On Thursday, John McCain rejected the endorsement of one his most controversial supporters, Pastor John Hagee. He didn’t wait long before rejecting another, Rod Parsley. Parsley, a preacher based at a megachurch in Ohio, has made anti-Islamic comments, saying, for example, that the prophet Mohammed is “the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil.” McCain has called Parsley a “spiritual guide.”
My former colleague, Time’s Michael Scherer, reports on a press availability at which McCain hinted he was distancing himself from Parsley, while at the same time working in a shot at Barack Obama and his former pastor. “My church I attend is North Phoenix Baptist Church. My pastor and spiritual guide is Pastor Dan Yeary,” McCain said. “I’ve never been to Pastor Hagee’s church or Pastor Parsley’s church. I didn’t attend their church for 20 years. I’m not a member of their church.” (The 20 years part is a reference to Obama, who attended Trinity United Church of Christ for 20 years while the Rev. Jeremiah Wright led it.)
Later, in an interview with the Associated Press, McCain confirmed that he was in fact rejecting Parsley’s endorsement, saying, “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.”
On a personal, small-world note, I was at Parsley’s church the Sunday before the 2006 elections, and covered his sermon for Salon — you can read that here.
Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.More Alex Koppelman.