Skip to comments.In Defense of Christian Conservatives [Answer to ADL Abe Foxman]
Posted on 11/09/2005 3:39:25 PM PST by Alouette
NEW YORK - Institutionalized Christianity in the U.S. has grown so extremist that it poses a tangible danger to the principle of separation of church and state and threatens to undermine the religious tolerance that characterizes the country, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, warned in his address to the League's national commission, meeting in New York City over the weekend. (Haaretz Newspaper, Israel.)
We Jews arent chic any longer. Not too many people care for Jews these days. Europe, including England, makes little secret of how it feels towards Jews. If possible, they care even less for Israel. All Moslem countries, more than a billion angry people frequently at one anothers necks, are magically unified over hatred for Jews and resentment over that little patch of sand in the Middle East which Jews turned into a country. Much of Africa and most of Russia feels the same way. Hate the Jews.
It is very challenging for a small group of people to survive with no friends.
But wait! There is one group of people who unconditionally love Jews and the Land of Israel.
These people are called Christian conservatives. They are made up of Catholics, and Protestants, Baptists and Lutherans and many others. Although theologies differ widely, they all share a deep conviction that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. They all fervently believe that in so doing, God presented humanity with a blueprint for life. Needless to say, these views should be shared by every Jew committed to his faith.
Yes, I know that some may have their own reasons for their friendship. However I ask you to remember that Jewish morality dictates we judge others by their actions not by what we believe lies in their hearts. Sometimes I am not too sure of what lies in my own heart, let alone in the hearts of others. We leave God to peer into others motivations and we are called to judge other people by how they act. And the overwhelming majority of Christian conservatives in America act with astounding goodness, generosity, and friendship.
A common understanding of the Bible, its promises and its directions, lies at the foundation of the special friendship the Christian Right has for Jews. Most Jews are profoundly grateful to have such faithful friends during a period when events are echoing frightening times of the past.
It is a remarkable thing, this friendship. Very different theologies, very different histories and backgrounds, and even different visions of the future, yet a shared recollection of our Biblical past assures the present in an atmosphere of trust and amity.
Into this delicate relationship strides an extremist demagogue whose intemperate denunciations this past weekend threaten to destroy friendships between Jews and Christians.
The director of the ADL, one of the large Jewish organizations in America, attacked Christianity as an intolerable threat to religious tolerance. He denounced several famous Evangelical organizations by name accusing them of wishing to implement their Christian worldview. He demonized Christians and assured his audience that they intend to Christianize all aspects of American life their vision of America is far different from ours. (Just imagine what would happen to a Christian leader talking thus about Jews!)
Mr. Foxman has yet to apologize for how wrong were his dire predictions of what Mel Gibsons Passion would bring in its wake. Yet off he goes again defaming the only people left on the face of the planet who actually love Jews.
There is one reliable rule that most people learn in grade school: If you consistently bully your friends and treat them disrespectfully, pretty soon you wont have any friends left.
Leaving aside the fascinating analysis of the pathology that makes a Jew alienate our best and only friends, maybe the attack itself needs to be refuted.
The ADL has been attacking Christianity now for over ten years. It began with an embarrassing book the ADL published in 1994The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance & Pluralism in America. It has never let up. Given the ADLs obsessive preoccupation with Christians, anyone would think that on their way home from church every Sunday, most Christians engage in robbing and raping, mugging and murdering any Jews reckless enough to be out on the streets. Is it possible that this organization, originally founded to protect Jews, cannot find any greater threat to Judaism than Americas conservative Christians. Or is it possibly the threat they legitimately pose to secular liberalism that really bothers the ADL? If so, why pose as a Jewish organization? It would be more honest to identify as an activist arm of the Democratic Party.
This may be a good time for me to expose the five slanderous lies surrounding Americas most misunderstood movement:
1) The Christian Right wishes to impose a theocracy on America.
A hint for those of you out there planning on imposing a theocracy: In order to succeed, you would first need to subvert the entire United States Constitution. A word to the rest of you worried about a theocracyif the Constitution goes, you have far bigger problems than a theocracy.
