Catholics United Asks John McCain to Distance Himself from Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Posted February 28, 2008

Catholics United has issued a letter to the John McCain campaign asking him to publicly distance himself from Pastor John Hagee's anti-Catholic rhetoric and reject his endorsement.

On Wednesday, Senator John McCain was “honored” to receive the endorsement of the Evangelical pastor John Hagee. Pastor Hagee is well known for his anti-Catholic rhetoric such as past suggestions that the Catholic Church gave Adolf Hitler inspiration and support for the Holocaust. In a letter to John McCain’s campaign, Catholics United is asking the Senator to distance himself from Pastor Hagee’s anti-Catholic comments and reject the endorsement.

Pastor John Hagee has a long history of criticizing the Catholic Church. In his book, Jerusalem Countdown, Hagee has a chapter entitled “Centuries of Mistreatment” where he makes derisive claims against the Catholic Church. In one alarming and unsubstantiated passage, Hagee suggests that Hitler’s attendance at a Catholic grade school produced Hitler’s anti-Semitic world view. This rhetoric is part of a pattern of behavior employed by Pastor Hagee to discredit the Catholic faith.

Despite McCain’s support from Hagee, Catholics have been a prominent focus of the McCain campaign. This past December, his campaign launched an initiative called Catholics for McCain a host of prominent Catholic leaders. In a press release dated December 27th, the campaign stated that “Catholics for McCain will play an active role in educating and communicating fellow Catholics about why John McCain is the best candidate to successfully promote Catholic values in the upcoming election.”

“By receiving the endorsement of an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church, McCain is jeopardizing his supportin the Catholic community,” said Chris Korzen, Executive Director of Catholics United. “We hope Senator McCain will take the principled position of publicly and unequivocally distancing himself from Pastor Hagee’s anti-Catholic comments. Intolerance and bigotry do not belong in American politics.”

Catholics United joins a growing number of Catholics, such as Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and Deal Hudson of InsideCatholic in speaking out against Pastor Hagee’s anti-Catholic rhetoric. In a letter sent to the McCain campaign, Catholics United asks Senator McCain to address this issue by publicly distancing himself from Pastor Hagee’s anti-Catholic comments and by rejecting this endorsement.

To view the letter from Catholics United to Senator John McCain, click here.