Glenn Beck once said that no one is "more pro-Jew than I am." Next week, Beck will hold his "Restoring Courage" rally in Jerusalem to encourage people to "courageously stand with Israel."
But several prominent endorsers of his rally -- as well as the supposed experts that inform Beck's views on Israel and the Middle East -- have taken controversial positions about Jews and Judaism. Some have pushed Jews to accept Jesus as their savior, while others have made overtly anti-Semitic statements.
"A lot of the Jews are great friends of mine. ... But they don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country"
Billy Graham appears on a list of supporters of the Restoring Courage rally that Beck's team touted in an email to Congressional offices. In March, Beck recounted how he had been trying to secure a meeting with Graham for a long time, and was finally able to sit down with him. Beck said that he was given a "gift" by Graham, which he explained that he was not ready to "share" yet, but Beck believes this gift is "the answer."
In 2002, the National Archives released several hundred hours of Nixon tapes, including several that feature conversations between Graham and then-President Nixon. In one 1972 conversation, Graham said:
GRAHAM: A lot of the Jews are great friends of mine. They swarm around me and are friendly to me, because they know that I am friendly to Israel and so forth. But they don't know how I really feel about what they're doing to this country, and I have no power and no way to handle them.
Graham made other controversial comments in his conversation with Nixon:
In the conversation with Nixon, the Southern Baptist evangelist expressed disdain for what he saw as Jewish domination of the media.
"This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country's going down the drain," Graham said, agreeing with Nixon's comments earlier in the conversation.
"You believe that?" Nixon says in response.
"Yes, sir," says Graham.
"Oh boy. So do I," Nixon agrees, then says: "I can't ever say that, but I believe it."
"No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something," Graham says, reassuring the president. [Associated Press, March 2, 2002]
Following public outrage over his comments, Graham apologized, saying that though he had no recollection of making the comments in question, "they do not reflect my views and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks."
From the Associated Press:
The Rev. Billy Graham has apologized for a 1972 conversation with former President Richard Nixon in which he said the Jewish "stranglehold" of the media was ruining the country and must be broken.
The conversation was among 500 hours of Nixon tapes released by the National Archives. Most were recorded between January and June 1972.
"Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office conversation with President Nixon ... some 30 years ago," Graham, the prominent Southern Baptist evangelist, said Friday in a statement released by his Texas public relations firm. "They do not reflect my views and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks." [AP, March 1, 2002]
"I am not now nor have I ever been Dual Covenant!"
Controversial pastor John Hagee -- whose long history of odious comments includes blaming Hurricane Katrina on a planned gay pride parade in New Orleans -- was a guest on Beck's Fox News show several times, and has also appeared on Beck's radio program in recent weeks. In July, Beck gave the keynote speech at the Washington, D.C., summit for Hagee's group, Christians United for Israel.
Hagee also appears on the list of rally supporters Beck's staff sent to Congressional offices last month.
In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain was forced to reject Hagee's endorsement after revelations that Hagee once suggested that in order to encourage the Jewish people to return to Israel, God had allowed Adolf Hitler to perpetrate the Holocaust. As reported by The Washington Post:
Sen. John McCain on Thursday repudiated the presidential endorsement of the Rev. John Hagee after learning about a sermon in which the megachurch pastor from San Antonio declared that God allowed the rise of Adolf Hitler because it resulted in returning Israel to the Jewish people.
This week, a new controversy over his preaching began when a video started circulating of a sermon, delivered in the late 1990s, in which Hagee calls Hitler a "hunter," a reference to the Book of Jeremiah, which quotes God saying he "will restore" the Jews "to the land I gave to their forefathers."
"Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter," Hagee says in the sermon. "And the Bible says -- Jeremiah writing -- 'They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill out of the holes of the rocks,' meaning there's no place to hide. And that will be offensive to some people but don't let your heart be offended. I didn't write it, Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel."
When asked what McCain thought of the remarks, spokesman Tucker Bounds responded with an e-mail from the candidate denouncing Hagee. "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them," McCain said. "I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well." [The Washington Post, May 23, 2008]
In a 2008 interview with Ami Eden of JTA, Hagee was asked if he believes "Jewish suffering is a form of divine retribution," and responded, "No, I do not. I learn from the Bible that the children of Israel were punished by God for their iniquities. But I do not presume to explain Jewish suffering in modern times. I only seek to alleviate it."