Who really does have a record of forcing their values down the throats of everyone else? Over the past forty years life in America has been made indescribably more squalid, expensive, and dangerous. Mocking moral standards and vulgarizing the culture has brought to any teenagers ears the throbbing rhythms and hideously violent lyrics that would have brought a blush to the face of a convict in 1960. Back then, a family lived an enviable middle-class lifestyle on one salary. Today, high taxes, regulatory costs, and feminist propaganda have forced mothers into the workplace. Abolishing the Biblical idea of people being capable of evil, crime is now understood in terms of social problems. The result is a sharply diminished sense of safety and security. Forget city parks at night; we worry about children surviving a day at the local public school with its metal detectors and ludicrously unarmed guards. So who has more successfully forced its values down our throats? I think the record speaks for itself.
For Christian leaders to encourage conservative Americans of faith to vote for like-minded candidates is of course no different from Jewish leaders ardently having encouraged all Jews to vote for the Gore-Lieberman ticket in 2000 because Joe is a Jew. Secularism is as much a belief system as is Christianity and secularists who work to elect secularists shouldnt complain when Christians try to elect Christians to public office. There is a good old-fashioned word for this activity and it is not theocracy. It isdemocracy. Every group in America practices it. Christians should be able to do so too without being demonized by a Jewish organization.
2) The Christian right believes all who disagree with them are going to hell.
Even if some believe this, so what? Does our Constitution guarantee freedom of belief only to secularists? I am always amused by those who are most indignant that some Christians have this belief but are themselves secularists who firmly announce their disbelief in heaven or hell in the first place. Why should they care if someone else believes they are going somewhere they dont believe exists? Go figure.
For me personally, it bothers me not at all that many of my Christian friends believe I am headed to hell. Frankly I am deeply grateful to be living among such wonderful Christian neighbors who do absolutely nothing to accelerate my arrival there. Does the phrase Spanish Inquisition mean anything to you?
For most Christians I know, it is not so much a belief as it is a genuine concern for my spiritual future. I appreciate that concern amidst ongoing friendship and generosity to me though I remain a firmly committed Orthodox Jew. It was not always so for Jews in other countries during the past two thousand years.
Israels safety belt is undoubtedly Americas Bible belt and I am sure that America has provided historys safest and longest lasting haven for Jews, not in spite of, but precisely because of her deep Christian conviction.
Christian belief, no matter how difficult for non-Christians to accept, poses no threat to anyone. On the contrary, it has turned out to be the source of blessing for all who cherish the freedom and tranquility of the United States of America. The same George Washington who wrote May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the goodwill of the other inhabitants was a George Washington who was a deeply religious and very conservative Christian.
One way for the descendants of Abraham to merit the goodwill of our Christian neighbors would be to stop Jewish organizations from endlessly insulting and attacking our friends.
3) Christian conservatives are anti-Semitic and racist.
This might be a good opportunity for me to point out the sheer evil of accusing someone of an undefined crime. You see, with no definition of the crime, it is impossible for the accused to defend himself. Think about it for a moment .do you know the definition of anti-Semitism? See, it isnt so simple. Is it hurting Jews or their property? That doesnt need the term anti-Semitismit is already a crime called assault or vandalism. And in any event, is that really what they are accusing Christian conservatives of doing? I think not.
Does ant-Semitism mean harboring a dislike for Jews in ones heart? Do we really want to criminalize thought? What about the old liberal disdain for thought police?
I do believe it might be time already for some Jewish leaders to abandon their Sharpton-tactics and graciously shelve the term anti-Semitism. It has become nothing but a bludgeon to silence dissent and cause resentment. When Jewish leaders accuse good and decent Christians of anti-Semitism because they oppose wholesale abortion and homosexual marriage, it is more of an indictment of the Jews hurling the epithet than it is of the victims.
The problem is that many Jews, having abandoned the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, have embraced the alternative faith of secular liberalism. In do doing, they adopt the misleading equation that Judaism=Liberalism. Believing that the values of Judaism have nothing to do with the clearly expressed wishes of God in the Torah, they mistakenly assume that the values of Judaism are congruent with those of secular liberalism. Thus anyone who loathes the values of secular liberalism surely must hate the values of Judaism since they are the same. Therefore, any conservative is, by definition, an anti-Semite.
