Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

A Message to all the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists – HuffPost

I am tired of being Mr. Nice Guy!

I immigrated from Syria in 1984 and became an American citizen in 1989. I bask in what this country offers from freedom to democracy to opportunity to dreams of a better life. And like you, I get to vote. My voice counts.

As a matter of fact, I just voted for my governor in Alabama this week and then called my three children and screamed: I JUST VOTED. They know the ritual. They know their father gets extremely excited when he votes. For 18 years of my life, I have witnessed enough corruption in Syria to last a lifetime.

Last night, I attended the Stand Against Hate march in downtown Birmingham, and I didnt see you racists there. I wanted to stick a small yellow flower in the front of your shotgun.

Karim Shamsi-Basha

I do have a message for you

No matter what you do, we will not go away the people who see no skin color.

No matter how much terror you inflict, we will not be scared the people who care about he poor.

No matter how many people you injure, we will stay the course of reconciliation, tolerance, and love the people who help those who have not.

And no matter how many people kill and scare and push and yell at, we will keep marching, we will keep protesting, and we will keep raising our voices until we are heard the people who want to live and let live.

Heres a fact you may find delightful: Despite my being born in Damascus, I am more American than you are.

You were raising Confederate flags in Charlottesville, a flag that stood for slavery and drove this country into its most gruesome war. You were also raising swastikas, a symbol that stands for the most horrific event where six million Jews perished. Neither of these symbols is a gathering symbol. They stand for death, inequality and horror. You are not a patriot. You use the ugly past to forge an uglier future.

Tonight, I saw signs preaching love and compassion. I saw homemade posters colored by little ones hoping we leave them a decent planet to inhabit. I saw white hands holding black and brown hands. I saw blue smiles, hopeful eyes, and reverent bows.

Karim Shamsi-Basha

What happened in Charlottesville this past weekend would probably repeat. After all, we have one of you in the White House. The point is not whats taking place or whos insulting whom. The point is whats on the inside of our hearts and souls. Until that heart is sparkling with only love as the driver, we will again hear the echo of Charlottesville.

We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart gets rid of racism.

We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart squelches intolerance.

We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart crushes prejudice.

We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart tramples xenophobia.

And we will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart silences bigotry.

The human heart does not know racism when young, it learns racism later in life. Lets keep our heart young and innocent.

My message to the neo-Nazis and white supremacists?

Love is more powerful than you will ever be. Love will destroy you like it has destroyed your ancestors millions of times over the last few centuries. Even if it looks promising for a while, love will ultimately crush you.

Love is mighty, effective and potent. I dare you to mess with it.

For more, visit arabinalabama.com.

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A Message to all the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists – HuffPost

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Among my Jewish ancestors, a Confederate major – Houston Chronicle

Photo: Patricia Bernstein

This great-great-grandfather of mine was described in his 1912 obituary in the Trenton, Tennessee, Herald Democrat as “an excellent Christian character.” I want to know if this excellent Christian character owned slaves.

This great-great-grandfather of mine was described in his 1912…

For the last 10 or 15 years, I have been writing books about Texas history that have entailed a lot of research into the bitter experience of black Americans during the Jim Crow era. My first book on this topic was about the 1916 lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco; my new book is about the 1920s Ku Klux Klan.

During all this research, I was vaguely grateful, without thinking about it much, that my ancestors never owned slaves or fought to defend slavery. My ancestors, I thought, played no part in the long, ugly history of racism in our country. They arrived in this country decades after the Civil War. As Jews, they weren’t even eligible to belong to the despised KKK. In fact, as members of a long-abused minority, they understood persecution firsthand.

For centuries in Europe, Jews were forced to travel from country to country seeking a permanent resting place, suffering frequent pogroms in which hundreds or thousands were murdered and their communities destroyed.

During the Crusades, Jews were burned in their synagogues by fanatics traveling to the Holy Land. The Spanish Inquisition tortured and executed Jews and those merely suspected of practicing Judaism in secret. At least six million Jews died during the Holocaust. Because of our own long history of suffering, Jews have traditionally been more likely to feel empathy for others who are unfairly mistreated.

But while I was congratulating myself that my ancestors had not been part of the problem, I somehow managed to push to the back of my mind the ancestor who was not Jewish and whose family was already living in the United States long before the Civil War.

IMPROBABLY ENOUGH, on April 8, 1913, in Shreveport, Louisiana, of all places, my petite, auburn-haired Jewish grandmother, Estelle Braunig, eloped with my Gentile grandfather, Roy Penn Bennett, at a time when it was something of a scandal if a Presbyterian married a Methodist! In our family, we know a great deal about our Jewish ancestors. We have lots of stories and photographs. My father’s mother lived well into her 90s and was happy to spin tales about her childhood in Belarus.

But Bennett died long before any of his grandchildren were born, and we have never known much about him. We did know that he came originally from Humboldt, Tennessee. As it happens, this fall I will travel to Memphis to promote my new book. Humboldt is only about 100 miles east of Memphis. This will be an opportunity for me to visit the town and find out more about the Bennetts of Humboldt.

But I’ve already begun the investigation on the internet.

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There are a few a very few stories that have come down to me from my mother in connection with the Bennett family. One elusive bit of lore was that the Bennett family had once owned a plantation called Fruitlands. I quickly discovered that it was not a plantation, just a village near Humboldt, which has since been absorbed into what you might call Greater Humboldt. It appears so far, from most of the documentation I have uncovered, that the Bennetts were farmers, plain, old, ordinary farmers.

GRAY MATTERS: What Russia can teach us about Confederate statues

And then I got an unexpected shock. I came upon a photograph of the gravestone of a Bennett ancestor in the Center Baptist Church Cemetery of Gibson County, Tennessee, that read, “Maj. G.W. Bennett, 1837-1912.”

It turns out that, in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, my very own great-great-grandfather, George Washington Bennett, 26, organized a company of men in Western Tennessee called “Bennett’s Battalion.”

Bennett’s Battalion joined up with the Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry and eventually fought under Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was famous as the Confederacy’s most brilliant military strategist and infamous for the massacre under his command of black Union troops at Fort Pillow. After the war, Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of the original Ku Klux Klan.

WHEN I was growing up in Dallas, many Dallasites would have been delighted to discover that they had an ancestor who had served as a major in the Confederate Army though I seriously doubt that the Dallas branch of the Daughters of the Confederacy of that period would have been thrilled to take on a Jewish member.

But we live in a time when some Confederate monuments are being torn down and the names of streets and buildings changed to reflect less devotion to the romanticized “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy and greater sensitivity to the history of all Americans.

I was particularly pleased that the statue of the monstrous, rabble-rousing bigot Tom Watson who helped to incite the lynching of Leo Frank a statue contaminating the grounds of the Georgia state capital for more than 80 years was finally removed in 2013.

GRAY MATTERS: Where do Confederate statues belong?

So it was with mixed feelings that I emailed my three daughters to tell them that their great-great-great-grandfather was a major in the Confederate Army. I expected some sort of excited response, for better or worse. Their reactions were, in this order: 1) eye-roll emoji, 2) “Precisely my response,” and 3) distressed emoji. This discovery just doesn’t carry a lot of emotional weight for them, one way or another.

But for me this is somehow important. I’m on the hunt. This great-great-grandfather of mine was described in his 1912 obituary in the Trenton, Tennessee, Herald Democrat as “an excellent Christian character.” I want to know if this excellent Christian character owned slaves. If so, I want to know what happened to those slaves. I want to know if there are any letters or other documents in which he expresses his own feelings about the war and the times. Thank goodness, from what I’ve seen so far, it looks as though Bennett’s Battalion was not present at the massacre at Fort Pillow.

At this distance, I certainly can’t judge the young man George Washington Bennett was, and I can’t take his sins, such as they might have been, on myself. But I’d like to know more about who this man, so radically unlike all of my other ancestors, might have been.

Patricia Bernstein is a Houston writer who has published three books, two of them about Texas history, The First Waco Horror: The Lynching of Jesse Washington and the Rise of the NAACP, and, most recently, Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan. She also heads her own Houston public relations firm.

Bookmark Gray Matters. It’s on the hunt.

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Among my Jewish ancestors, a Confederate major – Houston Chronicle

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Rex Tillerson’s religious freedom report stresses anti-Christian violence in Europe – Washington Examiner

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a new religious freedom report on Tuesday that said the Islamic State committed genocide against Christians and stressed a rise in anti-Christian bigotry in Europe.

“Application of the law to the facts at hand leads to the conclusion ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled,” Tillerson said.

That declaration contrasted with former Secretary of State John Kerry’s hesitation to make a similar declaration until 2016 and was apparently meant to reassure Christians who were worried that the genocide designation might be revered. But the increased emphasis on anti-Christian discrimination extended beyond the Middle Eastern theocracies, as the State Department demonstrated a heightened concern for Christian rights in western Europe.

“There were continued reports of attacks against Christians, Jews, and Muslims,” the State Department’s 2016 report on France declared. It also noted that attacks on Christians were on the rise, while attacks on people of other faiths had fallen.

“The government, as well as Muslim and Jewish groups, reported the number of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents decreased by 59 percent and 58 percent respectively from the previous year to 335 anti-Semitic acts and 189 anti-Muslim acts,” it said. “Anti-Christian incidents increased by 17 percent compared to the previous year.”

That summary puts greater emphasis on anti-Christian discrimination than the 2015 report on France, which stressed attacks on Muslims around the country, and related hate speech against Muslims. The summary first mentioned Christians by noting, “Jehovah’s Witnesses also cited incidents of violence against their members, and they and other Christian groups reported societal abuses or discrimination.”

The 2016 report on France stressed “attacks against Muslims included violence against women wearing veils or headscarves,” but singled out the fact that “two ISIS militants” murdered a priest during a Christian mass. President Trump cited that attack, during the presidential campaign, as an argument for stricter immigration policies.

