McCain issued a statement which said, "Obviously, I 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."
Pastor Hagee also issued a statement saying he was tired of baseless attacks and he was removing himself from any active role in the 2008 campaign.
Theologically, Pastor Hagee believes that one of the greatest sins a Christian can commit is anti-Semitism — hence the reference in the video to the drinking of the blood of the Jews. He was reminding Christians, as he often does, of the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. He wastes no opportunity to teach Christians that one of the surest ways for a Christian to become a member of the "apostate church" is to engage in anti-Semitism.
For decades, John Hagee has easily been one of the most prominent Christian leaders fighting anti-Semitism. To him, loving Jews as much as one's Christian neighbors is a core tenet of his faith. In his book "In Defense of Israel," Pastor Hagee wrote, "Show me an anti-Semitic Christian, and I'll show you a spiritually dead Christian whose hatred for other human beings has strangled his faith." If anything, Mr. Hagee is obsessed with purging anti-Semitism from Christendom.
Thus, the book contains a lengthy discussion of the history of Christian anti-Semitism. (It is from this section that his critics have pulled quotes to argue that John Hagee is anti-Catholic. The leading critic, though, the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, this week announced a truce with Mr. Hagee.)
If only Mr. Rich had spent roughly 20 minutes to peruse the relevant chapter, he would have learned two important tidbits:
- Pastor Hagee's criticism was directed solely at the Catholic Church's past deeds, and
- Pastor Hagee also attacked Protestant anti-Semitism, with an in-depth exploration of Martin Luther's considerable influence on Nazi ideology.
Throwing stones from inside his glass house, Mr. Rich wrote, "Any 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops."
Given how far off the mark he was, it is only fair to ask of Mr. Rich: Could he not find a "12-year-old with a laptop"?