It thus becomes the holy duty of organizations like the ADL, originally formed to fight bigotry and anti-Semitism, to fight religious conservatives. This is tiresome, anachronistic, and just plain wrong. This is an error with potentially tragic consequences and it should stop.
I can only tell you that I regularly deliver speeches to audiences, often of thousands, for the very organizations listed by the ADL in its latest anti-Christian diatribe. I do so as an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and on the dais I wear the same black yarmulke I wore during my Torah studies in yeshiva. I talk of the same Biblical values I was taught in that yeshiva. After the speech I frequently enjoy a dinner brought by the organizers with considerable trouble and expense from a kosher restaurant, often from another city. I am received with enthusiasm and genuine warmth. If this be anti-Semitism, my grandfather in Europe would surely have welcomed it.
Oh, did I mention that many of the pastors making up the Christian Right are themselves black Americans? Of course, to many of the racial demagogues on the Secular Left, any black who becomes a conservative has renounced his blackness. I am accustomed to this because a representative of the Jewish Federation of a large west coast city recently told a friend of mine that Rabbi Lapin isnt a real Jew because he is friends with those Christians. I estimate that at least ten percent of most every audience I address is African American. The charge that the Christian Right is racist is made exclusively by people whose antagonism is exceeded only by their ignorance.
4) Christian conservatives are poor, uneducated, and easy to command.
This allegation was first made by Washington Post journalist Michael Weisskopf in a front page story on February 1st, 1993. In reality, average annual income for Christian conservatives is well above the national average. Furthermore, the average net worth of conservative Christian families rockets ahead of the national average especially when corrected for age and income. This shouldnt surprise anyone because the values of thrift and industry that build net worth are among the values encouraged by Biblical faith. Finally, the bountiful generosity in the form of charitable donations made by Americas religious conservatives in any year exceeds the gross domestic product of many nation members of the United Nations.
Most of the nations hundreds of Christian colleges, with their rigorous academic standards, routinely outperform state universities. Christian home schoolers win the national spelling bees year after year. In a 2003 article entitled God on the Quad, the Boston Globe described how well Christian Evangelical students are doing on New Englands liberal elite university campuses.
As for easy to command, well Evangelical judicial nominee Harriet Miers was forced to withdraw her nomination precisely because Americas religious conservatives are not easy to command.
5) The Christian right is anti-Scientific.
This charge emerges from secular Americas docile homage to the doctrines of Darwin. Wise and educated people today realize that the borderline between cutting-edge science and religious belief is fuzzy. One need only examine the work of cosmologist Stephen Hawking, British scientific philosopher Antony Flew, or Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder to hear the language of theology. Only propagandists and ideologues think that Darwin ended the discussion.
The truth is that two incompatible beliefs can account for mankinds presence on the planet. The first is that God created us in His image and placed us here. The second is that through a lengthy process of unaided materialistic evolution, primitive protoplasm became Bach, Beethoven, and the Beatles.
Many scientists, including the 40% who are religious according to a University of Georgia study cited by the New York Times in February of this year, accept the first view. Many scientists accept the second view and some scientists await further evidence. The issue is hardly cut and dried because a great deal of modern science flows as much from scientific philosophy as it does from laboratory experiment. This is particularly true of non-replicable science such as that dealing with cosmology and origin of the universe questions.
This leaves only one question: Are secular liberals or Christian conservatives more dogmatic and closed-minded? To any fair-minded person, the answer is startlingly simple. It would be tough to find a single Christian high school, college, or university in the nation that does not treat Darwinian evolution seriously. However, it would be even tougher to find a single public high school or secular university that grants a respectful hearing to intelligent design, let alone a religious view of creation.
It is also only on secular campuses that truth is frequently suppressed in the interests of political correctness.
If science means being open to all ideas, judging those ideas on the basis of evidence rather than belief, and withholding judgment in the absence of evidence, there can be no doubt at all. Christian conservatives are far less anti-Scientific than others.
In conclusion, I am sure that the ADLs Mr. Foxman cares for the Jewish people as much as I do. It is just that he has a radically different way of expressing it. To me, his frequent anti-Christian outbursts are incomprehensible and I am sure they jeopardize the future of Jews in America and ultimately, Jews everywhere. He, no doubt thinks much the same about my views.
