Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Hagee, a pro-Israel pastor, cut off ties over the revelation of Hagee’s Holocaust theology.
“Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them,” McCain said in a statement Thursday. “I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee’s endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well.”
Reports emerged this week on the Huffington Post blog that Hagee, who founded and heads Christians United for Israel, outlined a theology in the 1990s which described Adolf Hitler as a “hunter.”
“Then God sent a hunter,” Hagee says in a recording of his sermon. “A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says – Jeremiah writing – ‘They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the holes of the rocks,’ meaning there’s no place to hide. And that might be offensive to some people but don’t let your heart be offended. I didn’t write it, Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. 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 released his own statement withdrawing his endorsement.
“Ever since I endorsed John McCain for president, people seeking to attack Senator McCain have combed my records for statements they can use for political gain,” he said. “They have had no qualms about grossly misrepresenting my position on issues most near and dear to my heart if it serves their political ambitions. 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. 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.”
After audio of the sermon was posted online, some Jewish leaders asked Hagee to clarify the statement.
“I am deeply troubled by these quotations,” Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of United Reform Judaism, said in a statement. “The Holocaust was the work of a deranged, bigoted, and anti-Semitic figure supported by a racist government. To suggest otherwise is surely an affront to the 11 million individuals, 6 million of whom were Jews, who lost their lives in the ashes of what is unquestionably the greatest tragedy of the 20th century.”