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Church group condemns cancellation of Rev. Hagler’s ‘Ferguson to Palestine’ speech

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The Steering Committee of the United Church of Christ Palestine-Israel Network (UCCPIN) strongly condemned the cancellation of Reverend Graylan Hagler’s “From Ferguson to Palestine” talk at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, NY on September 24.

Hagler is a longtime social and economic justice activist. He was deeply involved in the international solidarity movement against apartheid in South Africa and is today an outspoken supporter of Palestinian human rights.

Pro-Israel groups pressured the divinity school to cancel Rev. Hagler’s talk. UCCPIN said it is “outraged” by the decision of the school to rescind the invitation. Speaking on behalf of the Steering Committee, UCCPIN Chairperson Gay Harter stated “the intimidation of individuals and groups seeking justice for Palestinians is a disgrace, but it will not succeed in silencing a prophetic voice that seeks a just peace for all.”

“Rev. Hagler is a highly respected pastor of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, DC and has held important national leadership positions in the denomination,” the Steering Committee noted.

“As a civil rights leader and a champion for low wage workers, Rev. Hagler understands the relationship of racism and power that is relevant to the injustices faced by Palestinians,” Chairperson Harter said. “His reflections on how these dynamics affect people of color in the United States as well as in Palestine and Israel are important for us to hear,” she added.

UCCPIN played an important role in drafting and eventually passing a resolution that calls on the United Church of Christ (UCC) to divest from and boycott companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation. The resolution was passed in June, at the 30th General Synod, an assembly of church members and officials.

The UCC, which has described itself as “an extremely pluralistic and diverse denomination,” is known for its progressive views and its support of civil, LGBTQ, and women’s rights. It is just one of numerous US churches that are taking action for Palestinian human rights.

The show will go on

Hagler told Mondoweiss he received death threats from people identifying as members of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a hard-line right-wing Evangelical Christian Zionist organization—although CUFI was not one of the groups who pressured the divinity school to cancel the event. Rev. Hagler said the callers warned him “We are going to kill you in the name of Christ if you come to Rochester” and “I hope you come here so I can spit in your face.”

In spite of the threats, and despite the divinity school’s cancellation, Rev. Hagler decided he is going to travel to Rochester anyway in order to give his talk, which draws parallels between the struggles of Black Americans and Palestinians for justice and liberation. The event is sponsored by the Rochester chapter of Friends of Sabeel – North America.

Hagler will instead be speaking at the Historic German House on September 24. “I want to thank all of those who have worked to secure a venue, have notified allies, and sent words of encouragement and blessings,” he said.

Rev. Hagler spoke highly of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) in particular. They have “been tremendous allies as JVP nationally and locally in Rochester put an eye to the matter and effectively put feet on the ground to make a difference,” the reverend explained.

“There are so many emails, and calls of support that I have received and I am thankful for each one,” Hagler added. “It is clear that with all of the people working together bigotry and hatred will continue to be diminished, truth will continue to be increased and the evils of racism here at home and in places like Israel will be challenged until the evils of racism and hatred are no more.”

Hagler maintained “we have not been intimidated, but are determined to bring truth to light.”

Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a journalist and writer based in New York City. His work has been featured in a variety of publications. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton. His website is

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18 Responses

  1. Citizen on September 23, 2015, 10:10 am

    I’d love to hear what Alison Weir might comment here on this topic.

  2. CigarGod on September 23, 2015, 10:52 am

    I would love to know the specific “…pressure…” on the school that was brought to bear.

    • csutter on September 24, 2015, 10:34 am

      This link fills in some context about what is happening in Rochester regarding Rev Hegler.

      We were scheduled to appear with Rev Hagler on the local NPR affiliate’s popular call in show at noon today, but it was canceled by the station yesterday.

      OTOH, several student groups are hosting him at the University of Rochester this afternoon.

      The source of the “pressure” should be apparent in the first link above.

      • annie on September 24, 2015, 11:04 am

        thanks for the link scutter.

        “When we heard about the threats, we stated the need for additional security and we would not provide it,” said Thomas McDade Clay, vice president for institutional advancement at Colgate Rochester. And he said the decision to cancel was made on Friday, after it appeared that Witnessing for Palestine would not provide funds for security.

        what a lame excuse. kowtowing to thugs

  3. Linda J on September 23, 2015, 10:57 am

    Me too.

  4. Pippilin on September 23, 2015, 1:24 pm

    I suspect that some, if not many, of those protesting Dr. Hagler’s appearance, could be paid Zionist trolls. Regardless, however zealously these Zionists try to keep the reality of the I/P situation hidden from the world, their efforts are failing– largely due to the mind-set and inhumane behavior of the Israeli government.

