John Hagee is the president and senior pastor of the evangelical Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, the founder of the Evangelism Television (GETV) corporation, and the founder CEO of the Christian-Zionist lobbying organization Christians United for Israel. Often referred to as a "mega-church," Cornerstone is often marketed as having 19,000 members. Hagee is considered the most prominent living figure of the religious Right in the US and gained widespread attention when he supported John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. CUFI executive director David Brog admits that Hagee brought CUFI into existence with "[Jerry] Fallwell's active assistance."
Hagee uses CUFI to lobby congress towards pressuring Iran to halt its nuclear power programme, which it claims is a threat to Israel. However, many analysts argue that based on Hagee's actual arguments in his books and sermons, he and other Christian Zionists hope for a military confrontation with Iran:
- While Hagee has long prophesized about the end times, he ratcheted up his rhetoric this year with the publication of his book, "Jerusalem Countdown," in which he argues that a confrontation with Iran is a necessary precondition for Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. In the best-selling book, Hagee insists that the United States must join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West.
Hagee devotes many of his sermons to characterizing Iran as a great threat to Israel and the US, but concludes that it is Iran (and Russia) that will be "destroyed" after a military confrontation which will lead to Armageddon:
- According to the prophet ezekiel, russia and iran will form a coalition in the last days in an attempt to conquer israel. Please listen to what I just said. It will be an attempt that fails because I'm going to tell you the end of the story before I start the story because the media always gets this wrong. And many christians get it wrong. Iran and russia are going to be wiped out. It's not israel that gets destroyed. It's the enemies of israel that get destroyed.
Support for Israel
Hagee uses CUFI to argue for Christian support of Israel for biblical reasons, but has been criticized for supporting the Jewish people in Israel only to the extent that it will serve the end purpose of allow Christians into heaven after the battle of Armageddon:
- But CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers - Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. - must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation. Over a dozen CUFI members eagerly revealed to me their excitement at the prospect of Armageddon occurring tomorrow. Among the rapture ready was Republican Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. None of this seemed to matter to Lieberman, who delivered a long sermon hailing Hagee as nothing less than a modern-day Moses. Lieberman went on to describe Hagee's flock as "even greater than the multitude Moses commanded."
In 2008, Hagee was reported to have said: ‘Turning part or all of Jerusalem over to the Palestinians would be tantamount to turning it over to the Taliban.'
In 2014, Hagee stated that because US President Barack Obama did not accept the legitimacy of Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem, ‘God is watching and he will bring America into judgment,’ before adding that ‘There are grounds to say that judgment has already begun,’ citing the Ebola crisis in West Africa as an example.
In 2008 John McCain rejected Hagee's endorsement for his presidential candidacy after initially accepting it when it was discovered that in 1999 Hagee had publicly interpreted a biblical passage as evidence that Hitler's Holocaust was justified because it was part of God's plan to encourage world Jewry to settle in Israel.
- "Then god sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says -- Jeremiah writing -- 'They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the holes of the rocks,' meaning there's no place to hide. And that might be offensive to some people but don't let your heart be offended. I didn't write it, Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.
During McCain's 2008 presidential campaign a sermon from 2003 in which Hagee described the expected AntiChrist as partly Jewish and homosexual was criticized for promoting anti-semitic, homophobic views:
- On March 16, 2003, on the eve of the United States' invasion of Iraq, Pastor John Hagee took to the pulpit to warn of the coming Antichrist. In his sermon, "The Final Dictator," Hagee described the Antichrist as a seductive figure with "fierce features." He will be "a blasphemer and a homosexual," the pastor announced. Then, Hagee boomed, "There's a phrase in Scripture used solely to identify the Jewish people. It suggests that this man [the Antichrist] is at least going to be partially Jewish, as was Adolph Hitler, as was Karl Marx."
The Catholic Church
Hagee has also apologized for calling the Catholic Church a "great whore" but has never rejected the premise of his argument.
