Last summer, when thousands gathered in the nation’s capital to lobby the Obama administration on behalf of Israel, Christians United for Israel founder John Hagee was quoted as saying: “When flotillas filled with militants seek to turn Gaza into an Iranian port, we proudly proclaim ‘I am an Israeli.’ When the world condemns Israel for defending yourself from thousands of missiles and mortar attacks, we proudly proclaim ‘I am an Israeli.’ ”
Gary Bauer, one of his co-founders of Christians United and a board member, author and former presidential candidate, will be in Columbus next weekend to convey a similar point: The state of Israel is not only to be honored, it’s to be set above all other nations in the troubled Middle East.
Bauer will speak at Solid Rock Church for “A Night to Honor Israel,” along with Israeli General Consul Opher Aviran and Rabbi Shalom Lewis of Congregation Etz Chaim in Marietta, Ga.
“I do a lot of these events around the country and I have traveled with Pastor Hagee to Israel. We went last spring,” Bauer told the Ledger-Enquirer in a phone interview this week. “We try to get over at least once a year.
“Theologically, most Christians simply cite the verse in Genesis that says, ‘He who blesses Israel, I will bless.’ It’s a pretty clear directive. Even though there are Americans who may not cite that, the American public is very pro-Israel. We look at the Middle East, and we can see it’s in a tough neighborhood. And in the midst of that, there’s one country that seems to reflect our values -- freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, free elections. There is a natural affinity by the American people, and Israel sees the U.S. as its strongest ally.”
Hagee leads Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. Bauer lives near Washington, D.C., where he leads the nonprofit group American Values. It is “committed to uniting the American people around the vision of our Founding Fathers,” according to its Web site.
On Reagan: ‘I miss him’
Bauer, 64, received a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky., and a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He served as President Ronald Reagan’s Undersecretary of Education from 1982-1987, and as an advisor on domestic policy from 1987-1988. While serving under Reagan, he was named Chairman of President Reagan’s Special Working Group on the Family.
“With the eight years with Reagan, it’s an experience I doubt I’ll ever duplicate,” he told the Ledger-Enquirer. “I certainly miss working with him, and I miss him.” He declined to name an up-and-coming Republican who has similar credentials to win the White House, saying, “I try to work with all the candidates.”
Bauer was president of the Family Research Council from 1988-1999. He resigned to run for the Republican Party nomination for president. He dropped out of the race after the primaries in February 2000. In 1996, he founded the Campaign for Working Families (CWF), a Political Action Committee dedicated to electing “pro-family, pro-life and pro-free enterprise” candidates to federal and state offices, according to the CWF.
He also serves on the board of the recently formed Emergency Committee for Israel, which “seeks to provide citizens with the facts they need to be sure that their public officials are supporting a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. The Committee’s mission is to educate the public about the serious challenges to Israel’s security and about what elected officials in this country are doing and should do in order to meet those challenges,” according to its Web site.
In recent months, Bauer has lobbied to reduce funding to Planned Parenthood, a national network offering sex education, gynecological exams as well as abortion services.
Before the last Sunday in February, in Focus on the Family radio spots, Bauer called upon clergy “to use this Sunday to preach against Planned Parenthood and get their congregations to contact their members of Congress to cut off funding because ‘it’s not politics, it’s a moral issue,’ ” according to Focus. Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood faced threat of losing $75 million in federal dollars, in operation of its 800 clinics. The U.S. Senate voted 56-44 to keep the funding.
In an interview, however, Bauer said he didn’t “want to get into that,” as he sought to focus on the reason for his visit to Columbus: support for Israel.
Bauer supports repealing laws that allow abortion. He advocates for the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade as the first step in the anti-abortion cause, according to HumanEvents.com. He is a supporter of the death penalty for death row inmates, and he’s fought against gay marriage on the federal level. In addition, he’s said he prefers sexual-abstinence educational programs over comprehensive sex ed teaching.
Bauer’s stance on social issues formed the bulk of his presidential campaign 12 years ago.
Asked if he thought about running again, he told the Ledger-Enquirer he didn’t have any plans, “plus my wife said she would kill me.” Since 2000, he’s focused on his political lobbying efforts and writings. He’s cited often in national media.
In November 2009, Bauer signed an ecumenical statement known as the Manhattan Declaration calling on evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox Christians not to comply with rules and laws which they claim would compel participation in or blessing of abortion, same-sex marriage and other matters that go against their religious consciences, according to the declaration.
Bauer is the author of the following books: “Our Journey Home”; “Children at Risk: The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Our Kids”, co-author with James Dobson; “Our Hopes, Our Dreams: A Vision for America”; and “Doing Things Right.”
‘Compelled’ to support Israel, pastor says
The Rev. Jay Bailey, pastor of Solid Rock Church, has Jewish roots. His great-great-grandfather on his mother’s side was a rabbi in London, he said.
Aside from that personal connection, “I really have come to understand the state of Israel and that the people are very important to God,” Bailey said. He and his wife visited there last year. He finds Israel to be “incredibly isolated.” Like Bauer, Bailey believes Christians have a responsibility to support Israel.
“We are compelled biblically, morally and spiritually,” he said.
Bailey said he’s invited the local Jewish community, notably Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin of Temple Israel, to next week’s service.
Allison Kennedy, 706-576-6237