John Charles Hagee (born April 12, 1940) is an American founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a charismatic megachurch with more than 19,000 active members. John Hagee is the chief executive officer (CEO) of hisnon-profit corporation, Global Evangelism Television (GETV).
Hagee is the President and CEO of John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts his national radio and television ministry carried in the United States on 160 TV stations, 50 radio stations, and eight networks, including The Inspiration Network (INSP), Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), and Inspiration Now TV. The ministries can be seen and heard weekly in 99 million homes. John Hagee Ministries is in Canada on the Miracle Channel and CTS and can be seen in Africa,Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and in most Third World nations.
Hagee is the founder and National Chairman of the Christian-Zionist organization Christians United for Israel, incorporated on February 7, 2006. He has incurred controversy for his religious beliefs and comments regarding Nazism, Catholicism, Islam, homosexuality, Jews, andHurricane Katrina.
John Hagee was born in Baytown, Texas, to the former Vada Mildred Swiek and the Reverend William Bythel Hagee. He graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, with a Bachelor of Science(B.Sc.) in Mechanical Engineering in 1964. He was on a football scholarship and appeared on the Academic Dean's List. Hagee received a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from theUniversity of North Texas in Denton in 1966 and completed his theological training at Southwestern Assemblies of God University with a Diploma in Theology in Waxahachie, south of Dallas. Hagee also has a Master's and a doctorate in history from the University of North Texas. Hagee descends from a long line of Anabaptist Mennonite pastors, a somewhat curious fact in light of Mennonite beliefs (pacifism, aversion to war, forgiveness of enemies). In 1989, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 2005, he received another Honorary Doctorate from Netanya Academic College in Israel. Hagee served on the Oral Roberts University Board of Regents from 1989 to January 2008.
On August 26, 1960, Hagee married his first wife Martha; they had two children, Christopher and Tish. In October 1966, Hagee founded Trinity Church in San Antonio, Texas. Hagee and Martha divorced in 1975.
Hagee married his second wife, the former Diana Castro, a member of Trinity Church, on April 12, 1976. According to both biographies at John Hagee Ministries, Hagee and his second wife Diana have three children, Christina, Matthew, and Sandy, and eight grandchildren.Matthew Hagee, John's son, is the executive pastor of Cornerstone Church.
Hagee founded a new church, The Church at Castle Hills, on May 11, 1975, Mother's Day. The church started with 25 members, but within two years, had to build a new sanctuary seating 1,600 people. The church continued to grow; on October 4, 1987, Hagee dedicated a 5,000-seat sanctuary and named it Cornerstone Church. Dr. W. A. Criswell, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, anointed Hagee and Diana before the congregation.
Today, Trinity Church is located 7.3 mi (11.7 km) from Hagee's Cornerstone Church on the same stretch of highway in San Antonio.
Hagee has written a number of best-selling books and is a Southern Gospel recording artist. He, Matthew, Christina, and Sandy often travel together as the "Hagee Family Singers."
On his telecast of December 14, 2008, Hagee disclosed to the audience that he had recently undergone successful heart bypass surgery.
Hagee believes in traditional Pentecostal practices such as the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," He also believes in the "absolute authority of the scripture," baptism by immersion, and evangelism.
Hagee has denounced replacement theology, believing that chapters 9-11 of the book of Romans teaches that the Jews have continuing favor with God by the election of grace. He believes the Bible commands Christians to support the State of Israel and the Jewish people even though he has uttered remarks that some have interpreted as antisemitic.
Because the territory now known as Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank was ruled by the Ottoman Turks prior to World War I, then controlled by the British, and later partitioned under United Nations mandate, Hagee argues that the land does not belong to the Arabs, and that the name "Palestine" (deriving from that of the ancient Philistines) was imposed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to punish the Jews for their revolt against the Roman Empire. Hagee maintains there is no Palestinian language, and no historic Palestinian nation, and that most people identifying as Palestinians immigrated from other Arab states.
Hagee strongly and vocally supports an American-Israeli pre-emptive military strike on Iran.
In 2007, Hagee stated that he does not believe in global warming, and he also said that he sees the Kyoto Protocol as a conspiracy aimed at manipulating the U.S. economy. Also, Hagee has condemned the Evangelical Climate Initiative, an initiative "signed by 86 evangelical leaders acknowledging the seriousness of global warming and pledging to press for legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions."
Hagee denounces abortion, and stopped giving money to Israel's Hadassah Medical Center when it began performing the procedure.
He has spoken out against homosexuality, linking its presence in New Orleans to Hurricane Katrina as an act of divine retribution. He said in 2006, "I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are—were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area, that was not carried nationally, that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came." However, on April 25, 2008, Hagee clarified his comments regarding Hurricane Katrina by saying, "But ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina. I should not have suggested otherwise."
In his book Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, Hagee interprets the Bible to predict that Russia and the Islamic states will invade Israel and will be destroyed by God. This will cause the antichrist, the head of the European Union, to create a confrontation over Israel between China and the West. The book echoes predictions made in The Late, Great Planet Earth, the best-selling 1970 book co-authored byHal Lindsey and Carole C. Carlson.
The Christian Research Institute (among others) has strongly criticized Hagee's recent book, In Defense of Israel (2007), for apparently arguing that Jesus did not claim to be the Messiah for the Jews, only the Savior for the Christian Church, and therefore, that attempts should not be made to convert Jews. Hagee issued a statement denying the first of these allegations and promises to revise one chapter in a new edition to make his views clearer.
The San Antonio B'nai B'rith Council awarded Hagee with its "Humanitarian of the Year" award. It was the first time this award was given to agentile. Hagee was presented the Zionist Organization of America's Israel Award by U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. This award was given by the Jewish Community of Dallas, Texas. He was presented the ZOA Service Award by Texas Governor Mark White. HoustonMayor Kathryn J. Whitmire issued a special proclamation in his honor, declaring Pastor John C. Hagee Day.