But the 2016 report emphasized that “after the killing of the Catholic priest, Muslims attended masses and hundreds of people of different faiths marched in solidarity with Catholics.”

The new report released by Tillerson implied that discrimination against Christians can emanate from modern European popular opinion, as well. The report on the United Kingdom sympathized with a proponent of a socially-conservative view of marriage, as alongside beleaguered Muslim and Jewish minorities.

“Governmental organizations reported an increase in religious hate crimes and incidents in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland,” the State Department observed. “A university expelled a Christian graduate student after he expressed his opposition to gay marriage on social media because of his Christian beliefs. There were anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim protests, and vandalism of Jewish graves, mosques, and other religious sites.”

Tillerson said that the State Department would continue to oppose such restrictions on religious liberty around the world.

“No one should have to live in fear, worship in secret, or face discrimination because of his or her beliefs,” he said. “As President Trump has said, we look forward to a day when, quote, people of all faiths, Christians and Muslims and Jewish and Hindu, can follow their hearts and worship according to their conscience,’ end quote. “The State Department will continue its efforts to make that a reality.”

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Rex Tillerson’s religious freedom report stresses anti-Christian violence in Europe – Washington Examiner

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August 15, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

From The Courthouse To The Big Screen, The Story Of The Ten Commandments In America – Jewish Week

Historically, religiously and socially, our relationship to the Ten Commandments is complicated.

We know from the Talmud that in Second Temple times, the recitation of the Ten Commandments was part of the daily prayer service. But the Talmud reports that the Decalogue was removed from the service because, to the early Christians, the normative covenant (the 613 mitzvot) between God and the Jews had been abrogated by the new True Israel Christianity; the image of Moses clutching the two tablets suggested that Jews themselves believed that the standard core was reduced to 10 laws. To the early Christians this was proof itself of the new faith, and was enough for the rabbinic leadership to toss the Decalogue out of the prayer service. (Indeed, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, for this very reason mounted a quixotic campaign to remove depictions of the two tablets from synagogues worldwide.)

Fast forward a couple of millennia, to America. How did the Decalogue become iconic as it did in a pluralistic American society?

Jenna Weissman Joselit chronicles how the Decalogue became iconic in a pluralistic American society. Oxford University Press

To help answer that question comes historian Jenna Weissman Joselit, the author of the highly regarded New Yorks Jewish Jews about the inter-war Orthodox community, with her lively and entertaining Set in Stone: Americas Embrace of the Ten Commandments (Oxford University Press). This 232-page volume engagingly explores how the Ten Commandments became part of the fiber of American society, deeply embedded in its consciousness so deeply embedded as to inspire not one but two Cecil B. DeMille epics (was there a Jew in America who did not kvell with Charlton Hestons Moses and frown at Edward G. Robinsons Dathan?), and to generate church-state battles over public-sector displays of the two tablets. American Christians embraced the Decalogue even more than did Americas Jews, even though the Commandments appear in the Hebrew Old Testament not once but twice and not in the New, which to many Christians supersedes the Old.

The Ten Commandments were set in stone, literally in synagogue stained-glass windows and arks and figuratively, in attempts to embed the biblical edicts into legislation. Set in Stone lays out, in a series of chapters, stories of bogus tablets unearthed in rural America; battles over the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments in public spaces; and how the two epic Ten Commandments movies came to be.

Joselit deftly tells the story of how the centrality of the Ten Commandments led to the seemingly innocuous recitation of the Commandments in public schools (Hmm we say under God, dont we?) and placement of the two-tablets image in courthouses. (Joselits best story involves the 5,200-pound rendition of the tablets in the Alabama State Courthouse, placed there by Alabama Judge Roy Moore, the Ten Commandments judge.) The Decalogue became a constitutional cause clbre, with the pioneering American Jewish Congress spearheading the Jewish response.

The best chapter and the most fun to read is Good Neighbors, about representations of the tablets in synagogues. Joselit shows how, in the 1950s the era of Will Herbergs Judeo-Christian manifesto Catholic-Protestant-Jew the Ten Commandments were simultaneously Jewish and Christian [and] fit right in. The book discusses how some rabbis, perhaps unconsciously harking back to the Talmuds proscription of the Asseret Ha-dibrot (The Ten Statements) in the daily prayer service, did not cotton to the idea of giving undue reverence to the figure of Moses with the tablets in effect, equating Moses with Jesus and the Decalogue with Christian norms. But to most Jews and to Christians the Ten Commandments worked.

In the post-war 1950s, Jews and Christians used the Ten Commandments to highlight what they had in common Herbergs Judeo-Christian tradition and thereby come closer together. To Jews especially, coming out of decades of widespread attitudinal anti-Semitism in the United States (to say nothing of the Destruction of European Jewry), depictions of the two tablets on the exterior of the synagogue linked Jewish identity to the American agenda; the tablets were a giant exclamation point we belong! Joselit is particularly good on the internal struggles within the Jewish community surrounding the Ten Commandments.

But more basic is the question of why the Decalogue has the resonance it does among American Christians. The Christians, after all, were the most eager to mount displays of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and other public places. The reader awaits some theological orientation alas, not forthcoming to the question of how a document embedded in superseded scripture (the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament) has such reverberation among so many American Christians. This is a puzzler; unfortunately, historian Joselit is not theologian Joselit. Even a lively book of social and cultural history, as Set in Stone is, can bear the weight of a touch of theological context.

At bottom, Set in Stone is an eminently readable series of stories, with an ironic thrust on every page. Joselit answers the what? of Americas encounter with the Ten Commandments, and its great stuff. Students and scholars, and general readers, both Jew and Christian, will savor the book. But the why? of the encounter yet awaits a serious discussion.

Jerome Chanes, a regular contributor, is the author of four books on Jewish history and public policy. He is a senior fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Jenna Weissman Joselit chronicles how the Decalogue became iconic in a pluralistic American society. Oxford University Press

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From The Courthouse To The Big Screen, The Story Of The Ten Commandments In America – Jewish Week

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Christians Who Demonize Israel – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

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{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

(See also Part I: Christians Who Demonize Israel: Kairos and Christians Who Demonize Israel Part II)

The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center is an arguably anti-Semitic and supersessionist organization that has recently been criticized by several Anglican clergy. Sabeel was founded in 1989 by an Anglican priest, Naim Ateek, former Canon of St. Georges Cathedral in Jerusalem. Still based in Jerusalem, it has eleven chapters in Western countries. In Ateeks theology, Jesus is no longer a Jew living under Roman rule, but a Palestinian living under an occupation. Ateek has spoken without irony while preaching that

it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge Golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.

Here, he is drawing on the familiar canard of Jews as Christ-killers, a trope rejected by most mainstream Christian churches. The concept has, as we know, been the basis for all earlier Christian persecution and murder of Jews.

Sabeels theology distorts the Old Testament by denying Jews any ongoing connection with the land of their origin, and treating them as a people abandoned by God. There is also repeated disparagement of Judaism as tribal, primitive, and exclusionary. Judaism has also been unjustly described as a theology of contempt.[1]

Where most modern churches have left the anti-Semitism of the past behind and recognize that the Romans, not the Jews, crucified Jesus, the exponents of this cult of what has been called Christian Palestinianism deny any historical or theological connection between the biblical Israel, the Jewish people, and the modern State of Israel. In doing this in a period that has seen a massive upsurge in anti-Semitism throughout Europe, North America, and the Islamic world, Sabeel openly states that historys most persecuted community, the Jews, has no right whatsoever to a land in which it can defend itself from assaults and the current open threat, this time from Iran, of another genocide. Sabeel seems to have turned its back on all the work done by organizations such as the Council of Christians and Jews, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, or the World Congress of Faiths. (For a list of other statements by Ateek, see here.)

Sabeel has been widely criticized by both Christians and Jews. Anglican Friends of Israel has listed several Christian critics. Dexter Van Zile from the United Church of Christ is convinced that Ateek is dangerous:

Hes able to wrap up Palestinian nationalism in the language of Christian Witness and essentially that agenda then gets legitimized by Churches in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia. He gives legitimacy to a dishonest historical narrative.

Sister Ruth Laut, a lawyer and Dominican nun, of Churches United for Just Peace in the Middle East and Rev. William Harter of Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish Relations and the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel, have spoken against the Sabeels agenda.

Charles McVety, the president of Canada Christian College and an evangelical Christian leader, has said that

These groups do not speak on behalf of Christians in any way. They are a radical fringe indulging their anti-Semitic, anti-Israel bias under the guise of neutrality.

Nor are these individuals alone. Anglican Friends of Israel reported in 2005:

Deeply concerned about the programs and message that Sabeel is bringing to North America, a body called The Coalition for Responsible Peace in the Middle East has been formed. It includes the United Church of Christ. The Coalition has stated that They (Sabeel) undermine hopes for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, for greater understanding about the conflict and for the spread of religious tolerance.

The journalist Jeff Jacoby has stated that Sabeel and Ateeks denunciations of Israel have included imagery explicitly linking the modern Jewish state to the terrible charge that for centuries fueled so much anti-Jewish hatred and bloodshed, and that In Ateeks metaphorical telling, in other words, Israel is guilty of trying to murder Jesus as an infant, of killing Jesus on the cross, and of seeking to prevent his resurrection.

Jacoby quotes Adam Gregerman, Assistant Director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Relations at Saint Josephs University (a Jesuit institution in Philadelphia). Writing in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies in 2004, Gregerman observed that liberation theologians such as Ateek perpetuate some of the most unsavory and vicious images of the Jews as malevolent, antisocial, hostile to non-Jews. As such, liberation theology impedes rather than fosters any serious attempt at understanding or ending the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.

