On Fox News Sunday, when Bill Kristol was asked whether "it's fair" to compare "[Sen. John] McCain's, quote, 'ministers,' " John Hagee and Rod Parsley, "to [Sen. Barack] Obama's pastor," Kristol replied: "No, because these are just individuals who've endorsed Senator McCain." However, McCain stated in a joint appearance with Hagee that he was "very proud to have Pastor Hagee's support" and reportedly called Parsley a "spiritual guide."
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On the March 23 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace highlighted controversial statements evangelist John Hagee and pastor Rod Parsley, who have both endorsed Sen. John McCain for president, have made, and asked New York Times columnist and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol: "Do you think it's fair, Bill, to compare McCain's, quote, 'ministers' to [Sen. Barack] Obama's pastor [Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright]?" Kristol replied: "No, because these are just individuals who've endorsed Senator McCain." He later added: "This would be like attacking Obama because random individuals in the Democratic Party have endorsed him." In fact, contrary to Kristol's assertion that Hagee and Parsley are "just individuals who've endorsed Senator McCain," McCain stated in a joint appearance with Hagee: "All I can tell you is I'm very proud to have Pastor Hagee's support." And in an interview with New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon, Hagee stated: "McCain's campaign sought my endorsement." Additionally, McCain reportedly called Parsley a "spiritual guide" during a Cincinnati campaign rally.
From the March 23 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: Let me switch to something else, Bill. With all the talk about Obama and Reverend Wright, I got a bunch of email this past week from viewers who said: "Why don't you ever talk about McCain and the evangelical -- some of the evangelical ministers who have endorsed him?" And let's put up a couple of these: Reverend John Hagee, who has called the Catholic Church a "false cult," and Reverend Rod Parsley, who has attacked Islam and said that Allah was a "demon spirit." Do you think it's fair, Bill, to compare McCain's, quote, "ministers" to Obama's pastor?
KRISTOL: No, because these are just individuals who've endorsed Senator McCain. I think, actually, some of the attacks, especially on Reverend Hagee, are unfair. But leaving that aside, no. This would be like attacking Obama because random individuals in the Democratic Party have endorsed him. Obama and Wright have a close relationship. Obama chose, not just to join Reverend Wright's church, but to stay there over 20 years. And that's what hurts him.
As Media Matters for America has noted, Hagee has made controversial statements about, among other topics, homosexuality, Islam, the Catholic Church, and women. In an interview published in the March 23 issue of New York Times magazine, Hagee stated that the McCain campaign sought his endorsement:
As a prominent evangelical pastor based in San Antonio, you were recently catapulted into national controversy when you endorsed Senator John McCain for president. Is it true that McCain actively sought your endorsement? It's true that McCain's campaign sought my endorsement.
On February 27, Hagee, founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, endorsed McCain at a press conference in which the two appeared together. Following Hagee's endorsement, McCain said, "All I can tell you is I'm very proud to have Pastor Hagee's support." On February 29, McCain released a statement in which he asserted that "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." On March 8, the Associated Press quoted McCain's assertions that "[w]e'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" and that "I categorically reject and repudiate any statement that was made that was anti-Catholic, both in intent and nature. I categorically reject it, and I repudiate it." As Think Progress noted, on the March 11 broadcast of Bill Bennett's Morning in America, McCain said, "I repudiate any, any comments that are anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, racist, any other. And I condemn them and I condemn those words that Pastor Hagee apparently, that Pastor Hagee wrote" and added, "I will say that he [Hagee] said that his words were taken out of context, he defends his position." But McCain has yet to address any of Hagee's specific remarks other than those concerning Catholicism.
As Media Matters also documented, in a March 12 article, Mother Jones Washington editor David Corn reported that Parsley had endorsed McCain on February 26, prior to a March 4 Republican primary in Ohio, at a campaign rally at which they both appeared. Corn reported that "Parsley praised the Republican presidential front-runner as a 'strong, true, consistent conservative,' " and that "McCain, with Parsley by his side at the Cincinnati rally, called the evangelical minister a 'spiritual guide.' "
As Corn noted, in a chapter titled, "Islam: The Deception of Allah," in his book, Silent No More (Charisma House, April 2005), Parsley wrote:
I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore. (Pages 90 - 91)
In the same chapter, Parsley further wrote that Muhammad "received revelations from demons and not from the true God." (Page 96)