Apocalyptic Preacher John Hagee's Son Ready to Continue in Father's Footsteps
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As a number of older Religious Right leaders pass on, retire, and/or slip reluctantly into history, many of their sons are heeding the call, and are stepping in to take their place. Jerry Jr. and Jonathan Falwell have succeeded their father, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, in the running of Liberty University and in the pulpit at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., where their father had presided for 40 years before his death; Gordon Robertson has taken on a major role at Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network; and for the past several years, Tim Wildmon has been playing a significant role in the Rev. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association.
Now, it's closing in on Matthew Hagee time.
He's a preacher, a talented singer, an author, the host of his own television program, and he's waiting in the wings for his father, Pastor John Hagee -- who late last year underwent open heart surgery -- to ride off into the sunset.
Does Matthew have his dad's fire in his belly? Will he be as controversial a figure as his father? Is he ready for prime time?
In the blood
Matthew Hagee is the Executive Pastor at his father's San Antonio, Texas-based Cornerstone Church. According to his bio posted at website of the John Hagee Ministries, he "is the sixth generation to carry the mantel of Gospel ministry in the Hagee family."
A graduate of Oral Roberts University, Matthew has just written his first book, titled "Shaken Not Shattered: Finding the Purpose, Passion, and Power to Stand Firm When Your World Falls Apart" (Charisma House).
According to the book's promotional materials posted at Charismamag.com, "In sermonlike fashion, Hagee surveys the modern social landscape and the deterioration of morality in American culture. He presents crucial points for believers to focus on to build a foundation of faith, including consistent prayer, discovering purpose, personal integrity, and financial stewardship. Additionally, he illustrates the points with stories from his own life and his father's that include a memorable account of how his father was called into ministry."
Writing for saWorship.com, Linda Owen pointed out that Matthew is "The 48th Hagee to work for the Lord's harvest. ... 'I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't want to be a preacher. People passed it off as me wanting to be like my father, but it's more than that. I associate my calling with Jeremiah 1:5: 'Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you--' There was no one moment when I said, 'Yes, Lord, I'll follow.' But my calling is very real. It's always been in my blood.'"
Last October, while his father was recovering from open-heart surgery, Matthew filled in for him at Hagee's annual "A Night to Honor Israel." Jewish Federation of Greater Houston president and CEO Lee Wunsch pointed out that "It was nice to know that there is a next generation with a similar strong commitment to Israel." John Hagee is the founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a pro-Israeli Christian Zionist lobbying group that has modeled itself the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
In late August, CUFI held its annual conference in Washington, DC. When introducing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who appeared via satellite, John Hagee told Netanyahu that "50 million Christians" support "Israel's sovereign right to grow and develop the settlements of Israel as you see fit and not yield to the pressure of the United States government."
A longtime advocate of dealing with Iran in a more muscular fashion, Hagee has also been an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration. "America is singling out Israel" in the Middle East, the pastor said several hours after Netanyahu's appearance. "Despite all of the risks Israel has taken for peace, our government is pressuring Israel to take more risks. Hello Congress, we're putting pressure on the wrong people here. You want to get tough, get tough with the terrorists, not the only democracy in the Middle East."