In the UK, the leading representative of Sabeel is the notorious Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, the incumbent of the Anglican parish of Christchurch, Virginia Water, in Surrey. I say notorious because of the trouble he has brought on himself within the church. On January 20, 2015, Sizer posted a link on his Facebook page to a lengthy 9/11 conspiracy theory article entitled 9/11 Israel did it. The article included claims which, among others, seek to connect wealthy American Jews to the attacks, through their ownership of buildings, political affiliations or links to Israel. Sizer asked: Is this anti-Semitic? If so no doubt Ill be asked to remove it. It raises so many questions.

Later, he removed the post, not necessarily because he no longer thought it was true, but because Britains leading Jewish organization, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, had asked for it to be taken down. In correspondence with Jewish News Online, he asked that evidence be provided to refute the conspiracy theory.

On January 29, 2015, the Church of England stated that the comments made by Sizer were unacceptable and that the Diocese of Guildford would launch an investigation. The following day, Sizer issued a statement of apology and announced that the diocese had suspended him from all social media and blogs. The Board of Deputies of British Jews also published a statement condemning Sizers behavior. On February 9, it emerged that he had been banned from social media by the new Bishop of Guildford, the Rt. Revd. Andrew Watson, for at least six months, for his allegation of Israeli responsibility for the 9/11 atrocities. Sizer has also been banned from commenting on issues relating to the Middle East and will not attend further conferences on this subject. In his letter to the bishop, Sizer accepted that if he were to break the undertaking he has made not to use social media for that period, he would have to resign his ministry.

The Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch, who chairs the Council of Christians and Jews, has said that

The content and the delay in removing the link from Mr Sizers Facebook page was disgraceful and unbecoming for a clergyman of the Church of England to promote. Members of the CCJ have described the website as obscenely antisemitic.’

Simon McIlwaine, known as a man of integrity, is the founder of Anglican Friends of Israel. He has called for Sizer to be defrocked.

We have to ask why, in the light of what we know of Sabeel, Naim Ateek and Stephen Sizer, an Anglican church in Newcastle chose to display and distribute literature from this organization, containing quotations from Ateek. This is not a light matter. It raises profound questions. Perhaps the gravest error made by Kairos, Sabeel, and other Christian groups who pursue a one-sided campaign is that they take away from the Palestinians any form of agency or self-reliance. If the Israelis are to blame for all that is wrong and the Palestinians are only victims, then Palestinians must be treated as children, without the will and power to act on their own behalf. Or who can act only through violence and hate.

This infantilization of a people who have taken thousands of innocent lives, committed grave sins, and openly rejected offers of peace makes them, instead, passive recipients of suffering rather than the actors that, in fact, they are. By disengaging Palestinians from responsibility for their own hatred and actions, anti-Israel churchmen and lay members trap the very people for whom they evince the greatest love inside thoughts and policies, many of them inspired by Islamic teachings, that call for the oppression of Jews and Christians as dhimmi peoples (tolerated, second-class citizens) that render them more powerless. They permit the Palestinians to persist within an atmosphere of hatred, rather than calling them to love. There is no place, in our opinion, for the support of hatred within a Christian church, just as no hatred is ever expressed within a synagogue.

Or, as many people increasingly suspect, are these campaigns, replete with fraudulent charges, as in the Inquisition, really not about Palestinians at all, but just the latest incarnation of the old racist and religious hatred of Jews, and a clear expression of the New Anti-Semitism?

In conclusion, let us present the Shalom Declaration, a statement that has been presented to Christians of many denominations and signed by them as a token of their trust of Israel and the Jewish people. It speaks for itself.

The Shalom Declaration:

We deeply appreciate that Israel is the only country in the Middle East which extends freedom of worship to all its citizens and where the Christian community is growing. We grieve and stand with families in Israel and the wider Middle East, who have lost loved ones and with all who are persecuted by the rise of violent extremism and intolerance in the region. We pray that those inciting trouble and disharmony in the Middle East and who threaten the existence of Israel will be thwarted. We further pray that the peacemakers will see their patience and vision rewarded so that Isaiahs prophecy of swords beaten into pruning forks and the declaration of Jesus that Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God, will soon become a reality. We draw succour from the vibrancy of the State of Israel, from its democratic political system, its academic and cultural creativity and its remarkable contribution to humanity in terms of science and technology. And we call upon the spiritual leaders and elected representatives of our nation to work tirelessly to combat anti-Semitism and violent extremism across the world and to strengthen understanding and co-operation between the peoples of our nation and of Israel.

We call upon the Anglican Church to consider this report and to examine the Wall Will Fall event and the false claims of Kairos, Sabeel and like organizations in the light of Christs message of love and forgiveness. It must be the Churchs judgement whether there is need for a call to repentance. But if there is no coming alive to the injustice and deceit of Christian anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, then this ungodly bigotry and confusion within the churches will continue to fester.

Unfortunately, the structure of the workshops at the Walls Will Fall event, held in St Thomas The Martyr Church in Newcastle upon Tyne, meant that one could only attend two out of the four available workshops and not the film.

The first workshop was on Palestinian-Israeli collaboration, and focused on the Villages Group, an NGO involving some Israelis with rural Palestinians in two villages near Nablus. This project seems in many ways commendable, and I can understand why some Christians support it. But the groups own website and Facebook page are avowedly anti-Israeli, taking on causes for the Palestinian side only. This became clear during the workshop, which condemned Israeli security checkpoints, the Israeli security barrier, and related topics. Although I had not intended to say anything during the day, these accusations grew so vicious that it felt necessary to address some of the points made.

An attempt was made to explain that the Wall is only a tiny fraction of the Israeli security barrier, well over 90% of which is a wire fence some 430 miles in length. There is no doubt that the barrier and checkpoints make life difficult for the Palestinians, but in the workshop I pointed out that it was built in response to the huge toll in lives taken by suicide bombers and other terrorists; since its construction many hundreds of lives have been saved, as illustrated in the chart below:

Two other matters seemed relevant. When there were checkpoints during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, most people (including the present writer and his family) were grateful for their presence to prevent terrorist attacks. Then, back in the Middle East, we meet a Gazan woman, Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss, who was arrested at a checkpoint on June 20, 2005, while wearing a massive bomb strapped to her thigh. She planned to go as an outpatient to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, Israel, where her life had been saved after she suffered burns in a domestic accident. Her orders, given by Fatahs al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, were to explode the bomb among the doctors and nurses, killing as many children as possible. At that time, Palestinians trying to smuggle bombs and other weapons through checkpoints were arrested almost every day.

The only response to this information was a statement that this is all nonsense or words to that effect. Given the Christian context of the workshop, one could only be at a loss to understand such a very clear indifference to the concept of saving human life. No-one present (in a packed room) voiced any objection to that callous remark.

Literature

There is no space here for a full discussion of the many leaflets, pamphlets and booklets that were made available on the dozen or more bookstalls at the event. With a couple of exceptions (such as information on some girls schools in the West Bank), none of the material contained even a brief mention of the Jewish, moderate Christian, or Israeli side of events and policies. Much seemed heavily and sometimes viciously expressive of hatred for the State of Israel; placed one hundred percent of the blame for any conflict on Israel or Jewish settlers. Much also discounted, excused, covered up or ignored decades of Arab and Palestinian violence and PLO and Hamas calls for the eradication of Israel because it is a Jewish state and therefore unacceptable in Islamic law. Some of what was there was gross, much of it was subtle. For anyone with a limited knowledge of the history and ideological underpinnings of this dispute, the glosses and mis-statements were persuasive and, unsurprisingly, designed to draw readers into the Palestinian narrative.

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Christians Who Demonize Israel – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

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August 15, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Hate groups, what are the differences? – KWQC-TV6

(KWQC) In a news conference held Monday morning, President Trump commented on the racially motivated violence that took place in Virginia over the weekend. In the statement, he referred to the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups, calling them repugnant. The groups have been lumped together when talking about the recent violence, but what is the difference among them?

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization, monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the U.S. On their website, they describe the beliefs of these groups.

The SPLC says that these ‘white nationalist groups’ support white supremacist or white separatist ideologies, often focusing on the alleged inferiority of nonwhites. Groups are listed in a variety of other sub categories, including the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi, racist skinhead, and Christian Identity, and could also be fairly described as white nationalist.

According to the SPLC; The Ku Klux Klan, has a long history of violence, is the most infamous and oldest of American hate groups. AThe Klan’s primary target has been black Americans but, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics.

The SPLC says Neo-Nazi Neo-Nazigroups share a hatred for Jews and a love for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. According to the SPLC, they also hate other minorities, gays and lesbians and even sometimes Christians, they perceive “the Jew” as their cardinal enemy.

Christian Identity is defined by the SPLC as a unique anti-Semitic and racist theology. They say that it rose to a position of commanding influence on the racist right in the 1980s. “Christian” in name only, the movement’s relationship with evangelicals and fundamentalists has generally been hostile due to the latter’s belief that the return of Jews to Israel is essential to the fulfillment of end-time prophecy.

Racist Skinheadsform a particularly violent element of the white supremacist movement according to the SPLC, and have often been referred to as the “shock troops” of the hoped-for revolution. The SPLC says the classic Skinhead look is a shaved head, black Doc Martens boots, jeans with suspenders and an array of typically racist tattoos.

Another group associated with the white supremacist movement is the “alt-right”. The SPLC describes the “alt-right” as: a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization. “Characterized by heavy use of social media and online memes, Alt-Righters eschew “establishment” conservatism, skew young, and embrace white ethno-nationalism as a fundamental value.”

More info on hate groups and what groups are located in Iowa and Illinois can be found at the Southern Poverty Law Centre website here: https://www.splcenter.org/

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Hate groups, what are the differences? – KWQC-TV6

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August 14, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Persecution of Jews – Wikipedia

Persecution of Jewish people has been a major part of Jewish history, prompting shifting waves of refugees throughout the Diaspora communities.

