WASHINGTON – A spokesman for mega-pastor John Hagee insists in a letter to WND that he never claimed to be the discoverer of the blood-moons phenomenon, but, he concedes no wrongdoing in his new movie, “Four Blood Moons,” releasing Monday and apparently won’t issue a public statement to that effect or recut a scene in the movie, as demanded by WND.
In fact, the spokesman, Ari Morgenstern, accuses WND’s founder and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Farah of libeling Hagee by asserting the San Antonio pastor makes a misleading, self-aggrandizing statement to that effect in the movie.
Hagee says in the movie: “The thing that compelled me to write the ‘Four Blood Moons’ was when I discovered the scientific fact NASA was pointing out that it happened in 1492 and it happened in 1948 and it happened in 1967 and it was going to happen in 2015.”
See the video:
Mark Biltz, author of “Blood Moons” and the inspiration behind a movie of the same name, made the discovery of the blood-moons phenomenon in 2008 when he went to NASA’s charts of eclipses and found the correlation with biblical feast days like Passover and Tabernacles and key dates in the history of the Jewish people. He shared his teachings with Hagee in 2012 when Hagee spoke at his church in Bonney Lake, Washington.
In response, Morgenstern writes: “WND falsely stated that Hagee claimed to be the ‘discoverer’ of the four blood moons phenomenon. At no point in the film does Hagee ever use the word ‘discoverer,’ which is repeatedly attributed to him in the WND article. The only time in which Hagee uses the word ‘discovered’ in the film is when discussing his own personal discovery of the phenomenon.”
“There is of course a vital distinction between one’s discovery and making the claim that one was ‘the first person to identify this phenomenon,'” Morgenstern writes. “Hagee, of course, never claimed to be ‘the first person to identify this phenomenon.'”
Farah called that response “parsing words in a way that would make Bill Clinton proud.”
“Hagee neither discovered the blood-moons phenomenon, nor did he discover the NASA charts,” Farah said. “Biltz provided him with all the information on a silver platter. Hagee may have verified the discovery. But he was told about it by Biltz. Biltz gave him the completed research.
“Biltz did so graciously and with the expectation that Hagee would help him bring it more prominence and attention. The honorable thing for Hagee to do would be to simply say he chose his words poorly, humbly apologize publicly and recut the movie. That’s all we’re asking for the sake of clarity, full disclosure and accuracy.”
Farah points out that Biltz told the actual discovery story for the new movie, but it was not included in the film.
“Anyone seeing this movie and not previously knowing Mark Biltz’s central role in the discovery would reasonably conclude John Hagee made the discovery,” said Farah. “It’s just that simple. The lengths the Hagee camp is going through to justify and rationalize his misleading words are embarrassing.”
Farah points out Hagee used the word “discovered” again in an interview with WND specifically about the role Mark Biltz played in bringing the blood-moons phenomenon to his attention. The interview offered Hagee a chance to clarify what he said in the movie. Instead, he claimed to have first learned about the blood-moon phenomenon by reading scripture. He made no reference to Biltz, who had been publicly teaching about it for years and who willingly provided Hagee with his research.
Asked what led him to teach on the subject, write a New York Times bestselling book about it and make a blood-moons movie, Hagee said: “It dawned on me that God is using the heavens as a billboard. And when I got on the Internet and discovered these four blood moons that had happened and would happen, I literally levitated out of my seat.”
Biltz tells the story in his own 2014 “Blood Moons” book of how his research into the phenomenon began in March 2008 when he saw on the Internet a total lunar eclipse over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
“I had read all the Bible verses in Isaiah, Joel, the Gospels and Revelation where the text talks about the moon turning to blood and the sun to sackcloth,” he wrote. “I began to ponder the possibilities of tying the eclipses mentioned in the Bible to the possible coming of the Messiah. Because I love science and astronomy, I decided to look into the future occurrences of eclipses. I remembered that NASA has a list of eclipses that covers 5,000 years, so I went to the website to see what interesting observations I could find. I noticed that there were four total lunar eclipses in a row in 2014 and 2015.”
Biltz went on to explain how he was shocked to find all four eclipses fell on the biblical holidays of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Then he went back to NASA’s website to check the history of such occurrences – four total blood moons in a row – called a tetrad.
“I noticed there weren’t any in the 1600s, 1700s or even the 1800s,” he wrote. “The last time there was a tetrad was back in the 1900s, and to my amazement, they also fell on the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles. When I noticed the years these phenomena occurred, my mind began reeling. The last two times there were four blood moons in a row, they happened, first, right after Israel became a nation in 1948, and then again when Israel retook Jerusalem in 1967. I started doing a hallelujah dance. It was as if I had just found treasure buried in the sand.”
