Rejecting Hagee and Parsley

May 29, 2008

There has been a lot of talk over the past week about John McCain's rejection of controversial preachers John Hagee and Rod Parsley. Some political analysts are arguing that by doing so, McCain has hurt his appeal to evangelicals. Doug Wead, a political consultant who helped both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush reach evangelicals, argued:

For McCain to have to repudiate these people is much worse than ever having their endorsement in the first place. ... If evangelical Christians feel this is an attack on them, even if they don't agree with Parsley and Hagee or follow them, it could galvanize them against McCain.
Really? Are these two controversial preachers really held in high regard by most evangelicals? If so, then that suggests there is a problem with the evangelical community. I thought it was a mistake for McCain's to work to gain these endorsements, and a drastic shift from 2000 when he criticized Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. However, one has to wonder why he cozied up to these preachers. If he did it thinking it would win him evangelical votes, then the real question is why do many evangelicals find these preachers credible despite outrageous and hateful rhetoric?

McCain's preacher problem may soon be behind him (and not as harmful as Jeremiah Wright was for Barack Obama), but it seems that the preacher problem for the evangelical community still needs to be addressed. It is time for us to reject preachers like Hagee and Parsley. Two years ago I dealt with problems with Hagee's rhetoric in an Ethics Daily column. I also briefly critiqued both preachers in my book (For God's Sake, Shut Up!). Hopefully, the recent media spotlight will teach both preachers to tone down their inappropriate rhetoric and be wiser with their words.