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Rev. Graylan Hagler disinvited to speak on Palestine, sent death threats

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(Updates have been added to this article. See the note below.)

Reverend Graylan Hagler, a veteran social and economic justice activist and outspoken supporter of Palestinian human rights, was invited by the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and the Rochester, NY chapter of Friends of Sabeel – North America to speak about Palestine on September 24. Mere days before he was going to travel to upper New York state for the talk, Hagler was disinvited.

Hagler told Mondoweiss that pro-Israel groups pressured the divinity school to cancel his speaking engagement.

This past week, Rev. Hagler also says he received numerous death threats via phone and email. In some of the phone calls, Hagler said those threatening him identified themselves as members of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a hard-line right-wing Evangelical Christian Zionist organization. Hagler said they 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.”

Rev. Hagler, who serves as Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C., strongly condemned CUFI. “CUFI basically is a white supremacist group,” he said. The organization is led by John Hagee, a megachurch pastor and Holocaust revisionist who blames anti-Semitism on Jews. CUFI’s theology holds that Christians must support Israel no matter what, so that Jesus can return in the Second Coming—at which point he will save the world’s Christians and send people of other religions, including Jews, to Hell. “It’s not mainstream… It’s really not Christian theology at all. It is really imperialistic ideology,” Hagler explained.

Despite being disinvited to speak, Hagler said, “in the spirit of defiance, I am going to Rochester anyway.” Because he was disinvited by the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, he had to seek a new venue at which to speak. Rev. Hagler will now instead be speaking at the Historic German House, on the same date.

“We cannot let bigots win with threats and intimidation. I intend to go to Rochester in a statement that I am not afraid or intimidated,” Hagler affirmed. “If we just surrender to that basically we are just surrendering” in the overall struggle, he added.

The title of Rev. Hagler’s talk is “From Ferguson to Palestine.” He will speak about the connections between the struggles of Black Americans and Palestinians for justice and liberation, a theme he often addresses.

“What happens in a place like Ferguson also happens in the West Bank. And what happens in Palestine also happens in Baltimore,” Hagler told Mondoweiss, referring to police repression of the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement in the US.

Israel’s separation wall is similar “to what existed in Jim Crow America,” Hagler pointed out. “There is a clear relationship that cannot be denied.” Those who seek justice must combat “racism in all of its manifestations,” he insisted.

In January 2014, Rev. Hagler traveled to the West Bank with the Carter Center. He was joined by activist Bill Fletcher, several hip hop artists, and more. Recalling his experience, Hagler said “what I saw there was clearly an expression of white supremacy, of racism, and a real system of apartheid.”

“When I came back I felt compelled and I needed to speak about that and uncover the truth, particularly in faith circles,” Hagler added. He noted that there are people “who want to clamp down the discourse in centers of spirituality.” Hagler says he dedicates himself to opening up the debate in the religious realm, in pursuit of justice.

For decades, Rev. Hagler has been active in various social and economic justice movements. In the 1980s, he was deeply involved in the international movement against apartheid in South Africa. Today, he is a leader in the Palestinian solidarity movement.

He formerly served as president of the United Church of Christ’s association Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice. In June, his church voted to divest from and boycott companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. Hagler has also served on the steering committee of anti-war organization United for Peace and Justice.

In March, Hagler spoke at a rally organized by the DC Metro chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. “We’ve got to be the ones that stand up for justice,” Rev. Hagler maintained. “We’ve got to be the ones that stand up to end the occupation of Palestine. We’ve got to be the ones that stand up to cut off funding to Israel. We’ve got to be the ones that stand up and really begin to drive home what democracy looks like.”

“It’s important to go to Rochester to not allow bigots to intimidate us,” Rev. Hagler said, reflecting on his plans to continue with his planned speech. “The truth cannot be crushed through violence.”


This piece was updated to reflect the new location of Rev. Hagler’s speech. When this article was first published, he was still seeking a place.

