Last Tuesday night, two contrasting groups gathered in Washington, D.C. One group held an anti-Iraq war vigil, orchestrated by the Democratic senatorial team. The opposing group was a pro-Israel assembly of over 4,500 Christians gathered at the D.C. Convention Center for a night to honor Israel.
Before the evening vigil, the Democratic majority expected to strong arm President Bush into a quick evacuation from Iraq. Harry Reid and company wanted to use the pain of bereaved families to highlight the human devastation that has occurred because of the war in Iraq. It is no secret that public opinion has turned against the war and that most Americans want to bring our troops home. What’s not clear to most people is exactly how to “stop the madness” in a way that promotes American interests.
Providentially, a group called Christians United For Israel (CUFI), led by Pastor John Hagee, hosted their second annual conference to inspire their pro-Israel base and involve them in lobbying both the Congress and the Senate. United by the scriptural admonition to honor Israel, pastors and lay people from all 50 states were present. CUFI had set up these meetings a year before. They could never have anticipated that a major vote on the Iraq war (which has huge ramifications for Israel) would be planned during their three-day stay in Washington.
Nonetheless, their presence and their prayers may have been a part of causing Harry Reid to suddenly withdraw his Defense Appropriations Bill from the Senate floor on Wednesday. Pastor John Hagee’s opinion on the matter is obvious. On Tuesday night, he gushed the following statement, “CUFI is quickly becoming one of the most powerful lobbying groups in America!” The key scripture for that night was the perfect job description for the lobbyist and activists: “For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet…” [Isa. 62:1-NIV].
The group sent three powerful messages to both the White House and Capitol Hill legislators. The first message was, “Move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.” The second communication was, “Neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat.” The third, more subtle message was that this group was willing to support President Bush’s efforts in the war – as long as he supports Israel.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.