    • JLewisDickerson on September 23, 2015, 9:00 pm

      RE: “I suspect that some, if not many, of those protesting Dr. Hagler’s appearance, could be paid Zionist trolls.” ~ Pippilin

      MY REPLY: Yes, I smell the stench of disinformation in people identifying themselves as members of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and/or saying they are going to kill Hagler in the name of Christ! ! !
      SEE BELOW –

    • JLewisDickerson on September 23, 2015, 9:09 pm

      P.S. SEE: “Amateur or professional?” ~ by Rowan Berkley, Niqnaq, posted on Saturday, January 8th, 2011 at 7:56 am

      The weakness of this scheme is that the message boards log IPs and can thus detect sock puppets – RB

      ~ ~ ~ JIDF 4chan operations for Feb 2011 ~ ~ ~
      Jewish Internet Defense Force (offsite)

      This upcoming February we will be launching our largest operation on 4chan and other popular image boards, our objective is to create an image of Palestinians and Lebanese being virulently anti-American and anti-Western.
      Create threads against Israel and fill them with posts from violent Jihadist Palestinians, claim to want to immigrate into the West to do Jihad, later on in the threads post links to propaganda films like Pallywood.
      • Exploit massive Lebanese immigration into Australia as a reason why the Australian people should support Israel.
      • Claim that Israel helps stop Muslim immigration into the West.
      • Post propaganda threads linking to Palestinian and Lebanese suicide bombers and other Muslim extremism, in these threads also reply as a Jew who has been affected by Jihadist violence, explain to the readers that Muslims are a threat to the West.
      Start threads claiming to be Lebanese-Americans or Palestinian-Englanders, portray yourselves as extremely anti-Israel, later on in these threads claim to be a Jew disgusted by the behavior of the Lebanese/Palestinian man.

      MD5: 98bc2f5ba195396e3958bcec640a4292

      SOURCE –

  5. JLewisDickerson on September 23, 2015, 6:56 pm

    RE: Hagler told Mondoweiss he received death threats from people identifying as members of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a hard-line right-wing Evangelical Christian Zionist organization—although CUFI was not one of the groups who pressured the divinity school to cancel the event. Rev. Hagler said the callers warned him “We are going to kill you in the name of Christ if you come to Rochester” and “I hope you come here so I can spit in your face.”

    THE END IS NIGH! ! !

    “The End Of The World Is In Less Than A Week” | By Mark Reagan | | September 22, 2015

    The end is near, sort of.

    At least according to San Antonio megachurch pastor John Hagee.

    In his 2013 book Four Blood Moons: Something Is About To Change, Hagee — who is described as a New York Times best selling author on Amazon — says four blood moons making appearances in the sky between April 2014 and September 28, 2015, signify the end of an age, when God comes back to the planet.

    In fact, he’s so excited that he is hosting yet another special at his church on September 27.

    However, according to pesky scientists, there are three kinds of lunar eclipses, penumbral, partial and total eclipses. These four “blood moons” Hagee keeps going on about are total eclipses, when the Moon turns red during the eclipse.

    And according to those pesky scientists who work at NASA, every once in a while there are four consecutive total eclipses, which is called a tetrad.

    Hagee, however, interprets the significance of the event differently. According to Hagee, since the consecutive eclipses and two full moons he decided to include coincide with Jewish holidays, it’s the end times.

    Too bad they won’t be able to see the September 28 eclipse in Israel, though.

    So how will they know the end has come?

    SOURCE –

    • JLewisDickerson on September 23, 2015, 7:09 pm

      P.S. John Hagee’s followers are very, very dangerous. Rev. Hagler needs to watch his back.

    • W.Jones on September 23, 2015, 7:16 pm

      “We are going to kill you in the name of Christ if you come to Rochester”
      Does that sound, I wonder, like the kind of thing a CUFI troll would say?

      Maybe a very deranged one.

      • JLewisDickerson on September 23, 2015, 8:44 pm

        RE: “We are going to kill you in the name of Christ if you come to Rochester” Does that sound, I wonder, like the kind of thing a CUFI troll would say? ~ W.Jones

        MY REPLY: Not really. It reeks of disinformation! *

        * FROM WIKIPEDIA (2001 anthrax attacks)

        [EXCERPT] . . . The anthrax letters are believed to have been mailed from Princeton, New Jersey.[25] In August 2001, investigators found anthrax spores in a city street mailbox located at 10 Nassau Street near the Princeton University campus. About 600 mailboxes that could have been used to mail the letters were tested for anthrax, and the Nassau Street box was the only one to test positive.

        The New York Post and NBC News letters contained the following note:
        THIS IS NEXT

        The second note that was addressed to Senators Daschle and Leahy read:
        YOU DIE NOW.

        All the letters were copies made by a copy machine. The originals were never found. . .

      • b.grand on September 28, 2015, 4:34 pm

        “We are going to kill you in the name of Christ if you come to Rochester” Does that sound, I wonder, like the kind of thing a CUFI troll would say?

