Ted Cruz is making no secret that he wants to be the candidate of the religious right. But recently, Cruz has made a play for the support of leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation, an overtly fascist offshoot of the religious right that thinks it can bring about the Second Coming by taking over the world. Just last week, he appeared at a conference hosted by NAR leader Rick Joyner. Now comes word that another NAR leader, Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer, has endorsed him. But it turns out that a decade ago, Bickle said something that could potentially be tied around Cruz like a millstone. Bickle was caught on tape saying that unless Jews accept Jesus as the last days approach, most of them could be mowed down by a “hunter.”
Bickle, like most NAR leaders, isn’t that well known in the general public. However, to veteran religious right watchers like yours truly, he’s very much a household name. Since 1998, he has led the International House of Prayer, which is best known for its prayer and praise sessions that have run 24 hours a day, seven days a week since 1999. He first came to notice outside the charismatic world in 2014 with the debut of the documentary “God Loves Uganda,” which detailed how several of the movement’s leaders were involved in stirring up anti-gay sentiment in Uganda.
Despite adamant denials, Bickle is very political. Back in 2011, he was closely involved in planning “The Awakening,” a prayer rally that served as the de facto kickoff for Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential bid. For the most part, his dossier is standard-issue religious right agitprop. He is viciously homophobic; thinks marriage equality comes from “the depths of hell” and believes homosexuality “opens the door to the demonic realm.” He also thinks that Oprah Winfrey may be one of the precursors to the Antichrist.
But this is pat-a-cake stuff compared to something Bruce Wilson of Talk2Action discovered in 2011. Wilson obtained footage of several sermons from 2004 to 2009 in which Bickle argued that in the near future, Jews who refuse to move to Israel and accept Jesus as Savior will be chased down by “hunters” sent by God. These hunters will kill something like two-thirds of the Jews, with only one-third of them surviving to “become lovesick followers of Jesus.” Listen to several excerpts here.
One of the most chilling excerpts comes near the end, at around the 5:53 mark. It’s from a message Bickle delivered at a 2004 “Israel Mandate” conference. Bickle claimed that all Jews would be given “grace” to accept Jesus–and if they didn’t respond to that grace, God would “raise up the hunters” to slaughter most of them. He then went as far as to say that Adolf Hitler was “the most famous hunter in recent history” because he drove many of the Jews to Palestine. I don’t think I need to tell you how unhinged and outrageous this is.
If this sounds familiar, it is almost identical to a sermon John Hagee preached in which he declared Hitler was a hunter. It came to light not long after Hagee endorsed John McCain. When it came to light, McCain was all but forced to disavow Hagee’s endorsement.
One has to wonder–will Cruz have the decency to reject Bickle’s endorsement? If he has anything left in him, he will, and promptly.