News Release

The Influence of Hagee and Parsley

SARAH POSNER
Posner is author of the new book God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters. She said today: “Over the past 24 hours, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain rejected the endorsements of two charismatic evangelical televangelists, John Hagee and Rod Parsley, over controversial comments the two men have made.

“Since the televangelists endorsed McCain in late February, reports have surfaced about Hagee calling the Catholic Church the ‘great whore’ in the Book of Revelation, his remarks that God brought Hurricane Katrina as a punishment to New Orleans for holding a gay pride parade, and finally, this week, a decade-old sermon in which he said that God brought Hitler in order to drive the Jewish people to Israel to establish the Jewish state in fulfillment of biblical prophecy. McCain renounced Hagee’s endorsement late yesterday, and last night renounced Parsley’s as well over his stance that Islam is a ‘false religion’ that ‘must be destroyed.’

“Although McCain has appeared to take Hagee and Parsley out of the equation as issues in the presidential campaign, these two figures remain highly influential within two overlapping strands of American evangelicalism, the Word of Faith (or prosperity gospel) movement, and the Christian Zionist movement, as well as in politics. Their remarks about other religions and homosexuality merely scratch the surface of their controversial and disturbing views.

“The prosperity gospel promises God’s favor, including supernatural financial abundance, in exchange for ‘sowing a seed,’ or tithing to one’s pastor. Convincing their followers that not tithing is disobedience to God’s will that will result in living under a financial curse, these pastors take in millions yet operate their authoritarian churches without transparency or accountability, live in luxury homes and fly private jets. Many evangelicals consider the prosperity gospel to be heretical.

“Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, of which Parsley is a regional director, is the most influential Christian Zionist organization in the country, with close ties to the Bush administration and key members of Congress, former members of Congress, and policymakers. Some of the people scheduled to speak at CUFI’s upcoming July summit in Washington include Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), former Sen. Rick Santorum, now a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and New York Times columnist William Kristol. In past years, CUFI delegates have met with members of Congress of both parties, and Sen. Lieberman reportedly said recently that CUFI ‘changes the mood’ when it visits Capitol Hill.

“McCain’s rejection of these figures does not mean they are going away, and it is essential for the public to understand the role they play in our culture and politics.

Posner has been covering these issues for AlterNet and the American Prospect.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167