Christians United for Israel has a firm policy against proselytizing to Jews. In a 2010 column, Hagee explains that, "the first rule adopted by Christians United for Israel was that there would be no proselytizing at our events":
Given the history of Christian antisemitism, I am not at all surprised that many in the Jewish community are skeptical of Christian support for Israel. Some worry that our efforts are motivated by a desire to convert Jews. Others posit that our Zionism is tied to an effort to speed the second coming of Jesus. Both of these allegations are flat wrong. All we ask of our Jewish friends is that they get to know us before they judge us harshly on the basis of myths such as these.
Like all people of faith, we Christians firmly believe that our religion is true. But we also believe in religious freedom and have enormous respect for the Jewish faith. The first rule adopted by Christians United for Israel was that there would be no proselytizing at our events. CUFI exists only to honor and support the Jewish people, never to convert them.
Hagee is nonetheless outspoken about his belief that "the Jewish people" will "recognize Jesus as the Messiah" at "the end of the Tribulation." From Hagee's most recent book:
A second reason for this great display of God's awesome power is to testify to His beloved Jewish people that He alone is their God. Through their miraculous deliverance, the hearts of the Jewish people will begin to soften toward the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
[Hagee excerpts Ezekiel 39:22-29]
Note carefully that the Jewish people at this point in time do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. The Bible is very clear that this will happen at the end of the Tribulation, when the Jewish people...
"will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for his firstborn." - Zechariah 12:10
That is the day, the Scripture declares, when "all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26). [Can America Survive? pp. 242-243]
Hagee has been criticized by some evangelical Christians over comments he has made that have been interpreted at a tacit endorsement of "Dual-covenant" theology, which posits that the Jewish people have a special covenant with God and do not need to accept Jesus as Messiah in order to be saved and reach Heaven.
But in a June post on his ministry's Facebook page, Hagee responded to the "unsubstantiated rumors" and announced that "I am not now nor have I ever been Dual Covenant!"
I am writing in response to your concerns regarding unsubstantiated rumors that I believe in Dual Covenant. I am not now nor have I ever been Dual Covenant! I have been preaching the gospel for more than half a century. Nearly every Sunday for over 53 years, I have stood in front of Christian audiences to clearly proclaim the glory of our Lord, Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ. For more than 30 years, these weekly sermons have been beamed to millions around the world on Christian television.
I was surprised and somewhat disappointed to learn that some people are interpreting my unconditional love and support of the Jewish people through numerous Night to Honor Israel celebrations throughout the country as a rejection of this most essential Christian belief that Jesus came to earth as the Messiah as promised in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Given my long years of preaching the gospel to so many, it simply never occurred to me that anyone would question my belief in the fundamentals of the faith (Acts 4:12).
Over the centuries, Christians have been quick to condemn the Jews for their faith and this destructive approach has led to replacement theology and the viewpoint of some that God has rejected and broken covenant with the Jewish people. These ill-fated concepts, in turn, opened the door to a vicious Christian anti-Semitism that led to the Crusades, the Inquisition, countless pogroms, and ultimately the Holocaust.
I have challenged this misconception by highlighting a distinction that has been long recognized in Christian theology between the role Jesus played in His first coming and the role He will play in His second coming. Jesus came the first time as the suffering Messiah, as exemplified by His persecution, rejection and crucifixion. Jesus will come back as the reigning Messiah, who will rule the world from His throne in Jerusalem as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
In numerous speeches and books, Hagee has asserted that he believes the Second Coming of Jesus is close. Hagee's latest book is titled Can America Survive? 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation and lays out his evidence that the generation alive now will be the one to witness Rapture, the Battle of Armageddon, and the Second Coming.
Last year, Beck hosted Hagee during an edition of his Fox News program that he said was going to give us a "look at the news" through the "prism" of a "few brave preachers" that are examples of "people that need to start standing up." During the show, Beck plugged Hagee's "excellent" book, Can America Survive?, and said that "a lot of the pieces that have never been here for the prophecy are here now."
"Jews are turning to Jesus in record numbers, and they are getting excited about His Second Coming."
Beck has hosted End Times-obsessed author Joel Rosenberg on his radio program and his now-defunct Fox News show. Rosenberg also features prominently Beck's documentary "Understanding the Holy Land," which gives a history of Israel through the lens of its role in End Times prophecies.
