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Transcript:

March 7, 2008

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal. When John McCain cinched the Republican nomination Tuesday night, mainstream journalists sounded as if he had walked across the waters:

KEITH OLBERMANN: The parallel here between the career of John McCain and perhaps the career of Winston Churchill...

BRIAN WILLIAMS: I heard you make that comparison earlier and I loved it, because it's such great reading and people should go back now and see [...]

BILL MOYERS: It's a fact: McCain has long been a favorite of the establishment press, mainly as one journalist puts it, because of his ingenious strategy of talking ad infinitum to the reporters covering him. But it's also because he sometimes stood against the grain of his own party, including what he called 'agents of intolerance' who had turned Republicans into the party of God. Here is John McCain back in the year 2000, when he was running against George W. Bush:

JOHN MCCAIN: Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

BILL MOYERS: That denunciation of religious extremism cost McCain the bible belt eight years ago; the fundamentalist forces of Robertson and Falwell threw their support to Bush and McCain was finished. But this time around McCain knows he can't win in November without Bush's born-again base, so he's been singing a different tune — one that sounds a lot like that old militant hymn, 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. McCain started reaching out to the religious right when he threw himself at the feet of his old nemesis, Jerry Falwell. But Falwell has since gone to his heavenly reward. Pat Robertson is aging out, and James Dobson of Christian radio fame still regards McCain as suspect. But new stars are rising in the religious firmament, and one of them is shining brightly on McCain.

PASTOR JOHN HAGEE: John McCain will be a strong courageous and effective leader from the first day...

BILL MOYERS: That's John Hagee, pastor of a conservative mega church in Texas and one of television's most powerful prophets of the end times, anointing John McCain for the White House:

PASTOR JOHN HAGEE: To lead America into a bright and promising future. Ladies and gentleman ...

BILL MOYERS: Who is John Hagee? And why has John McCain been courting him? You're about to find out, as we revisit a remarkable event last year in our nation's capitol:

SINGING VOICE: The lord utters his voice before his army...The lord utters his voice before his army.

BILL MOYERS: Washington. July 17th. A Night to Honor Israel.

SINGING VOICE: Blow the trumpet in Zion, Zion!

BILL MOYERS: Over 4,500 people from every state in the union and ten countries ...celebrate their solidarity with Israel...They call their organization Christians United for Israel...Most are evangelical Christians...CUFI — as it's known — is not even two years old, and it's already a force to be reckoned with. The man behind it is pastor John Hagee.

JOHN HAGEE (at NIGHT TO HONOR ISRAEL): When 50 million evangelical bible-believing Christians unite with five million American Jews standing together on behalf of Israel, it is a match made in heaven.

BILL MOYERS: Pastor Hagee is one of the Christian right's most powerful preachers. Israel is his passion.

JOHN HAGEE: Let us shout it from the housetops that a new day has been born in America. The sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened. If a line has to be drawn, draw the line around Christians and Jews. We are united. We are indivisible. And together we can reshape history.

BILL MOYERS: Christian Zionists believe Jews are God's chosen people, that God promised the land of Israel to their patriarchs and their descendants. They say that the bible requires Christians to give unconditional support to the Jewish people, to be a "good friend" to Christianity's "big brother."

GREG STEPHENS: Israel is the only country that God ever established. Every other country has been established by a king or a queen or a congress or a parliament. It's the only country that God ever established

BILL MOYERS: John Hagee says you need look no further than the scriptures...

JOHN HAGEE: The biblical mandates for supporting Israel began with Genesis 12:3. I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you. Secondly, David said in Psalms 122:6, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love you." Because of the fact that this: in history, if Jerusalem is at war, the world is at war. If there's peace in Jerusalem there's peace in the world.

JOHN HAGEE:(Hagee preaches): Free is free indeed! Give me praise and glory in the house of God!

BILL MOYERS: From the 18,000 people who belong to his church in San Antonio, TX, to the 99 million homes he says tune into his weekly radio and television broadcasts, John Hagee has built an empire sharing the gospel of Israel with evangelicals around the world. And as the leader of CUFI his power extends from the pulpit to politics.

