Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks as first lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, former first lady Barbara Bush, and former President George H.W. Bush listen during the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center April 25, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

What’s former President George W. Bush up to these days? Funny you should ask. Sarah Posner reports in Mother Jones that W. has signed on to give the keynote address at a fundraiser next week for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, an organization that is exactly what it sounds like. (Glenn Beck headlined last year’s fundraiser.)

The organization’s goal, Posner explains, is quite straightforward: “to ‘restore’ Israel and the Jews and bring about about the second coming of Christ.”

Naturally, people aren’t pleased about the former president endorsing such an organization, particularly given that this fundraiser is being thrown in order to raise money for the group’s “proselytizing operations.”

Asked about Bush’s upcoming appearance at the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MJBI) event, Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said, “It’s disappointing that he would give his stamp of approval to a group whose program is an express effort to convert Jews and not to accept the validity of the Jewish covenant.”

Tickets range from $100 to $100,000, with the opportunity for high-paying attendees to attend a VIP reception (plus photos!) with Bush, as well as receive a signed copy of his book and passes to the brand new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

It’s a surprising engagement for Bush, given his public commitment to Judaism in the past and considerable grasp of the religion. His chief of staff, Josh Bolten, told Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg last year that the Bushes “were very open to and respectful of faiths of all kind, but particularly Judaism.” Barbara Bush would even make sure there was a vegetarian option for Bolten, who keeps kosher, starting at campaign events in 2000.

“I worked for a boss, President Bush, and the First Lady Laura Bush, who were very interested in and sensitive to other faiths. They were often cartooned as being sort of fundamentalist Christians who were disrespectful of other faiths, but the exact opposite was true.”

So what’s behind Bush suddenly shilling for a messianic organization? Your guess is as good as mine.

George W. Bush to Raise Money for Group That Converts Jews to Bring About Second Coming of Christ [Mother Jones]
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