What makes this so stunning is the fact that anti-Catholicism is a staple of Biblical fundamentalism – particularly when it comes to eschatology, the study of the last things or end times.
Democrats have been eying the Catholic vote over the past four years. If you did’t know, George W. Bush won the Catholic vote in 2000 against Al Gore and in 2004 against John Kerry – a Catholic. A controversy like John Hagee could have daunted McCain through the summer and fall, particularly against Hilary Clinton who has dominated Democrat Catholics. However, now that it appears that Obama will win the nomination, Hagee is another sign that Catholics and Evangelicals will rally behind McCain in November.
You may be wondering what anti-Catholic teachings Hagee has held and taught for many years. Two big issues are titles for the Catholic Church: the “apostate church” and the “whore of Babylon.” In fundamentalist circles, these titles naturally are given to the Catholic Church because of rapture theology and a low-view of hierarchic ecclesiology. Jesus and the first century Christians spoke of the Church with great esteem – and since the only ancient church is the Catholic Church, which Protestants are not in union with, then the Catholic Church must be apostate. Apostate here means that the Catholic Church hijacked ancient, first century Christianity and added pagan practices to it. So, really, either the Catholic Church is the true Church or it is an apostate church and the whore of Babylon for adding pagan ideas to Christianity.
Take your pick.
Thus this is why it is so stunning for Hagee to renounce his former views. If you’re a staunch fundamentalist, you should naturally have an anti-Catholic viewpoint. Some people may claim Hagee is just being political. I don’t think so. That would be like President Bush getting on TV tomorrow and to announce he was becoming an Independent. Not gonna happen. In the words of Bill Donahue: "What Hagee has done takes courage and quite frankly I never expected him to demonstrate such sensitivity to our concerns."
What's more important, however, is not that McCain will gain some political points, but rather that Hagee's change of heart will help further the dialoge between Evangelicals and Catholics.