Last month we covered Pastor Mike Bickle‘s endorsement of Ted Cruz.
If you haven’t heard of Bickle, he’s the founder of the International House of Prayer and has quite the history of bizarre comments. In particular, he has a penchant for blaming Jews for the Holocaust.
The Lord says, “I’m going to give all 20 million of them the chance to respond to the fishermen. And I give them grace.” And he says, “And if they don’t respond to grace, I’m going to raise up the hunters.” And the most famous hunter in recent history is a man named Adolf Hitler.
The Holocaust, as Bickle tells it, was basically God’s way of punishing Jews for not being Christian. Never mind that religiously Christian people whose ancestors were Jewish — that is, people who fit Bickle’s description of having “respond[ed] to the fishermen” — were also targeted by Hitler. Ultimately, this is a blatant exercise in victim blaming, in which Hitler is cast as an instrument of God’s will and the victims themselves are responsible for the Holocaust because they didn’t “respond to grace.”
At the time, I wrote:
It’s true you can’t help who endorses you, obviously. But if crazy bothers you, you can always distance yourself from it. As RWW notes, “back in 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain was forced to reject the endorsement of John Hagee” after similar comments about the Holocaust surfaced. If McCain — the man who inflicted Sarah Palin on our nation — could figure that out, anyone can, right?
Cruz seems to have missed the memo. On the contrary, his announcement of the endorsement praises the work of Bickle’s organization, and expresses Cruz’s gratitude…
Ignoring these victim-blaming sentiments to praise Bickle was bad enough. But the Cruz campaign is never one to pass up an opportunity to go from bad to worse. So when the endorsement, for obvious reasons, did not sit well with some Jewish organizations and writers, the Cruz campaign clarified… that they were standing by Bickle’s endorsement. But they didn’t want to be blamed for it. Remember, everyone: Ted Cruz loves Israel.The clarification comes from Cruz’s senior adviser Nick Muzinis:
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.
This is a slippery response, whereby the Cruz campaign fully stands by (but also kind-of-sort-of distances themselves from) Bickle. But as McCain demonstrated in the 2008 election, it is perfectly possible not to throw your lot in with religious figures who blame Jews for the Holocaust. If that kind of thing actually bothers you, that is.
The fact that Cruz is not bothered by it — at least, not enough to actually disavow the sentiments — is unsurprising. Like Bickle himself, whose Israel Mandate project seeks to convert Israel’s Jewish citizens in order to “releas[e] the great end-time harvest among the nations,” support for Israel is an important part of Cruz’s theologically based politics. But religious obligation and respect are two very different things.
The sad irony of this, of course, is that a far more moderate believer like McCain ultimately displayed far greater respect for victims of the Holocaust than Christian fundamentalists like Cruz and Bickle — regardless of how they imagine themselves, in their self-appointed roles as the ultimate defenders of the Jewish people.