When Judea fell under the authority of the Seleucid Empire, the process of Hellenization was enforced by law.[1] This effectively meant requiring pagan religious practice.[2] In 167 BCE Jewish sacrifice was forbidden, sabbaths and feasts were banned and circumcision was outlawed. Altars to Greek gods were set up and animals prohibited to Jews were sacrificed on them. The Olympian Zeus was placed on the altar of the Temple. Possession of Jewish scriptures was made a capital offense.

In the Middle Ages Antisemitism in Europe was religious. Though not part of Roman Catholic dogma, many Christians, including members of the clergy, have held the Jewish people collectively responsible for killing Jesus. As stated in the Boston College Guide to Passion Plays, “Over the course of time, Christians began to accept that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for killing Jesus. According to this interpretation, both the Jews present at Jesus Christ’s death and the Jewish people collectively and for all time, have committed the sin of deicide, or “god-killing”. For 1900 years of Christian-Jewish history, the charge of deicide has led to hatred, violence against and murder of Jews in Europe and America.”[3]

During the High Middle Ages in Europe there was full-scale persecution in many places, with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and massacres. An underlying source of prejudice against Jews in Europe was religious. Jews were frequently massacred and exiled from various European countries. The persecution hit its first peak during the Crusades. In the First Crusade (1096) flourishing communities on the Rhine and the Danube were utterly destroyed, a prime example being the Rhineland massacres. In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France were subject to frequent massacres. The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds’ Crusades of 1251 and 1320. The Crusades were followed by expulsions, including in 1290, the banishing of all English Jews; in 1396, 100,000 Jews were expelled from France; and, in 1421 thousands were expelled from Austria. Many of the expelled Jews fled to Poland.[4]

As the Black Death epidemics devastated Europe in the mid-14th century, annihilating more than a half of the population, Jews were taken as scapegoats. Rumors spread that they caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells. Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed by violence in the Black Death persecutions. Although Pope Clement VI tried to protect them by July 6, 1348 papal bull and another 1348 bull, several months later, 900 Jews were burnt alive in Strasbourg, where the plague hadn’t yet affected the city.[5]

One study finds that Jewish persecutions and expulsions increased with negative economic shocks and climactic variations in Europe over the period 1100-1600.[6] The authors of the study argue that this stems from people blaming Jews for misfortunes and weak rulers going after Jewish wealth in times of fiscal crisis. The authors propose several explanations for why Jewish persecutions significantly declined after 1600:

In the Papal States, which existed until 1870, Jews were required to live only in specified neighborhoods called ghettos. Until the 1840s, they were required to regularly attend sermons urging their conversion to Christianity. Only Jews were taxed to support state boarding schools for Jewish converts to Christianity. It was illegal to convert from Christianity to Judaism. Sometimes Jews were baptized involuntarily, and, even when such baptisms were illegal, forced to practice the Christian religion. In many such cases, the state separated them from their families, of which the Edgardo Mortara account is one of the most widely publicized instances of acrimony between Catholics and Jews in the Papal States in the second half of the 19th century.

According to Mark R. Cohen, during the rise of Islam, the first encounters between Muslims and Jews resulted in friendship when the Jews of Medina gave Muhammad refuge. Conflict arose when Muhammad expelled certain Jewish tribes after they refused to swear their allegiance to him and aided the Meccan Pagans. He adds that this encounter was an exception rather than a rule.[7]

Traditionally, Jews living in Muslim lands, known as dhimmis, were allowed to practice their religion and administer their internal affairs but were subjects to certain conditions.[8] They had to pay the jizya (a per capita tax imposed on free adult non-Muslim males) to Muslims.[9] Dhimmis had an inferior status under Islamic rule. They had several social and legal disabilities such as prohibitions against bearing arms or giving testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims.[10] Contrary to popular belief, the Qur’an did not allow Muslims to force Jews to wear distinctive clothing. Obadiah the Proselyte reported in 1100 AD, that the Caliph had created this rule himself.[11]

Resentment toward Jews perceived as having attained too lofty a position in Islamic society also fueled antisemitism and massacres. In Moorish Spain, ibn Hazm and Abu Ishaq focused their anti-Jewish writings on this allegation. This was also the chief motivation behind the 1066 Granada massacre, when “[m]ore than 1,500 Jewish families, numbering 4,000 persons, fell in one day”,[12] and in Fez in 1033, when 6,000 Jews were killed.[13] There were further massacres in Fez in 1276 and 1465.[14]

In the Zaydi imamate of Yemen, Jews were also singled out for discrimination in the 17th century, which culminated in the general expulsion of all Jews from places in Yemen to the arid coastal plain of Tihamah and which became known as the Mawza Exile.[15]

The Damascus affair occurred in 1840 when a French monk and his servant disappeared in Damascus. Immediately following, a charge of ritual murder was brought against a large number of Jews in the city including children who were tortured. The consuls of England, France and Germany as well as Ottoman authorities, Christians, Muslims and Jews all played a great role in this affair.[16] Following the Damascus affair, Pogroms spread through the Middle East and North Africa. Pogroms occurred in: Aleppo (1850, 1875), Damascus (1840, 1848, 1890), Beirut (1862, 1874), Dayr al-Qamar (1847), Jerusalem (1847), Cairo (1844, 1890, 190102), Mansura (1877), Alexandria (1870, 1882, 190107), Port Said (1903, 1908), Damanhur (1871, 1873, 1877, 1891), Istanbul (1870, 1874), Buyukdere (1864), Kuzguncuk (1866), Eyub (1868), Edirne (1872), Izmir (1872, 1874).[17] There was a massacre of Jews in Baghdad in 1828.[13] There was another massacre in Barfurush in 1867.[13]

In 1839, in the eastern Persian city of Meshed, a mob burst into the Jewish Quarter, burned the synagogue, and destroyed the Torah scrolls. This is known as the Allahdad incident. It was only by forcible conversion that a massacre was averted.[18]

In Palestine there were riots and pogroms against Jews in 1920 and 1921. Tensions over the Western Wall in Jerusalem led to the 1929 Palestine riots,[19] whose main victims were the ancient Jewish community at Hebron which came to an end.

In 1941, following Rashid Ali’s pro-Axis coup, riots known as the Farhud broke out in Baghdad in which approximately 180 Jews were killed and about 240 were wounded, 586 Jewish-owned businesses were looted and 99 Jewish houses were destroyed.[20]

During the Holocaust, the Middle East was in turmoil. Britain prohibited Jewish immigration to the British Mandate of Palestine. In Cairo the Jewish Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang) assassinated Lord Moyne in 1944 fighting as part of its campaign against British closure of Palestine to Jewish immigration, complicating British-Arab-Jewish relations. While the Allies and the Axis were fighting for the oil-rich region, the Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husayni staged a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq and organized the Farhud pogrom which marked the turning point for about 150,000 Iraqi Jews who, following this event and the hostilities generated by the war with Israel in 1948, were targeted for violence, persecution, boycotts, confiscations, and near complete expulsion in 1951. The coup failed and the mufti fled to Berlin, where he actively supported Hitler. In Egypt, with a Jewish population of about 75,000, young Anwar Sadat was imprisoned for conspiring with the Nazis and promised them that “no British soldier would leave Egypt alive” (see Military history of Egypt during World War II) leaving the Jews of that region defenseless. In the French Vichy territories of Algeria and Syria plans had been drawn up for the liquidation of their Jewish populations were the Axis powers to triumph.

The tensions of the ArabIsraeli conflict were also a factor in the rise of animosity to Jews all over the Middle East, as hundreds of thousands of Jews fled as refugees, the main waves being soon after the 1948 and 1956 wars. In reaction to the Suez Crisis of 1956, the Egyptian government expelled almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscated their property, and sent approximately 1,000 more Jews to prisons and detention camps. The population of Jewish communities of Muslim Middle East and North Africa was reduced from about 900,000 in 1948 to less than 8,000 today.

On March 2, 1974, the bodies of four Syrian Jewish girls were discovered by border police in a cave in the Zabdani Mountains northwest of Damascus. Fara Zeibak 24, her sisters Lulu Zeibak 23, Mazal Zeibak 22 and their cousin Eva Saad 18, had contracted with a band of smugglers to flee from Syria to Lebanon and eventually to Israel. The girls bodies were found raped, murdered and mutilated. The police also found the remains of two Jewish boys, Natan Shaya 18 and Kassem Abadi 20, victims of an earlier massacre.[21] Syrian authorities deposited the bodies of all six in sacks before the homes of their parents in the Jewish ghetto in Damascus.[22]

The persecution of Jews reached its most destructive form in the policies of Nazi Germany, which made the destruction of the Jews a priority, culminating in the killing of approximately 6,000,000 Jews during the Holocaust from 1941 to 1945.[23] Originally, the Nazis used death squads, the Einsatzgruppen, to conduct massive open-air killings of Jews in territory that they conquered. By 1942, the Nazi leadership decided to implement the Final Solution, the genocide of the Jews of Europe, and to increase the pace of the Holocaust by establishing extermination camps specifically to kill Jews as well as other undesirables such as people who openly opposed Hitler.[24][25]

This was an industrial method of genocide. Millions of Jews who had been confined to diseased and massively overcrowded ghettos were transported (often by train) to death camps, where some were herded into a specific location (often a gas chamber), then killed with either gassing or shooting. Other prisoners simply committed suicide, unable to go on after witnessing the horrors of camp life. Afterward, their bodies were often searched for any valuable or useful materials, such as gold fillings or hair, and their remains were then buried in mass graves or burned. Others were interned in the camps where they were given little food and disease was common.[26]

Escapes from the camps were few, but not unknown. The few Auschwitz escapes that succeeded were made possible by the Polish underground inside the camp and local people outside.[27] In 1940, the Auschwitz commandant reported that “the local population is fanatically Polish and prepared to take any action against the hated SS camp personnel. Every prisoner who managed to escape can count on help the moment he reaches the wall of a first Polish farmstead.”[28]

For much of the 19th century, Imperial Russia, which included much of Poland, contained the world’s largest Jewish population. From Alexander III’s reign until the end of Tsarist rule in Russia, many Jews were often restricted to the Jewish Pale of Settlement and they were also banned from many jobs and locations. Jews were subject to racist laws, such as the May Laws, and they were also targeted in hundreds of violent anti-Jewish riots, called pogroms, which received unofficial state support. It was during this period that a hoax document alleging a global Jewish conspiracy, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, was created.