In a spirit of respect for both him and for the traditional Jewish commitment to the truth and to open discussion that I am sure we share, I invite Mr. Foxman to a public debate on this topic. Let us debate one another in order to determine the direction for the future. Does Jewish survival lie with a fervent secularism that ceaselessly snaps at the heels of Christian America or does it lie within political alliance with those people who stand firm for the values God imparted to the Jews at the foot of Mount Sinai just over three thousand years ago. One way is right and the other is wrong. Which is it? A debate could help expose the true answer. Cmon Mr. Foxman, lets do it.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, an Orthodox Rabbi in Seattle, Washington, is author of Thou Shall Prosper, America's Real War and Buried Treasure ,is President of Toward Tradition and hosts his own television and radio shows.
Toward Tradition is America's leading bridge-builder between Jewish and Christian communities; spanning the divide between Christians and Jews by sculpting ancient solutions to modern problems in areas of family, faith, and fortune. Visit us on the web at: www.towardtradition.org
Warning! This is a high-volume ping list.
Thank you, my Jewish FRiend.
No, Mr. Foxman, not you--you're not a real Jew, you are one of the wolvesmen/foxmen in Jewish clothing. I was speaking to Alouette--and Mr. Lapin.
Wow! Parts of this brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for posting it, Alouette.
So much truth and beauty in this defense.
This is a Rabbi who can speak for me as a Jew. I know who the real friends of my people are. And I would rather have one true evangelical Christian at my side than ten liberals at my back. I know what's right and wrong. I know who's been crying wolf (Mr. Foxman, I'm looking your way), and I know to judge people by their actions and not their words.
Someone needs to ping the Christian supporters of Israel list.
Some time ago I saw a study which showed that Pentecostal Christians (I no longer recall which denominations were included) were highly pro Jews and pro Israel. However, they exhibited at least some bias against Roman Catholics and more against Muslims.
Of course, most at Free Republic know perfectly well Foxman speaks for a radical minority that has nothing to do with true Jewish life. Still, any Christian worth their salt has, and will continue to do so, unconditionally support the Jewish nation, no matter the slurs and slander, because G-d's gracious heart is for the nation of Israel.
May He continue to bless America and Israel, that we may serve Him without distraction, as He reaches out through us to a lost and dying world.
"Palestine is the wrong name for their State. It should be called Anarchy."FReeper sgtbono2002
"Then let's wait and see what the Arabs do after they take Gaza. There's nothing like Arab reality to break up a Jewish fantasy."FReeper Noachian
A student told his professor he was going to "Palestine" to "fight for freedom, peace and justice,"Orwellian leftist code words that mean "murder Jews."
The Nature Of Bruce ~
Thanks, got it. I usually keep an eye on Alouette and what she has going.
Thank you for this post. I am one of those silly Christians who believes that God's promises are eternal and when He said "He who touches you touches the apple of God's eye" I am inclined to treat this apple as the treasure that it is in the eyes of the Almighty.
Sometimes, I think you're right. But more and more, they are seeing the light. Slowly, they see who their true friends are. And more are making a choice now. You can't be a true Jew and secularist at the same time. It's one or the other.
It's not "American Jews" as much as the liberals in their midstas any other demographic. The American Jewish community are top notch, as revealed in this article, as well as excellently represented in the Conservative Jewish community here at Free Republic.
And I'm one of those silly Jews who believes that whosoever is righteous, he shall be beloved of the Lord. Judge a man by his actions, not what you think is in his heart.
It's no wonder Christian and Jewish conservatives get along, eh?
First, let me state that Rabbi Lapin in this post has totally smoked the Left, with deep craters and major secondary explosions (I'm a Vietnam pilot and about to fly again in Iraq, so bear with me).
The deepest antisemitism is (are you ready for this?) among Muslims. As Gomer Pyle would say, surprise, surprise! You've guessed by now I'm not sympathetic toward the murdering fanatical Mohammedans.
Are there evangelicals who are anti-Catholic? Sure, doesn't bother this mackerel-snapper one bit since I know they aren't out to kill me for being Catholic (and they say some really laughable things).