- Wielding a pointer, he pokes at the image of a woman with Pamela Anderson-sized breasts, her hand raising a golden chalice. The woman is “the Great Whore,” Mr. Hagee explains, and she is drinking “the blood of the Jewish people.” That’s because the Great Whore represents “the Roman Church,” which, in his view, has thirsted for Jewish blood throughout history, from the Crusades to the Holocaust.
In 2008 Hagee claimed that the people of New Orleans were forced to endure Hurricane Katrina because God was punishing them for their sins. Hagee apologized for the comments but never retracted them:
- On Tuesday, Hagee refused to disavow those comments. He told talk radio show host Dennis Prager, "What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God... . It was a city that was planning a sinful conduct.
Israeli Settlement Expansion
Lobbying US congress to support Israeli settlement expansion particularly in Jerusalem is one of the key goals of CUFI. Christian Zionists believe that the Jewish people's return to the "holy land" is a prerequisite for the return of the Messiah. This belief is often criticized for what it entails -- after Armageddon hits earth God will accept all deserving Christians into heaven. Jews that have not converted to Christianity will then perish with all other non-Christians:
- but the so-called “restorationist’’ Protestant concern for Jews was not truly friendly. Rather, the restored Jews were only to be instruments of the final triumph of Christianity. Jews again in Israel would be faced with the choice of conversion or damnation.
- “Israel exists because of a covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob 3,500 years ago — and that covenant still stands...World leaders do not have the authority to tell Israel and the Jewish people what they can and cannot do in the city of Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Hagee pledged $6 million in 2008 to various Israeli causes, including a conference centre in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. And according to J Street, a liberal Israel lobby group in Washington, CUFI has supported the settlements both politically and financially, even funding Im Tirtzu, a controversial fundamentalist Zionist organisation in Israel.
Although Hagee also donates to projects in Israel which are not directly related to settlement, he is known for channelling the bulk of his donations to right-wing Israeli settler groups:
- Hagee’s ceremony featured a 15-minute film highlighting the recipients of donations from John Hagee Ministries that totaled $58 million since 2001. The recipients included Jewish settlements from the West Bank like Gush Etzion and Shomron, which was involved in promoting an “Obama Hilltop project” that promoted more settlement building and compared Obama to Pharoah. Hagee also announced funding for a pressure group run by the settlers evacuated from Gush Katif in Gaza in 2005. During Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2009, a group of Gush Katif residents lobbied the Israel government to allow them to resettle the Palestinian coastal region.
US-Israel foreign policy analyst Richard Silverstein has also pointed out that Hagee funnels some of his donations through Israel lobby groups directed by neoconservatives:
- The Jewish Agency PR flack argued that the story of Hagee’s gift was “old news” because Didi Remez had reported it on his blog in February. What this conveniently ignores is that Didi did not know at the time that the gift was funneled to Israel via the Jewish Agency and Houston federation. That is BIG news. News that it is Rettig Gur’s job to minimize as insignificant...My trusty correspondent also takes humbrage that I’ve implicated his boss, Natan Sharansky, in the matter by mentioning him in my first post. I merely noted that Hagee would surely feel right at home trusting his money to be channeled through an agency directed by the Israeli neocon, Sharansky.
- The Invasion of Demons (1973)
- Like a cleansing fire (1974)
- The Beginning of the End (1996)
- Day of Deception (1997)
- Final Dawn Over Jerusalem (1998)
- His Glory Revealed (1999)
- From Daniel to Doomsday: The Countdown Has Begun (1999)
- God's Two-Minute Warning (2000)
- The Revelation of Truth (2000)
- The Battle For Jerusalem (2001)
- Attack On America New York, Jerusalem, And The Role Of Terrorism In The Last Days (2001)
- Avenger of Blood (2002)
- The Life Plan Study Bible: God's Keys to Personal Success (2004) - Editor
- The Seven Secrets: Unlocking Genuine Greatness (2004)
- Life Lessons to Live By: 52 Weeks of God's Keys to Personal Success (2005)
- Jerusalem Countdown (2005)
- What Every Man Wants In a Woman/What Every Woman Wants In a Man (2005) - Co-authored with wife, Diana Hagee.