The Czarist government implemented programs which ensured that the Jews would remain isolated. However, the government tolerated their religious and national institutions as well as their right to emigrate. The restrictions and discriminatory laws drove many Russian Jews to embrace liberal and socialist causes. However, following the Russian Revolution many politically active Jews forfeited their Jewish identity.[29] According to Leon Trotsky,

[Jews] considered themselves neither Jews nor Russians but socialists. To them, Jews were not a nation but a class of exploiters whose fate it was to dissolve and assimilate.

In the aftermath of Czarist Russia, Jews found themselves in a tragic predicament. Conservative Russians saw them as a disloyal and subversive element and the radicals viewed the Jews as a doomed social class.[30]

Even though many of the Old Bolsheviks were ethnically Jewish, they sought to uproot Judaism and Zionism and established the Yevsektsiya in order to achieve this goal. By the end of the 1940s, the Communist leadership of the former USSR had liquidated almost all Jewish organizations, with the exception of a few token synagogues. These synagogues were then placed under police surveillance, both openly and through the use of informants[citation needed].

The campaign of 19481953 against so-called “rootless cosmopolitans,” the alleged “Doctors’ plot,” the rise of “Zionology” and subsequent activities of official organizations such as the Anti-Zionist committee of the Soviet public were officially carried out under the banner of “anti-Zionism,”, and by the mid-1950s the state persecution of Soviet Jews emerged as a major human rights issue in the West as well as domestically.

During the 1930s, many Nationalist Party leaders and wide sections of the Afrikaner people came strongly under the influence of the Nazi movement which dominated Germany from 1933 to 1945. There were many reasons for this. Germany was the traditional enemy of Britain, and whoever opposed Britain was seen as a friend of the Nationalists. Many Nationalists, moreover, believed that the opportunity to re-establish their lost republic would come with the defeat of the British Empire in the international arena. The more belligerent Hitler became, the higher hopes rose that a new era of Afrikanerdom was about to dawn.[31]

The National Party of D F Malan closely associated itself with the policies of the Nazis. Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe was controlled under the Aliens Act and it soon came to an end during this period. Although Jews were accorded status as Europeans, they were not accepted into white society. The Kelvin Grove sports club, for example, had an exclusive Europeans Only and No Jews policy until recent times. Some 11 such sports clubs had similar policies. Many Jews lived in mixed race areas such as District Six, from where they were forcibly removed in order to make way for a whites-only development. The grand architect of Apartheid Hendrick Verwoerd had studied in Germany, where he obtained a degree in psychology. Controversy developed over whether South Africa’s academics drew inspiration from Nazism when a box of glass eyes, owned by the German Nazi Eugen Fischer and used to classify differences among human beings, was discovered in Stellenbosch University.[32] Dan Newling wrote that “Fischer tools were used to teach volk Lunde, an Afrikaaner variant of cultural anthropology.”[32]

In 1936, Verwoerd joined a deputation of six professors who were protesting against the admission to South Africa of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Following the demands of the Nationalist Party, Eric Louw, later Foreign Minister, introduced another anti-Semitic bill that strongly resembled Nazi legislation – the Aliens Amendment and Immigration Bill of 1939. His bill was a means of suppressing all Jews. This bill suggested that Jews threatened to overpower Protestants in the business world, that they were innately cunning and manipulative and that they were also a danger to society. To support his claim, Louw maintained that Jews were involved in the Bolshevik Revolution and therefore intended to spread Communism worldwide. This bill defined Jews as anyone with parents who were at least partly Jewish regardless of actual religious faith or practices.” [33]

Another organization with which the Nationalists found much in common during the thirties was the ‘South African Gentile National Socialist Movement’, headed by Johannes von Strauss von Moltke, whose objective was to combat and destroy the alleged ‘perversive influence of the Jews in economics, culture, religion, ethics, and statecraft and to re-establish European Aryan control in South Africa for the welfare of the Christian peoples of South Africa’.[31]

During the 1960s, Oswald Mosley, the British fascist leader, was a frequent visitor to South Africa, where he was received by the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet. At one time, Mosley had two functioning branches of his organization in South Africa, and one of his supporters, Derek Alexander, was stationed in Johannesburg as his main agent.

Upon Verwoerd’s assassination in 1966, BJ Vorster was elected by the National Party to replace him. While Vorster had been a supporter of Hitler during WWII, his policy towards Jews in his own country, however, can best be described as ambivalent.

The 1980s saw the rise of far-right neo-Nazi groups such as the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging under Eugene Terreblanche. The AWB modeled itself after Hitler’s National Socialist Party replete with fascist regalia and an emblem resembling the swastika.

There were numerous similarities between the laws passed by the Nazis against German Jews and the laws passed by the Afrikaner Nationalists against the Blacks. Scholar Mzimela Sipo Elijah observed similarities in theology between the “role of the Deutsche Christen and the Dutch Reformed Church, on the one hand, and that of the Confessing Church and the English-speaking Churches on the other.” This is known as the “apartheid heresy” controversy which became important in the struggle against institutional racism in South Africa.[34]

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After Charlottesville, will white pastors finally take racism seriously? – Washington Post

By Jemar Tisby By Jemar Tisby August 12

White nationalists were met by counterprotesters in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, leading Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state emergency. A car plowed into crowds, killing one person and injuring 19 others. (Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

Last night, white supremacists assembled in Charlottesville for a public demonstration of hate. They held torches and chanted phrases such as White lives matter! and Jews will not replace us! Following an event that the citys mayor called an unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation, white pastors have a critical role to play.

There is no greater need to apply the biblical call to speak the truth in love than in the area of white supremacy and the church.

As a Christian, I believe the church remains instrumental in dismantling the racial caste system in America. Black Christians and their allies have been decrying white supremacy as long as it has existed. Too often, though, our warnings and protestations are met with tepid responses.

In the wake of the Charlottesville rally and the countrys ongoing racial tension we look to the church and ask, White pastors, will you now work to end white supremacy?

I know that term white supremacy is unpopular. It tends to shut down conversation because folks think it only refers to racists who wear hoods and burn crosses. They think its too harsh to apply to them, the people they know, or the church. But lets call it what it is. We cant change the white supremacist status quo unless we name it and confront it.

Lets also be clear that we cant really end white supremacy. In the Christian view, racism is a sin, and sin cannot be completely eradicated on this side of eternity. But we are called to fight against sin in all its forms, so we should expect positive change in our churches and society at large as we fight against it.

Black Christians have pointed to the warning signs. Plenty of us said that the current president, based on his rhetoric during the campaign, would energize a new era of bigotry. President Trump has created a context in which white supremacists feel emboldened in their views and have no shame in admitting them publicly and vocally.

Yet at the polls, white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Despite all of their verbal commitments to equality and racial reconciliation, 80 percent of white evangelicals went against the voices of their brothers and sisters of color.

When a black pastor in the largest Protestant denomination in the country presented a resolution condemning the alt-right and white supremacy, a small group of mostly white pastors dismissed it out of hand. It took the protests of other pastors, as well as a swift backlash on social media, for the Southern Baptist Convention to pass a modified resolution at its annual meeting in June.

[Southern Baptists voted overwhelmingly to condemn alt-right white supremacy]

The dilemma is all too familiar. More than 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. penned a response to white pastors after they sent a message urging restraint and gradualism in the civil rights movement. In his famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail, King said,

I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be some of our strongest allies. Instead, some few have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

Kings words still resound prophetically today. The time for caution has long passed; we must take courageous action to expel white supremacy from the church.

White Christians will inevitably ask, But what do we do? This question perpetuates the problem. People of color did not create white supremacy; white people did. To ask a racial minority how to solve a problem they didnt create and one under which they suffer only adds to their burdens.

There are no straightforward, plug-and-play solutions. Despite all the unique situations in churches across the country, some general principles for battling white supremacy apply:

Despite all our efforts, some white pastors still remain silent on Sunday. They relegate racism to the status of a social issue and not a gospel issue. Leadership in churches and other Christian organizations remain all or mostly white. Its the same with the boards of directors and trustees of these institutions. Evangelicals who prostitute the faith for political power remain in the pulpit and are given wide latitude to stir up racial resentment in the guise of race neutral language.

Despite their insistence on justice, black Christians who speak boldly about racism and white supremacy often get muted or silenced. We can only infer that the sensitivities of white listeners matter more than the pain of black brothers and sisters.

No one likes to be pressured into speaking out about injustice. You want to do it from your own conviction. I get it. I really do. Just know that the time has never been more urgent for white Christians, pastors in particular, to decry white supremacy in our day.

I appreciate the notable exceptions those white pastors who have spoken up about white supremacy, sometimes in the face of strident opposition. Unfortunately, they are all too few.

We are waiting for the day that the racists in Charlottesville at least feel enough shame to practice their hatred in secret. But black Christians cannot do this alone. White pastors, now is the time for courageous action in the face of white supremacy.

Jemar Tisby writes about religion, race and culture as president of the Reformed African American Network, and he is the co-host of the Pass the Mic podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JemarTisby.

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After Charlottesville, will white pastors finally take racism seriously? – Washington Post

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Time for All Christians to Denounce White Supremacy – Daily Beast

A wave of hatred is threatening to crash on this country. It is a seismic crash of historic proportions. And some of the most prominent Christian voices in the nation are standing by, watching their own people drown in the growing flood.

