The Cruz campaign is standing behind the endorsement from a Kansas pastor despite protests of his “abhorrent, intolerant and unacceptable” teachings about Jews.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been touting his coalition of faith-based supporters as he tries to win the backing of southern conservatives. Cruz and other GOP candidates are expected to speak at the Palmetto Family Alliance and the Conservative Leadership Project’s Faith and Family Presidential Forum in Greenville, S.C., on Friday.
Last month, the campaign announced the endorsement of Mike Bickle, founder and director of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City.
“Our nation is in a great crisis in this hour,” Bickle said in a statement released by the Cruz camp. “We need a president who will first be faithful to honor God’s Word. We need a president who will work to defend religious liberty, uphold our Constitution, keep our country safe and our economy sound, and speak truth to the nation. We have been praying for righteous leaders, and Ted Cruz is such a leader. I am enthusiastically endorsing Ted Cruz.”
Cruz said he was “grateful for Mike’s dedication to call a generation of young people to prayer and spiritual commitment” and was “grateful to have his prayers and support.”
“With the support of Mike and many other people of faith, we will fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith,” the senator added.
The Cruz campaign has now responded to concerns about sermons Bickle has given about the means by which Jews will be compelled to convert to Christianity. In 2005, the pastor said that before Christ returns “a significant number of Jews will be in work camps, prison camps or death camps.” Bickle’s ministry runs the Israel Mandate, a Jewish conversion project.
“And [the Lord] says, ‘And if they don’t respond to grace, I’m going to raise up the hunters,’” Bickle said in 2011. “And the most famous hunter in recent history is a man named Adolf Hitler.”
The Anti-Defamation League, which stressed to The Times of Israel that it does not take sides in elections, said in a statement that Bickle’s “views about why God allowed Jews to be killed in the Holocaust, as expressed in a 2011 speech, are abhorrent, intolerant and unacceptable.”
“We assume that Senator Cruz accepted Bickle’s endorsement without knowing about these comments,” the ADL said. “We hope that when these comments are called to the Senator’s attention, he will clearly and forcefully reject Bickle’s hateful ideas.”
Cruz senior advisor Nick Muzin told the Jewish Journal, “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,” Muzin continued. “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.”
Muzin also forwarded a response from Bickle, who said his “point in sharing Zechariah 12:1-3 and Zechariah 14:1-3 and Jeremiah 16 and especially Zechariah 13:8-9, is to stir the church up to stand with Israel in time of a future persecution as foretold by most of the Jewish prophets in the Bible.”
Tweeted Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who conducted an event with Cruz last year protesting the Iran deal: “Jewish groups press Cruz to explain endorsement – I’d like to publicly debate Mike Bickle on Jesus as Jewish Messiah.”