During a February appearance on Beck's show, where Rosenberg was invited to discuss the prospect of an Islamic caliphate, Beck introduced Rosenberg by saying, "Everybody who is on my program today are friends of mine and I've known for a long time. And they're friends because they will tell you like it is." Beck also described Rosenberg as an "expert on the Middle East." Beck's website features Rosenberg's most recent novel, The Twelth Imam, in its "Recommended Reading" section.
Rosenberg writes extensively about the various "signs" indicating the Second Coming of Jesus Christ may be imminent (including the "supersign" that was the "rebirth of Israel in 1948").
On his website, Rosenberg is described as "a follower of Jesus Christ with a passion to make disciples of all nations and teach Bible prophecy."
In a section about his "spiritual journey," Rosenberg celebrates the "record numbers" of Jews "turning to Jesus" and "getting excited about His Second Coming":
Not long ago I was in Israel doing research for my fourth novel, The Copper Scroll. I was having coffee at the King David Hotel with the head of a Messianic Jewish congregation. As we looked out over the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, I asked him, "In 1967, when I was born, how many sabras - native Israeli Jews - believed in Jesus?"
"Maybe five, maybe six," he said.
"How many Israeli Jews overall in 1967 believed Jesus was the Messiah?" I asked.
"Based on my research, less than two hundred," he said.
Worldwide, there were only a couple of thousand Jewish believers in Jesus.
How much the world has changed since then. Today, there are between 7,000 and 10,000 Jewish believers in Jesus in Israel alone, and worldwide, conservative estimates put the number at somewhere between 75,000 to 100,000. Some believe the number is closer to 250,000. What a startling increase, and my father, and I, and three of my four sons are part of those numbers, part of that dramatic trend. Jews are turning to Jesus in record numbers, and they are getting excited about His Second Coming.
Which leads us back to the question I am asked so often, "How can a Jewish person believe in Jesus?"
It is simple, really. By coming to the realization that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies set forth in the Jewish Scriptures. By realizing that Daniel 9:27 says that the Messiah had to come before the Second Temple would be destroyed, and Jesus did just that (and predicted the Temple's destruction as well). By believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth that that Jesus' death on the cross served as a once-for-all-time sacrifice to wash away your sins, and that His resurrection from the dead is proof of His divinity, proof that He is who He says He is: the only way to heaven. And by accepting that Jesus really is the Anointed One we Jewish people were waiting for - come to love us, come to save us, come to give us hope and purpose and a new, abundant, transformed life, better than we could have ever hoped for, dreamt of, or imagined.
He is coming back soon. Maybe sooner than you think.
In a post on his blog, Rosenberg suggests that the only way Arabs and Israelis can reach a lasting peace is for "Jesus Christ -- the Prince of Peace -- to change men's hearts and reign in our hearts":
The only way to make lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and Arabs is for Jesus Christ -- the Prince of Peace -- to change men's hearts and reign in our hearts. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" so I'm all for diplomatic efforts that don't defy the Scriptures. But what I really love is to meet Arabs and Jews who once hated or despised each other but have come to faith in Jesus and have developed a deep and sincere love for their neighbors and their enemies. Only the Holy Spirit of God can do that.
Unfortunately, Arab believers in Jesus are far too often ignored, overlooked, or even rejected by Western Christians who love Israel. But I strongly believe we are supposed to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. We need to encourage and pray for Arab believers, as well as Jewish believers. I haven't always done a good job of this, but I'm personally working on building more and better relationships with my Arab Christian brothers and sisters. Jesus loves them dearly; so should I.
During a speech at the 2011 Epicenter Conference in Jerusalem, Rosenberg laid out how he believes we are fast-approaching Rapture and the return of Jesus Christ. Discussing the events of the post-Rapture Tribulation, Rosenberg explains that "only falling upon the name and calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that's the only way that we can be saved."
A bit later, Rosenberg said that when Jesus Christ physically returns to earth, there will be "no opportunity to say, 'Is this your First Coming or your Second?'... You have to make that decision before then and if you've never made that decision, I pray that today will be Day of the Lord, as you receive him into your heart."
ROSENBERG: This is an intensifying time of shaking in the world -- literally, massive earthquakes and other natural disasters, as well as spiritual and geopolitical and financial shakings that the Lord takes the world through.
