May 23rd, 2008
10:01 AM ET
14 years ago

McCain rejects endorsement of a second controversial pastor

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. McCain is pictured in this file photo with Pastor John Hagee whose endorsement McCain also rejected Thursday."]
(CNN) - Hours after his rejection of Pastor John Hagee’s endorsement, John McCain rejected the backing of Pastor Rod Parsley, who said that Islam was a “conspiracy of spiritual evil.”

"I believe there is no place for that kind of dialogue in America,” he told the Associated Press. “And I believe that even though he endorsed me, and I didn't endorse him, the fact is that I repudiate such talk, and I reject his endorsement."

The decision to cut off Parsley could have the bigger impact on the presidential race: in 2004, the Ohio pastor was a major figure in an unprecedented evangelical turnout operation that helped an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative pass overwhelmingly, and which was widely believed to have helped President Bush carry the critical swing state state – and the presidency - by a slimmer one.

The leader of the World Harvest Church in Columbus also founded the Center for Moral Clarity - an organization which has held that adultery should be treated as a crime – during the last presidential cycle.

Related: McCain officially rejects Hagee endorsement

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (550 Responses)
  1. John

    why are people talking as if Hagee's endorsement was 'nothing' – he and the other Republicans actively sought the endorsement to try and rally christian right behind their image... and Hagee, unlike people like say, Rev Wright, have already had their political message in the ear of presidents.

    May 23, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Sick&Tired

    CNN never post anything I have to say. I don't know why... maybe I am not edgy enough or say things that will hurt other people. but here goes nothing.

    To everyone who want to jump on Juan McSame for seeking those endorsements but didn't attend their churches should also know that. Bill and Hillary never attended a black church until either one of them are running for office. Politians to that often, so it's not surprising to see how these "fish-bone" type pastors ended stuck in McSame's throat.

    On the other hand, my candidate did not have to beg for any pastor's endorsement because he was a member of the church. There are things my pastor say that I can strangle him for, but I am not leaving the church because I feel that I am not there for him and there because of my love for lord and savior. So if I were to run for office and those things he had said come back to bite me.... I would make that point clear that I did not go to church for political gains like McSame and that it was for the love of God... by the way, when was the last time McSame attended a church service PERIOD.

    That's the difference, my friends.

    May 23, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  3. JC

    Senator McCain will not suffer the same degree of grief as Obama did with Rev. Wright, because McCain and these pastors look very white and the Clintons are now defeated flat.

    You have to give McCain credit for refusing to "forcefully", in Hillary's own word, denounce Rev. Wright. She demanded both Obama and McCain to speak the same negative language of hers, but they both refused. McCain took his stand and moved on, unlike Hillary spinning on Rev. Wright for months, because she wanted to tattoo BLACK to Obama's forehead. It is indeed "revolting" in Bill's own word.

    May 23, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. MD in GA

    I have a question instead of a comment. Do people really follow their pastor"s every word? Have no opinions of their own? No pray to their higher power without going through their pastor, priest, rabi, etc.? Guess it's just me...

    See I think that God gives us free will. So the idea that Senator Obama or anyone else would not have a mind of his own (dispite the rantings of the pastor at his church) seems kinda ridiculous to me. We aren't supposed to be following MAN. We are supposed to be following GOD. (Or whom ever your higher power is.) So to keep suggesting that Senator Obama couldn't or didn't make a decision without Rev. Wright implies that he doesn't have the same free will as the rest of us. Hmmmm...

    I think the dust up with Pastors Hagee and Parsley make the Rev. Wright issues pretty much null and void. Just not a conversation I think either candidate will want to have in the fall.

    May 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. Independent in Iowa

    There's no longer room for anti-gay initiatives, either. This is supposed to be a free country (whether you like homosexuals or not, we are supposed to be treated equally under law).

    As a gay man living in Iowa, I have to say I have a greater respect for Mr. McCain for being on Ellen Thursday. That was a risky move for a conservative.

    I'm a Hillary supporter but I could vote for McCain. At least I know what he stands for.


    May 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. MainStream America

    I am impressed. John McCain has actually taken a stand against the evangelical zealots within his party. However, I wonder if he will have the courage to take it a step further. Will he denounce and repudiate the Confederate flag because it is divisive and represents a symbol of hate?

    May 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Philip

    What goes around comes around!

    May 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. Leslie

    This man was not McCain's pastor. I doubt if McCain has ever been in this man's church. McCain wanted to get in with conservatives and knew that Hagee could help him toward this goal. In this case it was all about getting the votes.... I agree, don't waste your time on this one. It's a dud!

    May 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. Michigan

    Why all this discussion about pastors ? According to Article VI of the Constitution of the United States "...but no religious Test ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

    May 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  10. MMN - Milwaukee WI

    You know why McCain cares less about the new GI Bill? He already draws a pention check from the Navy. So why should he care about the young servicemen/wemen.

    May 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. Greg Pottstown, Pa.


    I could not agree more, however most people are not pure realist like you and me. I wish he did not have to go the way he did. I wish he would just say he was running a campaign I didn't sit and listen to it for 20 years.

    Roger if only their were more like us.

