presidential candidate John McCain on Thursday rejected
endorsements from two influential but controversial
televangelists, saying there is no place for their
incendiary criticisms of other faiths.
the months-old endorsement of Texas preacher John Hagee
after an audio recording surfaced in which the preacher said
God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised
land. McCain called the comment ''crazy and
repudiated the support of Rod Parsley, an Ohio preacher who
has sharply criticized Islam and called the religion
McCain issued a
statement Thursday afternoon announcing his decision
find these remarks and others deeply offensive and
indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them
before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must
reject his endorsement as well,'' he said.
Stockton, Calif., he told reporters: ''I just think that the
statement is crazy and unacceptable.''
Then in an
interview with the Associated Press, McCain said he rejected
Parsley's support too.
''I believe there
is no place for that kind of dialogue in America, and I
believe that even though he endorsed me, and I didn't
endorse him, the fact is that I repudiate such talk,
and I reject his endorsement,'' McCain told the AP.
Hagee had sparked
controversy since the San Antonio pastor endorsed
McCain on February 27 shortly before the Texas presidential
primary. Parsley's views were aired Thursday in an ABC
courted Hagee, who leads a megachurch with a congregation
in the tens of thousands and has an even wider television
audience. Former Republican presidential rivals also
sought Hagee's backing.
referred to the Roman Catholic Church as ''the great whore''
and called it a ''false cult system.'' He also has linked
Hitler to the Catholic Church, suggesting it helped
shape his anti-Semitism. And Hagee said Hurricane
Katrina was God's retribution for homosexual sin.
McCain has faced
a barrage of criticism over Hagee, with some comparing
the situation to the controversy Democrat Barack Obama faced
over the views of his longtime and now former pastor,
the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
Thursday to draw a distinction between the Obama-Wright
connection and his own relationships with Parsley and Hagee,
saying Hagee was not his pastor.
''The church I
attend is North Phoenix Baptist Church; my pastor and
spiritual guide is Pastor Dan Yeary,'' McCain said. ''I've
never been to Pastor Hagee's church or Pastor
Parsley's church. I didn't attend their church for 20
years. I'm not a member of their church.''
Parsley did not
return a message for comment left after business hours at
World Harvest Church in suburban Columbus, Ohio.
Obama, who was
campaigning in Florida, said that in national politics
it's easy to find people who have said or done offensive
''John McCain has
to deal with Hagee, who said something that is
mind-boggling. I don't attribute those statements to John
McCain. Nobody thinks McCain believes that stuff,''
Obama said. ''And for McCain to then suggest that
every single statement that was made by somebody is somehow
attributable to me is just wrong. It is just not accurate.''
Until now, McCain
had tried to distance himself from Hagee's views but
had not rejected the endorsement.
''I'm glad to
have his endorsement,'' he said on ABC's This Week in
April. ''I condemn remarks that are, in any way,
viewed as anti-anything.''
The U.S. senator
from Arizona has said he sought Hagee's support
because the pastor, like himself, is a strong supporter of
The formation of
Israel was at the heart of the remarks that prompted
McCain to reject Hagee's support. The comments came in a
sermon Hagee gave in the late 1990s, an audio
recording of which was posted last week on the liberal
blog Talk to Action and reported by the Huffington Post,
another liberal blog.
In the sermon
Hagee said, ''Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone
with a gun, and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter.... How
did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why
did it happen? Because God said, 'My top priority for
the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the
land of Israel.' ''
Hagee tried to
repair the damage by apologizing to Catholics in a letter
released just last week. Saying he had emphasized the
darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and
Protestant relationships with Jews, Hagee wrote, ''I
want to express my deep regret for any comments that
Catholics have found hurtful.''
Hagee issued a new statement saying he was weary of the
controversy and was withdrawing his endorsement.
critics are ''grossly misrepresenting my position on issues
most near and dear to my heart.''
''I am tired of
these baseless attacks and fear that they have become a
distraction in what should be a national debate about
important issues,'' Hagee said. ''I have therefore
decided to withdraw my endorsement of Senator McCain
for president effective today, and to remove myself from
any active role in the 2008 campaign.''
The other pastor,
Parsley, has described Islam as an ''anti-Christ
religion'' and the Muslim prophet Muhammad as ''the
mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil,''
according to ABC News. (AP)