NEW UPDATE MARCH 21, 2008: According to a New York Times magazine interview this week, John McCain sought out the endorsement of Hagee:
"It's true that [John] McCain's campaign sought my endorsement."
NEW UPDATE MARCH 11, 2008: John McCain defended Pastor Hagee's comments today, saying he believe Hagee's claims that his statements were taken out of context:
I will say that he said that his words were taken out of context, he defends his position. I hope that maybe you'd give him a chance to respond. He says he has never been anti-Catholic, but I repudiate the words that create that impression.
"We've had a dignified campaign, and I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee's, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics," McCain said.
However, McCain has still not rejected the support of Hagee himself, and has said nothing about Hagee's claims that American foreign policy towards Palestine is causing God to attack the United States with terrorists.
NEW UPDATE MARCH 3, 2008:
John Hagee has released a statement defending his comments:
Throughout my career I have been a strong critic of Christian anti-Semitism. But any fair review of my record will demonstrate that I have consistently criticized all Christians - Protestant and Catholic alike - for the sin of anti-Semitism. In fact I rarely address this topic without castigating the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther, for the horrendous anti-Semitism he spouted towards the end of his career. It is a bitter irony that in my zeal to hold my fellow Christians accountable for our past anti-Semitism, I now find myself compared to an anti-Semite.
To call me "anti-Catholic" makes about as much sense as calling me "anti-Protestant." I am, most assuredly, neither.
Meanwhile, Catholic League president Bill Donahue has answered back:
"Did we also mischaracterize Hagee when he called my religion 'The Great Whore,' the 'apostate church,' the 'anti-Christ' and a 'false cult system'? McCain cannot ignore Hagee's lies any more than he can tolerate his bigotry. This is getting out of control."
** NEW UPDATES BELOW **
Calling Pastor John Hagee a "bigot," the conservative Catholic League is calling for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to denounce/renounce/reject his endorsement Wednesday.
With a Youtube link to prove his point, Catholic League president Bill Donohue said Hagee "has waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church. For example, he likes calling it 'The Great Whore,' an 'apostate church,' the 'anti-Christ,' and a 'false cult system.' ..."Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot. McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee." ...
McCain spox Jill Hazelbaker says, "Hagee endorsed John McCain. While we welcome his support, it shouldn't be seen as a wholesale endorsement of all of Mr. Hagee's views."
The progressive group Catholics United has also written a letter to McCain asking him to "publicly distance himself" from Hagee's views.
TPM's Greg Sargent notes the lack of mainstream media coverage of Hagee compared to Farrakhan (whose support Obama has rejected):
Very much like Farrakhan, Hagee has regularly made remarks about current events and other religions that many would find alarming. But unlike Farrakhan, he has never truly faced the scrutiny of the mainstream press, and major politicians like Joe Lieberman and John McCain have freely associated with him.
In 2006, Hagee laid out his views on eschatology in a book called Jerusalem Countdown, in which he claimed that sources had told him a year earlier about world events to come -- and amazingly enough, all those predictions had come true over the past year. Next on the agenda, according to his March 2006 interview in Human Events: Israel would go to war with Iran before May 2006. And from there, Hagee eagerly anticipated an all-out world war against Iran and Russia, followed by the Second Coming.
Watch McCain explain how proud he is of Hagee's endorsement:
UPDATE: McCain refused to reject Hagee's support during a press availability today:
"Well I think it's important to note that pastor John Hagee who has supported and endorsed my candidacy supports what I stand for and believe in. When he endorses me, it does not mean that I embrace everything that he stands for and believes. And I am very proud of the Pastor John Hagee's spiritual leadership to thousands of people and I am proud of his commitment to the independence and the freedom of the state of Israel. That does not mean that I support or endorse or agree with some of the things that Pastor John Hagee might have said or positions that he may have taken on other issues. I don't have to agree with everyone who endorses my candidacy. They are supporting my candidacy. I am not endorsing some of their positions."
McCain's campaign released this statement later on Friday:
"Yesterday, Pastor John Hagee endorsed my candidacy for president in San Antonio, Texas. However, in no way did I intend for his endorsement to suggest that I in turn agree with all of Pastor Hagee's views, which I obviously do not.
"I am hopeful that Catholics, Protestants and all people of faith who share my vision for the future of America will respond to our message of defending innocent life, traditional marriage, and compassion for the most vulnerable in our society."
But criticism of the endorsement is not letting up. The Democratic National Committee has released the following round-up of Hagee's statements:
Hagee on Hurricane Katrina
"All hurricanes are acts of God because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that." [NPR Fresh Air, 9/18/06]
Hagee on Islamic Beliefs
Fresh Air host Terry Gross asked if Hagee believed that "all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews," to which Hagee replied, "Well, the Quran teaches that. Yes, it teaches that very clearly." [NPR Fresh Air, 9/18/06]
Hagee on African-Americans
The San Antonio Express-News reported that Hagee was going to "meet with black religious leaders privately at an unspecified future date to discuss comments he made in his newsletter about a 'slave sale,' an East Side minister said Wednesday." The Express-News reported:
"Hagee, pastor of the 16,000-member Cornerstone Church, last week had announced a 'slave sale' to raise funds for high school seniors in his church bulletin, 'The Cluster.'
"The item was introduced with the sentence 'Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone" and ended with "Make plans to come and go home with a slave." [San Antonio Express-News 3/7/96]
Hagee on Catholicism
"Most readers will be shocked by the clear record of history linking Adolf Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews." [Jerusalem Countdown by John Hagee]
Hagee on Women
"Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist." [God's Profits: Faith, Fraud and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, Sarah Posner]
"[T]he feminist movement today is throwing off authority in rebellion against God's pattern for the family." ["Bible Positions on Political Issues," John Hagee]
Hagee on LGBT Americans
"The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know that there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment." [NPR Fresh Air, 9/18/06]
Hagee on Iran
"The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty," Hagee wrote [in 2006] in the Pentecostal magazine Charisma. "Israel and America must confront Iran's nuclear ability and willingness to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons. For Israel to wait is to risk committing national suicide." [The Nation, 8/8/2006]