    May 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  12. Mister Anderson

    Okay John McCain, what about giving that commencement address to Liberty University when you were courting Reverend Falwell and all of his hate-filled post 9/11 speeches among other things?

    McCain = Hagee, Parsley, and Fallwell

    May 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  13. Chris, Buies Creek, NC

    It is logical fallacy to say Mr. McCain has a "pastor problem." These men endorsed John McCain on their own free will. Furthermore, Mr. McCain did not sit in the pews of their churches for 20 years like Mr. Obama did in his situation.

    The New Black Panther Party endorsed Obama. To tie Mr. Obama to that group and somehow say he supports their message because of their endorsement would be foolish. It is unfair to Mr. McCain to act like he has some kind of a "pastor problem."

    May 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  14. Jason

    This is completely ridiculous, and the big winners here are atheists. Oh, Reverend Wright is crazy, so Obama must be crazy. Hagee and Parsley are crazy, so McCain must be crazy. They're either both bad indicators of these individuals (McCain SOUGHT the endorsements) or they're not. Atheism is the big winner! Delegitimize every individual pastor out there and all of a sudden you're left with leaders stripped of connections to their spiritual leaders and soon, their spiritual convictions. Nice work America. Now every Pastor that's ever made one off-color remark gets thrown under the bus thanks to a hounding press and carnivorous public that does opposition research on anyone, no matter how loose the connection..

    May 23, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  15. Ken

    RayRay –

    "McCain is a man who trying to please the people for the moment for whatever advantage he can gain"

    So this obviously make him a better man than Obama, right?

    You have no clue about the dynamics of a church. My pastor often says things I do agree with, but he has been a solid spritual advisor. I don't go to my pastor looking for policy advice. I go to my pastor on matters of religion.

    May 23, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  16. Zoey

    I'm sorry Repubs, but Rev. Wright did not endorse Obama. Hagee endorsed McCain. The fact still remains that both candidates rejected their pastor and we need to move on.

    I got two kids that I need to feed and make sure they get a good education and have a cleaner earth to live in. Its arguments like this which causes a distraction from the real issues.

    May 23, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. Matt

    It is amazing how few Hillary supporters know how to spell. If you are going to use the word LOSER not LOOSER and STEAL not STEEL.

    May 23, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. Joe, San Francisco Values

    Just the latest example of the religious right being forced out of politics! They brought us Bush the last 8 years, and we all know where that got us. To all you hate filled bible thumpers; please stay home and go to church this election. You do not belong in politics, you have proven you do not speak for this country.

    May 23, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. Ross, Brooklyn, NY

    McCain criticized Obama about Rev. Wright and now he has had to reject not one but 2 pastors. I suggest both sides just leave pastors out of this. If McCain was a church goer he would realize that most church goers don't remember their pastor's sermons so there is no need to harp on it.

    May 23, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  20. ElcubanitoKC

    He didn't sit at this guy's church for almost 20 years. He never called him a mentor, a father figure, a guide. He didn't write a booke titled after one of his sermons. That's all that needs to be said.

    May 23, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  21. Paul, Tulsa OK


    I really dont understand these idiots who vote Democrat.

    Fact is, your party is the party of slavery, and despite the civil rights act are also the party of bigotry and anti-civil rights.

    As proven by JFK himself previous to being president.
    1958 when he and byrd and others said that blacks should never get full civil rights.

    May 23, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. Jody

    I don't see these as messages of hate – but of messages of reality as I read my Bible. If you truly want to see messages of hate – study Islam, especially those who support jihad. You do realize the radical muslums hate Americans, want you dead, no matter what you believe – because as they see you – you are American, an infidel and want to kill you. That my friend is hate. I don't hear Parsley saying kill people who belong to Islam – I hear him saying Islam is against God. The Bible tells us that everyone is enemies of God if there is not faith alone in Christ. Its not about hate – its about belief in the Bible and the hatred that many people in America and beyond have for Christians who will not back down from that.

    May 23, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  23. Montana is Obama Country

    McCain showed POOR Judgement when he accepted these guys into his circle of friends and MONEY.. McCain only wanted their money and followers to help him in the presidential election. McCain shows he will do anything, say anything and take anybody in to help futher his own personal goals.... NOT America...

    No Country For Greedy Ole Men.. McCain..

    May 23, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. Belle

    McCain's relationship with Hagee and Parsley does not compare and does not need to be explained. Hagee's and Parsley's endorsement of McCain is the same as Hammas endorsement of Obama-unimportant.
    I believe Obama agrees with Rev Wright completely. Otherwise, he would have been consistent instead of denouncing by degrees as it was politically expedient. I can understand Rev Wright's position. He grew up in a cruel world and it is no wonder that he is "bitter". I believe love and forgiveness (as taught in every church I ever attended) has a better chance of changing the world for the better, and we all know there is a lot that needs to be changed. While it is possible that Obama attended that church because of the people at the church and he was able to separate the wheat from the chaff in Rev Wright's sermons, there is no excuse for Obama taking his daughters to that church to be indoctrinated with that kind of hatred. It is just too late to explain that.

    May 23, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |

    You present this as if Hagee is his pastor and that is absolute BS.

    May 23, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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