Furthermore, Rev. Hagler told Mondoweiss that three groups pressured the divinity school to cancel the event: CUFI, the Jewish Federation, and ROC4Israel. ROC4Israel denies that CUFI was involved. ROC4Israel contacted the author, asking to retract the claim that CUFI was involved in pressuring the school. The author promptly did so. The original draft of this article did not claim that ROC4Israel has any affiliations with CUFI. ROC4Israel also made it clear that it “denounces any and all threats made to Rev. Hagler and that we find them reprehensible.”

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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33 Responses

  1. amigo on September 21, 2015, 10:18 am

    Invite this guy ben carson instead.He will go down a treat.

    Btw, Christians are not united for Israel.Real Christians oppose Israel for it,s unchristian/Judaic behaviour.

    • amigo on September 21, 2015, 10:35 am

      Above post should read,

      unchristian/unjudaic behaviour.

      • DavidDaoud on September 21, 2015, 1:55 pm

        I’m not so sure about that “unjudaic” part.

    • Kay24 on September 21, 2015, 11:26 am

      One of the first Churches to vote for boycotting was the Methodist Church, followed by many others. No, not all Christians support Israel, not after they have attacked Churches and burned them down – only the intellectually challenged evangelicals still think Ben Gurion is the landing place when Jesus Christ finally arrives. The Israelis must be secretly amused, but going along with this narrative for their own gains.

      • amigo on September 21, 2015, 11:48 am

        I forgot to ask in my post above ?.

        Carson states that a Muslim cannot be the POTUS .Does this bigot not understand the separation of Church from State.”

        First amendment states , “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”.

        Here is Carsons view on the constitution.

        “In publicity material issued by Penguin Random House, Carson is quoted as saying: “I believe that making a difference starts with understanding our amazing founding document, the US Constitution. ”

        He also said the constitution is not rocket science.Seems as if this brain surgeon has been fooling a lot of people for a long time and understands sweet nothing about the constitution.

        I would say that anyone who does not understand the ,meaning of the first amendment to the constitution should not be President.

        How does the GOP keep coming up with these doozies.

      • Jon66 on September 21, 2015, 1:48 pm


        Perhaps more to the point, Article VI, “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

      • MHughes976 on September 22, 2015, 8:07 am

        Carson would argue, I suppose, that Islam is a religion which believes in the supremacy of the religious over the political organisation, or that the latter should be a branch of the former, and therefore that a Muslim President would impose (though maybe conceal) a religious test in every appointment made and indeed on every policy adopted. Many might reply that this is true of some, but only some, versions of Islam and no less true of some versions of other religions and of some versions of atheism. If Richard Dawkins were President he might be excessively unsympathetic to religious people when it came to assigning jobs.
        Perhaps there’s a hint of paradox – does the prohibition on religious tests imply a test to keep out forms of religion that would call for religious tests? There’s certainly a paradox in calling for religious freedom and then surrounding a particular religion – the religion, not the known behaviour of millions of its adherents who are citizens and neighbours – with fear, suspicion and paranoia.

      • Jon66 on September 22, 2015, 1:27 pm

        It doesn’t matter what “Islam” calls for. A candidate of any religion may run for office even if they think that others should be held up to religious tests. I think a fair question of any candidate would be, “Will you have a religious test for your appointees?” Of course any religious test like this would be unconstitutional and I would hope this would “disqualify” the candidate in the publics mind.

        Kennedy faced a number of questions and polls showed Romney suffered for his religion. Carson is just wrong about this.

      • TonyRiley on September 24, 2015, 6:33 am

        Care to explain how it can be that Christians are safer in Israel than in any Muslim country?

  2. Boomer on September 21, 2015, 10:22 am

    “We are going to kill you in the name of Christ . . . ”

    Wow. Despite the various religious wars of the past, people who say this aren’t actually Christians by any definition I would recognize.

    • RoHa on September 21, 2015, 10:28 pm

      “We are going to kill you in the name of Christ”

      Maybe they should first clear it with Christ.

  3. PeaceThroughJustice on September 21, 2015, 10:55 am

    This was the bait-click teaser for a BBC news story today —
    “Serial Faker: Was one man a neo-Nazi, feminist and jihadist – all at once?”

    Sadly I’ve learned how these stories usually turn out. And sure enough, clicking through, it turns out to be another defender of the Jewish people —

    To some he was an Islamist extremist, to others a radical feminist, to others a neo-Nazi. These are all online identities that seem to have belonged to Joshua Goldberg.

