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“Judeo-Christian” is antisemitic

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses Washington area Jews during a rally to support Israel's right of self defense against Hamas attacks coming from Gaza July 17, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO)

“Judeo-Christian is not merely anti-Christian propaganda, but as one rabbi points out, it is also antisemitic:

The Constitution entitles you to your opinions and religious beliefs and even affords you the right to express those convictions in your pursuit of public office. But as a Jew and a rabbi, I am writing to ask you to please leave me, Judaism and my people out of your rhetoric. Don’t use “Judeo-Christian” to try to appropriate my religion and my people’s history to advance your agenda.

I can appreciate that Jews and Christians share many similar values and beliefs, just as I recognize that many of the values I learn from my tradition are also shared by many other religions. But while our respective religions have many things in common, we also diverge in significant ways. You and I read the same Bible very differently and draw sometimes contradictory conclusions from it. I honor those differences and I affirm that Jews and Christians (as well as Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and many others) can come together to exchange ideas and live at peace with one another. But your particular brand of Christianity bears little resemblance to the Judaism I practice, and when you use the term “Judeo-Christian” to really mean “Christian,” you erase the distinctions between our faiths — and you essentially erase Jews….

When you use the term “Judeo-Christian,” you give your particular brand of Christian ideology a veneer of universalism it does not merit. It is misleading to suggest that your ideas are part of a “Judeo-Christian tradition.” The term “Judeo-Christian” was originally coined in the 1930s by liberal Christians and Jews who sought to encourage ecumenical relations between those two faiths for the purpose of fighting the growing racism, xenophobia and nativism of that time. But in the 1950s the term was adopted by political conservatives who used the phrase “Judeo-Christian values” as a cudgel in the fight against fellow Americans they accused of being “Godless communists.” And since the 1970s the call for a return to so-called “Judeo-Christian values” has been used by the Christian right as code language to their base for a particular brand of conservative policies that are anything but inclusive.

Perhaps those Christians who are not even remotely concerned about endorsing an anti-Christian term will think twice about it now that they understand it is also antisemitic and deplored by Jews.

This is not an isolated example. The Jewish Press is even more straightforward in correctly rejecting the legitimacy of the term:

Let’s be clear: Far from “sharing” one tradition, Orthodox Jews are prohibited from marrying Christians, setting foot inside a Christian church—and we can’t even drink from an open bottle of kosher wine that has been used by a Christian. We reject the Christian idea of salvation, we abhor Christian divine teachings on every subject, and we are repulsed and outraged by incessant attempts by Christian missionaries to bring us into their fold.

It is particularly disturbing when Klinghoffer makes statements which reveal his complete assumption of elements of New Testament Pauline ideology, for instance, the requirement that wives submit to their husband’s authority. There is no mandate on precisely how a woman should behave with her husband—Jews expect the happy couple to work it out for themselves. Also, while divorce may be a tragedy, and God cries, it is in no way banned—in Judaism, that is. The story in Christianity, and Klinghoffer’s “Judeo-Christian Biblical America,” is different.

Incidentally, we have more in common with Muslims than we do with Christians; Jewish law permits Jews to enter a mosque… but not a church….

Jews and Christians differ on every single fundamental principle—even on the meaning of core Scriptural texts. More crucially, Christians rely on the Old Testament for legal delineation; whereas Jews rely solely upon our rabbinic tradition. We never, ever turn to our Bible for legal guidance, only to our rabbinic literature. To suggest that our Sages had anything at all in common with the likes of Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Carter or Pat Robertson is a slap in the face of 2500 years of scholarship.

“Judeo-Christian” is as valid a concept as happy-joylessness, or tall dwarves. Klinghoffer’s yearnings for this repugnant “ideal” is a deviant phenomenon without a trace of commonality in traditional Jewish thought, ancient or modern.

Considering that it is almost solely Christian Zionists in the US who proudly utilize the term, I tend to doubt there are many rhetorical ploys more powerful than accusing anyone who uses the term “Judeo-Christian values” of antisemitism.

I also think the term “Judeo-Christian values” is obviously racist, as if we are to apply the idiotic logic used to defend it, the more accurate term to describe the values upon which the United States was founded is “African-Christian values”, since everyone who is a United States citizen was, until very recently, believed to have been descended from an African ancestor and it is terribly racist to suggest otherwise, regardless of what the latest science might say.