JOHN HAGEE: (at CUFI CONFERENCE) I would like to read you the greeting from the President of the United States. I appreciate CUFI members and all event participants for your passion and dedication to enhancing the relationship between the United States and Israel. Your efforts set a shining example for others and help lay the foundation of peace for generations to come. Laura and I send our best wishes for a memorable event. May God bless you. George W. Bush, president of the United States.

BILL MOYERS: At their July gathering in Washington, CUFI delegates focused on Israel's security and the threat of radical Islam.

CLIFFORD MAY: ...Islamic imperialists and supremacists...

BILL MOYERS: And on their agenda: lobbying in Congress for their pro-Israel platform.

DAVID BROG: Ladies and gentlemen, we're in Washington, DC. We're going to talk to our congressmen so it's extremely important that we take our faith and our values and we marry it with knowledge and understanding of current events. And be able to speak in the language of Washington when we go and speak to our congressmen and senators.

BILL MOYERS: Many of Washington's political elites came to them, presidential contender Sen. John McCain:

JOHN MCCAIN: It's very hard trying to do the lords work in the city of Satan and I'm very grateful to have all of you here.

BILL MOYERS: Sen. McCain was joined by House minority whip Roy Blunt.

ROY BLUNT: This is a mission, this is a vision that I believe is a vision for God's time.

BILL MOYERS: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

NEWT GINGRICH: Because this group is made up of people who believe, they understand the passion that comes from belief.

BILL MOYERS: And Sen. Joe Lieberman.

JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: ...of describing Pastor Hagee in the words that the Torah uses to describe Moses, he is an "Ish Elokim," a man of God and those words really do fit him; and, I'd add something else, like Moses he's become the leader of a mighty multitude, even greater than the multitude that Moses led from Egypt to the promised land.

BILL MOYERS: With Hagee leading the way, CUFI delegates walked the halls of Congress. Armed with talking points, they divided into small groups to call on individual senators and representatives.

VOICE: Congressman Phil Gingrey, he's my Congressman.

BILL MOYERS: The delegates wasted no time getting to one of their top concerns — the disputed territories and the Israeli peace process.

FEMALE VOICE: The land for peace obviously didn't work in the Gaza Strip. And we're proponents that we don't give up any more land. It didn't work. And anything else was just going to cause further loss of land in the state of Israel.

PHIL GINGREY: Yeah. I mean, I think it's a good point. And but on the other hand, I would urge Israel not to put a stick in the eye of the Palestinians if they don't have to.

VICKI LEEMAN: I think you need to hear clearly, sir, that this group is totally against giving any of Israel's land for peace.

BILL MOYERS: There is no room for compromise here. Christians United for Israel opposes the Bush administration's roadmap for peace and urges American leaders to abandon it. The plan calls for a two-state solution in the region — if Palestinians lay down their arms and recognize Israel's right to exist, Israel will withdraw from certain disputed territories and move to help create an independent Palestine. For these believers the roadmap is inherently flawed because it is not biblically sound as Hagee often preaches to his congregation:

JOHN HAGEE: But the Palestinians have never owned the land. I want you to hear this very clearly. The Land of Israel was given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their seed in an eternal covenant. It is recorded in the book of Genesis. The boundaries are there in the Bible. And that land belongs to the Jewish people today, tomorrow and forever because it is their covenant by the word of God.

BILL MOYERS: According to John Hagee, devastating consequences await those who violate God's word. God, he says, may already have sent hurricane Katrina to punish the U.S. for its role in helping Israel remove Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip.

JOHN HAGEE: I want to ask Washington a question. Is there a connection between the 9,000 Jewish refugees being forcibly removed from their homes in the Gaza Strip now living in tents and the thousands of Americans who have been expelled from their homes by this tremendous work of nature? Is there a connection there? If you've got a better answer, I'd like to hear it.

BILL MOYERS: Back in Washington, CUFI delegates were briefed on what the organizers now consider the defining issue — the challenge of radical Islam.

GARY BAUER: At this very moment there are evil men who worship death. It is a sick philosophy that goes by many names. But I haven't found a better name than Islamo-fascism because it summarizes what we are up against.

