Crowded GOP field vies for the Christian Zionist vote as Israel’s rightward shift spurs protests

by | Jul 20, 2023 | Religion

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — When John McCain was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, he was forced to reject megachurch pastor John Hagee’s endorsement after a sermon surfaced that was derided as antisemitic.But as the 2024 campaign for the White House intensifies, Hagee and his organization, Christians United for Israel, are welcome presences within the GOP.
Hagee and CUFI hosted several presidential contenders at their annual summit in suburban Washington this week, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence. They all pledged fierce loyalty to Israel and were unified in criticizing President Joe Biden as weak.
The event — and Hagee’s prominent role in it — was a reminder of how the GOP’s further embrace of Christian Zionism has been evolving from the fringe to the mainstream for years, especially after Donald Trump’s presidency reshaped the modus operandi of Republican politics.
CUFI’s annual summit has become a regular stop for Republicans wishing to showcase their pro-Israel and conservative Christian bona fides to the mostly white evangelical audience.
As Israel experiences a tumultuous rightward shift, support for its government has become key in courting the white evangelical Republican base, many of whom believe the state of Israel and its Jewish people fulfill biblical prophecy.
Former President Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, was not in attendance. According to CUFI, Trump was not invited to this year’s summit, though he has been in …

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