    For some reason the BBC shows no interest in the question of motivation for this strange behavior (although they do play up the “mentally troubled” angle). You have to go back to the original Australian story to discover that

    He publicly linked himself to Amnesty International, saying that he used to work there. The fake jihadi also claimed a friendship with anti-Islamophobia campaigner Mariam Veiszadeh, but only to smear her reputation.

    In online conversations, Goldberg said: “I wanna smear Amnesty and Mariam Veiszadeh…Amnesty is already in hot water over their links to CAGE, I wanna cement their jihadist connections and ruin their reputation. And Mariam is a Muslim whore, so smearing her as a jihadist should be easy.”

    (Notice the connection to Rita Katz, which the BBC also found uninteresting.)

    • Boomer on September 21, 2015, 1:33 pm

      Thanks, I had been curious about Goldberg’s motivation; none of the reports I’d seen explained that.

  4. HarryLaw on September 21, 2015, 12:41 pm

    The Rev Graylan Hagler is not the only brave person to be dis-invited. Professor Norman Finkelstein was dis-invited from a contracted talk at Pittsburgh University. The Association of University Professors [AAUP] wrote.. [T]he first condition of progress is complete and unlimited freedom to pursue inquiry…. Such freedom is the breath in the nostrils of all scientific activity.
    The University of Pittsburgh administration has elected to suffocate the freedom to pursue truth.
    Let us set aside the breach of a signed contract.
    Let us set aside the heavy hand of censorship at play.
    Let us limit ourselves to the elementary question:
    If the University believes that canceling my lecture is justifiable, why doesn’t it own up to its decision?
    Why is the University administration transparently and shamelessly lying?
    A large written and taped oral record exists of what happened.
    The University knows this and doesn’t care.
    It just brazenly lies.
    Is this of concern to faculty and staff at University of Pittsburgh?

    • Boomer on September 21, 2015, 1:34 pm

      Sad. I had regarded U. of Pittsburgh as a reputable school.

      • W.Jones on September 21, 2015, 8:24 pm

        It’s strange. I heard Finkelstein speak at U.Puttsburgh 10 years ago. Yet nowadays Finkelstein is on the right wing of the Solidarity movement since he doesn’t support the BDS Campaign because it doesn’t explicitly support a 2SS. Finkelstein is relatively less radical in terms of the Solidarity movement, so why should he have been disinvited?

      • annie on September 22, 2015, 3:56 pm

        he doesn’t support the BDS Campaign because it doesn’t explicitly support a 2SS.

        as i recall, that’s not true. i can see how it could be interpreted as such but i still think that is an inaccurate assessment. and it’s hard to imagine norm being “on the right wing” of anything.

  5. freespeechlover on September 21, 2015, 3:13 pm

    It’s up to the faculty and those who invite speakers to organize and go to the media when these things occur, if only the higher ed media. We cannot depend on administrators to stand up for academic freedom; that’s the faculty’s role in the institution.

    • JWalters on September 21, 2015, 6:49 pm

      I agree faculty members should lead this effort. They are the professional truth-seekers. But much of the faculty is also under financial pressure to keep quiet about the tyranny. Any uprising will most likely come from the students. They are the freest to speak the truth. A strong student movement makes it a lot easier for faculty members to speak up. A wave of strong student protests across the country changed the country’s view of the Vietnam war, wresting control away from the war profiteers, for awhile.

      The country would be well-served today by a massive movement of student protests over Israel’s crimes, and Israel’s crushing of free speech and democracy in America. No knowledgeable American patriot could stand for that, unless they are bribed or blackmailed, or both.

  6. JWalters on September 21, 2015, 6:34 pm

    The fact that the Nakba cannot be discussed in the mainstream media (because it never is discussed despite its central relevance to a major foreign policy problem), proves America is living under a tyranny. When you can’t discuss relevant facts about a political issue, by definition you have a tyranny. Especially when the first right in the Bill of Rights is free speech, especially political speech, then you definitely have a tyranny. So America is living under a tyranny, an Israeli tyranny. Let’s be upfront about that.

