God Sent Hitler to Kill the Jews? Ted Cruz-Endorsing Pastor Seeks to Clarify Controversial Comments

Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks after services at the Community Bible Church in Beaufort, South Carolina, February 14, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks after services at the Community Bible Church in Beaufort, South Carolina, February 14, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

An evangelical pastor who endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz for president insisted that controversial remarks he made years back suggesting that Adolf Hitler was one of the "hunters" sent by God to kill Jewish people have been misunderstood.

Pastor Mike Bickle, founder and director of the International House of Prayer, has endorsed Cruz for president, but a number of online articles have pointed out a controversial sermon in 2011 where he said that God would "raise up hunters" against Jewish people who refuse to convert to Christianity. The pastor further called Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler "the most famous hunter in recent history."

In an Op-Ed for the Times of Israel last week, however, Bickle wrote that he has been alarmed at the way his sermon is being portrayed in media, and sought to clarify his position.

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"I have been and remain committed to the spiritual and material defense of Israel and the Jewish people, as is my ministry," Bickle wrote, and explained:

"When I paraphrased from the difficult passages of Zechariah 12:1-3, Zechariah 14:1-3, Zechariah 13:8-9, and Jeremiah 16 in the sermon excerpt that has been circulated of late, I did so with one main intent: to stir the American church to stand with Israel in time of a future persecution as foretold by most of the Jewish prophets in the Bible."

The evangelical pastor added:

"Various Old Testament prophets prophesy dark days for Israel before the Messiah returns, and I read these prophecies with dread. My message is that the Church must respond like Corrie ten Boom's family — by standing with Israel instead of drawing back in fear and silence."

He also insisted that he believes what Hitler did was "evil," calling it an "utter atrocity to the Jewish people and to all of mankind," in reference to the Holocaust.

Cruz's campaign said that while the Texas Senator accepted Bickle's endorsement for his service and ministry work, Cruz does not agree with the pastor's sermon about Hitler.

"It is indisputable that Adoph [sic] Hitler was the embodiment of evil; he was a grotesque murderer who committed one of the gravest acts of depravity in the history of mankind," the statement from Cruz's campaign said. "God did not intend anything in Hitler's evil, and it is wrong to suggest otherwise."

Bickle pointed out in his Op-Ed that Cruz accepting his endorsement does not mean that he has agreed with everything the pastor has ever said.

"For those times when I have communicated my beliefs poorly, I apologize," he added.

"To be clear: Scripture is clear that the friends of God are friends of Israel. It is the enemies of HaShem who oppose Israel. I pray that I may always be counted among the former."

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency noted that Bickle runs a project called Israel Mandate, whose goal is "partnering with Messianic Jews for the salvation of the Jewish people."

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