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McCain backer John Hagee tempers Hurricane Katrina comments

April 26, 2008 | 12:04 am

Pastor John Hagee has revised his view of God's wrath, and chances are John McCain couldn't be happier.

Without fanfare, in an e-mail sent the latter part of Friday, Hagee backed off his assertion that Televanglist John Hagee has endorsed Republican presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona Hurricane Katrina was the Almighty's punishment of New Orleans because it had planned to host a gay pride parade.

Hagee's history of anti-Catholic statements already has made his high-profile endorsement of McCain a mixed blessing. And much to the McCain camp's chagrin, Hagee earlier this week reiterated his opinion that God targeted New Orleans -- remarks coming as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee geared up for a campaign stop in the still-recovering city.

A McCain spokesman quickly stressed that the candidate rejected such statements. And then Hagee, in the e-mail billed as an "official statement" from the influential televangelist, did so, as well. He wrote:

"As a believing Christian, I see the hand of God in everything that happens here on earth, both the blessings and the curses.  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."

That's quite a different opinion ...

than he publicly expressed in September, 2006. During an interview with NPR, he said the devastating storm "was, in fact, the judgment of God against ... New Orleans.”

The city, he continued, "had a level of sin that was offensive to God” because “there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came.”

On Tuesday, Hagee refused to disavow those comments. He told talk radio show host Dennis Prager, "What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God... . It was a city that was planning a sinful conduct.''

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Ken Hively/L. A. Times

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