Nothing invites conversation like a crowd of Christians gathered in a church
enthusiastically chanting a sophomoric, thinly veiled obscenity aimed at the
president of the United States.

At least among Democrats. Republicans appear as reluctant to address the scene at San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church as they are to analyze the Jan. 6 unpleasantness at the U.S. Capitol.

Not that Democrats are completely innocent of juvenile delights. In the run-up to last November’s election more than a few San Antonio lawns featured signs that read, “Chinga tu MAGA.” If you don’t get it, ask a Mexican American friend.

But the chant at Cornerstone is particularly rich — if not in wit, then in irony.

It turns out that the video of the “Let’s go, Brandon” (a sound-alike for “F— Joe Biden,” popular with fringe conservative crowds) chant that went viral wasn’t from one of Pastor John Hagee’s Sunday services. It was an outside group that staged a three-day event Nov. 11-13 in Hagee’s church.

The event was the eighth of a series around the nation, mostly in churches, produced by an entrepreneur named Clay Clark. It combined evangelical pastors with anti-Fauci physicians, and all-star Trump acolytes such as Roger Stone, former National Security Advisory Michael Flynn, MyPillow’s Mike Lindell and the notorious Alex Jones of “InfoWars.”

The nationwide tour began as the “Reopen America Tour.” One of its sponsors, an evangelical news site called Charisma News, headlined it as encouraging “Faith-Filled Patriots to Kill Fear, Expose Truth.” After America began to reopen, Clark, being an experienced marketer, changed the name to the “Reawaken America Tour” and was able, he claims, to sell out all 3,500 tickets to the Cornerstone event.

As the San Antonio Current reported, Cornerstone Lead Pastor Matt Hagee, son of John Hagee, was recorded on video being introduced as the conference’s “host” and welcoming the attendees this way: “And by being here, you have made the conscious decision to live in your faith rather than die in your fear. And I want to tell you how proud I am of that decision. So, God bless you. Have a wonderful day. Welcome to Cornerstone Church.”

After the embarrassment of the crude chant erupted, Matt Hagee apologized for allowing the event to be held at the church. “The Church is not associated with this organization and does not endorse their views ,” he stated. “… I deeply regret, and ask forgiveness, for what took place in the Cornerstone sanctuary as a result of my oversight.”

The fact is that Cornerstone Church, except for the unfortunate chant, was the perfect place for this conference. The sermons of John Hagee could have inspired it. Consider this one , which has received 4.7 million views since being posted on Youtube about a year ago. That was during COVID-19’s run-up to its peak in the United States.

The sermon is titled “Coronavirus: Dress Rehearsal for the New World Order.” Hagee, who is masterful in his delivery, makes the case that the coronavirus is a conspiracy with these statements:

“A student of history and Bible prophecy I have long wondered how long it would take the Antichrist to come to power. Now I know. About 30 days. That’s just how long it took the American news media to terrorize American citizens into submission. General Jack Keane reported over Fox News, ‘China weaponized coronavirus to destroy the democracies’ economy.’ ”

China, Hagee said, had its reasons: “Why now? Because of the presidential election, to defeat Donald Trump who had the U.S. economy booming and was systematically destroying the New World Order.”

Hagee continues: “Why is this a dress rehearsal for the New World Order and the coming Antichrist? John the Revelator clearly described a marching army of 2 million people going to battle. Only China can put together an army like that.”

After describing the U.S. political system as “saturated with tinhorn, egotistical, petty dictators who are willing and ready to trample your constitutional freedoms away from you,” he concludes: “I listened to two doctors on Fox News confess that they had been pressured to record death certificates incorrectly, meaning that if a person did not have CD-19, they were told to record it as a death by coronavirus. Why? Because it ran the numbers up and qualified them for more federal aid.”

He then blithely blows that unchecked “testimony” into a conspiracy much more ambitious than getting a bit more federal aid: “That message was knocked off of television in a hurry. Why? Because they want to make the crisis greater to crush the hope of the American people through fear to control you, to extend this crisis all the way to the November presidential election if possible.”

Well, it worked. The American people were frightened into electing Joe Biden.

Having begun his sermon accusing “them” — China and America’s tinhorn tyrants — of terrorizing us, Hagee goes on to to explain how this is leading to the Rapture, when those who have accepted Jesus as their savior will be removed from the earth and the rest of humanity will be confronted by the Antichrist with a dreadful choice.

“The Antichrist and the New World Order will rule the world with fear. If you refuse to take his mark on your forehead or hand,” Hagee pauses dramatically, “he will cut your head off.”

COVID-19 is indeed a very minor flu next to that.

I encourage you to take 20 minutes or so to listen to the sermon. But don’t believe everything Hagee tells you. One example concerns his evidence of a persistent effort by evil forces to enforce the New World Order necessary for the Antichrist’s plot. He begins with the Babylonians, proceeds to the Middle Ages Illuminati, and thirdly, to the United States when “a seal adopted by Congress in 1782” and found on the back of the dollar bill reads, “Novus Ordo Seclorum.”

Hagee translates the Latin to mean, “New World Order” to fit his expansive conspiracy theory. The man who actually put the Latin term into the seal in 1782 had quite a different explanation. His name was Charles Thompson and he was a well-known patriot. John Adams described him as the “Sam Adams of Philadelphia,” and he served as secretary of the Congress that issued the Declaration of Independence.

Latin scholars translate the word “seclorum” as a time period — an age, a generation, or a century. Thompson wrote that in conjunction with the date 1776, which appears in Roman numerals above it, “the words signify the beginning of the New American Era.”

This is laid out in a website that thoroughly explains the seals on U.S. currency, complete with excerpts of original documents.

Hagee converts words of a patriot celebrating the birth of a great new democracy into a demonic plot inspired by Satan. Just as he converts efforts by scientists and many — but clearly not all — of the nation’s leaders to save hundreds of thousand of lives into conspiracies to pave the way for tyranny and the Antichrist. 

And as a gifted preacher he does it much more powerfully than does anyone chanting, “Let’s go, Brandon!”

Rick Casey

Rick Casey's career spans four decades of award-winning reporting on San Antonio. He previously worked as a metro columnist for the former San Antonio Light and, later, the San Antonio Express-News.