Besides serving as pastor of El Shaddai Ministries, Biltz is also Washington state director of Christians United for Israel, a pro-Israel organization founded by Hagee. Biltz invited Hagee to speak to his congregation in August 2012 at an event organized to honor Israel. Hagee spent a couple days in the Seattle-Tacoma area where Biltz shared with him what he had found in his blood-moons research. He also provided Hagee with the original 2008 DVD teaching Biltz had done on the subject. That was Hagee’s first exposure to the blood-moons phenomenon. Later, says Biltz, Hagee called to ask for more understanding.
“He’s right about that,” said Biltz. “I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the movie because I looked forward to telling the story of how I discovered the blood moons. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get that recognition in his book and I thought maybe this was another opportunity. But, instead, when I saw pastor Hagee in the movie credit only himself with the discovery, I was shocked. I’m grateful he acknowledges he didn’t discover it, I just hope he is more forthcoming that I am the one who did.”
Biltz added: “I was disappointed that, after giving him all the blood-moon information that he used in his book, when I asked him to write the foreword for mine, he said his publisher wouldn’t allow him because it would hurt his sales.”
Morgenstern asserts in his letter that it is Hagee who is the offended party, demanding correction of the WND article suggesting Biltz was not appropriately credited for his work.
“In fact, Hagee’s 2012 meeting with Biltz is discussed in the first chapter of Hagee’s book, wherein Hagee heaps praise on Biltz for his theological research,” Morgenstern writes. “In addition, the book specifically mentions the ‘The Feasts of the Lord’ DVD set by Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries. In addition, in his sermon on the Four Blood Moons, Hagee publicly acknowledged Biltz for his ‘scholarly research and assistance in helping me get all of these facts tightly fit together so that they are impeccably true and based on the word of God.'”
That’s true, says Farah. But what Hagee never did was simply say Biltz made the discovery and did all the leg work. In his acknowledgement of Biltz, which he mispronounced as “Blitz,” Farah points out the credit in Hagee’s sermon was to several people, including Biltz and several rabbis.
“Look, what Hagee did in his book, the sermons that he sells, the study guides and the entire blood-moons industry he has created for himself is no longer the issue,” says Farah. “The issue is now that he would be misleading millions of viewers into thinking he claims to be the discoverer of the blood-moons phenomenon. But he has avoided the one thing that will change that misperception – coming out and saying Biltz did it. Why is that so hard for him? Why does he say he got the idea for the book by reading the Bible? Why does he say he got the idea for the book when, out of the blue, he decided to go to NASA’s website and look up lunar eclipses? If he did those things in preparation for his book, he did it because he got the ideas from Mark Biltz. That’s all we’re asking – honesty.”
In another demand by Morgenstern, he denies Hagee got his dates wrong about the blood moons in the movie. But, as evidence Hagee didn’t get the dates wrong in his movie, he cites Hagee’s book, where he got them right.
“Maybe the Hagee team should review the one and only clip of the movie that Biltz and I find so offensive,” says Farah. “It’s the same clip he talks about his ‘discovery’ that is so misleading. He goes on to say he went to NASA’s website and found the blood moons had occurred on dates on which they didn’t occur. He can kill two birds with one stone by deleting that one-minute clip and hailing publicly Mark Biltz as his inspiration and the discoverer of the blood moons phenomenon. What’s so hard about that?”
Morgenstern also demands a correction from WND about an unrelated matter.
“WND falsely claimed that Hagee does not believe that Jews need Jesus to be saved. In fact, Hagee never made such a claim and years ago directly denied assertions that he holds a dual-covenant theology,” he wrote. “In addition, while WND acknowledges that Hagee rewrote sections of ‘In Defense of Israel’ to clarify his relevant position, WND failed to note that the associated video promotion was also changed to accurately reflect his theology.”
WND never reported on what Hagee currently believes, only on the controversy he set off when he said in a commercial what would be found in his book.
“I’m happy to hear that Hagee no longer subscribes to those anti-biblical positions,” said Farah. “But we never asserted what Hagee believes, only what he said on videotape. I’m gratified he has repudiated all of that. It’s time for him to clean up another mess.”
Morgenstern concluded in his letter: “While these facts clearly call into question WND’s objectivity, they pale in comparison to the conflict of interest associated with Farah’s apparent financial stake in advancing this false narrative. Not surprisingly, in the piece, WND repeatedly advertises and links to purchase options of Biltz’s relevant book and film – which as the WND piece mentions, Farah is, respectively, publisher and producer.”
“I do hope that Farah will exhibit the strength of character to acknowledge that he’s made what I believe are a series of financially motivated blunders,” Morgenstern continued. “However, either way, I would note that in our view, WND is obligated to issue corrections to those errors discussed above.”
Farah responded by saying: “I am accused of standing up for Mark Biltz because of my own financial interests. Yet it is Hagee who has made millions off Mark Biltz’s discovery, far more than Biltz and I combined ever expect to make as a result of our work on this subject.”
See the trailer for Hagee’s new movie:
NOTE: Media wishing to interview Mark Biltz, please contact him here.