In my view, a positive development:
Warning that the Evangelical right has made alarming gains in social and political influence, a leading Jewish church-state watchdog is calling for a tougher and more unified Jewish response.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaking to the group’s national leadership here last week, signaled a sharp shift in ADL policy by directly attacking several prominent religious right groups and challenging their motives, which he said include nothing less than “Christianizing America.”
Good for you, Abe. I’m sick to f-cking death of theocrats acting as though they have a right to draft public policy – things that affect you and me and everybody else, whether we subscibe to cult X or not. And I’m sick of the politicians who court the theocratic vote for their own cynical reasons. Drug approval springs to mind. Pharmacists have no right to say which prescriptions to fill and not fill, despite the companies and legislatures who enable them. Extremists demand no activist judges, or more activist judges, or any judge who will enforce their theocratic perspective. Pat Robertson may not set foreign policy but he sure has a knack for screwing it up. And on and on.
The ADL is hardly the first group to say what needs to be said, but Foxman’s influence could bump the debate a couple of levels. Now we won’t always have bobblehead shows ‘balance’ some American Family Association nutter with an AUSCS non-believer, but instead we’ll have an evangelical arguing with a Jewish person.
Er. Call me overly sensitive, but when you smoosh this story down to a water-cooler game of telephone the sound bite comes out sounding like evangelicals versus Jews. Polling by the ADL confirmed that 70 percent of church-going Americans, and 80 percent of evangelicals, believe that religion is under attack, which suggests at the very least that only 20 percent of evangelicals have the ability to tell offense from defense*. At a time when fundamentalists have made an art form out of the siege mentality it seems like this kind of move feeds right into that paranoid mindset. Not only is religion (replace with, ‘fundamentalist Christianity’) under attack, it’s under attack by Abe Foxman. Or maybe I’m full of it.
As I see it this could go two ways. The Council on American-Islamic Relations could join the fight, which at least by itself might prove unhelpful. Alternatively, Foxman could link up with the UCC and the Unitarian Jihad, and CAIR, and make this a fight between the extremists and everybody else rather than a fight between Christianity and one or both of America’s minority religions.
For more, see the Left Coaster.
(*) To illustrate what I mean:
60 percent of churchgoers and 69 percent of evangelicals responded in favor of forced prayer in schools.
Sixty-nine percent of Evangelicals and 60 percent of weekly churchgoers said there should be organized prayer in public schools, according to the survey, and 89 percent of Evangelicals agreed that religious symbols like the Ten Commandments should be displayed in public buildings.