- In Defense of Israel (2007)
- Financial Armageddon (2008)
- Christians United for Israel - Founder
- Jerry Falwell - Longtime friend and supporter
- B'nai B'rith - Hagee was awarded the "Humanitarian of the Year Award" by B'nai B'rith Council
- John Hagee Ministries - Trustee
- Neil Rubin, "Jewish Leader of Evangelicals", 'Baltimore 'Jewish Times, 28 July 2010
- David Brog, All Roads Lead to Jerusalem: The True Legacy of Dr. Jerry Falwell, OpEdNews, 1 June 2007
- Christians United for Israel, "Urgent -- Contact Congress Today to Stop Iran", CUFI website, accessed on 10 September 2010
- Sarah Posner, "Lobbying for Armageddon", Alternet, 3 August 2006
- John Hagee, "(1/2) John Hagee - A Nuclear Iran", YouTube, aired on 18 July 2010
- Christians United for Israel, "WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD SUPPORT ISRAEL", CUFI website, accessed on 10 September 2010
- Max Blumenthal, "Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israel Tour", Huffington Post, 26 July 2007
- Etgar Lefkovits, ‘Bibi: Christian Zionists our top friends’, The Jerusalem Post, 7 April 2008
- Kyle Mantyla, ‘John Hagee Says Ebola Is God's Judgment On America Because Obama Is Trying To Divide Israel’, Right Wing Watch, 15 October 2014
- Sam Stein, "McCain Backer Hagee Said Hitler Was Fulfilling God's Will (AUDIO", Huffington Post, 21 May 2008
- Laurie Goodstein, "Hagee Clarifies Holocaust Comments", New York Times, 13 June 2008
- Max Blumenthal, "Pastor Hagee: The Antichrist Is Gay, "Partially Jewish, As Was Adolph Hitler" (Paging Joe Lieberman!)", Huffington Post, 2 June 2008
- Frank Rich, "The All-White Elephant in the Room", New York Times, 4 May 2008
- Glenn Greenwald, "Some hateful, radical ministers -- white evangelicals -- are acceptable", Salon, 28 February 2008
- Don Frederick, "McCain backer John Hagee tempers Hurricane Katrina comments", Los Angeles Times, 26 April 2008
- CUFI Email Template, "Urge President Obama to end Crisis with Israel", CUFI Website, accessed on 7 September 2010
- David Krusch, "Christian Zionism", Jewish Virtual Library, accessed on 10 September 2010
- JAMES CARROLL, "Onward, Christian Zionists", Boston Globe, 23 August 2010
- BBC, [ "Jewish settlers in West Bank building curb protest"], BBC News, 9 December 2009
- Eric Westervelt, "Israeli Settlement Seeks Protection", NPR, accessed on 7 September 2010
- Richard Silverstein, "HAGEE’S GIFTS TO PRO-SETTLER GROUPS", Tikun Olam, 12 February 2010
- JIM RUTENBERG, MIKE McINTIRE and ETHAN BRONNER, "Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank", New York Times, 5 July 2010
- Etgar Lefkovits, 'Bibi: Christian Zionists our top friends', The Jerusalem Post, 7 April 2008
- J Street website J Street on Christians United for Israel. Accessed 13 October 2015.
- Max Blumenthal, [Netanyahu and Pastor Hagee’s Lovefest on Eve of Biden’s Arrival in Israel "http://maxblumenthal.com/2010/03/pastor-hagee-and-netanyahus-lovefest-on-eve-of-bidens-arrival-in-israel/"], Max Blumenthal Website, 9 March 2010
- Richard Silverstein, "JEWISH AGENCY PR FLACK DEFENDS HAGEE GIFT TO IM TIRZU", Tikun Olam, 21 August 2010
- CUFI, "John Hagee", Christians United for Israel, accessed on 11 December 2010