WASHINGTON — Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz’s campaign said it “welcomes support” from faith leaders across the country, including that of Mike Bickle, who has said that God sent Hitler to hunt Jews, who works energetically to convert Jews to Christianity and who espouses views that biblical prophesy suggests a new era of concentration camps for Jews will unfold before the Second Coming.
Bickle, the founder and director of the controversial Kansas City ministry International House of Prayer, endorsed Cruz before the Iowa caucuses, and Cruz proudly touted his endorsement in a press release. “Through prayer, the Lord has changed my life and altered my family’s story,” Cruz said in a statement on January 21. “I am grateful for Mike’s dedication to call a generation of young people to prayer and spiritual commitment. Heidi and I are grateful to have his prayers and support. With the support of Mike and many other people of faith, we will fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith.”
After Jewish groups, including the National Jewish Democratic Council and the Anti-Defamation League, demanded that the Texas senator clarify his position on receiving Bickle’s backing, one of his campaign’s senior advisers issued a statement Thursday defending the endorsement.
“Our campaign welcomes support from faith leaders across the country. Mike Bickle is one of the hundreds who have endorsed us,” Cruz adviser Nick Muzin told Jewish Insider. “My understanding is that he was paraphrasing the words of the prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah. I know that he has made support for Israel and the Jewish people a central part of his mission.”
Muzin then pivoted to Cruz’s position on Israel, and noted Cruz has 70 rabbis endorsing him. “No one has a better record than Senator Cruz when it comes to standing with Israel, fighting against radical Islamic terror, and combating global anti-Semitism,” Muzin said. “We are proud of the support we are building in both communities and see them as complementary, and part of our larger goal of restoring Judeo-Christian leadership values to America and the world.”
The National Jewish Democratic Council, a lobbying group committed to promoting Jewish values and interests within the Democratic party, quickly responded by demanding the Cruz campaign directly set out the candidate’s position on the ideas Bickle promotes.
The NJDC said Cruz must “clarify if he stands with Pastor Mike Bickle and his belief that G-d sent Hitler to hunt Jews for not accepting Jesus as the messiah.”
“The Cruz campaign’s response from criticism from NJDC and the ADL of one of its feature endorsees falls woefully short,” it went on. “We remain troubled that rather than distance himself and refute Bickle’s offensive rhetoric, the Cruz campaign has doubled down, merely restating the senator’s position on Israel and attempting to minimize Pastor Bickle’s role as an endorser. We call on Sen. Cruz’s campaign to speak clearly when it comes to such an offensive statement.”
In numerous sermons over the years, Bickle has predicted a new era of Holocaust-like conditions for Jews before the Second Coming, insisting that Jews who do not recognize Jesus as their messiah will either die or be sent to prison or concentration camps. Perhaps most famously, he has suggested that a passage from Jeremiah 16:16 explains how Adolf Hitler’s murder of more than six million Jews was permitted by God.
Through the International House of Prayer, Bickle runs the Israel Mandate project, an effort to convert Jews to Christianity, which runs daily livestreaming prayer services for “the nation of Israel to receive their Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus),” according to its website.