    Rev. Graylan Hagler is a courageous man for standing up to this powerful, dangerous tyranny.

  7. JLewisDickerson on September 21, 2015, 7:11 pm

    RE: “CUFI basically is a white supremacist group,” he [i.e., Hagler] said. The organization is led by John Hagee, a megachurch pastor and Holocaust revisionist who blames anti-Semitism on Jews. CUFI’s theology holds that Christians must support Israel no matter what, so that Jesus can return in the Second Coming—at which point he will save the world’s Christians and send people of other religions, including Jews, to Hell. “It’s not mainstream… It’s really not Christian theology at all. It is really imperialistic ideology,” Hagler explained.

    “The Zionist in winter” | By Gilbert Garcia | | November 12, 2008

    [EXCERPTS] . . . Nine months ago, Hagee endorsed Republican Senator John McCain for president over a more obvious choice, Southern evangelical Mike Huckabee. McCain had courted Hagee for months, and stood by the San Antonio pastor’s side while saying that he was “very honored” by the endorsement.

    Over the next three months, McCain found himself continually having to defend Hagee’s endless backlog of inflammatory pronouncements: that the Catholic Church is the “great whore” of scripture, that New Orleans brought the devastation of Katrina on itself by sinfully planning a gay-pride parade, that all Muslims want to destroy Christianity, that God will punish the United States if our political leaders urge Israel to give up some of its land (“This nation is going to go through a bloodbath because of what you’ve done.”), and that God sent Hitler to help drive the Jews to the promised land. Finally, after the slow drip of McCain repudiating Hagee statements one by one, on May 22, he rejected the pastor’s support, leading a bitter Hagee to announce that he would never again endorse a political candidate.

    Hagee has come to Cornerstone tonight because this is the 27th annual “A Night to Honor Israel” gathering, an event which defines Hagee in the Christian world. For all his wild, furious attacks on feminism, homosexuality, secular humanism, Islam, big-government liberalism, and the mainstream media, his true calling card is his obsessive concern for the future of Israel, a concern that runs so deep that he’s even willing to castigate Israelis and American Jews who show a willingness to negotiate with the Palestinians or contemplate a two-state solution in the region. . .

    . . . At no point do the Hagees, or their invited speakers, mention the names of any political candidates. The same holds true a week later at their pre-election “God & Country” service on Sunday, November 2. Nonetheless, they do plenty of implying, suggesting, and indirectly impugning.

    It starts with Matthew, who address the sea of blue-and-white Israeli flags on the floor of Cornerstone at the “Night to Honor Israel” with a blatant dig at Obama: “In a political season when the word ‘change’ has been overused as to have lost its meaning, concerning our love for Israel, nothing will change!” The audience responds with boisterous applause and shouts of approval.

    They get even more stirred up when keynote speaker Michael Oren, an author and senior fellow at the Shalem center in Jerusalem, calls Jimmy Carter’s 2006 book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, a “reprehensible” work, and the mere mention of Carter’s name earns a chorus of boos so hostile they would probably frighten a Philadelphia hockey fan.

    During his short statement, John Hagee affirms his commitment to the “truth” of biblical law, and caustically adds: “This truth is not what you would hear at night by the liberal media, or at the United Nations.”

    The U.N. comes in for much attack on this night, not with specific critiques, but with the relentless suggestion that they’re a bunch of do-nothing, one-world equivocators. . .

    . . . While Joel Hunter has won converts by building bridges between Christians and Muslims, Hagee argued in a 2006 NPR interview that “those who live by the Qur’an have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.”

    He’s nearly as tough on Catholicism, calling it “a Godless theology of hate,” and suggesting that Adolph Hitler was a Catholic at heart.

    “He said some very intolerant things about women, people of color, Muslims, and Jews. Catholics were just one group that was targeted,” says Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United. “Our concern was that this was shaping up to be a narrative in the election. We were hoping for an election season that was devoid of this kind of vision, where candidates would focus on the issues and how to move our country beyond this stuff. Instead, we had this agent of intolerance, the kind of which John McCain had once openly decried in his 2000 campaign, actively campaigning with him.”

