McCain’s “Spiritual Guide” Wants a War With Islam

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about John McCain being “honored” to receive the endorsement of the pro-Apocalypse, pro-destruction-of-Israel preacher John Hagee, an endorsement which John McCain has refused to repudiate, even after the revelation of Hagee’s bigoted and outright nutjob ideas. Now it turns out that Hagee isn’t the only crazy religious bigot with whom John McCain wishes to be associated with:

On February 26, McCain appeared at a campaign rally in Cincinnati with the Reverend Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, a supersize Pentecostal institution that features a 5,200-seat sanctuary, a television studio (where Parsley tapes a weekly show), and a 122,000-square-foot Ministry Activity Center. That day, a week before the Ohio primary, Parsley praised the Republican presidential front-runner as a “strong, true, consistent conservative.” The endorsement was important for McCain, who at the time was trying to put an end to the lingering challenge from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a favorite among Christian evangelicals. A politically influential figure in Ohio, Parsley could also play a key role in McCain’s effort to win this bellwether state in the general election. McCain, with Parsley by his side at the Cincinnati rally, called the evangelical minister a “spiritual guide.”

And what does Parsley preach, you might ask? Well, as it turns out, Parsley is notable for calling for the United States to be at war with Islam. Not violent Islamic extremists, mind you–the religion of Islam itself.

Parsley is not shy about his desire to obliterate Islam. In [his book] Silent No More, he notes—approvingly—that Christopher Columbus shared the same goal: “It was to defeat Islam, among other dreams, that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492…Columbus dreamed of defeating the armies of Islam with the armies of Europe made mighty by the wealth of the New World. It was this dream that, in part, began America.” He urges his readers to realize that a confrontation between Christianity and Islam is unavoidable: “We find now we have no choice. The time has come.” And he has bad news: “We may already be losing the battle. As I scan the world, I find that Islam is responsible for more pain, more bloodshed, and more devastation than nearly any other force on earth at this moment.”


The spirit of Islam, he maintains, is one of hostility. He asserts that the religion “inspired” the 9/11 attacks. He bemoans the fact that in the years after 9/11, 34,000 Americans “have become Muslim” and that there are “some 1,209 mosques” in America. Islam, he declares, is a “faith that fully intends to conquer the world” through violence. The United States, he insists, “has historically understood herself as a bastion against Islam,” but “history is crashing in upon us.”

At the end of his chapter on Islam, Parsley asks, “Are we a Christian nation? I say yes.” Without specifying what actions should be taken to eradicate the religion, he essentially calls for a new crusade.

These are not ideas that the Presidential nominee from a major political party should so publically associate himself with or encourage. One of the major founding ideals of the United States of America was the ideal of freedom of religion. And last time I checked, Islam was a religion that one is free to practice in this country. Indeed, a lot of proud members of our Armed Forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are Muslim. Islam qua Islam is not an enemy of this country, and any suggestion of such is not only deplorable, but it speaks against one of the core principles of our culture.

I do want to get something straight–I do not mean to suggest, either in this post or in my last, that Presidential candidates should avoid being seen with or endorsed by key religious figures. I understand that one can be endorsed by and appear with a person with whom one disagrees. There’s no question of that and there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it.

That said, there are religoius leaders and there are bigoted, nutjob demagogues, and candidates should not appear with the latter. Both Hagee and Parsley comfortably fit into the “bigoted nutjob” camp. So why is John McCain, Mr. “Straight Talk”, Mr. “Integrity and Honor”, so willing to appear with them?

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Religion, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.


  1. Triumph says:

    Both Hagee and Parsley comfortably fit into the “bigoted nutjob” camp. So why is John McCain, Mr. “Straight Talk”, Mr. “Integrity and Honor”, so willing to appear with them?

    Uhh…because McCain has the same foreign policy views as these folks. His embrace of Bush’s radicalism is no secret. I’m not sure why you’re surprised that he would associate with people who share his basic foreign policy philosophy.

  2. Anderson says:

    So why is John McCain, Mr. “Straight Talk”, Mr. “Integrity and Honor”, so willing to appear with them?

    Because he’s going through the motions w/ these people. McCain has never liked the Religious Right – he probably thinks, as do some Dems, that they’re ALL nutjobs. He’s just pandering for votes.

    So, the idea that he should be distinguishing b/t nutjobs and non-nutjobs isn’t occurring to him.

  3. Anderson says:

    And what Triumph said.

  4. Beth says:

    Where on earth do you get that Rod Parsley (or Hagee, for that matter) is McCain’s “spiritual guide” because Mother Jones, of all publications, said so? What is this, a desperate attempt to manipulate Google to make it look as though it’s fact? Hey, maybe I’ll post something that says Obama is a Muslim or considers Louis Farrakhan is his spiritual guide, because some far-right kook publication said so!

    Give me a break.

    Furthermore, the fact that Parsley and Hagee endorsed McCain should be no surprise at this time. It’s not like they endorsed him when there was still actually a race going on–they endorsed the Republican nominee, and all of them (except R*n P*ul) are for the war on Islamic extremism. Big deal. It’s not like they’d endorse the Democrat, after all.

    I guess this is the attempt to equate endorsements with Barack Obama’s REAL “spiritual mentor,” Rev. Jeremiah Wright–who honors Farrakhan.


    because McCain has the same foreign policy views as these folks.

    Right. He and Bush have always said they want to “obliterate Islam.” In your deranged fantasies, anyway.

    The intellectual dishonesty and bankruptcy is mind-boggling. How people can live with themselves being so appallingly dishonest is beyond me.

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    This is an overreaction. Believers of any particular faith consider theirs the one true religion. Advocating your own faith over all the others and especially the ones encroaching on your turf is nothing new. Religious competition has been and is going on continually.

