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Catholic groups in the U.S. from both sides of the political spectrum have recently been highly critical of John McCain following his endorsement of an evangelical preacher who called the church a "false cult" and "the great whore".

The preacher in question is John Hagee who is the leader of a 17,000 member mega-church in Texas and is a stalwart supporter of Israel. McCain said he was proud to win get an affirmative nod from Hagee, a 'nod' which will undeniably give him a boost from evangelical voters.

The flip side of the coin is that whereas McCain garnered Christian support he appears to have alienated a large number of Catholics and the conservative U.S. 'Catholic League' which has more than 350,000 members urged the Arizona senator to reject Hagee who on an earlier occasion accused Catholics of enabling the Holocaust. "There are plenty of staunch evangelical leaders who are pro-Israel, but are not anti-Catholic", William Donohue, the league's president, said in a statement, "but John Hagee is not one of them".

Donohue went on to compare McCain's behavior to that of Barack Obama who quickly denounced the 'Nation of Islam' leader Louis Farrakhan after he backed Obama for president. "Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot," Donohue said, "and McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee".

A more liberal U.S. Catholic group, 'Catholics United' also pressured McCain to distance himself from Hagee, "By receiving the endorsement of an outspoken critic of the Catholic church, McCain once again demonstrates that he is willing to sell out his principles for a chance to win the presidency", said 'Catholics United' executive director Chris Korzen,
McCain has also campaigned with Rod Parsley who is a television evangelist that leads a group called the 'Centre for Moral Clarity' and McCain called Parsley, who has suggested that adulterers should be prosecuted, and also compared members of the abortion rights group 'Planned Parenthood' to Nazis, a "spiritual guide".