Today in Charlottesville, Virginia White nationalistsmany of whom claim to be Christianssought to define America. They spoke with one voice, with AR-15 rifles slung over their shoulders and Confederate Flags, Trump signs, and skull insignias on full display. They said that America is not a place for Jews and Blacks. They said Muslims and immigrants are not welcomed here. They also said that their rally “fulfills the promises of Donald Trump”David Duke’s words, not mine. Duke, the Klan leader, continued: “That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trumpbecause he said he was going to take our country back.” Somebody went so far as to drive a car into a crowd, mowing down those who came to protest the nationalists. No muted tweets from the President today can change these stunning facts.

If anyone was unsure before, after Charlottesville we should all now know exactly what “take our country back” means. It means back to a place where whites have continued superiority in every part of American life. Back to a place where Blacks, Jews, Latinos, Asians, and immigrants, Muslims, women, gays and more live in relative subjugation. The haters have spoken and they are clear. What is not clear is the position of many Christian leaders, especially in the white (and even some in the Latino) Evangelical church.

Deafening silence from the pulpits in Orange County. Telling quiet from the mega-churches in Atlanta. Nashville, muted. The folks at Liberty Universitythe president and his activist friendson the careful moral sidelines of this fight. Wheaton and Manhattan and Chicago and more, tentative and couched. Perhaps they’ll echo Trump’s ambiguous condemnation. Perhaps we’ll hear nothing at all.

These evangelical pastors and Christian activists, authors, and leaders are fearful. They are fearful of sanction from congregations where people in the pews may have voted for a morally problematic candidate because they did not like the alternatives. They’re fearful of losing their platforms, book sales, positions if they stray too far. They are fearful of having their club membership revoked. But as they stand in fear they are also slowing ceding moral authority. They stand while the nationeven the worldsimmers and threatens to burn.

My friend LeVar Burton said today that “this moment is but another in a chain of opportunities to choose what you stand for.” It is an opportunity, indeed. Far too many in the Christian church sanctioned slavery. Many purported Christians even owned, bought and sold human beings themselves. Evangelicals took decades to stand against Jim Crow, and only stood when the fight was long over. From Apartheid in South Africa to women’s rights here at home, far too many Christian pastors and leaders moved when it was safe, if at all.

They may have a heart for digging wells in Africa or a passion to end the scourge of human trafficking; these issues are centrally important, but they are also safe, problems that everyone agrees we need to solve. But when it comes to the more complex moral disasters right in front of us, the fire of courage often fails to burn. This is why many evangelicals hold on so dearly to the history of William Wilberforce, the 18th Century Christian abolitionist The tale of Wilberforce makes them feel courageous, although the courage he showed hundreds of years ago is a far cry from what we see today. Today, courage is in short supply. We are grateful for conservative pastors and leaders like Dr. Russell Moore, Dr. Joel Hunter, even Erick Erickson and others who speak out at risk to themselves, but they should not have to stand alone.

What would it mean for evangelical Christian leaders to speak out in the age of Trump? It means consistently leveraging public platforms and private leadership to define what is right and wrong. In the case of what we just saw in Charlottesville, it means sermon series on the dangers of white supremacy, the reality of privilege, and the importance of empathy for those who do not look like you. It means using podcasts and books and voices to lift up morality and condemn immorality, whether that immortality is found in the streets of Charlottesville or the Oval Office of the White House. It even means admitting with humility that they don’t know what to do, but know they should do something, and then showing an openness to take action.

The world is watching American Christians. Many who need the Good News of the Gospel are disgusted and pushed away by the bad news of a quiet church. Without question, this past presidential election kicked wide open the floodgates of hatred in this country. All around us, we see the seas rising. Will Evangelical Christian leaders follow the example of Jesus and step, with faith, out onto uncertain waters? Or will they tremble in fear, as the country drowns in the flood?

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Time for All Christians to Denounce White Supremacy – Daily Beast

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

A Message to all the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists – HuffPost

I am tired of being Mr. Nice Guy! I immigrated from Syria in 1984 and became an American citizen in 1989. I bask in what this country offers from freedom to democracy to opportunity to dreams of a better life. And like you, I get to vote. My voice counts. As a matter of fact, I just voted for my governor in Alabama this week and then called my three children and screamed: I JUST VOTED. They know the ritual. They know their father gets extremely excited when he votes. For 18 years of my life, I have witnessed enough corruption in Syria to last a lifetime. Last night, I attended the Stand Against Hate march in downtown Birmingham, and I didnt see you racists there. I wanted to stick a small yellow flower in the front of your shotgun. Karim Shamsi-Basha I do have a message for you No matter what you do, we will not go away the people who see no skin color. No matter how much terror you inflict, we will not be scared the people who care about he poor. No matter how many people you injure, we will stay the course of reconciliation, tolerance, and love the people who help those who have not. And no matter how many people kill and scare and push and yell at, we will keep marching, we will keep protesting, and we will keep raising our voices until we are heard the people who want to live and let live. Heres a fact you may find delightful: Despite my being born in Damascus, I am more American than you are. You were raising Confederate flags in Charlottesville, a flag that stood for slavery and drove this country into its most gruesome war. You were also raising swastikas, a symbol that stands for the most horrific event where six million Jews perished. Neither of these symbols is a gathering symbol. They stand for death, inequality and horror. You are not a patriot. You use the ugly past to forge an uglier future. Tonight, I saw signs preaching love and compassion. I saw homemade posters colored by little ones hoping we leave them a decent planet to inhabit. I saw white hands holding black and brown hands. I saw blue smiles, hopeful eyes, and reverent bows. Karim Shamsi-Basha What happened in Charlottesville this past weekend would probably repeat. After all, we have one of you in the White House. The point is not whats taking place or whos insulting whom. The point is whats on the inside of our hearts and souls. Until that heart is sparkling with only love as the driver, we will again hear the echo of Charlottesville. We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart gets rid of racism. We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart squelches intolerance. We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart crushes prejudice. We will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart tramples xenophobia. And we will hear the echo of Charlottesville unless our heart silences bigotry. The human heart does not know racism when young, it learns racism later in life. Lets keep our heart young and innocent. My message to the neo-Nazis and white supremacists? Love is more powerful than you will ever be. Love will destroy you like it has destroyed your ancestors millions of times over the last few centuries. Even if it looks promising for a while, love will ultimately crush you. Love is mighty, effective and potent. I dare you to mess with it. For more, visit arabinalabama.com.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Among my Jewish ancestors, a Confederate major – Houston Chronicle

Photo: Patricia Bernstein This great-great-grandfather of mine was described in his 1912 obituary in the Trenton, Tennessee, Herald Democrat as “an excellent Christian character.” I want to know if this excellent Christian character owned slaves. This great-great-grandfather of mine was described in his 1912… For the last 10 or 15 years, I have been writing books about Texas history that have entailed a lot of research into the bitter experience of black Americans during the Jim Crow era. My first book on this topic was about the 1916 lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco; my new book is about the 1920s Ku Klux Klan. During all this research, I was vaguely grateful, without thinking about it much, that my ancestors never owned slaves or fought to defend slavery. My ancestors, I thought, played no part in the long, ugly history of racism in our country. They arrived in this country decades after the Civil War. As Jews, they weren’t even eligible to belong to the despised KKK. In fact, as members of a long-abused minority, they understood persecution firsthand. For centuries in Europe, Jews were forced to travel from country to country seeking a permanent resting place, suffering frequent pogroms in which hundreds or thousands were murdered and their communities destroyed. During the Crusades, Jews were burned in their synagogues by fanatics traveling to the Holy Land. The Spanish Inquisition tortured and executed Jews and those merely suspected of practicing Judaism in secret. At least six million Jews died during the Holocaust. Because of our own long history of suffering, Jews have traditionally been more likely to feel empathy for others who are unfairly mistreated. But while I was congratulating myself that my ancestors had not been part of the problem, I somehow managed to push to the back of my mind the ancestor who was not Jewish and whose family was already living in the United States long before the Civil War. IMPROBABLY ENOUGH, on April 8, 1913, in Shreveport, Louisiana, of all places, my petite, auburn-haired Jewish grandmother, Estelle Braunig, eloped with my Gentile grandfather, Roy Penn Bennett, at a time when it was something of a scandal if a Presbyterian married a Methodist! In our family, we know a great deal about our Jewish ancestors. We have lots of stories and photographs. My father’s mother lived well into her 90s and was happy to spin tales about her childhood in Belarus. But Bennett died long before any of his grandchildren were born, and we have never known much about him. We did know that he came originally from Humboldt, Tennessee. As it happens, this fall I will travel to Memphis to promote my new book. Humboldt is only about 100 miles east of Memphis. This will be an opportunity for me to visit the town and find out more about the Bennetts of Humboldt. But I’ve already begun the investigation on the internet. To read this article in one of Houston’s most-spoken languages, click on the button below. Get Gray Matters sent to your inbox. Sign up now! There are a few a very few stories that have come down to me from my mother in connection with the Bennett family. One elusive bit of lore was that the Bennett family had once owned a plantation called Fruitlands. I quickly discovered that it was not a plantation, just a village near Humboldt, which has since been absorbed into what you might call Greater Humboldt. It appears so far, from most of the documentation I have uncovered, that the Bennetts were farmers, plain, old, ordinary farmers. GRAY MATTERS: What Russia can teach us about Confederate statues And then I got an unexpected shock. I came upon a photograph of the gravestone of a Bennett ancestor in the Center Baptist Church Cemetery of Gibson County, Tennessee, that read, “Maj. G.W. Bennett, 1837-1912.” It turns out that, in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, my very own great-great-grandfather, George Washington Bennett, 26, organized a company of men in Western Tennessee called “Bennett’s Battalion.” Bennett’s Battalion joined up with the Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry and eventually fought under Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was famous as the Confederacy’s most brilliant military strategist and infamous for the massacre under his command of black Union troops at Fort Pillow. After the war, Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of the original Ku Klux Klan. WHEN I was growing up in Dallas, many Dallasites would have been delighted to discover that they had an ancestor who had served as a major in the Confederate Army though I seriously doubt that the Dallas branch of the Daughters of the Confederacy of that period would have been thrilled to take on a Jewish member. But we live in a time when some Confederate monuments are being torn down and the names of streets and buildings changed to reflect less devotion to the romanticized “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy and greater sensitivity to the history of all Americans. I was particularly pleased that the statue of the monstrous, rabble-rousing bigot Tom Watson who helped to incite the lynching of Leo Frank a statue contaminating the grounds of the Georgia state capital for more than 80 years was finally removed in 2013. GRAY MATTERS: Where do Confederate statues belong? So it was with mixed feelings that I emailed my three daughters to tell them that their great-great-great-grandfather was a major in the Confederate Army. I expected some sort of excited response, for better or worse. Their reactions were, in this order: 1) eye-roll emoji, 2) “Precisely my response,” and 3) distressed emoji. This discovery just doesn’t carry a lot of emotional weight for them, one way or another. But for me this is somehow important. I’m on the hunt. This great-great-grandfather of mine was described in his 1912 obituary in the Trenton, Tennessee, Herald Democrat as “an excellent Christian character.” I want to know if this excellent Christian character owned slaves. If so, I want to know what happened to those slaves. I want to know if there are any letters or other documents in which he expresses his own feelings about the war and the times. Thank goodness, from what I’ve seen so far, it looks as though Bennett’s Battalion was not present at the massacre at Fort Pillow. At this distance, I certainly can’t judge the young man George Washington Bennett was, and I can’t take his sins, such as they might have been, on myself. But I’d like to know more about who this man, so radically unlike all of my other ancestors, might have been. Patricia Bernstein is a Houston writer who has published three books, two of them about Texas history, The First Waco Horror: The Lynching of Jesse Washington and the Rise of the NAACP, and, most recently, Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who Fought the Klan. She also heads her own Houston public relations firm. Bookmark Gray Matters. It’s on the hunt.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Rex Tillerson’s religious freedom report stresses anti-Christian violence in Europe – Washington Examiner

