WASHINGTON — American Jewish groups have demanded that presidential hopeful Ted Cruz clarify his position on his provocative endorsement from an evangelical leader whose views on Jews are highly controversial.
The Texas senator has been touting the backing of Mike Bickle, a man who seeks to convert Jews to Christianity, who predicts there will be another era of concentration camps, and who has said that Hitler was sent by God to hunt Jews.
“It is profoundly troubling that Sen. Ted Cruz proudly trumpeted the endorsement of such a controversial figure who holds such offensive views,” the National Jewish Democratic Council, a lobbying group committed to promoting Jewish values and interests within the Democratic party, said in a statement.
“We call on Sen. Cruz to clarify his position and explain why he chose to highlight someone who is ‘notorious for having said that God sent Hitler to hunt Jews for not accepting Jesus as the messiah.'”
On January 21, 2016, Cruz issued a press release announcing the endorsement of evangelical leader Bickle, the founder and director of the Kansas City-based International House of Prayer.
Bickle runs the Israel Mandate project, an effort to convert Jews to Christianity, which runs daily livestreamed prayer services for “the nation of Israel to receive their Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus),” according to its website.
In recent years, Bickle has delivered numerous sermons that predict a new era of Holocaust-like conditions for Jews before the Second Coming, insisting that the 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.
Cruz announced the endorsement just over a week before the Iowa caucuses, where the support of evangelical voters was crucial to his victory over real estate magnate Donald Trump, who came in second and had previously lead polling in the Hawkeye State.
“Through prayer, the Lord has changed my life and altered my family’s story,” Cruz said in his announcement. “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.”
While the National Jewish Democratic Council urged Cruz to publicly clarify his position on Bickle and his endorsement, the Anti-Defamation League has called on him to repudiate the rhetoric espoused in the evangelist’s sermons, along with his inflammatory positions.
“Mike Bickle’s views about why God allowed Jews to be killed in the Holocaust, as expressed in a 2011 speech, are abhorrent, intolerant and unacceptable,” the organization said in a statement. “We assume that Senator Cruz accepted Bickle’s endorsement without knowing about these comments. We hope that when these comments are called to the Senator’s attention, he will clearly and forcefully reject Bickle’s hateful ideas.”
The Anti-Defamation League also clarified that, as a 501c3 organization, it does not take sides in elections and does not endorse nor oppose candidates seeking elected office.
The Cruz campaign did not respond to a request for comment.