Wednesday, June 01, 2005

CUANAS Celebrates The
Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation

An interview with the head of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, from Christianity Today:

Don Feder, a former Boston Herald writer and syndicated columnist, is president of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, an advocacy group that started in April. Stan Guthrie, CT's senior associate news editor, interviewed him.

Q: The Jewish people have the Anti-Defamation League, and you have started an "anti-defamation league" for Christians. Why?

A: ... we formed Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation because we felt a real need for Jews as Jews to respond to attacks on Christians. Oftentimes when Christians are attacked and Christian organizations object, the response is, "Well you're thin-skinned. You're overly sensitive. Unless people are completely complimentary, you think it's an attack. There's self-interest involved."
With a Jewish organization or a group of Jews taking this position, no one can accuse us of self-interest, because we're not Christians, but we're objecting to attacks on Christians, or discrimination against Christians.

So we thought it would useful in that regard. Beyond that, as American Jews we're concerned about the moral decline of America, and we view attacks on Christians basically as attacks on biblical morality and part of the moral deconstruction of America. And since Christians are being attacked for adhering to Judeo-Christian morality, which of course includes our morality, we felt that we had to respond.

Q: This seems to be part of a larger trend in which Jews and Christians are finding areas of common ground.
A: Conservative Christians and conservative Jews are finding more and more to agree on. The area of common concern seems to get broader all the time. Same-sex marriage, of course, is probably the most prominent issue, but there are others as well.

Q: The whole question of Israel is a major one.

A: Certainly that's an area that both groups are intensely interested in. Conservative Christians are probably the strongest supporters of Israel in America. In fact, by and large, Israel today is getting more support from Christians than from the Jewish community in this country.

Now, I want to make it clear that we're not doing this as a quid pro quo. This is not our way of thanking Christians for supporting Israel, although we do appreciate Christian support for Israel. If evangelical Christians weren't pro-Israel, then the Jewish state would really be in a perilous position—even more than it is. We're appreciative of Christians' support for Israel on a scriptural basis.

Q: Who is part of your group?

A: This is coming from the Jewish right of the political spectrum. Now, in terms of religion, the people involved span the spectrum of Judaism. We have six rabbis who are involved: three Orthodox, two Conservative, and one Reform. We're united more politically than we are in a religious sense. We're all Jews. Most of us are practicing Jews. Some are, you might say, secular or non-involved. What unites us, though, more than anything, is our political perspective, which tends to be, obviously, very similar to that of traditional Catholics and evangelical Christians.

Q: Are any Christians involved?

A: No, not officially. We made a decision at the outset to limit the organization to Jews. The organization is called Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, and we wanted it to be very clear that we're organizing as Jews to answer anti-Christian prejudice—not as Jews and Christians, not as Jews who are practicing Judaism and Jews who've converted to another religion, but as Jews.

Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation at this point has very little funding. Everything is basically being done on a volunteer basis.
(Pastorius note: I don't know what it is, but there's something I like about these guys. :)

Q: Did a particular event serve as a catalyst in bringing the group together?

A: Not one event, no—just the culmination of a lot of things: the attacks on evangelical Christians in the last election; the response to Mel Gibson's movie The Passion; the fact that there were a lot of people in the establishment, people like Frank Rich, who writes for The New York Times, people in Hollywood, who objected to an orthodox Catholic making a movie that glorified his faith. It seems so bizarre, given the attacks on Christians that constantly come out of Hollywood, to have people in the establishment objecting to Mel Gibson making a movie about the death of Christ.

So that was a part of it. A part of it was what went on in the last election. But it's been cumulative. These are things that go back years that just have … outraged our sense of justice. And of course things that are going on today, [such as] the conference they had in New York City called "Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right;" Al Gore's remarks [about "extremist organizations"] when he spoke to; the senator from Colorado, Ken Salazar, calling Dr. [James] Dobson of Focus on the Family the "Antichrist."

[There is an] implication that it's all right for anyone to be involved in politics, except for conservative Christians. If environmentalists, feminists, or animal rights advocates do get-out-the-vote drives, registration drives, or political education, it's called democracy. When Christians do it, it's called theology. Suddenly, what's good for everyone else becomes sinister when conservative Christians do it.

Q: What do you hope Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation will accomplish?

A: I hope it will raise the level of awareness of what seem to be growing attacks on Christians in a country that was founded by Christians and the tenets of Christianity. We hope that if people look at the organization and listen to us and take what we say to heart, they'll understand what's going on. And again, it may be easier for people to listen to us because we're not Christians.

The real heroes of Nazi Germany were the Christians who spoke up against the persecution of Jews. When Jews objected to what was happening in the early years of the Third Reich, the response was, "Well, you're Jews. You're hypersensitive. You're blowing it out of proportion." When people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood up for the Jews, no one could accuse him of self-interest.

We're hoping it will be easier for the public to hear what we're saying because in a way we are disinterested. Of course, in a way we're not disinterested, because one of the things we're saying is if Christians fail, America will fail. So we all have a stake in this.

Q: A lot of people, certainly on the Left, would say we need a more secularized America.

A: Well, America is too secular to begin with, although they seem determined to extirpate the last vestiges of Judeo-Christian morality. Again, it goes back to what I call the moral legacy of the West, which is often referred to as Judeo-Christian morality or Judeo-Christian ethics.

Christians by and large aren't being attacked because Catholics believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation or because some evangelicals believe in the Rapture. They're not being attacked on theological grounds. They're being attacked on moral grounds. They're being attacked because they object to same-sex marriage; they object to abortion on demand; they support public displays of the Ten Commandments; they support voluntary school prayer or a moment of silent meditation at the beginning of the school day; because they want judges to interpret the Constitution rather than using the Constitution to legislate from the bench; because they object to, you might even say they were outraged by, what happened to Terri Schiavo. Christians are the last remaining obstacle to the triumph of secular humanist values. And that's why we say that if Christians fail, America will fail.

Q: How have people responded so far?

A: The response we've had has been overwhelmingly positive from both Christians and Jews—far more from Christians than Jews, naturally. The response, generally, from Christians has been, "Thank God you're doing what you're doing. We're so thrilled that Jews are speaking out on our behalf. For years we've supported Israel and we've supported Jewish concerns and we've spoken out against the growing wave of anti-Semitism in Europe. And it's so wonderful to see Jews speaking up for us."