        Entirely possible. Some of them are fierce. (See also comment to JLewisDickerson.)

    • JLewisDickerson on September 23, 2015, 9:52 pm

      P.P.S. John Hagee is barking mad! ! ! If you have the stomach to listen to Hagee’s “blood moons” video above, shortly after the 23 minute mark Hagee says that God caused 9/11 (“First he attacked the physical”) to get this country’s attention (“because this country was walking away from God”)! ! ! Begin listening at about 20:30 to get the full impact of what this loon is saying.
      Also, all y’all go to the 26 minute mark on the video and y’all all buy your prayer shawls (“designed by God himself”) to support Big John’s “ministry”! ! !

      P.P.S. ALSO SEE: “John Hagee’s Controversial Gospel”, by Sarah Posner,, 12 March 2008
      An excerpt from Sarah Posner’s book, God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters.

      [EXCERPT] . . . One former member of Hagee’s church, fearful to talk on the record because Hagee is “really powerful” and has “got so much clout,” described Hagee as “very angry” and “not approachable.” The former member, who attended Cornerstone for about ten years, recalled that she had been going to Cornerstone for six years before she actually met Hagee. “I said, ‘Oh, Pastor Hagee, I’m finally getting to meet you after six years,’ and he said, ‘Oh, I’ve been back here every Sunday’ and turned and walked off.” Her husband is bipolar, and when they went to marriage counseling, the church “told him he was a loser and an infidel.” The counselors encouraged the former congregant to leave her husband, but “thankfully, I prayed enough. … I began to see trouble, you know, I began to see things that wasn’t right.”

      About the tithe, the former Cornerstone member recalled, “That’s a shame issue there if you don’t tithe. … We’ve heard him say, … everybody who’s got their tithing envelope, wave it in the air. So that’s shame on you” if you don’t tithe. Yet Hagee, before he converted his nonprofit Global Evangelism Television into a church in 2004 (thus relieving him of the obligation to file a publicly available tax return), was known to be the highest-paid nonprofit executive in San Antonio, making nearly $1 million a year. Now, because of the conversion, his salary remains a secret. In 2000 his John C. Hagee Royalty Trust, whose trustee is Hagee’s brother-in-law Scott Farhart, spent $5.5 million on a ranch in Brackettville, Texas. The property includes the Hagee-owned LaFonda Ranch, which has its own private airstrip, where televangelist and Hagee friend Kenneth Copeland landed his aircraft for a weekend of hunting rare exotic game.

      Another component of Hagee’s ranch is a cattle-raising operation. For that project, Hagee formed a nonprofit — run only by himself — called the Texas Israel Agricultural Research Foundation, which he claims works on joint research endeavors with an Israeli university. Water consumption is highly regulated in the parched section of the state where the ranch is located, but San Antonio legislator Frank Corte introduced a bill that would have exempted Hagee’s outfit from the state’s water use laws. To move the bill, Hagee enlisted the services of one of San Antonio’s most powerful lobbyists, David Earl. Members of Hagee’s church sent more than eighty nearly identical letters — some from the church’s fax machine — to the Texas House of Representatives committee considering the bill, urging its passage. The letters argued that the bill would “protect Texas agricultural research projects that have entered into agreements to share information with Israeli organizations.” The bill stalled in committee, and Hagee’s lobbyists were forced to apply for permits from the local groundwater control board in Kinney County to pump water on the property.

      Other Hagee ventures operate through trusts and companies run by Farhart and involve prominent San Antonio businesspeople. These ventures include a failed investment in a proposed hotel in downtown San Antonio and a planned development near his church. In another venture, Hagee crossed a group of local businesspeople who sought to market their beauty products made from salt from the Dead Sea through Hagee’s ministry. They charged in a 2006 lawsuit that they entered into the deal after Hagee billed himself “as someone that had a lot of political connections,” making the group “aware of his rubbing shoulders with people influential in the Bush Cabinet,” according to the group’s lawyer, Jesse Castillo. Castillo said that his clients claimed that Hagee backed out of the deal because the church was facing tax problems due to “a concern that they were mixing the business interests of the church with the business interests.”

      The former congregant whose husband is bipolar said that even though she and her husband wrote a big check to the church after they sold their house and tithed close to 10 percent of their income, “We never prospered there.” Most of the people she knew there were struggling financially, including some who were evicted from their apartments because they couldn’t pay their rent. Hagee, she said, has a “very powerful hold, and you don’t even realize it. … We were there ten years, and I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.” She even feared speaking to a reporter: “If I say too much about him, God’s going to get me. … [Hagee’s] got so much money and he’s so powerful, he could take everything we have in a minute.”

