Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Not so Invisble Hand of John Hagee

"All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that." John Hagee

John Charles Hagee is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, that boasts 19,000 regular members. He is also the chief executive officer of Global Evangelism Television and John Hagee Ministries. And he is the founder and National Chairman of the Christian-Zionist organization Christians United for Israel, incorporated on February 7, 2006.

Born in 1940, he came upon his calling early, having travelled with his family in a mobile home as the Hagee Family Singers. His father would preach revivals all over Texas, and John, his older brother Bill, and parents provided the music. Today his wife and children have revived the Hagee Family singers and the sale of their CDs show a very handsome profit.

Some critics believe there is a bit too much profit taken from Hagee's ministry.

With the dozens of men bearing glinting platters in the aisles, and six cameramen capturing the moment, Hagee instructs church members to hold their money toward the heavens. The thousands repeat after him: "Give and it shall be given."

"When you give, it qualifies you to receive God's abundance," he tells his listeners. "If God gives to you before you give to him, God himself will become a liar. ... If you're not prospering, it's because you're not giving ...
And it is a message that has helped his nonprofit television arm, Global Evangelism Television, become a prosperous, global, moneymaking family enterprise that has netted millions year after year peddling prayer, inspirational books, tapes and the promise of prosperity.

Since Hagee and his wife, Diana Hagee, founded GETV 25 years ago, the organization has gone from a back-room operation broadcasting Sunday sermons to San Antonio area viewers to a 50,000-square-foot multimedia studio broadcasting to 127 television stations and 82 radio stations nationwide. "God has blessed it until it has literally reached the Earth," Hagee recently said at his studio about his television evangelism enterprise. (1)

However, like many key players of the American Religious Right, Hagee has set his sights on Canada and has firmly entrenched himself with Stephen Harper and the Reform-Conservative movement.

He has rented office space at the Canadian Christian Bible College and is business partners with the College's owner, Charles McVety. McVety is a cohort of Jim Flaherty, Stockwell Day and Jason Kenney. The Bible college also sells Hagee's books and tapes. (2)

And the Texas preacher is a fan of Stephen Harper's.

Hagee lauded one of Stephen Harper’s first post-election acts: after Hamas militants won power in the Palestinian Authority, Harper became the first world leader to cut off its funding, trumping even Bush ...“I am so delighted that Canada’s prime minister immediately denounced Hamas terrorism when he became the leader of this great nation.”Hagee’s assessment of Harper isn’t based on news clips alone. His Toronto host, not to mention his longtime Canadian major-domo, was Canada Christian College president Charles McVety, one of the most outspoken players in this country’s religious right wing.

During the last election, as head of a handful of pro-family lobbies including the Defend Marriage Coalition, McVety emerged as a power to be reckoned with. He bought up the rights to unclaimed Liberal websites such as and stacked a handful of Conservative nomination contests in favour of evangelical candidates adamantly opposed to same-sex matrimony, a campaign he has vowed to repeat.

As Harper navigates the tricky waters of minority rule—keeping the lid on any eruptions of rhetorical fervour from the rambunctious theo-cons in his caucus—it is noteworthy that he has continued to cultivate a man regarded as the lightning rod of the Christian right. Last spring, those around the prime minister drafted McVety to help sell the government’s contentious child-care policy, and on budget day he was the personal guest of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in the Commons’ vip gallery.(3)

But more importantly, Hagee appreciates Stephen Harper's blind devotion to Israel.

During this summer’s Middle East war, Harper reversed decades of Canadian foreign policy with his adamant support for Israel, even after its jets smashed a clearly marked United Nations observation post, killing a veteran Canadian Peacekeeper. His admirers argue that steadfastness could turn the burgeoning bond between evangelical Christians and Jews into a powerful and unprecedented alliance that could leave him unbeatable at the ballot box.

But a growing chorus of critics warns that Harper has already paid a high price for that strategic calculation, irrevocably alienating Canada’s mushrooming Islamic population and leaving in shreds the country’s reputation as an even-handed peace broker. (3)

We should be very concerned with this relationship because as Marci McDonald points out:

Harper’s stand has also raised more unsettling questions. What does it mean if and when a believer in the infallibility of Biblical prophecy comes to power and backs a damn-the-torpedoes course in the Middle East? Does it end up fuelling overenthusiastic end-timers who feel they have nothing to lose in some future conflagration, helping speed the world on Hagee’s fast track to Armageddon? (3)

What does it mean?


1. Critics say John Hagee's compensation is too high, By: Analisa Nazareno, San Antonio Express-News, June 20, 2003

2. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Rndom House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8

3. Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada’s religious right, by Marci McDonald, Walrus Magazine, October 2006

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