Posts Tagged ‘Christian Zionists’


CUFI Leader John Hagee confirms Christian Zionism is anti-Semitic

Ben Norton

Evangelical pastor John Hagee, the leader of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the US’ largest pro-Israel organization and the most powerful group in the Christian Zionist movement, has adamantly insisted that Christian Zionism is anti-Semitic.

WorldNetDaily (WND), a far-right website published an article in March 2015 about the “Blood Moon Prophecy,” an end-of-times theory that lunar eclipses are a sign that the world is on the brink of destruction and that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is near. The lengthy piece is about Hagee’s film Four Blood Moons, which endorses the eschatological theory. Toward the end of the article, WND quotes a spokesperson for Hagee:

“WND falsely claimed that Hagee does not believe that Jews need Jesus to be saved. In fact, Hagee never made such a claim and years ago directly denied assertions that he holds a dual-covenant theology,” he wrote. “In addition, while WND acknowledges that Hagee rewrote sections of ‘In Defense of Israel’ to clarify his relevant position, WND failed to note that the associated video promotion was also changed to accurately reflect his theology.”

Translated: WND claimed that Hagee believed the Jewish people could be saved by God without abandoning Judaism and converting to Christianity. Apocalyptic Christian Zionist John Hagee censured the publication for spreading a lie and defensively clarified that he does indeed believe that the Jewish people are going to burn in Hell for all of eternity unless they abandon Judaism and convert to Christianity.

In short, Hagee firmly insisted that Christian Zionism is anti-Semitic, and that the reason CUFI so obsessively and blindly defends Israel is not because they care about Jews (who, in their mind, will face eternal damnation unless they renounce their religion and become Christians) but rather because they genuinely believe the world is on the verge of total annihilation and the Bible supposedly tells them they must do so.

Christian Zionism

Christian Zionism is the belief that God gave the Jewish people the land of Israel in historic Palestine. Christian Zionists hold that this is part of a biblical prophecy, and is a necessary prerequisite before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the ensuing Day of Judgment.

This is not a view shared by all Christians, yet is very common among Evangelicals and conservative Protestants. In recent years, it has gained prominence in the US, particularly in the Bible Belt. A late 2013 Pew Research study found 82% of white evangelical Christians in the US believed God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people, while only 40% of US Jews believed the same.

John Hagee is the leader of CUFI, the most powerful Christian Zionist organization in the US, and likely in the entire world.

Some Jewish and Zionist organizations have criticized Hagee and the Christian Zionist movement. Eric Yoffie, former president of the Union for Reform Judaism, publicly proclaimed that, vis-à-vis “Israeli-Palestinian politics, John Hagee and the CUFI are extremists.” Yoffie “called for Reform congregations to not participate in CUFI’s events and to continue to call for public condemnation of inflammatory and bigoted statements from Christian Zionist leadership.”

Many Jewish and Zionist organizations, however, see Hagee and CUFI as important allies. At the CUFI 2013 Summit, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations—a coalition of 51 US Jewish groups, including some of the most prominent—voiced support of biblical Christian Zionist prophecies. “The prophets were not prophets of doom but prophets of hope; you just have to read it right,” he told them. “Here’s my advice: Don’t bet against the Jews. And the ‘Jewish lobby’ is a myth, but it’s our job to make it a legend.”

Israel itself has been more than happy to support CUFI. Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the US, spoke glowingly of the organization at its 2014 summit. Prime Minister Netanyahu has also enthusiastically supported the group, and has spoken at several of their annual summits.

Hagee’s History of Extreme Views

Hagee, who thinks we are the last generation of humans, is no stranger to controversy. In late 2014, he claimed that Ebola (along with the civil rights protests in Ferguson and elsewhere) was God’s way of “punishing” America, because Obama was trying to “divide” Israel.

The pastor has even gone so far as to essentially defend Adolf Hitler.  In a 2005 sermon, Hagee asserted that God sent Hitler as a “hunter,” in order to “hunt them [Jews] from every mountain and from every hill and out of the holes of the rocks … to get them to come back to the land of Israel.”

Once again, these are the views of the leader of, in CUFI’s own words, “the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States with over two million members and one of the leading Christian grassroots movements in the world.”

