Tuesday, November 29, 2005

End Times of End Times?

Michelle Goldberg of Salon has written an article on a growing split between the evangelical Christians and the Jews. If you weren't aware, these two very dissparite groups have had an odd alliance based on biblical prophecy:
Why the silence until now? Part of it has to do with Israel. Christian Zionism, inspired by end-times beliefs that make the return of Jews to Israel a precondition for the second coming, has made American evangelicals the world's staunchest backers of Israeli hawks. (Their Jewish allies usually choose to ignore the fact that the Christian Zionist's apocalyptic scenario ends with unsaved Jews being slaughtered and condemned to hell.)
Yes. Despite Jews being historically quite liberal, and evangelicals being....well evangelicals...they have shared a common goal of preserving Israel. But I want to emphasize what is said above, the alliance is all the more amazing when you understand the depth of anti-semitism in the evangelical community. Evangelicals devotion to Israel is thoroughly based on the destruction of the Jews and the belief that Jews are damned to hell (read: heathens). Apparently Jews are willing to accept cash and volunteers from anyone, ignorning motivation.

Understanding this dynamic goes a long way toward understanding the ideological nutbars in the Bush administration and the policy towards the middle east. Fighteningly, it is perhaps why Bush is "at peace" when apocalyptical scenarios are presented to him regarding Iraq policy.

But apparently all is not well in the politics of the holy land:
One person who plans to be there is Rabbi Eric Yoffie, whose group is the largest Jewish organization in the country, representing more than 900 congregations. Two weeks after Foxman's broadside, Yoffie blasted the religious right in a sermon delivered to around 5,000 people at the Union's biannual convention in Houston. Yoffie says he hadn't coordinated with Foxman, but the two share some of the same concerns -- though Yoffie approaches the issue from a religious rather than a political perspective.

"We are particularly offended by the suggestion that the opposite of the religious right is the voice of atheism," he told his audience. "We are appalled when 'people of faith' is used in such a way that it excludes us, as well as most Jews, Catholics and Muslims. What could be more bigoted than to claim that you have a monopoly on God and that anyone who disagrees with you is not a person of faith?"

Much of Yoffie's sermon argued that for many Jews, liberalism is the result of religious values, not their antithesis. Being a liberal believer, he said, "means believing that religion involves concern for the poor and the needy, and giving a fair shake to all. When people talk about God and yet ignore justice, it just feels downright wrong to us. When they cloak themselves in religion and forget mercy, it strikes us as blasphemy. "

And then he launched into the most controversial part of his sermon -- an impassioned denunciation of right-wing homophobia that invoked the historical parallel of Nazism. "We understand those who believe that the Bible opposes gay marriage, even though we read that text in a very different way," he said. "But we cannot understand why any two people who make a lifelong commitment to each other should be denied legal guarantees that protect them and their children and benefit the broader society. We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations. And today, we cannot feel anything but rage when we hear about gay men and women, some on the front lines, being hounded out of our armed services. Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry."
Gosh, ya think? Looks like the Jewish political groups are finally getting a clue. Goldberg goes on to outline others in the Jewish community who are quesy about speaking out, mostly due to the financial support from the evangelical community for Israel. There is also an understanding in the Jewish community that to discard alliances with evangelicals is to alienate the President of the United States.

I was raised and lived for a good part of my life in California's bible belt. I have family members who are active in ministries in the evangelical churches. I just assume people generally understand how nutty many of the evangelicals really are. But many in this country, particularly those who live in the north, are only now beginning to understand the depth of irrationality involved in the evangelical community.

It's a lesson well learned. As I've said in other posts, the evangelical vote was no greater in 2004 than it has ever been. The "power" exerted by these groups largely stems from the perception that they are powerful. It is time for these nutbars groups and their leaders to resume a very, very peripheral role in American political life.

2 Comments:

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Jage said...

You know, every time I explain to someone during a discussion on the Middle-East that the main reason the religious-righters support Israel is so that all the Jews can one day die, they look at me like I'm on drugs.

Actually, I should clarify that, not 'all' the Jews are supposed to die. The legend is that they will all return to the Promised Land and all but 1,000 of them will be punished for ignoring Yahweh's bright boy.

Of course, that's why the end-time freaks give the 'Jewish Media' and 'Jewish Hollywood' so much grief...it'd be a cold day in Hades before every wealthy Jewish person in New York or L.A. willingly went to Isreal to live... ;)

 
At 9:54 AM, Blogger Greyhair said...

I know. It's a really really bizarre relationship that few people really "get". I've never quit understood it except through a prism of understanding that the abused will often make "friends" with abusers in a trauma bond. It's sick but does happen.

 

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