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Monday, December 24, 2007
Mike Huckabee Hangs out with Pastor John Hagee
Yesterday I was flipping through the channels and noticed that John Hagee's show was on. As I watched, I was so taken aback by his rhetoric that I recorded part of the sermon. It was a Christmas sermon and contrasts starkly with the Christmas sermons I heard when I was a child. Later in the day, I found out that presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was Hagee's guest (I didn't see Huckabee on the broadcast and don't know if it was the one in which Huckabee appeared).
The thing about members of the clergy like Hagee and the late Jerry Falwell is that they graft their own redneck, bellicose, authoritarian, tribalistic, and bigoted views onto Jesus and other biblical figures. For instance, when Falwell was opposing Martin Luther King's call for civil rights in the 1960's, he justified Jim Crow culture by claiming that blacks were stricken with the "curse of Ham" and thus it was biblical that they be subservient to whites.
Likewise, Hagee projects his power-hungry, war-loving, puritanical, aching-for-a-crusade mentality onto Jesus. I have previously written about how policy makers and media people have accorded legitimacy to Hagee's apocalyptic views (click here and here)--developments that are truly frightening. Here are some excerpts from Hagee's Christmas sermon:
And then there's this self-serving, self-absorbed, hedonistic society of ours. People say, "Well, what about my rights?" You don't have any, darling. . .Revenge of the Cultic Kitsch-mongers: A Weakness of Democracy
In a previous post, I mentioned how I used to watch Hagee's sermons on the Trinity Broadcasting Network during the 1990's (of course, with plenty of ironic detachment from the subject matter to enjoy it as kitsch). I haven't enjoyed his sermons since I learned that Hagee has the ear of the Bush administration and is being taken seriously. This man is a fanatic who bases his foreign policy views on his interpretation of the Book of Revelation that nuclear war is inevitable and desirable because it will usher in the Rapture (allowing Hagee and his tribe to be whisked into Heaven leaving non-fundamentalists to deal with that cosmic buzzkill, the Great Tribulation).
Although Hagee's foreign policy views are cartoonish and dangerous, that doesn't prevent him from being courted by national politicians and the media. Why is this the case? Authoritarian cult leaders use their power over people to attempt to seize even more power. For instance, Hagee has used the mass media to gain a sizable congregation and, thus, political power. Similarly, Sun Myung Moon has used his religion (through fraud and deception) to become a billionaire who can line the pockets of influential politicians and media figures. Thus, in today's society, we have a situation in which dangerous megalomaniacs like Hagee and Moon exert power because of the number of people they control or the amount of cash they can spend on unprincipled politicians. This is scary.
UPDATE: This January, Sarah Posner's book God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters will be published. The book looks at Hagee and other Rapture-ready preachers and their relationship with the GOP. The forward is by Joe Conason.