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a new religious freedom report on Tuesday that said the Islamic State committed genocide against Christians and stressed a rise in anti-Christian bigotry in Europe. “Application of the law to the facts at hand leads to the conclusion ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled,” Tillerson said. That declaration contrasted with former Secretary of State John Kerry’s hesitation to make a similar declaration until 2016 and was apparently meant to reassure Christians who were worried that the genocide designation might be revered. But the increased emphasis on anti-Christian discrimination extended beyond the Middle Eastern theocracies, as the State Department demonstrated a heightened concern for Christian rights in western Europe. “There were continued reports of attacks against Christians, Jews, and Muslims,” the State Department’s 2016 report on France declared. It also noted that attacks on Christians were on the rise, while attacks on people of other faiths had fallen. “The government, as well as Muslim and Jewish groups, reported the number of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents decreased by 59 percent and 58 percent respectively from the previous year to 335 anti-Semitic acts and 189 anti-Muslim acts,” it said. “Anti-Christian incidents increased by 17 percent compared to the previous year.” That summary puts greater emphasis on anti-Christian discrimination than the 2015 report on France, which stressed attacks on Muslims around the country, and related hate speech against Muslims. The summary first mentioned Christians by noting, “Jehovah’s Witnesses also cited incidents of violence against their members, and they and other Christian groups reported societal abuses or discrimination.” The 2016 report on France stressed “attacks against Muslims included violence against women wearing veils or headscarves,” but singled out the fact that “two ISIS militants” murdered a priest during a Christian mass. President Trump cited that attack, during the presidential campaign, as an argument for stricter immigration policies. But the 2016 report emphasized that “after the killing of the Catholic priest, Muslims attended masses and hundreds of people of different faiths marched in solidarity with Catholics.” The new report released by Tillerson implied that discrimination against Christians can emanate from modern European popular opinion, as well. The report on the United Kingdom sympathized with a proponent of a socially-conservative view of marriage, as alongside beleaguered Muslim and Jewish minorities. “Governmental organizations reported an increase in religious hate crimes and incidents in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland,” the State Department observed. “A university expelled a Christian graduate student after he expressed his opposition to gay marriage on social media because of his Christian beliefs. There were anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim protests, and vandalism of Jewish graves, mosques, and other religious sites.” Tillerson said that the State Department would continue to oppose such restrictions on religious liberty around the world. “No one should have to live in fear, worship in secret, or face discrimination because of his or her beliefs,” he said. “As President Trump has said, we look forward to a day when, quote, people of all faiths, Christians and Muslims and Jewish and Hindu, can follow their hearts and worship according to their conscience,’ end quote. “The State Department will continue its efforts to make that a reality.”

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August 15, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

From The Courthouse To The Big Screen, The Story Of The Ten Commandments In America – Jewish Week

Historically, religiously and socially, our relationship to the Ten Commandments is complicated. We know from the Talmud that in Second Temple times, the recitation of the Ten Commandments was part of the daily prayer service. But the Talmud reports that the Decalogue was removed from the service because, to the early Christians, the normative covenant (the 613 mitzvot) between God and the Jews had been abrogated by the new True Israel Christianity; the image of Moses clutching the two tablets suggested that Jews themselves believed that the standard core was reduced to 10 laws. To the early Christians this was proof itself of the new faith, and was enough for the rabbinic leadership to toss the Decalogue out of the prayer service. (Indeed, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, for this very reason mounted a quixotic campaign to remove depictions of the two tablets from synagogues worldwide.) Fast forward a couple of millennia, to America. How did the Decalogue become iconic as it did in a pluralistic American society? Jenna Weissman Joselit chronicles how the Decalogue became iconic in a pluralistic American society. Oxford University Press To help answer that question comes historian Jenna Weissman Joselit, the author of the highly regarded New Yorks Jewish Jews about the inter-war Orthodox community, with her lively and entertaining Set in Stone: Americas Embrace of the Ten Commandments (Oxford University Press). This 232-page volume engagingly explores how the Ten Commandments became part of the fiber of American society, deeply embedded in its consciousness so deeply embedded as to inspire not one but two Cecil B. DeMille epics (was there a Jew in America who did not kvell with Charlton Hestons Moses and frown at Edward G. Robinsons Dathan?), and to generate church-state battles over public-sector displays of the two tablets. American Christians embraced the Decalogue even more than did Americas Jews, even though the Commandments appear in the Hebrew Old Testament not once but twice and not in the New, which to many Christians supersedes the Old. The Ten Commandments were set in stone, literally in synagogue stained-glass windows and arks and figuratively, in attempts to embed the biblical edicts into legislation. Set in Stone lays out, in a series of chapters, stories of bogus tablets unearthed in rural America; battles over the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments in public spaces; and how the two epic Ten Commandments movies came to be. Joselit deftly tells the story of how the centrality of the Ten Commandments led to the seemingly innocuous recitation of the Commandments in public schools (Hmm we say under God, dont we?) and placement of the two-tablets image in courthouses. (Joselits best story involves the 5,200-pound rendition of the tablets in the Alabama State Courthouse, placed there by Alabama Judge Roy Moore, the Ten Commandments judge.) The Decalogue became a constitutional cause clbre, with the pioneering American Jewish Congress spearheading the Jewish response. The best chapter and the most fun to read is Good Neighbors, about representations of the tablets in synagogues. Joselit shows how, in the 1950s the era of Will Herbergs Judeo-Christian manifesto Catholic-Protestant-Jew the Ten Commandments were simultaneously Jewish and Christian [and] fit right in. The book discusses how some rabbis, perhaps unconsciously harking back to the Talmuds proscription of the Asseret Ha-dibrot (The Ten Statements) in the daily prayer service, did not cotton to the idea of giving undue reverence to the figure of Moses with the tablets in effect, equating Moses with Jesus and the Decalogue with Christian norms. But to most Jews and to Christians the Ten Commandments worked. In the post-war 1950s, Jews and Christians used the Ten Commandments to highlight what they had in common Herbergs Judeo-Christian tradition and thereby come closer together. To Jews especially, coming out of decades of widespread attitudinal anti-Semitism in the United States (to say nothing of the Destruction of European Jewry), depictions of the two tablets on the exterior of the synagogue linked Jewish identity to the American agenda; the tablets were a giant exclamation point we belong! Joselit is particularly good on the internal struggles within the Jewish community surrounding the Ten Commandments. But more basic is the question of why the Decalogue has the resonance it does among American Christians. The Christians, after all, were the most eager to mount displays of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and other public places. The reader awaits some theological orientation alas, not forthcoming to the question of how a document embedded in superseded scripture (the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament) has such reverberation among so many American Christians. This is a puzzler; unfortunately, historian Joselit is not theologian Joselit. Even a lively book of social and cultural history, as Set in Stone is, can bear the weight of a touch of theological context. At bottom, Set in Stone is an eminently readable series of stories, with an ironic thrust on every page. Joselit answers the what? of Americas encounter with the Ten Commandments, and its great stuff. Students and scholars, and general readers, both Jew and Christian, will savor the book. But the why? of the encounter yet awaits a serious discussion. Jerome Chanes, a regular contributor, is the author of four books on Jewish history and public policy. He is a senior fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. Jenna Weissman Joselit chronicles how the Decalogue became iconic in a pluralistic American society. Oxford University Press