But if evangelicals are likely to be anti-Muslim while being pro-Jewish and pro-Israel, then I say,
BRING IT ON!
IMHO one of the reasons the USA became a super power was because it was in God's plan for the USA to be the protector of the Jews and Israel.
The supreme irony of the ADL's attack is that, believe it or not (and would that it weren't so), there are chr*stian and "conservative" forces who are not friendly to Israel or the Jewish People. Yet Foxman and every other liberal Jewish spokesman completely ignores those people and chooses to focus exclusively on the one element of chr*stendom that supports the Jewish People--the so-called "Bible-believing chr*stians" (Fundamentalist, Evangelical, and Pentecostal Protestants). There are plenty of "conservative" and chr*stian web sites that savage Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, John Ashcroft, and their co-religionists precisely because they are pro-Jewish. Has anyone heard of Robert Sungenis? He was a man I once respected for his resistance to Biblical criticism, evolution, and Copernicanism. Now he has become an unmitigated anti-Semitic nutjob, attacking the "chr*stian Zionist base" of the Republican party and all the people Foxman so fears as Judaizing traitors to chr*stianity. Perhaps Mr. Foxman and Mr. Sungenis should get together sometime?
Sungenis is far from the only one. The ultra-right Roman Catholic movement, much as I share its beliefs about the Divine inspiration and inerrancy of the "old testament" (as they choose to call it) are nevertheless loaded with rabid, foaming Jew-haters. Does Foxman ever pay any attention to them? The only time he has done so was with Gibson's film last year, and that was probably only because it attracted an audience of "Bible-believers."
Even among Protestants there is considerable coolness towards Jews and Israel from both liberal and traditional wings, as well as among Black churches (which for some reason are not counted as chr*stian at all by liberals who seem to have no problem with exclusive salvific doctrines and literal creations when held by those more richly blessed with melanin). Then there are those groups like Chuck Carlson's and the "identity" nudniks. Also, the section of the Protestant Right made up by the "dominionists" and reconstructionists" is notorious for its anti-Zionism and anti-Judaism (see Rousas Rushdoony and his son-in-law Gary North, whose anti-Zionist theology is the quasi-official theology of the Birch Society and the Constitution Party). How often do the Foxmans of the world turn their gaze to these vermin? Very seldom. They object far more to the pro-Jewish Fundamentalists because they are ashamed of the Jewish association with the Bible that exists in the Fundamentalist Protestant worldview.
Leaving aside Catholicism and Protestantism, America contains representatives of all the ancient liturgical churches, though they spend most of their time in their ethnic hidey-holes and refuse to take part in trying to hold back the collapse of civilization. And while these churches are not (at least in America) going to trumpet an anti-Semitic or even anti-Zionist theology too loudly (indeed, they are experts at escaping notice of any kind) there is no doubt that their true views are (to say the least) far from sympathetic to Israel or Jews. Does the ADL know about these churches at all, or their theology, which (unlike Protestantism and Catholicism) has never been modernized or even requested to modernize? Well, that's putting it a little too generally; these churches are as in love with evolution and higher criticism as they are unchanging in their hostility to Israel.
Rabbi Lapin has always meant the very best, the the fact is (and I am sorry to hurt the feelings of some of my friends here) that it is not chr*stianity per se that is the source of America's unique philo-Semitism but rather America's unique Biblicism. Only among American Fundamentalists and those under their influence does one find this unafraid, unashamed, and resolutely unbending love of the Jewish People and its Land. This is the influence of the Bible pure and simple, and as any traditional (non-Fundamentalist) chr*stian will tell you, real chr*stianity isn't based on the Bible at all.
Dear Fundamentalist Biblicist friends of Israel: please remain strong, despite all the attacks on you coming from every possible quarter (Jewish liberals, chr*stian anti-Semites, and even Orthodox Jews who are totally ignorant about you). Be strong, and may HaShem lead you ever further into the fulness of His Truth. May you, the people ridiculed and scorned by the proud churches (who laugh at you while ignoring their own illiterate bumpkins) be rewarded greatly when the Kingdom of G-d is realized on earth. 'Amen, selah.
I do believe I'd pay cash money to see that. :) Thanks for posting this, Alouette.
Good article. Thanks for posting.
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