Hagee's War

July 24, 2006

Sarah Posner has a very detailed article on John Hagee, who recently led a conference encouraging the U.S. to support Israel in killing lots of people. If that were not disturbing enough, she reveals some other things about him that should undermine his credibility as a Christian leader. Here are some highlights of the long article:

Now 66 years old, the ambitious preacher divorced his first wife 30 years ago when their children were ages 3 and 6, and less than six months later married his second wife, who happened to be 12 years his junior. Despite this apparent moral lapse, other evangelicals have long looked to him for guidance.

... According to his organization’s tax returns, Hagee has earned more than $1 million annually since 1999 in salary and deferred compensation from his nonprofit Global Evangelism Television and Cornerstone Church. In 2004, the San Antonio News Express reported that he was the highest-paid nonprofit executive in that city; his pay was nearly twice that of the next best-paid executive.

... Last March, he claimed that within a month, “Iran will have the nuclear -- the enriched uranium to make the -- have the nuclear capability to make a bomb, a suitcase bomb, a missile head, or anything they want to do with it.” That statement is blatantly false, even according to the most pessimistic assessments of Iran’s nuclear prowess, but Hagee’s purpose is to frighten his listeners, not to inform them.

... He paints Russia and China -- two members of the Security Council resisting sanctions on Iran -- as America’s enemies, adding that Russia has helped Iran build long-range missiles that could reach New York City. (Those don’t exist, either.)

... The same verse he uses to argue that America should unconditionally back Israel (“I will curse him who curses you.”), he also cites to explain why Christians should love the Jewish people (“I will bless those who bless you.”). During TBN’s April “Praise-a-Thon,” he invoked that verse for yet a third reason: to urge viewers to give their money to the network. Hagee told his viewers that “[g]iving is the only proof you have that the cancer of greed has not consumed your soul.”
Wild and scary stuff here! Hagee seems like a questionable man to follow on issues as important as biblical interpretation or Middle East conflict. Not only does he have moral problems in his past, but he has some wild and questionable theology that is hard to support. Meanwhile he preaches about avoiding "the cancer of greed" while making himself rich.

The Middle East has enough problems without Hagee jumping in and adding another level of ideological rhetoric. Rather than urging warfare and doing his best to pick a fight, perhaps he should "pray for the peace of Jerusalem." Hagee and his followers may not recognize that quotation with their End Times blinders on, but it is a biblical command found in Psalm 122:6.

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