    In the face of media criticism, Hagee, for one of the few times in his career, publicly apologized. He offered his “deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful,” though, in classic Hagee fashion, he directed the apology to the most politically conservative wing of the church: Catholic League President Bill Donohue, a brash media hound who branded John Kerry a bad Catholic during the 2004 presidential campaign.

    One of Hagee’s most prominent local critics, Rabbi Barry Block of Temple Beth-El synagogue, describes the pastor as well-intentioned but misguided.

    “I think that Pastor Hagee is a good man with whom I have very significant disagreements,” Block says. “I don’t have a real personal relationship with him, but he has very much been in our prayers for healing after his recent heart surgery, and I received a lovely, personal, handwritten condolence note from him after a tragic loss in my family this summer. So the disagreements are on principle, and not personal animus.”

    Block, who has never accepted an invitation to attend the “Night to Honor Israel,” contends that the McCain debacle may have altered Hagee’s view of his role in partisan politics, if not his political beliefs. “It seems to me that Pastor Hagee learned a great deal in the process,” he says. “Pastor Hagee himself says that he’ll never again publicly endorse a candidate and that it was a mistake for him to have done so, and I concur.”

    John Hagee was born to be a preacher, just like Peyton Manning was born to be an NFL quarterback, and John McCain was born to be a Navy pilot.

    A fifth-generation pastor, by his own count he’s the 47th member of his family to preach the gospel (including both of his parents). Hagee likes to say that he’s been preaching for 50 years, and it’s true that he first addressed a congregation at his father’s Houston church in 1958. But Hagee’s story really takes shape in 1975, when he divorced Martha Hagee, his wife of 15 years, and, in a letter to his Trinity Church congregation, confessed that he’d been guilty of “immorality.”

    By the time the divorce was final (with Martha gaining custody of their two children), Hagee had left Trinity and founded Caste Hills Assembly, the church that would eventually morph into Cornerstone. In 1976, he married Diana Castro, a 24-year-old member of his congregation.

    With his reputation badly damaged by the divorce and apparent infidelity, he found solace — and a new career niche — in the Holy Land. In 1978, he and Diana (then pregnant with Matthew) made a trip to Israel, and came back committed Zionists. In 1981, when Israeli air strikes destroyed Iraq’s prized nuclear reactor, Hagee felt the need to defend Israel against the harsh criticisms of the international media.

    Although he initially received little support from Jewish leaders (who looked at him “like he had a contagious rash,” according to Hagee) aside from Aryeh Scheinberg, a local Orthodox rabbi, Hagee inaugurated his “Night to Honor Israel,” meant to be a fundraiser for Jewish and pro-Israel causes, and a festive show of solidarity from Christians to the nation of Israel.

    Hagee says his support for Israel stems from a heartfelt conviction that Jews have an unshakable biblical claim on Israel, but skeptics counter that his end-times theology, largely derived from the menacing imagery of the Book of Revelation, depends upon a prophesied invasion of Israel by Russia and Iran. If Israel brokered a two-state solution in the region and achieved a lasting peace with its neighbors, Hagee’s end-times checklist would be disrupted. Consider this passage from his best-known book, Jerusalem Countdown: “`God` has dragged these anti-Semitic nations to the nations of Israel to crush them so that the Jews of Israel will confess that He is the Lord. America and Europe will not save Israel — God will!”

    In 2006, Hagee founded an organization called Christians United for Israel, generally described as a lobbying group. CUFI insiders, however, say the organization is merely a tool for building grassroots support for pro-Israeli causes (and opposition to a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians). They’ve developed college offshoots and raise funds through membership dues. The Cadillac of CUFI memberships is the Ambassador plan, for which you pay $25,000 annually, in exchange for a card, pin, certificate, magazine subscription, and invitations to dinners where you can be soaked for additional funds. . .

    . . . Hagee leaves most of the red-meat speechifying to Barton, a skinny, spellbinding orator in black boots and tight jeans who could easily be mistaken for a baby-boomer rock musician. Barton makes a persuasive case that Christianity (and evangelism, in particular) has been written out of American history. Again and again, he tells his listeners that elected officials don’t represent their constituents, they represent the people who actually come out to vote.

