George W Bush is set to be the keynote speaker at a fundraising dinner for a controversial group that aims to convert Jews to Christianity.
The former president will address the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute this coming week, which has tickets priced from $250 to $100,000, Mother Jones reported.
After the story was published on the investigative magazine's website, the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, whose followers consider themselves to be Jewish followers of Jesus, removed references to the appearance from its website.
But Freddy Ford, a spokesman for the former president, told Mother Jones Bush's plans "haven't changed," and he will appear.
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The group's mission is to bring about the Second Coming by converting Jews to follow Jesus, and vehemently criticised by Jews.
He is not the first prominent Republican to address the group. In 2011, presidential nominee hopeful Rick Santorum address the group's annual conference, a decision which the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors antisemitism called "insensitive and offensive".
Jewish scholar Jay Michaelson told the Jewish Daily Forward: "To be clear, Messianic Judaism is a sham. Yes, there are some people who believe themselves to be Jewish believers in Jesus – sorry, Yeshua – and who wear kippas around the Christmas Tree. But this small group of eccentric believers is propped up by millions of religious-philanthropic dollars. They are a front. Uncle Baums.
"Don’t worry, Jewish Republicans said, Bush is good for the Jews. Well, now the ex-emperor has no clothes. Unless you think that helping Jews find Jesus is “good for the Jews,” this latest act of Bush’s evangelical faith – entirely consistent with previous ones – should set that myth to rest.
"Evangelicals like Bush sincerely love the Jews, but they love us in a very particular way: because, by ceasing to become Jews, we play an instrumental role in the Christian apocalyptic narrative."
Bush, who lives on his ranch in Dallas, has retired almost completely from public life since 2008, concentrating on his Institute, which campaigns on education, military issues and aid. He is also a prolific painter of cats, it emerged earlier this year, and he is said to have begun working on a series of 19 portraits of the foreign leaders with whom he dealt while US president.
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