The Washington Post indicates that CUFI “can boast that it has members from every congressional district in America.” Foreign Policy included John Hagee in its list of the 50 Republicans with the most influence on foreign policy. The evangelical Christian Zionist was a much sought-after figure by the Republican Party in the 2008 presidential election. He ended up endorsing John McCain.

WND’s founder and CEO Joseph Farah responded positively to Hagee’s firm insistence on his Christianity-rooted anti-Semitism. “I’m happy to hear that Hagee no longer subscribes to those anti-biblical positions,” he said. “But we never asserted what Hagee believes, only what he said on videotape. I’m gratified he has repudiated all of that. It’s time for him to clean up another mess.”

Like Hagee, Farah resolutely maintains that Christian Zionism is, in its very essence, an anti-Semitic ideology, as, in his view, it is an “anti-biblical position” to claim that Jews are not automatically damned to eternal suffering in a lake of fire merely by virtue of their being Jewish.

 


Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

By Jay Michaelson

Evangelicals & ISIS Feel Fine About the End of the World

End Times prophecies for Evangelical and the Islamic State are eerily similar. God help us if they ever become self-fulfilling.

What if two mortal enemies both wanted a cataclysmic, world-ending battle, at roughly the same time, in roughly the same place?

Can you say “self-fulfilling prophecy”?

As Americans become better acquainted with the apocalyptic beliefs of the Islamic State, thanks to a spate of recent presentations of them, it’s worth noting that there are end-timers on our side as well: over three-quarters of U.S. evangelicals believe we’re living in the End Times right now. And while evangelical millennialists are not calling the military shots at the moment, their prophecies align in potentially terrifying ways with those of our enemy.

ISIS, as Graeme Wood unveiled in The Atlantic recently, is an apocalyptic death cult. It is Aum Shinrikyu and the Branch Davidians, but with machine guns, brutality, and a swath of territory with 8 million people living in it.

(Many have criticized Wood’s article, but only that it does not emphasize enough that there are many other streams of Islam, that ISIS’s brand is on the fringe, and that there are alternatives to Wood’s literalistic reading of the Koran. Which is fine—and says nothing about his analysis of ISIS itself.)

ISIS’s “prophetic methodology” (Wood’s translation) involves not just a revanchist revival of slavery, crucifixion, and excommunication but also the reestablishment of a territorial caliphate that is necessary for the coming of the Mahdi, the messiah. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is said to be the eighth of twelve caliphs—which may mean that Armageddon will not take place for another few decades, or that the caliphs’ reigns may be short.

Wood proposes that ISIS’s military strategy is driven by millenialist zeal. The capture of the Syrian town of Dabiq, for example, was heralded as a great victory not because it is strategically important (it isn’t) but because it is prophesized as the place of the final battle. Just like Megiddo, the plain in Northern Israel that gives Armageddon its name.

Dabiq is also the name of the Islamic State’s newsletter.

The specific prophecy is that the armies of “Rome” (in Islam and Judaism, Rome is a euphemism for Christianity—though some experts say it may be a stand-in for the Byzantine empire, or infidels more generally) will come to Dabiq, and lose in a great battle. Then, the victorious caliphate will expand.

But things will not go smoothly. The dajjal, an Antichrist-like figure, will arise from Persia—conveniently, ISIS’s current nemesis, Iran—and defeat most of the caliphate. The remainder will retreat to, you guessed it, Jerusalem.

And then? Remarkably, the figure who will save the caliphate is none other than Jesus, who will kill the dajjal and enable the caliphate to re-form.

This may sound familiar—because it is. It is very close to the Christian apocalyptic narrative. Indeed, as a student of millennialism for some time (my dissertation was on a false messiah), it was shocking to see the congruence between the Islamic State’s vision of the End Times and that of evangelical Christianity: a large battle somewhere north to northeast of Jerusalem, a final battle in Jerusalem with the near-defeat of the heroic believers by an Antichrist figure, and then Jesus appearing from heaven to win the battle once and for all.

It was shocking to see the congruence between the Islamic State’s vision of the End Times and that of evangelical Christianity.

A recent post on one End-Times site, raptureready.com, noticed and endorsed this alignment. It describes the period between the battle of Dabiq and the battle of Jerusalem as “a time of warning,” similar to the Great Tribulation in Christian theology. Dabiq itself is close to Damascus, about which Isaiah 17:1 prophesized, “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.” (Especially if ‘Damascus’ is interpreted as a metonym for Syria in general.)

