The Texas-size church seats 5,000 worshipers and has some 17,000 members, but the summit will host a much smaller congregation: the spiritual leaders of an estimated 30 million US Christians.
"Think of CUFI as a Christian version of AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee]," Hagee told The Jerusalem Post. "We need to be able to respond instantly to Washington with our concerns about Israel. We must join forces to speak as one group and move as one body to [respond to] the crisis Israel will be facing in the near future."
Hagee declined to specify which crisis, noting that Israel faces one "every day the sun comes up." But at the top of the CUFI agenda is what the pastor calls "the Bible issue," namely what he considers to be the mistaken policy of trading parts of the biblical Land of Israel for peace, an agenda that AIPAC, for example, neglects.
Accordingly, Hagee says, CUFI intends to "interact with the government in Washington" and persuade it "to stop pressuring Israel to give up land for peace. Besides the fact that this does not work, Israel has a Bible mandate for the land. Now that Gaza has been given to Hamas, it has a military foothold a thousand yards from Jerusalem."
CUFI's Washington efforts are to be led by national director Hagee and a blue-ribbon board supervising 12 regional directors, each of whom is responsible for four states.
"Every state in the Union, every congressional district" will be accounted for, Hagee says. Board members comprise an evangelical who's who, including Jerry Falwell, Benny Hinn, Jack Hayford, George Morrison, Rod Parsley and Steven Strang. Televangelist Pat Robertson is to attend the summit, but is not on the board.
Asked whether this had anything to do with Robertson's infamous attribution of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke to divine retribution for the withdrawal from Gaza, Hagee called Robertson's remark "insensitive and unnecessary." He also derided similar attempts to link Hurricane Katrina or other disasters to the Gaza disengagement, saying, "We have no desire to try to guess God's opinion about a storm."
CUFI aims to speak for Israel, but not to Israel, particularly during the present election campaign. While the organization supports moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, its main concern is "the Bible issue" and not Israeli politics. To this end, Hagee says, CUFI will back "whoever is for keeping the land."
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