Christian-Zionist Movement Grows

Texas religious broadcaster John Hagee, in conjunction with Christians United for Israel, held a pro-Israel lobbying kickoff summit on July 18 in Washington, D.C., attracting 3,500 Christian evangelicals. The Wall Street Journal reported that participants cheer[ed] Israel and its current military campaign” (July 27, 2006):

“Standing on a stage bedecked with a huge Israeli flag, Mr. Hagee drew rapturous applause and shouts of ‘amen’ as he hailed Israel for doing God’s work in a ‘war of good versus evil.’ Calls for Israel to show restraint violate ‘God’s foreign-policy statement’ toward Jews, he said, citing a verse from the Old Testament that promises to ‘bless those who bless you’ and ‘curse the one who curses you,’ ” according to reporter Andrew Higgins.

Scandal-ridden former majority leader Tom DeLay, a longtime Hagee friend, addressed the crowd, as did Sens. Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback, and GOP national chairman Ken Mehlman. Rev. Jerry Falwell told the crowd: “I will rebuke the State Department for any and every time it told Israel to stand down and show restraint.”

Pres. George W. Bush sent a message to the event praising Hagee and his supporters for “spreading the hope of God’s love and the universal gift of freedom.” Israel’s ambassador also sent greetings.

Hagee’s group was founded this year to educate politicians and Christians on the “biblical imperative” of supporting the Jewish state. They believe Israeli struggles are a prelude to Armageddon, based on so-called biblical prophecies.

In Hagee’s 1996 book, The Beginning of the End, he describes the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as fulfillment of prophecy. In his book Jerusalem Countdown, which has sold over 700,000 copies since January, Hagee writes that there will be a nuclear showdown with Iran.

“The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching. . . Rejoice and be exceeding glad–the best is yet to be.”

He depicts “a sea of human blood drained from the veins of those who have followed Satan.”

Hagee runs a San Antonio megachurch, Cornerstone Church, claiming 19,000 members, a TV company and “has close ties to Republican Party power brokers,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The D.C. banquet cost $500,000, and was covered live by a Christian broadcasting network.

According to a 2001 investigation by the San Antonio Express-News, Hagee made more than $1.25 million in 2001, and has a trust including a $2.1 million Texas ranch. Since that disclosure, Hagee reorganized his TV finances into a church to avoid making his filings public.

Max Blumenthal, of The Nation online (Aug. 8, 2006), reports that David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, reveals that the group has had several off-the-record meetings with the White House. Brog urged a more confrontational posture toward Iran, refusal of aid to the Palestinians and giving Israel a free military hand. Blumenthal reveals that Brog uses the the phrase “birth pangs” in his book on the Jewish-Christian alliance, and that it is “clearly understood by evangelicals as a scriptural citation from Matthew 24, which refers to the apocalyptic struggle that will usher in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.”

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Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews raised more than $1.4 million via commercials on Fox TV and several Christian networks as of Aug. 18. The unprecedented commercials merged faith and politics, siding with Israel in its war against Lebanon. The ads began with the announcement that “Israel is under attack,” and interspersed bible verses from Genesis and Isaiah.

“There is this passion that bible-believing evangelical Christians have to stand with Israel and the Jewish people at their time of need,” Eckstein told the Chicago Tribune (Aug. 18, 2006). He projected his group would raise $70-$80 million this year. Eckstein has worked for years with Christian Coalition-type evangelists.

Two years ago, Knesset, the Israeli parliament, formed a Christian Allies Caucus.

Freedom From Religion Foundation