at the very heart of Islam," he has written.

And it's not just Muslims he's got it in for. Last year, Parsley's organization called for people who commit adultery to be prosecuted, and in January he compared Planned Parenthood to the Nazis.

And that, of course, is just for starters.

David Corn of Mother Jones magazine posted a video clip of Parsley and McCain under the title, McCain's Pastor Problem.  Parsley may be among the most dangerously, and demagogically anti-Muslim men in America, as Corn details in his article.

During a 2005 sermon, a fundamentalist pastor whom Senator John McCain has praised and campaigned with called Islam "the greatest religious enemy of our civilization and the world," claiming that the historic mission of America is to see "this false religion destroyed." In this taped sermon, currently sold by his megachurch, the Reverend Rod Parsley reiterates and amplifies harsh and derogatory comments about Islam he made in his book, Silent No More, published the same year he delivered these remarks. Meanwhile, McCain has stuck to his stance of not criticizing Parsley, an important political ally in a crucial swing state.

In the 2005 sermon, Parsley repeatedly blasts Islam. "It is not a God of love that is presented to those of the Islamic faith," he tells his parishioners. He notes that 9/11 was not "anything new," describing the terrorist attack as merely the latest battle in "a war between Islam and Christian civilization...raging for centuries." Speaking from the pulpit, and wiping sweat from his brow, Parsley exclaims,

I can't begin to tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam. That we see it for what it really is. In fact...I do not believe that our nation can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam...I know that this statement sounds extreme. But I am not shrinking back 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 no longer can afford to ignore.

The official sort of apology by Hagee and its immediate acceptance by Donohue, is a rather transparent effort to limit the many issues of religious and anti-gay bigotry and fear and war mongering by Hagee to one of one bigot forgiving another over anti-Catholicism.

It was a nice try. But I don't think it is going to work.    

Parsley repeatedly blasts Islam. "It is not a God of love that is presented to those of the Islamic faith," he tells his parishioners

What I hear from dominionists has nothing of Love in it at all- just the lust for power and the desire to get rid of the "Other".

Someone needs to tell Parsley that his words don't sound loving at all, and that he shouldn't be throwing rocks.

As far as Hagee and Donohue go, IMO they're "birds of a feather"- they only differ in the different names they use.

by ArchaeoBob on Tue May 13, 2008 at 03:53:04 PM EST

501c3 operations (churches and ancillary operations) ought to be interesting....

I still cannot believe that people give to excessively high-living pastors, and then say, oh, it's good that Pastor John has a 3500 sq ft new house and three BMWs. Not that I don't want clergy to be paid a reasonable wage, get health insurance, etc. But really, private airplanes and the like!

by NancyP on Tue May 13, 2008 at 05:59:19 PM EST

The anti Catholic remarks are the only ones that might hurt McCain among Republicans. The attacks on gays, Muslims, Planned Parenthood etc will most likely help him since no Republican can hope to win without the votes of religious right bigots who believe in all that stupidity. Other Republicans may not agree with such statements, but they won't keep them from supporting McCain. The only place this could cost him is among Democrats who consider switching, which is a much smaller group than the religious right. And since McCain isn't making these statements himself, he can play innocent while still gaining credibility with the religious right. Oddly enough, the whole Rev. Wright controversy may even assist him in this regard.

by Dave on Tue May 13, 2008 at 09:11:24 PM EST
that it may be because Rev. Wright is correct (Wright is right!) and most Americans don't like to face the fact that this country is racist in it's foundation and its core is still racist.

The Republicans especially don't like to admit that their ideology is wrong and that their goals are harmful to the majority of the population (not just minorities).

So when you have a Hagee or other bigot come along spouting stuff that supports the prejudices that most Americans carry in their hearts, they are far more likely to tolerate that then they would tolerate someone who tells them the truth in blunt language.

by ArchaeoBob on Wed May 14, 2008 at 10:45:08 AM EST

too many people are wise to Hagee and Donohue, and are going to keep making it an issue.

One bigot forgiving another is one of the biggest hokum circuses I have seen in quite some time.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu May 15, 2008 at 10:10:53 AM EST

recent events have proved me correct. I generally avoid making predictions. We need look no farther than the stupifying and embarassing record of most pundits, regardless of political orientation to see why it is silly to go too far out on a limb.

But this one was a slam dunk.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat May 24, 2008 at 03:29:20 PM EST

It strikes me, that at the core of the Christian right is an understanding that our God is a strong moralist, who looks for opportunity to punish, graciously however allowing his son to be punished on behalf of those who believe. Certainly many of the central facts of traditional gospel presentations are here, but it appears to me, that the essence of God is not the judge sitting on that white throne, unleashing the armies of vengence, but rather the God of spontanous laughter, mystery and love. The God who created the world and everything in it, who calls and designs us to be brothers, and our brother's keepers. Romans 12:19, speaks of vengeance belonging to God, and we see a policeman. How different if we see a parent involved in his children's disputes, telling the one believing himself the victum, " I'll take care of punishment, it's not your job. " Indeed the context of the passage makes it clear that this is it's thrust. Imagine a world where we understood a little TA , allowed God to be the parent, and we his children, but grew up and spoke to one another as adults.

by chaplain on Thu May 15, 2008 at 09:22:27 AM EST

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