    Religious competition doesn’t necessarily mean violent confrontation. While Islam advocates it modern Christianity has a history of winning followers through the new testament teachings of love and forgiveness. I’m sure we could all go back and hash over the crusades again but it’s a different world now so let’s not.

    Upholding and promoting one’s faith is not bigoted. Recognizing a worldwide battle of religious ideas is not bigoted. Claiming your religion as superior to others is not bigoted. I find those characterizations nothing more than old leftist anti-religious establishment rhetoric. It’s tiring.

    If we take a look around the world it becomes very clear there is a religion threatening all others. Whether you are Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, or no religion at all you are at risk, that’s a reality. If we expect a peaceful detente we should first recognize those who we wish peace with. Slowly our country and it’s leaders are doing that.

    We do respect freedom of religion in this country but we also respect other human rights as well. What exactly are we to treat a religion that does not respect those other rights?

  6. yetanotherjohn says:


    I would have a lot more interest and respect for your position if you were being at all fair and balanced about this. I know you are in the tank for Obama, but perhaps you could explore the difference between having a pastor endorse you and putting yourself under the pastoral care of someone like Obama has. Obama, by continuing to go to church under this man, fund the church with donations and not repudiate him doesn’t seem to hit your radar. I wonder why?

    Brian Ross’s report for Good Morning America on Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, is potentially a huge problem for Obama. In the piece, Ross has clips of Wright delivering sermons in which he says we should not say God Bless America, but God “Damn” America, in which he calls America the US of KKKA (referring to how racist the country is), and in which he says about September 11 that America’s “chickens have come home to roost.”

  7. Anderson says:

    It’s not the endorsement itself, people, it’s McCain’s appearing on a stage with the guy.

    I could endorse McCain right here, right now, and he could scarcely be held accountable for my views.

    But if he hugs me onstage and says how happy he is that Anderson endorses him, then that is different.

    If Obama called Farrakhan a “spiritual guide,” you would be ALL OVER him about that.

  8. Alex Knapp says:


    I am actually in the process of researching Wright, Obama’s relation to him, and what Obama’s said about him. Probably have it up in the next couple of days. It’s a longer term relationship so there’s a little more to it than McCain’s one-and-outs that I’ve documented. My prima facie look, though, is not favorable to Wright.

  9. yetanotherjohn says:


    I’m glad to hear it. I was not impressed with your defense of an Obama volunteer who was showing support for a terrorist as not being something that could be laid against Obama, but then turn around and say that the voluntary remarks of a McCain supporter should be held as a sin against McCain. I quite frankly expected you to do the same sort of thing in this case.

    I would suggest that as you go through the Wright investigation you also examine some of the Obama’s campaign playing of the race card and compare that to Obama spending many years voluntarily going to this man’s church. Unless you hold that racism can only be by whites against blacks, I think you will see a huge amount of hypocrisy. And perhaps that will be the first step down the road of enlightenment on exactly what pig is in the poke you are buying.

  10. Alex Knapp says:


    The primary difference that I saw between the Che deal and the McCain/Hagee/Parsley deal is simply that McCain stood up with Hagee and Parsley and said that he was proud to have their endorsements. He called Hagee a great friend to Israel, even though Hagee openly advocates for the destruction of Israel.

    I need to know more about Wright and Obama’s relationship before I can render judgment one way or the other, but I won’t spare Obama just because I support his candidacy if that’s what the facts warrant.

    Please bear in mind that my endorsement of Obama, literally, is that he’s the “only politician in years that I don’t actively despise.” For me he is truly the lesser of three evils, and I disagree with a great many of his proposals. However, I find Clinton and McCain to be much, much greater evils. I’m not sure which one I’d vote for if they end up being the candidates in the GE.

  11. cian says:

    He’s just pandering for votes.

    And if he gets to be president, and if he wants a second term, there will have to be payback.

    These are strange people with troubling ideas and they are not without influence. Like many here, my respect for McCain is diminishing rapidly, my concern for what form his presidency would take growing proportionally.

  12. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I wonder how much time McCain has spent in Hagee’s church? Do you think McCain is a long time member? How much money do you think McCain has donated to Hagee’s church? Has McCain written a book based upon Hagee’s sermons? McCain got an endorcement from a religious leader, period. There are many things I disagree with McCain about, but none of those disqualify him from being President of the United States. I doubt you could call McCain a racist.

  13. Anastasia P says:


    McCain publically called Parsley a “spiritual leader” on February 26, 2008 in Cincinnati, as quoted by the COlumbus Dispatch. This is not some fantasy of Mother Jones magazine.

    Parsley’s messianic tendencies are well-known to those of us in Ohio. An entire chapter in his book Silent No More is devoted to an attack on Islam, he has called gays worse than ‘barnyard animals” and he has openly advocated for replacing the constitutional with Christian Biblical law. What Parsley likely wants from McCain is to be the equivalent of what Dobson is to Bush — the guy who’s on the weekly call, who’s consulted by the president on key issues, the guy who gives the thumbs up or thumbs down to judicial nominees. Parsley has a specific religious agenda he hopes to see fulfilled.

    No matter what anyone says about this or that person who has had some affiliation with Obama but never with his campaign or is a marginal person in his campaign (a local volunteer), Parsley stoof side by side with McCain and travelled with him on his campaign bus on Feb. 26, which is whole orders of magnitude different from something someone with no relationship to Obama’s campaign said.

  14. Dan says:

    I am amazed that the “Maverick” John McCain has gone to such lengths to court a minister who’s remarks are so nuclear. It was one thing that Hagee spoke anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic remarks, and now this “spiritual adviser” making outlandish remarks about Muslims, and writing about why this country was founded. This is not the John McCain of 2000, and his “Straight Talk Express”.