Hagee has been to Israel 22 times and has met with every Prime Minister of Israel since Menachem Begin. John Hagee Ministries has given more than $8.5 million to bring Soviet Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel. Hagee is the Founder and Executive Director of "A Night to Honor Israel," an event that expresses solidarity between Christians and Jews on behalf of Jerusalem, the State of Israel, and the United States.
On February 7, 2006, Hagee and 400 leaders from the Christian and Jewish communities formed a new national organization calledChristians United for Israel (CUFI). This organization addresses members of the United States Congress, professing a Biblical justification for the defense of Israel.
Hagee was the primary early funding source for the Israeli Zionist group Im Tirtzu, which has pressured Israeli academics it accuses of being insufficiently Zionist and lobbied to have their funding cut for their political views.
Hagee has been criticized for his statements about Israel, the Roman Catholic Church, and Islam. One notable critic is journalist Bill Moyers, who claims that Hagee and other evangelicals are working toward supporting the religious right. He states, "Someone who didn't know better could imagine from the very name Christians United For Israel—CUFI—that pastor John Hagee speaks for all Christians. Well, he doesn't... What these fellows have forged is a close connection between the [George W. Bush] White House and the religious right."
Some Jewish leaders, such as Reform Rabbi Eric Yoffie, criticized Hagee for being an "extremist" on Israeli policy and for disparaging other faiths including Islam and Roman Catholicism.
After Hagee's 2008 endorsement of U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain, a furor arose over comments, broadcasts, and writings made by Hagee that were seen as anti-Catholic. After discussions with Catholic leaders, Hagee made an apology, which was publicly accepted by Catholic League President William Donohue.
When Hagee made the endorsement, the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights president William A. Donohue issued the following remarks regarding Senator John McCain's ties to Hagee:
Now that he has secured the Republican nomination for president, and has received the endorsement of President Bush, McCain will now embark on a series of fundraising events. When he meets with Catholics, he is going to be asked about his ties to Hagee. He should also be asked whether he approves of comments like this: "A Godless theology of hate that no one dared try to stop for a thousand years produced a harvest of hate." That quote is proudly cited by David Brog in his recent book, Standing with Israel. Both Brog and Hagee clearly identify the Roman Catholic Church as spawning a "theology of hate." This is nothing if not hate speech. There are so many good evangelical leaders in this country—Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Richard Land,Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer, Dr. Al Mohler, Chuck Colson—and none has ever insulted Catholicism.
The "Godless theology" quotation is taken from Hagee's 1987 work Should Christians Support Israel? (p. 4)
Hagee's attack against Christian antisemitism in his book Jerusalem Countdown claimed that Adolf Hitler's antisemitism derived especially from his Catholic background, and that the Catholic Church under Pope Pius XII encouraged Nazism instead of denouncing it. (pp. 79–81)He also states that the Roman Catholic Church "plunged the world into the Dark Ages," allowed for the Crusaders to rape and murder with impunity, and called for Jews to be treated as "Christ killers". (p. 73) Later in the book (pp. 81–2), however, he praises Pope John Paul II for repudiating past antisemitism in the Roman Catholic Church.
Hagee claimed in March 2008, "I've learned that some have accused me of referring to the Catholic Church as the 'great whore,' of Revelation. This is a serious misinterpretation of my words. When I refer to the 'great whore,' I am referring to the apostate church, namely those Christians who embrace the false cult system of Jew-hatred and antisemitism."
Donohue rejected Hagee's explanation as disingenuous: "Anti-Catholic Protestants have long labeled the Catholic Church "The Great Whore," and no amount of spin can change that reality. No one who knows anything about the term would suggest otherwise." Furthermore, Hagee did identify [the Great Whore of] Babylon as Rome in his book From Daniel to Doomsday (1999), in a way that melded reference to the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church: "The evidence would point to Rome...It was Rome where Nero wrapped Christians in oily rags and hung them on lampposts, setting them ablaze to light his gardens. It was Rome that orchestrated the Crusades where Jews were slaughtered...It was Rome that orchestrated the Inquisitions throughout the known world where "heretics" were burned at the stake or pulled in half on torture racks because they were not Roman Catholic." (pp. 10–11)
Hagee further responded to the charge in a videotaped statement and press release, categorically denying that he was anti-Catholic, on the grounds that his church runs a "social services center" that serves a largely Catholic constituency, that he supported a convent personally, that he had often denounced Martin Luther, not just the Catholic Church, for antisemitism, and that he did not interpret the "Whore of Babylon" as a reference to the Catholic Church.
On May 12, 2008, Hagee issued a letter of apology to William Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, expressing regret for "any comments that Catholics have found hurtful." He apologized for condemning Catholics for what he viewed was their persecution of Jews, and outright stated that he did not believe that, and many other previously held views, any longer. He also said that the "great whore" comments were taken out of context and were not directed at the Catholic Church. He went on to explain that his comments about the Catholic Church were made "[i]n my zeal to oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms. I have often emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews." Bill Donohue told Fox News, "I'm absolutely delighted... I haven't seen such a quick turnaround in the 15 years that I have been president of the Catholic League.... The tone of Hagee's letter is sincere. He wants reconciliation and he has achieved it." "Indeed, the Catholic League welcomes his apology," Donohue wrote in a press release. "What Hagee has done takes courage and quite frankly I never expected him to demonstrate such sensitivity to our concerns. But he has done just that. Now Catholics, along with Jews, can work with Pastor Hagee in making interfaith relations stronger than ever. Whatever problems we had before are now history."