Tuesday, May 08, 2007

John Hagee and the Congresswoman

Pastor John Hagee, recently buoyed by his address to AIPAC is holding events called "A Night to Honor Israel." I am distressed that many of my Jewish colleagues who know better are taken in by this duplicitous Israel-phile. His theology calls for nothing less than the conversion of all Jews, he is against a two-state solution, he calls for a nulear attack against Iran and his rhetoric is bigotted and hatefilled, the kind that Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League has always stood firmly against.

The Jewish Week columnist James D. Besser addresses this question in his column last week, entitled "Growing Acceptance Seen of Fiery Pastor."

At the end of his article, Besser quotes Rabbi Dov Beliak, founder of a website -- JewsOnFirst -- that battles the religious right, "I am deliberately putting this in very harsh language. Many Christian Zionists share with the Nazis the paranoid idea that Jews and Judaism are the central actors in the world. And both seek the ultimate dismantling of Judaism and the Jewish faith -- the Nazis through murder, the Christian Zionists through our 'redemption.' Why would we cooperate in our own undoing? Why would we work with people who want us to disappear as a people?"

Good question, Rabbi Beliak!

Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCullum wrote a well-crafted letter declining her invitation to "A Night to Honor Israel." All of us Christians and Jews will do well to take her objections seriously.

April 25, 2007

Pastor James M. (Mac) Hammond
Living Word Christian Church
9201- 75th Avenue North
Brooklyn Park, MN 55428

Dear Pastor Hammond:

A letter of invitation to your church's April 29th event, "A Night to Honor Israel," was received in my St. Paul office. In response, I am writing to inform you that I must decline the invitation.
Your event and events like it are "being coordinated and conducted around the country by Christians United for Israel," according to the invitation. The founder of this organization, Pastor John Hagee, is prominently highlighted on the invitation as an event speaker, along with Israel's Consul General Barukh Binah.

Pastor Hammond, freedom of speech and the freedom to practice one's religion are cherished American rights. However, well publicized public statements by Pastor Hagee demonstrate extremism, bigotry and intolerance that is repugnant. For example:

"I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God ... I believe that Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans." (Fresh Air, 9/18/2006)

"Those who live by the Quran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews." (Fresh Air, 9/18/2006)

"I would hope the United States would join Israel in a military pre-emptive strike to take out the nuclear capability of Iran for the salvation of Western civilization." (Jerusalem Post, 3/21/2006)

These statements are not representative of the people of Minnesota nor do I believe they reflect the views of the people of Israel whom the Pastor purports to be advocating on behalf of your church. How does one "honor Israel" with an individual whose toxic statements pollute the environment of peaceful religious coexistence, cooperation and respect that we strive to achieve in America, and especially in Minnesota, among Christians, Jews, Muslims and people of all faiths?

Pastor Hammond, it seems I am not alone in this belief. A clergyman from Pastor Hagee's own hometown of San Antonio, TX, Rabbi Barry Block, was identified in the Jewish Weekly as a supporter of Israel and characterizes Hagee as promoting, "...extremist anti-Palestinian positions and anti-Muslim prejudice..." and states, "I do not believe Pastor Hagee's activism is good for Israel." (Jewish Weekly, 3/9/2007)

My support and much of America's support for Israel is built on a historic partnership between our two nations and peoples, sharing a common goal of living in peace, security and freedom. Unlike Pastor Hagee, I support working for the "roadmap for peace" in the Middle East, Israel living side-by-side in peace and security with an independent Palestinian state. This is a goal many of us in Congress share with both Israeli political leaders and citizens.

Pastor Hammond, your invitation says this event's purpose is for people to "speak and act with one voice in support of Israel and the Jewish people." As an elected official and a person of faith, I feel compelled to speak out against a voice, like Pastor Hagee's, that promotes or, even worse, preaches intolerance and bigotry - whether in churches, synagogues or mosques. Minnesota is a state in which multiculturalism, religious tolerance, honest debate and a spirit of respect are treasured. Pastor Hagee's voice is clearly inconsistent with our Minnesota values and I believe with the values of the people of Israel .


Betty McCollum
Member of Congress

Link to full letter on Congressperson's McCollum's letterhead with attachments


Post a Comment

<< Home