FRANK GAFFNEY: The Islamo-fascists have Israel in mind as an appetizer. We are the main course.

BRIGITTE GABRIEL: The difference, my friends, between Israel and the Arabic world is a difference between civilization and barbarism. It's a difference between goodness and evil. And this is what we're witnessing in the Arabic world. They have no soul. They are dead set on killing and destruction. Israel's enemies are our enemies.

BILL MOYERS: Brigitte Gabriel was one of the most popular speakers here. Her "American Congress for Truth" is devoted to fighting "the spread of militant Islam" in America.

BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Here's what we're doing. We're taking cities and state and organizing them into chapters. We are appointing people to monitor the media in your local community. Your local newspaper that is anti-Israel, anti-America.

BILL MOYERS: Gabriel is a Maronite Christian from Lebanon. She called on the CUFI delegates to keep their eyes open for the enemy within.

BRIGITTE GABRIEL: Another thing you can do is monitor universities. Monitor what the professor is saying about the Middle East policy and our foreign policy. The students cannot challenge their professors because they get bad grades. But you can. It's your job and your civic duty to do so. Another thing you can do — another thing you can do — if you know there is a suspicious mosque in your community or suspicious Islamic organization, find out who owns the deed to that mosque. Is it some Saudi sheiks or Islamic sheiks outside of America? Write their names down. Come home. Call your local FBI office. Turn the names to them. This is how they can start monitoring them. Israel's enemies are our enemies.

JOHN HAGEE: The head of the beast of radical Islam in the Middle East is Iran and its fanatical president Ahmadinejad. Ladies and gentlemen, we are reliving history. It is 1938 all over again. Iran is Germany. Ahmadinejad is Hitler. And Ahmadinejad, just like Hitler, is talking about killing the Jews.

BILL MOYERS: Ahmadinejad has said that Islam would soon reign supreme in a world without the United States and Zionism and that, quote, "Israel should be wiped off the map".

BILL MOYERS: As Iran has been actively enriching uranium, the world has been scrambling to determine how it will be used — as an energy supply or as a weapon to make good on Ahmadinejad's threats to Israel.

CUFI DELEGATE: Congressman, we love you. You're a fellow Georgian.

BILL MOYERS: At the capitol building, the CUFI delegation from Georgia urged representative Lynn Westmoreland to recognize the danger Iran poses.

CUFI DELEGATE: But the greatest threat that's facing us is Iran.

WESTMORELAND: That's right.

CUFI DELEGATE: And the nuclear capability that they are soon reaching. And hopefully we, as Americans, will not allow that to happen.

JOHN HAGEE: What we are trying to say to them is that a) we want you to continue your support for the State of Israel. Secondly, we want you to recognize that Iran is a clear and present danger to the United States of America and Israel. And we support Senator Joseph Lieberman, that it's time for our country to consider a military preemptive strike against Iran if they will not yield to diplomacy. And if they continue the pursuit of nuclear weapons we must not allow them to manipulate the economy of the world because they have a nuclear weapon.

JOHN HAGEE: As we speak Iran is building nuclear weapons...

BILL MOYERS: For John Hagee, what happens in Iran is not just a matter of politics — it's also a matter of theology. His study of biblical prophecy has led him to believe that Iran will figure prominently in the end times — the apocalypse and the return of Jesus.

JOHN HAGEE: Iran will use those weapons on Israel. Anyone who is smart enough to wave bye-bye knows that.

BILL MOYERS: In his book Jerusalem Countdown, he writes, "Iran with nuclear weapons will transform the Bush administration's roadmap for peace program into a racetrack to Armageddon." From his reading of the bible he lays out a scenario predicting that if Israel and America attack Iran, Russia and its allies — including Iran — will attack Israel, triggering Ezekiel's war. God will crush the invading forces as — quote — "He crushed pharaoh, Haman, and Hitler so that Israel and the world ‘shall know that I am the lord". Says John Hagee, the battle of Armageddon will follow...