Why? To get people to stop - to let go of any political, philosophical, religious, intellectual ideas that they are holding on to that are insufficient for salvation. The Lord is going to shake the world hoping that we will say, whatever we were holding on to, whatever we were trusting is insufficient for peace now in our own hearts and to get us through difficult times - nor is it sufficient to get us into heaven. Only falling upon the name and calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that's the only way that we can be saved. The only way we can find peace.
So the last days of that whole sweep of history, intensifying in the period we are in now, building toward the Day of the Lord. Okay, so what then is the Day of the Lord, and the similar constructions: That Day, or The Day. What does it mean? Well, this phrase is the Biblical term to refer to the culmination of the Last Days. It's the actual, physical, literal, Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This will include the day that the Lord wins the Battle of Armageddon. This is the day that the Lord literally wins the Battle of Jerusalem. This is the day when the Lord Jesus Christ's feet literally, actually, physically touches down on the Mount of Olives, splitting the mountain in two.
This is the Day of Great Judgment, at which point there is no opportunity to say, "Is this your First Coming or your Second?" This is that moment where you have already given your final answer - it is locked, as the game show refers. You don't have that opportunity at that moment when the Lord is touching down to say "Okay, I'm in." You have to make that decision before then, and if you've never made that decision, I pray that today will be Day of the Lord, as you receive him into your heart. And of course, the Day of the Lord sets into motion Jesus Christ reigning from this city, setting up his millennial kingdom. His actual, literal, thousand year reign.
It's one of the most extraordinary prophetic events described in the scriptures in all of human history, and it will come to pass here in this land, in this city, and soon.
Joel Rosenberg was our guest speaker for a special evangelistic event we recently hosted. A spell-binding story-teller, Joel easily kept people's attention and often had people laughing out loud as he described how God is using him in these days. I appreciate the fact that Joel makes God the hero of his stories rather than keeping the attention on himself. Joel really gives his listeners great insight on current events and people go away asking the kind of questions that lead them to God.
Jews For Jesus
Nevertheless, in a 2010 article for American Thinker, Richard Baehr writes of his interview with Rosenberg, "Rosenberg does not believe that evangelical support for Israel is related to an attempt to proselytize Jews":
Rosenberg does not believe that evangelical support for Israel is related to an attempt to proselytize Jews. At the same time, he said that evangelicals cannot check "Jesus at the door," since Jesus was so central to their lives, and they would not want to shut the door to those who might find what Christian believers had found for themselves. Rosenberg said that while very few Jews convert to Christianity, there are many Muslims who became Christian -- a story that is not often told, which in part explains the ferocious response to Christian minorities in some Islamist states.
"[T]he Lord will once again deal specifically with the nation of Israel, bringing the Jewish people to faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah they rejected almost two thousand years ago."
Tim LaHaye is the co-author of the hugely popular Left Behind book series about the End Times, as well as several non-fiction books about how the Second Coming is probably imminent. Like Rosenberg, LaHaye is featured in Beck's documentary about Israel, "Understanding the Holy Land." The documentary discusses the history of Israel, mostly through its role in fulfilling End Times prophecies.
In a 1999 article for Slate, Jeffrey Goldberg writes that "of all the evangelical leaders I have interviewed, LaHaye is capable of some of the most anti-Semitic utterances." Goldberg quotes LaHaye as saying, "Some of the greatest evil in the history of the world was concocted in the Jewish mind":
There is only one road to salvation for Jews, and that road runs through Jesus, LaHaye told me. To his credit, though, LaHaye doesn't believe that the Antichrist will be Jewish. He will be a European gentile, who will kill lots of Jews. "The Jews will be forced to accept the idolatry of the Antichrist or be beheaded," he said. This will take place during the seven-year Tribulation.
Jewish suffering, though, is divinely ordained. Even though the Antichrist will not be Jewish, Jews are still capable of great evil and have often been punished for their evil, LaHaye explained. "Some of the greatest evil in the history of the world was concocted in the Jewish mind," LaHaye told me, for reasons that aren't entirely clear--he knew what the name "Goldberg" generally signifies. "Sigmund Freud, Marx, these were Jewish minds that were infected with atheism."
I asked LaHaye to tell me more about the Jewish mind.
