Can someone whose religious doctrines require him/her to convert you to their faith, ever be a genuine friend? By genuine friend I mean someone you can intrinsically trust; someone who respects you for who you are and what you believe in.
The obvious answer is, of course, no. But that has never stopped people and nations from entering into relationships of convenience that supposedly serve mutual interests.
Many of us who identify as Zionists, have long been troubled by the artificial relationships that have been forged between friends and supporters of Israel with Evangelical Christians. In fact, right-wing Israeli politicians actively engage American Evangelical leaders and their groups when they visit the Holy Land and make sure to call or drop in on them when visiting the U. S.
But the fact that many if not most conservative Christians mistrust all Muslims and view Israel’s existence as a pre-requisite for the Second Coming, should actually serve as reasons for Jews to be wary of such people, rather than embrace them.
Truth to be told, this lifelong liberal Democrat could not bring himself to support or vote for Jimmy Carter simply because he had, on more than one occasion, made it quite clear that as a born-again Evangelical, he felt religiously compelled to support Israel to hasten the Second Coming. While granted, religious teachings have shaped the values of many if not most elected officials, no one should be President of a democracy who can tell voters up front that he will utilize the powers of his office to advance a super-natural religious event. Sorry, but that’s just daffy.
Forrest Wilder of the Texas Observer, pointed out this week that the mainstream media looked the other way last Saturday (Aug. 6) and missed something quite significant that happened during the mega Christian prayer fest called, The Response. The event, organized by Texas Governor Rick Perry to promote both himself and the Christian right’s vision for America, had political pundits watching closely to see if the likely Presidential hopeful might say something incendiary. He didn’t, but another star of this Rick Perry production did.
“As believers, we have a responsibility to unashamedly take the Gospel to the Jewish people as well as the Gentiles of every nation.”
Now it’s no secret that many Christian denominations in general and Evangelicals in particular believe it is their religious obligation to convert Jews and other non-Christians to their faith. But when an elected government official who is running for President of the United States organizes an event that calls for the religious proselytization of a specific group of citizens, that’s news.
Pastor Finto went on to tell the assembled that hundreds of thousands of Jews in America and Israel are, at this very moment, turning to Jesus Christ. That is by the way, was news to everyone in the world except Finto who then invited “Messianic Rabbi,” Marty Waldman of Dallas to give testimony.
For those readers who may not be of the Jewish faith, let’s be clear: there is no such thing as a “messianic Jew,” or a “Jew for Jesus.” You cannot believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and be a Jew. People who believe in Jesus Christ are called “Christians,” regardless of any religious traditions they may have identified with previously or religious rituals they still practice.
Baby boomers will recall that John F. Kennedy’s Catholic faith was made into a big issue in the 1960 Presidential campaign. The white Protestant establishment in this country wondered aloud if the election of a Roman Catholic to the White House was tantamount to turning the U.S. government over to the Pope.
Have conservative political pundits in the media or the Christian right ever stopped talking about the inappropriate comments made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of the church that President and Mrs. Obama attended in Chicago?
Wilder raises a legitimate question that should be troubling to most Americans: Why did the mainstream media in this country give Don Finto and Rick Perry a free ride on this?
If Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York organized a prayer event for Catholics where a Priest called for the conversion of all Protestants and Jews, do you think that would be newsworthy? It would probably make headlines around the world Cuomo wouldn’t last another 24 hours in office.
How did an American governor, let alone a presidential candidate get away with this?
Is it because such calls for the conversion of non-Christians is considered standard blather now by the extreme right? Is it not newsworthy because it happened in Texas and involved a right wing Republican conservative Christian governor? That postulate is incredibly insulting to Texans who are not conservative, not Christian and not Republican.
Or, is the sad truth that in 2011, Fox Noise, the Tea Party, the Bachmann’s and Palin’s of America, have lowered the bar so far, that conservative Christians and extreme right wing politicians can get away with almost anything these days?
Are reasonable Americans really ready to accept religious and political supremacist canons as legitimate ideas for national discourse? If we are, we’re daffy and deserve whatever we get.