Two weeks ago, controversial Pastor John Hagee reiterated his prior belief that Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans because it was “planning a sinful” “homosexual rally.” Asked about the comments, McCain — who sought Hagee’s endorsement for more than a year — was forced to distance himself, calling them “nonsense” nine times.
After McCain was put on the spot over Hagee, the ultra-conservative pastor put out a statement seemingly retracting his comments on the cause of Hurricane Katrina:
“As a believing Christian, I see the hand of God in everything that happens here on earth, both the blessings and the curses,” Hagee said in a statement issued through his public relations firm. “But ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina. I should not have suggested otherwise. No matter what the cause of the storm, my heart goes out to all who suffered in this terrible tragedy. There but for the grace of God go any one of us.
But in a conference call yesterday, Hagee appeared to renege on his retraction, reportedly saying “God controls hurricanes and ‘God always punishes unconfessed sin’”:
When a woman on the call asked why he seemed to have backed away from his Katrina comments in face of criticism, Hagee said he hadn’t. As for the Katrina, he said, God controls hurricanes and “God always punishes unconfessed sin.” You do the math.
Though McCain has distanced himself from some of Hagee’s comments, he has yet to reject the pastor’s support. He now says it was a political “mistake” to seek Hagee’s endorsement, though he is still “glad to have” it.