The evangelical leader who founded Christians United for Israel endorsed John McCain.
Pastor John Hagee, the founder of a 19,000-member megachurch in San Antonio, Texas, on Thursday endorsed the Republican U.S. senator from Arizona in his bid for the presidency.
Hagee has made support for Israel a centerpiece of his ministry and his endorsement may be helpful in shoring up McCain’s support among conservative Christians.
Among Jewish officials, Hagee’s outspoken support for Israel is seen as something of a mixed blessing. Hagee delivered a major address last year at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, leading some to criticize the organization for inviting a speaker whose views on gay rights and Israeli-Palestinian peace are out of step with much of American Jewish opinion.
Hagee’s endorsement of McCain was criticized by Catholic League President Bill Donohue, who called the pastor a bigot who has “waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church,” according to the Washington Post. Donohue compared the endorsement to Louis Farrakhan’s recent backing of Barack Obama, a Democratic presidential hopeful.
“Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot,” Dohonue said, according to the Washington Post. “McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee.”