Republican presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee, risks losing the support of Catholic voters. The former clergyman has displeased Catholics by aligning himself with radical preacher John Hagee, who is known for his anti-catholic sentiments.
Pastor Hagee is a radical preacher who is known for his pro-Israel stand as well as for his unwavering support of Israel. He is also known for his anti-catholic views, and has built a reputation for himself of being an anti-Vatican figure. For instance, in a video, Hagee has insinuated that the Pope is an anti-Christ, and that the Catholic Church is "The Beast" referred to in the Book of Revelation. Elsewhere he has even suggested that Hitler's anti-Semitism was influenced by the Catholic Church.
According to CNN, last week, Huckabee, while on the Iowa campaign trail, visited Hagee's church, Cornerstone, in San Antonio, Texas, and gave a sermon about Christ's birth. He also, reportedly, embraced Hagee and called him, "one of the great Christian leaders of our nation".
Catholic groups have naturally taken an offence to Huckabee's actions. Huckabee's campaign managers, however, insisted that it was not Huckabee's intention to hurt the feeling of the Catholic community. Charmaine Yoest, Huckabee's senior adviser clarified that three members
of the senior leadership of the campaign, including the national chairman, were themselves Catholic, and that, "Gov. Huckabee is committed to being a leader of all Americans."
Religion however has a significant influence over politics, with votes often being cast subject to consideration of a given candidates religious views and inclinations. Among the country's population of about 300 million people, the evangelical population in the country numbers about 60 million, while the Catholic population numbers almost 70 million. In such a scenario, Huckabee cannot afford to alienate the Catholic vote.