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Q & A: John Hagee

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Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, has issued a statement saying that he is satisfied with reports that John McCain has repudiated any anti-Catholic remarks that Pastor John Hagee or others may have made. Of course, whether McCain has done enough on that front is a separate question than what to make of Hagee himself.

The recent focus on some of his controversial remarks is emboldening critics who object to his relationship with AIPAC and Jewish federations. I wrote a column last week objecting to those who are piling on to the pile on by playing the anti-Semite card against the pastor – but, as I said then, his past comments raise serious questions on plenty of fronts.

So we sent an e-mail asking Hagee about a few of the main issues (read this and this for some of the background). Here are the answers that he sent us back; he also cited his statement rejecting claims that he was guilty of making anti-Catholic remarks:

You have been attacked by liberal Jews who say you support Israel simply because you see it as a step toward the Second Coming and believe that Jews will eventually be killed, and Christians who feel you don’t believe that Jews must accept Jesus to go to heaven. Could you please clarify your position on each issue?
This is a great distortion of my motives and the motives all Christian Zionists. God has set the time and date for the Second Coming and we are powerless to alter this date by so much as a second. While waiting for this appointed time, we seek to bless Israel because of the promises made by God to the Jewish people in the book of Genesis. In addition, we know Jewish history and the need for a Jewish homeland. We also know Israeli history and the justice of Israel’s cause. The fact is, we support Israel for the same reason most Jews do.

Do you believe that all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews?
No. I believe that there are some militant Muslims who believe that they have such a mandate. But I do not believe that this is the case for all Muslims.

Your writings have been interpreted as justifying Yigal Amir’s assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Is that a fair reading?
No. Not at all. That was an act of murder for which there is no justification. My writing makes clear how very fond I was of Yitzhak Rabin.

Do you believe Jewish suffering is a form of divine retribution?
No, I do not. I learn from the Bible that the children of Israel were punished by God for their iniquities. But I do not presume to explain Jewish suffering in modern times. I only seek to alleviate it.

Do you still believe that Hurricane Katrina was divine retribution for an acceptance of gays in New Orleans?
Just like religious Jews, I don’t believe in random occurrence but in a sovereign God who controls events. I believe that Hurricane Katrina was a curse. Why God chose to send this curse, I honestly do not know.

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