From The Boston Globe:
PHOENIX—John McCain is refusing to renounce the endorsement of a prominent Texas televangelist who Democrats say peddles anti-Catholic and other intolerant speech.
Instead, the Republican presidential candidate issued a statement Friday afternoon saying he had unspecified disagreements with the San Antonio megachurch leader, John Hagee. Hagee endorsed him at a news conference Wednesday in San Antonio.
“However, in no way did I intend for his endorsement to suggest that I in turn agree with all of Pastor Hagee’s views, which I obviously do not,” McCain said in the statement.
His campaign issued the statement after two days of criticism from the Democratic National Committee, the Catholic League and Catholics United.
(Please read the name of the movie with as much annoyance as possible, as in–Oy!! Constantly with the cross! Enough already!)
Original DVD cover.
Democrats quoted Hagee as saying the Catholic Church conspired with Nazis against the Jews and that Hurricane Katrina was God’s retribution for homosexual sin, and they recited his demeaning comments about women and flip remarks about slavery.
McCain was pressed on the issue Friday morning in Round Rock, Texas. Hagee “supports what I stand for and believe in,” McCain said.
“When he endorses me, that does not mean that I endorse everything that he stands for and believes in,” McCain said. “I don’t have to agree with everyone who endorses my campaign.”
He added that he was “proud” of Hagee’s spiritual leadership of his congregation at the 17,000-member Cornerstone Church.
From The Guardian:
US Catholic groups on the left and right are chastising John McCain today for touting his endorsement from an evangelical preacher who has called the church a “false cult” and “the great whore”.
McCain campaigned this week with John Hagee, leader of a 17,000-member Texas mega-church and a stalwart supporter of Israel. The likely Republican nominee said he was proud to win Hagee’s nod, an undeniable boost as McCain courts sceptical evangelical voters.
But in the process of wooing Christian support, McCain appears to have alienated Catholics. The conservative US Catholic League, which boasts more than 350,000 members, urged the Arizona senator to reject Hagee and noted that the preacher has accused Catholics of enabling the Holocaust.
“There are plenty of staunch evangelical leaders who are pro-Israel, but are not anti-Catholic,” William Donohue, the league’s president, said in a statement. “John Hagee is not one of them.”
A more left-leaning US Catholic group, Catholics United, also pressed McCain to distance himself from Hagee.
“By receiving the endorsement of an outspoken critic of the Catholic church, McCain once again demonstrates that he is willing to sell out his principles for a chance to win the presidency,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United.
McCain also campaigned in Ohio this week with Rod Parsley, a television evangelist who leads a group called the Centre for Moral Clarity. McCain called Parsley — who has suggested that adulterers should be prosecuted and compared members of the abortion-rights group Planned Parenthood to Nazis — a “spiritual guide”.
From Glenn Greenwald at Salon, interview with William Donohue:
Among the many groups which McCain’s new associate has targeted for hateful bigotry are Catholics. As a result, The Catholic League today issued a statement — entitled “McCain Embraces Bigot” — which pointed out that Hagee:
has waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church. For example, he likes calling it “The Great Whore,” an “apostate church,” the “anti-Christ,” and a “false cult system.”
In the interview, Donohue made some extraordinary statements. He compared Hagee both to Louis Farrakhan and Bob Jones, but noted: “Hagee is far more powerful than Farrakhan is today. . . . Hagee is a major player. There’s no end to his money. He has an empire down there.” Regarding the intense 2000 media controversy when then-Gov. George Bush spoke at Bob Jones University, Donohue said:
Why were they so exercised about Bob Jones? This is worse. . . . If someone said to me: who is the biggest anti-Catholic bigot in the evangelical community, I would say: hands down, John Hagee.
According to Donohue, Hagee has “made a lot of money off bashing the Catholic Church and blames Catholics for the Holocaust.” What does it say about McCain that he would embrace such a figure? “This doesn’t speak well for him. He’s tolerating an endorsement by an inveterate bigot, and it’s been brought to his attention.”
Donohue was particularly insistent that McCain’s behavior would severely harm his standing with Catholic voters — the group of voters which Karl Rove maintains is the key group for enabling the GOP to win: “This thing seems to be to be blowing up in his face. McCain has stepped in it big time.”
And Donohue further vowed:
He’s not going to get away with this with the Catholic community. . . . We’re going to get this out to the Catholic community and Catholic press around the country. . . . We’re going to ride this out and see how far he wants to talk about this.