Despite public pressure, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz isn't distancing himself from the endorsement of International House of Prayer director Mike Bickle, an Evangelical pastor who characterized military dictator Adolf Hitler as "a hunter sent by God to go after Jews who don't to convert to Christianity." Although Jewish groups are asking Cruz campaign managers to denounce Bickle's interpretation of scripture, a senior advisor to Cruz, Nick Muzin, welcomed Bickle's support in a statement published Thursday (Feb. 11) in the Jewish Journal.
Both the Anti-Defamation League and the National Jewish Democratic Council, according to a report in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, now are demanding that Cruz clarify his position on this provocative endorsement from a religious leader whose views on Jews are perceived as highly controversial and extreme, reports Times of Israel.
Bickle, who operates the Kansas City-based IHOP, made the Hitler comment during a 2011 sermon in which he outlined two methods he believes God will use to convert the world's Jewish population to Christianity: grace and violence, reports ThinkProgress.
"And [the Lord] says, 'And if they don't respond to grace, I'm going to raise up the hunters,'" Bickle said. "And the most famous hunter in recent history is a man named Adolf Hitler."
During January, Cruz trumpeted Bickle's endorsement in a post on his website. In the post, Bickle is quoted as stating, "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 then posted: "Through prayer, the Lord has changed my life and altered my family's story. I am grateful for Mike's dedication to call a generation of young people to prayer and spiritual commitment. Heidi and I are 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."
"Our campaign welcomes support from faith leaders across the country," Muzin said on behalf of Cruz on Thursday. "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 [Senator Cruz] has made support for Israel and the Jewish people a central part of his mission. 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."
Jewish Journal reports that Muzin also forwarded along a statement from Bickle, who said, "There are several false statements being promoted by the liberal press that distort what I believe."
"Not one penny of American tax dollars should go to an organization that incites hatred against Jews and seeks to partner with the terrorist group Hamas," states the Cruz website.