Just three months after seeking his support, Sen. John McCain has now rejected the endorsement of Pastor Rod Parsley, an Ohio televangelist who called Islam an "anti-Christ" religion and a "conspiracy of spiritual evil."
McCain's decision to spurn the popular pastor, who the senator called a "spiritual guide," came after "Good Morning America" broadcast portions of some of Parsley's anti-Muslim statements. A spokesman for Parsley declined to comment on McCain's decision to break with the pastor.
Mother Jones magazine first reported Parsley's anti-Muslim views in an article March 12, but McCain took no steps to dissociate himself from Parsley until after the "Good Morning America" broadcast. [Read Mother Jones' article.]
"I believe there is no place for that kind of dialogue in America, and I believe that even though he endorsed me, and I didn't endorse him, the fact is that I repudiate such talk, and I reject his endorsement," said McCain in an interview with the Associated Press last night.
McCain's move to distance himself from Parsley came on the heels of his rejection of an endorsement from another controversial evangelical pastor, Rev. John Hagee of Texas, who has come under fire for a sermon suggesting that Hitler and the Holocaust were a part of God's plan for the creation of Israel.
McCain sought and received the support of both pastors at a critical moment in his campaign in February. At the time, McCain was seeking to lock up the nomination and draw support from the Christian right.
At a campaign appearance in Cincinnati, McCain called Parsley "one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide."
Neither McCain nor his campaign has said whether they were aware of Parsley's widely-publicized anti-Muslim views prior to the endorsement.