Pastor John Hagee’s CUFI Church Association Filed to Raise Up to $ 1 Million in Federal P3 Funds | San Antonio News | San Antonio

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  • Pastor John Hagee poses with Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church may not like the government telling him when he can reopen his private school of 1,300 students or give alms to his flock.

But, apparently, he doesn’t mind asking Uncle Sam for money to keep his political goals on the line.

In April, the CUFI Church Association in Hagee, the nonprofit arm of its powerful pro-Israel lobbying apparatus, received a loan worth $ 350,000 to $ 1 million under the federal protection program. paychecks, according to a Washington post analysis of US Small Business Administration files.

The CUFI Church Association, listed in the SBA’s records as a religious organization, said it would use the money to protect 51 jobs. The PPP program, approved by Congress during the pandemic, was largely intended to help small businesses avoid layoffs.

Hagee’s group requested the funds despite the televangelist’s long record of preaching that God-fearing Christians should support themselves, not seek government help.

In a sermon last year, for example, Hagee’s son Matt told the Cornerstone crowd that the cancellation of student loans and government-provided health care both qualify as “socialism.” And violations of God’s will.

Hagee has also publicly accused San Antonio government officials of going too far.

Last week, the pastor sued local officials over a public health order delaying the start of the school year due to the pandemic. In the court record, Hagee’s lawyers argue that governments violate the U.S. Constitution when they tell religious campuses such as Cornerstone Church schools when to open.

In the 2019 municipal election, Hagee publicly called on his supporters to vote against Mayor Ron Nirenberg over the council’s decision not to allow fast food chain Chick-fil-A to open an outlet at the airport in San Antonio.

Central lobbying

Hagee enjoys strong support in conservative American circles, and his CUFI bills itself as the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States, with over 8 million members.

In the second quarter of this year, the group’s political arm – organized separately from the CUFI Church Association – spent $ 114,000 lobbying elected officials, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics. This compares to a total of $ 180,000 in lobbying expenses in 2019.

Hagee teaches a controversial theology that argues that the continued construction of Jewish settlements, including on land claimed by Palestinians, is necessary to bring about the Second Coming of Christ. As a result, CUFI’s lobbying work has drawn criticism from groups advocating for peace in the Middle East.

“The ideology of Christian Zionism, promulgated by CUFI, sees Muslims as enemies of God,” said Johnathan Brenneman, spokesperson for Friends of Sabeel North America, a Christian ecumenical organization that advocates for peace and justice in the Holy Land. “Christian Zionist leaders like John Hagee are among the worst perpetrators of anti-Muslim bigotry in the world. CUFI propagates hateful stereotypes and misrepresentations of Muslims and Arabs (the organization rarely differentiates between the two), including Muslims and Arab Americans.

John Burnam, director of Burnam | Gray, a San Antonio-based group that consults on nonprofit issues, said many local charities have accessed P3 funds to keep employees during the pandemic. However, CUFI seems to eclipse the most obtained by nonprofits in Alamo City.

According to Burnam, some of the best-funded charities in the country have chosen not to participate in the P3 program so that the money remains available for small nonprofits. Without access to the financial records of the CUFI Church Association, he added, it is difficult to say whether the group exceeded ethical limits by securing a loan of up to $ 1 million.

“The general consensus in the nonprofit space has been that if you don’t need the money, it’s best to leave it to someone else,” Burnam said.

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