San Antonio's Cornerstone Church made headlines over the weekend for hosting a far-right political rally at which former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn called for the United States to adopt "one religion."
Other news organizations, including the Express-News, latched onto viral video of attendees chanting "Let's go, Brandon" — a cuss word-averse stand-in for "Fuck Joe Biden" — from the pews during the three-day gathering.
Indeed, the speaker list for the Reawaken America Tour proved newsworthy in itself. In addition to Flynn, they included Trump loyalist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, InfoWars founder Alex Jones and anti-vaccine zealot Sherri Tenpenny. Organized by Oklahoma business coach Clay Clark, the multi-city tour provided a platform for 2020 election deniers, anti-vaxxers and other religious-right conspiracists.
Amid the event's fallout, Cornerstone — led by the controversial father-son evangelical team of John and Matt Hagee — issued a statement distancing itself from the Reawaken America Tour.
"This past week, Cornerstone Church facilities were used by an outside organization. Cornerstone Church is not associated with this organization and does not endorse their views," said the statement the nondenominational congregation shared with multiple news outlets.
Here's the problem: video of the event shows Cornerstone Lead Pastor Matt Hagee, the scion of church founder John Hagee, speaking from stage and thanking attendees. He adds that he's "proud" of them for making their individual decisions to show up.
“And by being here, you have made the conscious decision to live in your faith rather than die in your fear,” Hagee says in the clip, shared on Twitter by pastor and author Brian Kaylor. “And I want to tell you how proud I am of that decision. So, God bless you. Have a wonderful day. Welcome to Cornerstone Church.”
Not associated? What about Matt Hagee speaking at it?https://t.co/XcjTDWbxzU— Brian Kaylor (@BrianKaylor) November 16, 2021
To be sure, both Matt and John Hagee have preached far-right politics from the pulpit for years.
John Hagee has made headlines for brash statements calling for a "military preemptive strike against Iran" and claiming Ebola was likely God’s retribution for former President Barack Obama’s alleged effort to “divide Jerusalem.”
After being hospitalized for COVID-19 last year, Hagee marked his return to the pulpit that November by declaring that Jesus was the “true vaccine” that would protect believers against the coronavirus.
During a 2019 sermon, the younger Hagee told Cornerstone members that federal student-loan forgivingness and government-provided healthcare amount to "socialism." Further, he likened government control over people on public assistance to Egypt’s enslavement of the Israelites.
While the Hagees have encouraged their own flock to reject government handouts, the same doesn't appear to apply to their own political activities.
In April 2020, John Hagee's CUFI Church Association — the nonprofit arm of his powerful pro-Israel lobbying group — received a loan valued at $350,000-$1 million through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to a Washington Post analysis of U.S. Small Business Administration records.
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