The Dallas Morning News recently profiled John Hagee, a megachurch pastor and the leader of Christians United for Israel. Hagee is a controversial figure in Christian and Jewish circles; his influence is important for Israel but his love for the Jewish state is clearly based on his understanding of the End Times.
Mr. Hagee said he is following the Bible’s mandate to protect Israel. He espouses an end-times theology in which he connects Iran’s nuclear threat with the Apocalypse, the final battle of good and evil on earth.
In his book, Jerusalem Countdown, he writes: “Before us is a nuclear countdown with Iran, followed by Ezekiel’s war and then the final battle â the Battle of Armageddon. The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching.”
His message fits neatly into the calls to strike a nuclear facility in Iran.
“Iran is Germany,” he said, and its president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, “is the new Hitler.”
“He intends to attack Israel first and then bring the nuclear fight to America,” he said. “His terrorist-trained people are in Iraq right now killing a third of U.S. forces there. That’s an act of war.
Biblical prophecy is not new. But Mr. Hagee, the nation’s leading Christian Zionist, seeks to channel biblically inspired devotion to Israel into organized efforts to affect politics and public policy.
His group, Christians United for Israel, lobbies Congress on behalf of policies that support the state of Israel. The organization claims 50,000 members from churches representing 2 million people and conducts Night to Honor Israel rallies at Christian churches and hotel ballrooms â 75 cities last year.
Christians United’s second annual Washington event in July drew 4,500 supporters. President Bush provided a welcoming statement, and speakers included Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Mr. Lieberman brought the crowd to its feet by comparing Mr. Hagee to Moses.
“Like Moses,” the senator said, “he’s become the leader of a mighty multitude â even greater than the multitude that Moses led from Egypt to the Promised Land.”
The story quotes Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State saying that Hagee’s influence is bad. That’s clearly not a lone opinion, but I’m not sure why the reporter quoted Lynn here, who, as I’ve mentioned before, is really a fringe figure in Christianity.