    Barton backs up his case with a PowerPoint demonstration of how evangelicals turned out in big numbers in 2002 and 2004 and brought in several new anti-abortion hardliners (Texas Senator John Cornyn’s head shot is one of those featured here). He adds that evangelicals stayed away in 2006, while more than 90 percent of gays and lesbians voted, resulting in what he calls “the most aggressive pro-homosexual Congress in history.” The obvious message: Don’t let this happen again.

    Two days after this church service, Barack Obama will easily win election to the presidency and the Democratic Party will expand its majorities in the U.S. House and Senate. Exit polls reveal that Obama received 78 percent of the Jewish vote.

    So Hagee is out of step with the commmunity whose interests he obsessively claims to represent, but that’s no surprise. Hagee has always represented only the most conservative, intractable fraction of the Jewish community, just as he has always represented only the most conservative, intractable fraction of the Christian community. . .


    • JLewisDickerson on September 21, 2015, 7:20 pm

      P.S. FROM WIKIPEDIA (John Hagee):

      [EXCERPTS] . . . John Hagee was born in Goose Creek, Texas, now part of Baytown, to the former Vada Mildred Swick and the Reverend William Bythel Hagee.[7] He graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, with a Bachelor of Science in History and Education in 1964.[8] He was on a football scholarship and appeared on the Academic Dean’s List.[9] Hagee received a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of North Texas in Denton in 1966 and completed his theological training at Southwestern Assemblies of God University with a Diploma in Theology in Waxahachie, south of Dallas. In 1989, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[10] In 2005, he received another Honorary Doctorate from Netanya Academic College in Israel.[11] Hagee served on the Oral Roberts University Board of Regents from 1989 to January 2008.[8]

      John Hagee was the leader of the San Antonio mega-church Trinity Church in the 1970s and is the father of two children with his first wife, Martha Downing. In 1975, Hagee was involved in a personal scandal in which he admitted in a letter to his congregation that he had been guilty of “immorality.”[12] He subsequently divorced his wife of 15 years and, one year later on April 12, 1976, married 24-year-old Diana Castro, his current wife.[13] Castro was a member of the Trinity Church congregation at the time of Hagee’s confession. As a result of the fallout from his divorce, Hagee resigned from his pastoral position at Trinity. Hagee and Castro have three children together.

      Hagee founded The Church at Castle Hills, on Mother’s Day, May 11, 1975. The church started with 25 members, but within two years, had to build a new sanctuary seating 1,600 people. The church continued to grow. On October 4, 1987, Hagee dedicated a 5,000+-seat sanctuary and named it Cornerstone Church. Dr. W. A. Criswell, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, anointed Hagee and Diana before the congregation.[14] . . .

      . . . The San Antonio B’nai B’rith Council awarded Hagee with its “Humanitarian of the Year” award. It was the first time this award was given to a non-Jew.[24] Hagee was presented the Zionist Organization of America’s Israel Award by U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. This award was given by the Jewish Community of Dallas, Texas.[25] He was presented the ZOA Service Award by Texas Governor Mark White.

      Hagee has been to Israel more than two dozen times and has met with every Prime Minister of Israel since Menachem Begin. . .

      . . . Hagee was the primary early funding source for the Israeli Zionist group Im Tirtzu,[29] which has pressured Israeli academics it accuses of being anti-Zionist and lobbied to have their funding cut for their political views.[30] . . .

      SOURCE –

      • RockyMissouri on September 23, 2015, 4:15 pm

        A thoroughly despicable human being. I am filled with revulsion every time I happen to see him.

    • JLewisDickerson on September 23, 2015, 7:47 pm

      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.”


  8. Marnie on September 22, 2015, 12:26 am

    “Hagler, who serves as Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C., strongly condemned CUFI. “CUFI basically is a white supremacist group,” he said”.

    This isn’t the first time Rev. Hagler received death threats by a white supremacist group. He’s an African American man living in the USA and has been active in civil rights for decades. CUFI = KKK = Republican party = Democratic party = USA; Yisrael Beitenu = Yesh Atid = Labor = Shas =The Jewish Home = United Torah Judaism = Ha’Tnuah = Im Tirtzu = Lehava = Zionist Enterprise.