      Another former member told of tithing even when she had to borrow out of her 401(k) plan to make her mortgage payments. At one point, she said, “at Christmastime I didn’t have gifts under my tree. Two small gifts for my kids, that was it. I was so broke, and I was tithing.” At the time, she believed that tithing would result in her own blessing. Still another former member, a single mother divorced from an abusive husband, told of tithing out of her child support checks, even though she was living in an apartment with subsidized rent. Contrasting her small apartment with Hagee’s home in an exclusive San Antonio subdivision and his multimillion-dollar ranch, she added, “I don’t even have a house! My kids grew up on top of each other like sardines. … I just want a little house.” She added, “I thought something was wrong with me. Why am I still [living like this]. I’ve given and given and given and tithed and tithed and tithed.” But while attending Cornerstone, she, like the others, felt guilt and enormous pressure not to question Hagee or his doctrine, and that atmosphere was reinforced through multiple church services each week and mandatory meetings with smaller cell groups whose leaders were vetted on the basis of classes, tests, and the faithfulness of their tithing. As a result, the former member said, “I looked to Pastor Hagee as a god.”


      • b.grand on September 28, 2015, 4:29 pm

        “I smell the stench of disinformation in people identifying themselves as members of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and/or saying they are going to kill Hagler in the name of Christ!”

        While it’s always possible an actor blames another party, JLewisDickerson, you and WJones imply a real CUFI would not say this. But then you note what a mean nut Hagee is.

        At one CUFI conference in DC, Hagee stationed young aggressive sentries in front of the building. Their job was to prevent the CUFI conference-goers from engaging in conversation with any of the protesters. One of them even physically assaulted a CodePink activist. So, we’ll never know, but it’s not really out of character.

        Here is the letter Rev. Hagler sent to supporters after the event—-

        Dear Sisters and Brothers:
        I want to thank all of you for your well wishes, words of encouragement and prayers as I journeyed to Rochester to deliver a message of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. I am so glad that the Creator brought things together so powerfully. There is a scripture that I am mindful of in this moment, and it says “you may have meant it for evil, but God meant it for good!” Wow that is so true and in awe I have witnessed what God and people of faith and goodwill are able to do under the power of the Creator.

        I spoke to a full house at the University of Rochester and to a full house at the Historic German House to where we had moved the event after death threats and being disinvited from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. Though the intimidators like Christians United for Israel and reactionaries like ROC 4 Israel used incendiary innuendo and accusations to create a hostile atmosphere they could not stop the event from going forward larger, more visible and more powerful than ever before!

        People came together from different faiths – Christians Witnessing for Palestine; The Nation of Islam; Jewish Voice for Peace; students from the divinity school where I was disinvited; BLACK (part of the Black Lives Matter movement in Rochester); Whites; Blacks; Palestinians; Asians; people working on Palestine solidarity and those who came to learn. So much unity, diversity and strength came out of our objective and that objective was to challenge intimidation; to declare that the Palestinian cause will not be silenced or made invisible; and any attempt to shut people down will be met with a defiance that will do nothing but enlarge the visibility of the issue.

        I want to thank the Pastor of the United Church of Christ and the congregation in Henrietta, New York that voted to open their doors that I might have a venue there. I want to thank my conference minister who was in touch with the conference minister of New York to secure a back-up location. I also met an Episcopal Priest originally from South Africa who informed me that they were standing ready to open their doors to me as well! What an outpouring of power and support.

        The Fruit of Islam were also powerful, poised and effective in their presence that anyone who thought of disrupting, challenging or attacking knew that the Brothers of the Fruit of Islam had my back and had the situation well in hand. I am so thankful and proud of them to say the least.

        What I said yesterday and last night was that WE can end the silence by simply speaking up and speaking out. WE can bring the issue up at the dinner table, eating with friends at restaurants, and when simply socializing by talking about it wherever we are and interjecting into the discussion Palestine; the occupied territories, and ending the occupation. WE can make the difference by making certain in our personal behavior that we support the BDS movement. BDS was one of the methods that challenged South Africa and it is one of the methods that will challenge Israel. I went to Rochester and stood up to death threats with a prayer in my heart that all of us will stand up no matter the cost. No power can beat up when we ALL stand up. How does that happen? One by one until there is a critical, visible and vocal mass standing up so that even the timid of heart feels assured to join in. Everyone wasn’t originally down with theSouth Africa anti-apartheid movement, and everyone even in the Black community wasn’t originally down for civil rights movement, but we kept pounding the issue until people understood and joined their voices together in a spirit that demanded Justice Now. This is that time – Justice now!

        Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, words of encouragement during this time. It made all of the difference and I thank you all.

        Working for Justice,

        Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler
        Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ

  6. Boo on September 24, 2015, 9:26 am

    They try to intimidate us here in DC as well, but it doesn’t work. There are plenty of other churches proud to host events like this if the bullies get one to cave in. And the harder they push, the stronger we push back.

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