JOHN HAGEE: They intend to bring that bomb online and if they use it, you think gas is high now. Life as we know it is going to change instantly and forever and I'm telling you, you need to get your life ready to meet the son of God in all his glory. It's going to happen, it's going to happen, it's going to happen. [Applause]

JOHN HAGEE: There are going to be people in this tribulation period who do not take...

BILL MOYERS: There will be plenty of bloodshed...

JOHN HAGEE: They will have their heads cut off...

BILL MOYERS: But get ready — it's coming.

JOHN HAGEE: We are this close to the rapture of the church of Jesus Christ...

BILL MOYERS: For true believers like Hagee and his followers, it will be a day of deliverance. They will have been raptured — literally lifted into the air — to join the lord in the heavens. End times theology has blossomed from a cottage industry into a dynamic market for books, video games and movies.

BILL MOYERS: "The Left Behind" movie series is so popular it shows up in sermons around the country. John Hagee even had a cameo appearance in it. But because end times theology strikes a lot of people as threatening — especially as it relates to the fate of Jews — Hagee plays it down at political gatherings of CUFI.

REPORTER: I wanted to ask you, you've written a lot about bible prophecy and the relation, relationship to ...

BILL MOYERS: He brushed aside questions about it at this press conference in Washington...

PASTOR JOHN HAGEE: I can make it very clear for you. Our support of Israel has absolutely nothing to do with End Times prophecy. It has absolutely nothing to do with eschatology. We support Israel because we feel Israel is in greater danger right now than in any time in statehood.

BILL MOYERS: So as the head of CUFI, with prominent politicians present — Hagee continues to insist that the peace and security of Israel is an end in itself but as a pre-eminent preacher of end times theology, he holds that the apocalypse is coming no matter what — events in the Middle East anticipate it — even require it.

JOHN HAGEE: Listen to me. Just as I wrote in Jerusalem Countdown, Ahmadinejad will not respond to diplomacy. He has no intention of yielding to sanctions. He's stalling for time to make nuclear weapons to attack Israel and to attack the United States. He will do it. Iran is a clear and present danger to the survival of Israel. To the United States of America and the western the world — western world. Therefore it is time for America to embrace the words of Senator Joseph Lieberman and consider a military preemptive strike against Iran to prevent a nuclear holocaust in Israel and a nuclear attack in America.

BILL MOYERS: That was last summer. Now John McCain is John Hagee's man:

JOHN MCCAIN: I'm very honored by Pastor John Hagee's endorsement today. He has been the staunchest leader of our Christian evangelical movement in many areas, but especially, most especially, his close ties and advocacy for the freedom and independence of the state of Israel.

BILL MOYERS: But it's not Hagee's support of Israel that is beyond the mainstream — it's his bigotry towards different faiths. Here's what he thinks of Catholics:

PASTOR JOHN HAGEE: This is the anti-christ system; this is the apostate church this false cult system that was born in the Genesis ten that progressed through Israel and became veil worship God says the day is going to come when I'm going to cause this beast to devour this apostate system.

BILL MOYERS: That's why many Catholics were outraged last week when McCain welcomed Hagee's endorsement:

BILL DONOHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: This thing is out of bounds. And this is why McCain has to look at this. It's the totality of what the man stands for. He's been bashing Catholicism for decades and making a mountain of money over it.

BILL MOYERS: And here's what John Hagee told NPR about Hurricane Katrina:

JOHN HAGEE: I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, that there was to be a homosexual parade 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, and I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.

BILL MOYERS: Despite Hagee's fantastical theology, McCain would not reject his blessing, although he did manage to qualify it:

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: It's pretty obvious that you get a lot of endorsements in a political campaign. That does not mean I embrace the views of the people who have endorsed me; that means they embrace my views. So I'm sure I may disagree with some things that Pastor Hagee has said in the past but that does not mean that I endorse him.

BILL MOYERS: But exactly which of Hagee's views does McCain agree with and which does he reject? And will the press and secular conservatives insist that he explain why he has now embraced what he once abhorred as the "outer fringes" of Politics? We'll hear some discussion of these questions in our next segment. But first, remember that this is the time we need you to be the public in public broadcasting and that your station needs your support.



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