McCain’s pastor isolated after saying Shoah was ‘God’s plan’

John Hagee, the controversial American preacher and endorser of Republican presidential nominee John McCain, has vowed “to fight antisemitism and to support Israel” as he hit back at criticism over his contentious Holocaust theology.

Mr McCain recently cut his ties with the preacher — who founded Christians United for Israel — after a sermon by Mr Hagee came to light in which he explained the Shoah as a divine plan.

“A hunter is someone with a gun, and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter,” the preacher said in the sermon. “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’.” Calling the remarks “deeply offensive and indefensible”, Mr McCain said: “I did not know of them before Mr Hagee’s endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well.”

However, during a sermon at his San Antonio church last Friday, Mr Hagee insisted: “Our search for an explanation for evil must never be confused with an effort to excuse it.What is more important... is what we as men and women do here on earth to make sure that there will never be another Holocaust. We must give meaning to the words ‘Never Again’ through our actions. It is to this effort — this effort to fight antisemitism and to support Israel — that I now return.”

    Last updated: 4:11pm, June 19 2008