There are many reasons for these alignments. Islam and Christianity have long drawn on one another’s ideas, even when they are superficially antagonistic. There may also be something archetypal about the millennial narrative: the evil forces come close, they are defeated, but then they emerge stronger, until finally supernatural help arrives.

Or, of course, they may be right. I don’t mean that ascetic visionaries in the 3rd or 10th centuries actually predicted the 21st—but if enough people believe that a particular narrative is true, it can become true. Especially if those are the people with the guns.

Evangelical-led Christian Zionism has already had a substantive impact on U.S. policy, and has been driven by theological propositions. Congressman Dan Webster (R-Fla.) said in 2011 that if “we stop helping Israel, we lose God’s hand and we’re in big time trouble.” Christian Zionists point to Genesis 12:3, in which God tells Israel, “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.” With Judgment Day nigh, it’s best to be on the right side.

But what “blessing” Israel means has a very specific meaning, and a very specific endgame. Christians United for Israel, led by Pastor John Hagee, has long pushed a hard-right agenda when it comes to Israel. This week, for example, its website features a pop-up saying “Bibi Did His Job. Now We Must Do Ours.”

Hagee has put his money where his mouth is. Since 2001, the John Hagee Foundation has donated over $58 million to hard-right Israeli organizations, including settlements and Im Tirtzu, a extreme nationalist group which has depicted liberal Knesset member Naomi Chazan with horns, helped pass anti-NGO laws in Israel, and led a years-long campaign against the liberal New Israel Fund.

And, of course, Christian Zionists have paid millions of dollars for Jews to immigrate to Israel, on the belief that at least half of world Jewry must be in the Land of Israel for the End Times to proceed. Last October, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the largest evangelical Christian organizational supporter of Israel (annual budget, $111 million) even announced that it would set up its own immigration program, in competition with the Jewish Agency.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Jewish Daily Forward that such efforts are “ for their own salvation, not for Jewish salvation, it’s so they will see the second coming of the messiah.” Foxman added, “a campaign of Christians to send Jews to Israel is morally offensive.”

That may be, but it is also a billion-dollar business, and a popular one: over 60 percent of white Evangelicals believe that the State of Israel fulfills a prophecy about the Second Coming. In this view, Jews living in Israel will catalyze the End Times, culminating in a huge battle with the forces of evil—first in Northern Israel or Syria, and then in Jerusalem itself. A very similar goal to that of the Islamic State.

Of course, there the comparisons end. Christians United for Israel cannot be compared with ISIS. They may share a millennial view of the near future, but CUFI is not executing, torturing, beheading, or enslaving anyone. Christian Zionists are not building a theocracy. And while they can boast of many high-level allies in the Republican elite, most of those favoring a stepped-up military campaign with ISIS are foreign policy hawks, not messianic crazies.

But the crazies are out there, not on the fringe, but in CPAC, AIPAC, and the Republican establishment. And they are numerous. Seventy-seven percent of U.S. evangelicals believe we are living in the End Times, as do 40 percent of all Americans. They are avidly proselytizing not just to save the rest of us from sin—but also to save us from the tribulations that are imminent.

That America has twice been at war against Babylon (ancient Babylon’s ruins are adjacent to Saddam Hussein’s former summer palace) added fuel to the fire. Now, we find ourselves on the brink of yet a third war there.

But this time is different. When it comes to apocalyptic warfare, it takes two to tango. And now, apocalyptic Christian Zionists have found their perfect partners: a savage, bloody cult that wants to drag “Rome” into war and is doing everything possible to provoke it. God help us if both sides decide to dance.


The Religious Right habitually camouflages it’s nefarious Christian Nationalist Worldview behind a phoney “pro-Israel” facade.

Religious fanatic John Hagee believes god sent Hitler to exterminate Jews and thus, as act and prophetic directive of his god, obviously a righteous and just genocide.

Like Catholic Hitler, John Hagee believes that unless Jews are converted to his Christ, they will be eradicated in the fires of hell that is, their final annihilation.

One has to wonder how even certain Right Wing Jews can be so utterly blind and continue support a religious buffoon who considers the destruction of Jews an inexorable, righteous and prophetic dictate — of his
psychopathic god?!