  9. Citizen on September 22, 2015, 1:48 am

    Hagee makes my skin crawl.

  10. HarryLaw on September 22, 2015, 6:03 am

    Thanks JLD. Don’t suppose it would be wise to ask Pastor Hagee for a contribution to BDS, could elicit a ungodly response.

  11. just on September 22, 2015, 6:24 am

    Beinart takes on the glaring hypocrisy and mainstream hate:

    “What if Trump or Carson Were Talking About Jews?

    American Jewish leaders cannot confront anti-Muslim bigotry in the presidential race because they will not confront anti-Muslim bigotry in their own ranks.

    Last Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, who is running second in national polls, said he did not consider Islam to be “consistent with the Constitution” and thus “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” The previous Friday, a man in New Hampshire told Donald Trump, who is running first, that “We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims,” then asked, “Can we get rid of them?” Trump’s reply: “We’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.”

    When CNN asked fellow candidate Ted Cruz whether he agreed with the questioners’ sentiments, the Texas senator refused to answer. “The American people,” he explained, “are not interested in the food fight …” Candidate Rick Santorum would not answer either. “People are entitled to their opinions,” he declared, “whether I disagree with it or agree with it really isn’t the point. The point is that they have the right to say it.” (To their credit, candidates Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham criticized Trump’s response). 

    As it happens, the last few weeks have also witnessed a spate of attacks on American Muslims and their houses of worship: a rock thrown through a mosque window in Nebraska, a burned cross on the lawn of a mosque in upstate New York, racist graffiti on a mosque in Tennessee. And, most famously, the arrest of a Muslim high school student in Texas who brought his homemade clock to school.

    Imagine for a second that this was happening to us. What would American Jews be saying to each other if the man running second for a major party’s presidential nomination had just said that Jews were unfit for the presidency and Judaism was incompatible with the Constitution? What would we be saying if three prominent presidential candidates refused to condemn the idea that American Jews constituted a “problem” that needed to be gotten “rid of?” Imagine the mood in synagogue on Yom Kippur on the week these hateful, near-genocidal, anti-Semitic slurs were being broadcast across cable TV.

    Then imagine that the same presidential candidates who trafficked in, or excused, anti-Semitism, adored Muslims and Islam. Imagine if Cruz, while studiously avoiding synagogues, spoke frequently at American mosques. Imagine if Trump boasted about the fact that his daughter had converted to Islam.

    Imagine if polls showed that while only 47 percent of Republicans would vote for a Jew for president, 95 percent would vote for a Muslim.

    If this were the America in which we lived, how would we want American Muslims to respond to their privilege and our demonization? During the current epidemic of anti-Muslim bigotry, that’s the standard to which American Jews should be holding ourselves. And we’re not meeting it. It’s not even close.

    Yes, American Jewish groups do sometimes criticize Islamophobia. The Anti-Defamation League, to its credit, has called Carson’s comments “deeply troubling.” But five years ago, when Muslims proposed building an Islamic Community Center near the World Trade Center, much of whose space would be devoted to interfaith dialogue, the ADL came out in opposition. The organization has never apologized for so spectacularly betraying its mission of fighting bigotry. Abraham Foxman, who made the decision, remains the ADL’s National Director Emeritus. 

    The Zionist Organization of America regularly hosts speeches by Pamela Geller, a woman so fanatically anti-Muslim that she defends Josef Stalin’s deportation of Chechens and the Serbian genocide in Bosnia. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which rejected J Street’s application, considers ZOA a member in good standing. 

    The Republican Jewish Coalition’s most prominent member is Sheldon Adelson, who has said all the world’s terrorists are Muslim, called Palestinians an “invented people” and proposed dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran. The American Jewish establishment should loudly denounce any politician who demonizes an entire religious group. But how can it do so when one of its biggest benefactors does the same thing?

