(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/22/2008) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today welcomed Sen. John McCain’s rejection of bigoted Texas pastor John Hagee’s endorsement, and called on the presidential candidate to “unequivocally distance himself” from Ohio pastor Rod Parsley.
News reports today indicate that McCain has decided to “reject” John Hagee’s endorsement and “repudiate” his remarks. McCain’s rejection comes after recent reports that Hagee said, “Hitler was a hunter,” referring to the Nazi Holocaust. In his statement, McCain said of the pastor’s hateful remarks that he “did not know of them before Reverend Hagee’s endorsement.”
SEE: McCain Rejects and Denounces Hagee (NBC News)
Rod Parsley, pastor of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, Ohio, similarly supported McCain’s presidential campaign after the candidate sought Parsley’s endorsement early this year. McCain has praised Parsley, saying he is “one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide.”
SEE: Video: McCain’s ‘Spiritual Guide’ Wants America to Destroy Islam (Brave New Films)
Parsley has referred to Islam as an “anti-Christ religion” and has expressed support for “seeing this false religion [Islam] destroyed.” He also described Islam’s prophet Mohammed as “the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil.”
SEE: McCain Pastor: Islam Is a ‘Conspiracy of Spiritual Evil’
SEE ALSO: McCain’s Pastor Problem (Mother Jones)
In a statement, CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor said:
“Senator McCain said he chose to reject Reverend Hagee’s support after learning some of the hateful comments he has made. With similar disturbing statements by Reverend Parsley circulating widely on the Internet, it’s time for the senator to renounce the endorsement of this second bigoted pastor.
“Millions of American Muslims may feel unsafe knowing that a candidate for the highest office in the country would embrace a man who demonizes them as “spiritually evil” and believes our country was founded, in part, to destroy their faith.
“In the interest of best positioning any future administration to defeat the narrative of anti-American extremists, we call on Senator McCain to unequivocally distance himself from Pastor Rod Parsley.”
Last year, CAIR called on McCain to appoint a Muslim campaign advisor and a Muslim White House aide if elected in 2008. That request came following the senator’s statement that America is a “Christian” nation and that he would not be comfortable with a Muslim in the White House.
In response to a question from Beliefnet.com about the possibility of a Muslim presidential candidate, McCain said: “I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, that’s a decision the American people would have to make, but personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith.”
SEE: McCain Casts Muslims as Less Fit to Lead (NY Times)
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, Tel: 202-384-8857, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Strategic Communications Director Ahmed Rehab, Tel: 202-870-0166, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org