Cruz’s campaign defended an endorsement from a pastor who reportedly said Jews will be ‘hunted down’ in the end of days. The clergyman says his views were distorted.
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz’s strength in the 2016 Republican presidential primary seems to be drawn, at least in part, from the backing of high-profile figures from his party’s far-right fringe. according to an AP report. They are people, like his national co-chairman Iowa Rep. Steve King, who may be popular among the passionate conservatives who usually decide primary contests, but could turn off the swing voters and independents who typically decide general elections, according to several pundits.
King has compared those who cross the border illegally to drug mules and livestock, AP said, adding that Cruz also embraced endorsements from an evangelical leader who described Hitler as a hunter of Jews sent by God, and B-list entertainers like Phil Robertson, the anti-gay patriarch of the Louisiana duck hunting family featured on the popular cable TV show “Duck Dynasty.” Robertson faced a backlash for declaring in 2014 that gays are sinners and that African-Americans were happy under laws supporting racial segregation.
Cruz, who infuses his pitch to voters with readings from scripture and exhortations to “awaken the body of Christ,” appears to be betting that aligning himself with the stars of the party’s most conservative wing will ultimately deepen his base of support in the primary election and November’s general election alike, the AP report continued.
The Cruz campaign recently issued a press release promoting the endorsement of Kansas evangelical Pastor Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. Bickle believes acceptance of gay marriage is a sign of the end times, has described Hitler as a hunter of Jews and called Oprah Winfrey’s tolerance and popularity a precursor to the apocalypse.
Bickle runs a project called “Israel Mandate,” one of whose goals is “partnering with Messianic Jews for the salvation of the Jewish people,” JTA explained.
In a sermon in 2011, Bickle said God would give Jews a chance to convert to Christianity and “raise up the hunters” against those who refuse, calling Hitler “the most famous hunter in recent history,” JTA reported. In 2005, Bickle said in a sermon that before Jesus’ coming, “a significant number of Jews will be in work camps, prison camps or death camps.”
Campaign ‘Welcomes Support from Faith Leaders’
Nick Muzin, Cruz’s senior advisor, issued a statement, published by the Jewish Insider, saying: “Our campaign welcomes support from faith leaders across the country. Mike Bickle is one of the hundreds who have endorsed us. My understanding is that he was paraphrasing the words of the prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah. I know that he has made support for Israel and the Jewish people a central part of his mission. No one has a better record than Senator Cruz when it comes to standing with Israel, fighting against radical Islamic terror, and combating global anti-Semitism. That is why he has been endorsed by over 70 rabbis and Jewish leaders from across the country, including leaders of major Jewish organizations.
“In September 2014, Senator Cruz very publicly walked off the stage after being booed by a group of Middle East Christians in Washington, D.C., telling them, ‘If you hate the Jewish people, you are not reflecting the teachings of Christ,’ the statement continues. ‘If you will not stand with the Jewish people and with Israel, then I will not stand with you.’ A key component of our work in the evangelical and Jewish communities has been shared support of Israel. Last summer, Senator Cruz brought together evangelical faith leaders with Jewish organizations to try and stop the Iran nuclear deal. We are proud of the support we are building in both communities and see them as complementary, and part of our larger goal of restoring Judeo-Christian leadership values to America and the world.”
Muzin also quoted Bickle, who claimed that “several false statements [are] being promoted by the liberal press that distort what I believe. I am very committed to Israel – so is the ministry of IHOP. My point…is to stir the church up to stand with Israel in time of a future persecution as foretold by most of the Jewish prophets in the Bible.”
“I am proud to stand with men and women of faith,” Cruz said in a statement. “Hundreds of pastors, priests, and rabbis all across America have joined our campaign, and they knew a day would come where those who are hostile to religious faith would try to attack and break our unity. They will try to misconstrue our words and use them against us. We are not going to play that game.”