    American Jewish leaders cannot effectively confront the anti-Muslim bigotry marring the 2016 presidential race because they cannot effectively confront the anti-Muslim bigotry in their own ranks. That’s not just a failure of moral courage. It’s a failure of moral imagination. It shouldn’t be hard for American Jews to imagine ourselves on the other side when politicians scapegoat a vulnerable minority. But privilege can be a narcotic. On Monday, after a weekend in which Trump and Carson’s hateful words dominated the news, the websites of the Presidents Conference, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federations of America, and AIPAC said nothing on the topic at all. The message: It’s not our problem. 

    We claim to be a people with a long memory. Sometimes, sadly, it’s not long enough.”

    read more:

    “A long memory” has nothing to do with it, Peter. Surely you must see that. It was always part of the grand plan. And Graham, Bush and Christie may have “criticized” Trump’s response, but I’m reluctant to give them any “credit” for doing so. Any decent person who believes in the Constitution and in equality should “criticize” Trump’s and Carson’s pronouncements, and those 3 haven’t exactly impressed me as entirely decent, unbigoted, and unbiased people.

    Far from it.

  12. just on September 22, 2015, 8:00 am

    While the good and honorable Reverend Graylan Hagler is “disinvited to speak on Palestine, sent death threats”, AEI honors the master inciter, warmonger in chief, and jingoist on the same day that Mr. Obama actually opens the door to the horrible PM…

    “Netanyahu to Receive Award From Conservative Think Tank on Day He Meets Obama

    American Enterprise Institute has produced papers excoriating some of Obama’s signature policies, including his health care reform and the Iran deal. …

    … On Sept. 8, AEI was where former Vice President Dick Cheney lambasted the sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions deal, calling it “madness.””

    read more:

    From their ludicrous press release:

    “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Washington, DC (September 22, 2015) — American Enterprise Institute (AEI) president Arthur C. Brooks announced today that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will receive the 2015 Irving Kristol Award on November 9, 2015, in Washington, DC. The annual award, AEI’s highest honor, is given to individuals who have made exceptional practical and intellectual contributions to improve government policy, social welfare, or political understanding. The winner is selected by AEI’s Council of Academic Advisers. The award ceremony and dinner will be held at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.

    Currently in his fourth term, Prime Minister Netanyahu will share his insight into the Middle East; his take on US-Israel relations; and the growing challenges facing Israel, including regional turmoil, the rise of religious extremism, the impact of the Syrian killing fields, and the ensuing mass migration.

    During his many years in office, he has dealt with terror attacks against Israel and peace process negotiations with the Palestinians. He has reformed Israel’s economy, streamlined the government’s bureaucracy, improved access to education, and increased foreign investment to record highs.

    “It is an honor and a privilege to have Prime Minister Netanyahu join us for the 2015 AEI Annual Dinner,” said AEI president Arthur C. Brooks. “Israel serves as a reminder that a commitment to free enterprise, democracy, human dignity, and the courage to defend one’s values are the best model to lift up all people. For this and his many other contributions, we are pleased to present the prime minister with the 2015 Irving Kristol Award.”

    “I am honored to have been chosen to receive the Irving Kristol Award,” said Netanyahu. “I was fortunate to have known Irving, who was a towering intellectual, a stalwart friend of Israel, and a great champion of the US-Israel alliance. I look forward to receiving this award and discussing ways in which the unique friendship between Israel and the United States can continue to grow deeper and stronger as we confront the enormous challenges we face together.”

    The Irving Kristol Award was established in 2002 in honor of AEI senior fellow Irving Kristol, replacing the Institute’s Francis Boyer Award, which had been awarded annually for the previous 25 years. Previous recipients of AEI’s highest honor include Arthur F. Burns, Dick Cheney, Gerald Ford, Alan Greenspan, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. …”

    Makes sense for AEI. Not so much for the White House.

  13. eljay on September 22, 2015, 8:19 am

    … “Israel serves as a reminder that a commitment to free enterprise, democracy, human dignity, and the courage to defend one’s values are the best model to lift up all people. …

    – exists as an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist, belligerent, intransigent and religion-supremacist state;
    – is only selectively committed to “human dignity”; and
    – serves as a reminder that Jewish supremacism in/and a supremacist “Jewish State” trump justice, accountability and equality.

    Israel is not a model state any more than the serial rapist – who similarly believes in free enterprise, democracy, human dignity and the courage to defend his values – is a model citizen.

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