Although Internet filters can give parents more control over what their children see online, the filters can also inaccurately block legitimate and clean Web sites.
For instance, once I was attempting to find some drink glasses online (I should add they were non-alcoholic ones before former Southern Baptist Convention president Bobby Welch throws another tantrum). The computer’s filter would not allow me to view the search results on a retail store’s Web site because it was inaccurately marked as “pornography.”
Perhaps such inaccurate coding helps explains Pastor John Hagee’s preaching on Israel and the recent conflict in the Middle East. He twists Scripture out of context to justify his blind support of Israel and completely ignores other texts. Perhaps his filter is to blame–the John Hagee Home & Family Internet filter.
For only $4.95 a month, Hagee’s filter will keep your children safe from pornography and other objectionable online content online. What if you don’t have access to the Internet? Hagee offers connection service in addition to the filter for prices ranging from $16.95 to $49.95 per month.
What makes the John Hagee Home & Life filter different is this: “Human eyes review each Web site accessible through John Hagee Home & Family. Other products on the market like filters and blockers use ‘no’ or ‘bad word’ lists that don’t block all objectionable material and can prohibit users from viewing everything that’s good on the Web.”
Now there are a lot of Web sites out there for “human eyes” to review, and this implies that humans never make mistakes.
Hagee evidently uses a filtering method to find proof-texts for his crusade in support of Israel. Any “objectionable” verses are blocked. Only the “good” are used. This would help explain how the San Antonio preacher completely misrepresents and misapplies biblical teachings.
Hagee’s favorite verse on the issue appears to be Gen. 12:3, as he quotes it over and over. At the first conference of his new organization, Christians United for Israel, he stated: “God’s foreign policy toward Israel begins in Genesis 12:3. Say it with me: ‘I will bless those you bless you and curse those who curse you.'”
The problem is with Hagee’s reading that “you” refers to modern Israel. In the Bible God speaks to Abram (later known as Abraham). The nation of Israel did not even exist yet. The man known as Israel (Jacob), for whom the nation was named, had not been born. Hagee thus wrongly twists Scripture out of context to support his political position. His filter must have coded the passage incorrectly.
Another passage Hagee routinely misapplies is Isaiah 62:1. In the passage, God promises to watch out for the Israelites. Hagee uses the phrase, however, as if his group were speaking, thus making CUFI a new savior of Israel.
For instance, the CUFI Web site declares: “The purpose of Christians United For Israel is to provide a national association through which every pro-Israel church, para-church organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to biblical issues. ‘For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.'”
At the recent CUFI rally in Washington, Hagee continued to misuse the passage. He paraphrased the verse to explain why those present would continue to speak up for Israel. “For Zion’s sake we will not hold our peace,” he said. “And for Jerusalem’s sake we will not rest.” And with that, God is no longer needed, because the CUFI is there. Chalk it up as another mistake for the Hagee filter.
These are not Hagee’s only mistakes. He also declared Israel “the only democratic society in the Middle East.” Lebanon is a democracy, where the president is a Christian. The Palestinian Authority also recently held democratic elections. These facts must have been blocked by Hagee’s filter, since they would undermine his claim of Israel’s moral superiority.
Hagee also claimed at the rally, “Every word in the Bible was written by Jewish hands.” Really? What about Luke [traditionally attributed to a Gentile physician and traveling companion of the Apostle Paul]? That book must have been blocked by Hagee’s filter.
Sadly, this does not seem to be the only biblical book blocked. Read the Old Testament prophets such as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos and Micah. Israel is frequently condemned for disobedience. If any of these messengers of God brought similar words today, Hagee would condemn them as anti-Israel. Despite what Hagee’s filter may show, Israel can make mistakes and deserve to be condemned.
Since Hagee’s filter blocks the words of these prophets, he is able to blindly support Israel no matter what it does. At the CUFI meeting, he argued: “Do not pressure Israel to use restraint in attacking the terrorists who invaded Israel and killed and kidnapped Israeli soldiers.… Leave Israel alone and let them do the job.”
For Hagee Israel can do no wrong. If he can block out “objectionable” passages that do not fit his Zionist and dispensationalist theology, then it does not matter how many innocent civilians are killed by Israeli forces. If the whole Bible is read, however, then one must demand that more precaution be taken to prevent such deaths. If the whole Bible is read, all nations must be held accountable for their sins.
Brian Kaylor is communications specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.
Brian Kaylor is editor and president of Word&Way, associate director of Churchnet, and a contributing editor for EthicsDaily.com.