"The Jewish brain also has the capacity for great good," he explained. "God gave the Jews great intelligence. He didn't give them great size or physical power--you don't see too many Jews in the NFL--but he gave them great minds."
Of all the evangelical leaders I have interviewed, LaHaye is capable of some of the most anti-Semitic utterances, which is troublesome, because he is also the most popular author in the evangelical world. [Slate, November 5, 1999]
Like Hagee, LaHaye believes that the only way Jews can reach salvation is by accepting Jesus.
In his book Are We Living in the End Times?, LaHaye describes the period of Tribulation as a "terrifying period of seven years in which God pours out His wrath on a rebellious and unbelieving mankind" and also the time in which the Lord will bring "the Jewish people to faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah they rejected almost two thousand years ago."
The Tribulation is a terrifying period of seven years in which God pours out His wrath on a rebellious and unbelieving mankind. It is also "the time of Jacob's trouble," in which the Lord will once again deal specifically with the nation of Israel, bringing the Jewish people to faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah they rejected almost two thousand years ago. [Are We Living In The End Times?, page 153]
"All around us, we see the signs. The needs are great. Our work is urgent. The time for evangelism is short."
Billy Graham's son, Franklin, also appears on the list of supporters for Beck's Restoring Courage rally. Franklin Graham is a prominent evangelist, and delivered the invocation at President George W. Bush's inauguration in 2001. He is the president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse, a Christian organization that does humanitarian work around the world. Samaritan's Purse has also been involved in efforts to persuade Jews to accept Jesus.
In addition to providing aid and running relief projects around the world, Samaritan's Purse seeks to "promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ."
For over 40 years, Samaritan's Purse has done our utmost to follow Christ's command by going to the aid of the world's poor, sick, and suffering. We are an effective means of reaching hurting people in countries around the world with food, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ. This, in turn, earns us a hearing for the Gospel, the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Graham, like so many of the other religious figures who shape Beck's views on Israel and the Middle East, thinks the Second Coming of Christ is approaching. Writing about the humanitarian work of Samaritan's Purse in their 2009 Annual Report, Graham says that there are signs that "Jesus Christ will soon return," so the "time for evangelism is short":
The Bible tells us in Matthew 24 that widespread earthquakes are a sure sign--along with wars, famines, persecution, hatred, false prophets, and increased wickedness--that Jesus Christ will soon return. All around us, we see the signs. The needs are great. Our work is urgent. The time for evangelism is short.
However, Good News is dawning. "He who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:13b-14).
Thank you for standing firm with Samaritan's Purse as we work to reach a dying world with the message of eternal life in Jesus Christ. May God richly bless you.
Samaritan's Purse has also been directly involved in efforts to convert Jews to Christianity. A 2004 article in the Samaritan's Purse "Prayerpoint" magazine details how the organization provided 1,000 Bibles to a group seeking to convert Russian Jews to Christianity. The article proclaims that "many are coming to faith in Jesus -- Yeshua in Hebrew -- as their promised Savior and Redeemer."
In partnership with a Russian Messianic congregation, the Omega Project began by mailing 60,000 postcards offering Bibles to Jews in a remote Siberian city. More than 2,600 responded to the offer. Cards are now being sent to Jewish households in other Russian cities, and more than 7,000 have asked for Bibles. Samaritan's Purse provided 1,000 of these Bibles to help meet the demand.
Through this ministry, Russian Jews who might never have picked up a traditional Bible are reading God's Word for themselves. And many are coming to faith in Jesus -- Yeshua in Hebrew -- as their promised Savior and Redeemer.
"I read the Messianic prophecies featured at the back of the book and realized that Yeshua is my Messiah," said a young Jewish man in Moscow. "Now, as a follower of Yeshua, I live to tell others'"
Describing the effort in an annual report, Samaritan's Purse writes that they "shared Christ's love in other parts of Russia by funding the printing of 1,000 Bibles for Russian Jews":
Samaritan's Purse shared Christ's love in other parts of Russia by funding the printing of 1,000 Bibles for Russian Jews, helping build a playground for children who survived the terrorist attack in Beslan's School Number 1, and supporting two Christian coffeehouses where young people can hear Gospel music and the Good News of eternal life.
From an Omega Project leaflet promoting their program to provide "A Bible For Every Russian Jew":
Oliver Willis contributed to this report.