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August 15, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Christians Who Demonize Israel – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: {Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website} (See also Part I: Christians Who Demonize Israel: Kairos and Christians Who Demonize Israel Part II) The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center is an arguably anti-Semitic and supersessionist organization that has recently been criticized by several Anglican clergy. Sabeel was founded in 1989 by an Anglican priest, Naim Ateek, former Canon of St. Georges Cathedral in Jerusalem. Still based in Jerusalem, it has eleven chapters in Western countries. In Ateeks theology, Jesus is no longer a Jew living under Roman rule, but a Palestinian living under an occupation. Ateek has spoken without irony while preaching that it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge Golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull. Here, he is drawing on the familiar canard of Jews as Christ-killers, a trope rejected by most mainstream Christian churches. The concept has, as we know, been the basis for all earlier Christian persecution and murder of Jews. Sabeels theology distorts the Old Testament by denying Jews any ongoing connection with the land of their origin, and treating them as a people abandoned by God. There is also repeated disparagement of Judaism as tribal, primitive, and exclusionary. Judaism has also been unjustly described as a theology of contempt.[1] Where most modern churches have left the anti-Semitism of the past behind and recognize that the Romans, not the Jews, crucified Jesus, the exponents of this cult of what has been called Christian Palestinianism deny any historical or theological connection between the biblical Israel, the Jewish people, and the modern State of Israel. In doing this in a period that has seen a massive upsurge in anti-Semitism throughout Europe, North America, and the Islamic world, Sabeel openly states that historys most persecuted community, the Jews, has no right whatsoever to a land in which it can defend itself from assaults and the current open threat, this time from Iran, of another genocide. Sabeel seems to have turned its back on all the work done by organizations such as the Council of Christians and Jews, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, or the World Congress of Faiths. (For a list of other statements by Ateek, see here.) Sabeel has been widely criticized by both Christians and Jews. Anglican Friends of Israel has listed several Christian critics. Dexter Van Zile from the United Church of Christ is convinced that Ateek is dangerous: Hes able to wrap up Palestinian nationalism in the language of Christian Witness and essentially that agenda then gets legitimized by Churches in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia. He gives legitimacy to a dishonest historical narrative. Sister Ruth Laut, a lawyer and Dominican nun, of Churches United for Just Peace in the Middle East and Rev. William Harter of Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish Relations and the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel, have spoken against the Sabeels agenda. Charles McVety, the president of Canada Christian College and an evangelical Christian leader, has said that These groups do not speak on behalf of Christians in any way. They are a radical fringe indulging their anti-Semitic, anti-Israel bias under the guise of neutrality. Nor are these individuals alone. Anglican Friends of Israel reported in 2005: Deeply concerned about the programs and message that Sabeel is bringing to North America, a body called The Coalition for Responsible Peace in the Middle East has been formed. It includes the United Church of Christ. The Coalition has stated that They (Sabeel) undermine hopes for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, for greater understanding about the conflict and for the spread of religious tolerance. The journalist Jeff Jacoby has stated that Sabeel and Ateeks denunciations of Israel have included imagery explicitly linking the modern Jewish state to the terrible charge that for centuries fueled so much anti-Jewish hatred and bloodshed, and that In Ateeks metaphorical telling, in other words, Israel is guilty of trying to murder Jesus as an infant, of killing Jesus on the cross, and of seeking to prevent his resurrection. Jacoby quotes Adam Gregerman, Assistant Director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Relations at Saint Josephs University (a Jesuit institution in Philadelphia). Writing in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies in 2004, Gregerman observed that liberation theologians such as Ateek perpetuate some of the most unsavory and vicious images of the Jews as malevolent, antisocial, hostile to non-Jews. As such, liberation theology impedes rather than fosters any serious attempt at understanding or ending the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. In the UK, the leading representative of Sabeel is the notorious Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, the incumbent of the Anglican parish of Christchurch, Virginia Water, in Surrey. I say notorious because of the trouble he has brought on himself within the church. On January 20, 2015, Sizer posted a link on his Facebook page to a lengthy 9/11 conspiracy theory article entitled 9/11 Israel did it. The article included claims which, among others, seek to connect wealthy American Jews to the attacks, through their ownership of buildings, political affiliations or links to Israel. Sizer asked: Is this anti-Semitic? If so no doubt Ill be asked to remove it. It raises so many questions. Later, he removed the post, not necessarily because he no longer thought it was true, but because Britains leading Jewish organization, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, had asked for it to be taken down. In correspondence with Jewish News Online, he asked that evidence be provided to refute the conspiracy theory. On January 29, 2015, the Church of England stated that the comments made by Sizer were unacceptable and that the Diocese of Guildford would launch an investigation. The following day, Sizer issued a statement of apology and announced that the diocese had suspended him from all social media and blogs. The Board of Deputies of British Jews also published a statement condemning Sizers behavior. On February 9, it emerged that he had been banned from social media by the new Bishop of Guildford, the Rt. Revd. Andrew Watson, for at least six months, for his allegation of Israeli responsibility for the 9/11 atrocities. Sizer has also been banned from commenting on issues relating to the Middle East and will not attend further conferences on this subject. In his letter to the bishop, Sizer accepted that if he were to break the undertaking he has made not to use social media for that period, he would have to resign his ministry. The Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch, who chairs the Council of Christians and Jews, has said that The content and the delay in removing the link from Mr Sizers Facebook page was disgraceful and unbecoming for a clergyman of the Church of England to promote. Members of the CCJ have described the website as obscenely antisemitic.’ Simon McIlwaine, known as a man of integrity, is the founder of Anglican Friends of Israel. He has called for Sizer to be defrocked. We have to ask why, in the light of what we know of Sabeel, Naim Ateek and Stephen Sizer, an Anglican church in Newcastle chose to display and distribute literature from this organization, containing quotations from Ateek. This is not a light matter. It raises profound questions. Perhaps the gravest error made by Kairos, Sabeel, and other Christian groups who pursue a one-sided campaign is that they take away from the Palestinians any form of agency or self-reliance. If the Israelis are to blame for all that is wrong and the Palestinians are only victims, then Palestinians must be treated as children, without the will and power to act on their own behalf. Or who can act only through violence and hate. This infantilization of a people who have taken thousands of innocent lives, committed grave sins, and openly rejected offers of peace makes them, instead, passive recipients of suffering rather than the actors that, in fact, they are. By disengaging Palestinians from responsibility for their own hatred and actions, anti-Israel churchmen and lay members trap the very people for whom they evince the greatest love inside thoughts and policies, many of them inspired by Islamic teachings, that call for the oppression of Jews and Christians as dhimmi peoples (tolerated, second-class citizens) that render them more powerless. They permit the Palestinians to persist within an atmosphere of hatred, rather than calling them to love. There is no place, in our opinion, for the support of hatred within a Christian church, just as no hatred is ever expressed within a synagogue. Or, as many people increasingly suspect, are these campaigns, replete with fraudulent charges, as in the Inquisition, really not about Palestinians at all, but just the latest incarnation of the old racist and religious hatred of Jews, and a clear expression of the New Anti-Semitism? In conclusion, let us present the Shalom Declaration, a statement that has been presented to Christians of many denominations and signed by them as a token of their trust of Israel and the Jewish people. It speaks for itself. The Shalom Declaration: We deeply appreciate that Israel is the only country in the Middle East which extends freedom of worship to all its citizens and where the Christian community is growing. We grieve and stand with families in Israel and the wider Middle East, who have lost loved ones and with all who are persecuted by the rise of violent extremism and intolerance in the region. We pray that those inciting trouble and disharmony in the Middle East and who threaten the existence of Israel will be thwarted. We further pray that the peacemakers will see their patience and vision rewarded so that Isaiahs prophecy of swords beaten into pruning forks and the declaration of Jesus that Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God, will soon become a reality. We draw succour from the vibrancy of the State of Israel, from its democratic political system, its academic and cultural creativity and its remarkable contribution to humanity in terms of science and technology. And we call upon the spiritual leaders and elected representatives of our nation to work tirelessly to combat anti-Semitism and violent extremism across the world and to strengthen understanding and co-operation between the peoples of our nation and of Israel. We call upon the Anglican Church to consider this report and to examine the Wall Will Fall event and the false claims of Kairos, Sabeel and like organizations in the light of Christs message of love and forgiveness. It must be the Churchs judgement whether there is need for a call to repentance. But if there is no coming alive to the injustice and deceit of Christian anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, then this ungodly bigotry and confusion within the churches will continue to fester. Unfortunately, the structure of the workshops at the Walls Will Fall event, held in St Thomas The Martyr Church in Newcastle upon Tyne, meant that one could only attend two out of the four available workshops and not the film. The first workshop was on Palestinian-Israeli collaboration, and focused on the Villages Group, an NGO involving some Israelis with rural Palestinians in two villages near Nablus. This project seems in many ways commendable, and I can understand why some Christians support it. But the groups own website and Facebook page are avowedly anti-Israeli, taking on causes for the Palestinian side only. This became clear during the workshop, which condemned Israeli security checkpoints, the Israeli security barrier, and related topics. Although I had not intended to say anything during the day, these accusations grew so vicious that it felt necessary to address some of the points made. An attempt was made to explain that the Wall is only a tiny fraction of the Israeli security barrier, well over 90% of which is a wire fence some 430 miles in length. There is no doubt that the barrier and checkpoints make life difficult for the Palestinians, but in the workshop I pointed out that it was built in response to the huge toll in lives taken by suicide bombers and other terrorists; since its construction many hundreds of lives have been saved, as illustrated in the chart below: Two other matters seemed relevant. When there were checkpoints during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, most people (including the present writer and his family) were grateful for their presence to prevent terrorist attacks. Then, back in the Middle East, we meet a Gazan woman, Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss, who was arrested at a checkpoint on June 20, 2005, while wearing a massive bomb strapped to her thigh. She planned to go as an outpatient to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, Israel, where her life had been saved after she suffered burns in a domestic accident. Her orders, given by Fatahs al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, were to explode the bomb among the doctors and nurses, killing as many children as possible. At that time, Palestinians trying to smuggle bombs and other weapons through checkpoints were arrested almost every day. The only response to this information was a statement that this is all nonsense or words to that effect. Given the Christian context of the workshop, one could only be at a loss to understand such a very clear indifference to the concept of saving human life. No-one present (in a packed room) voiced any objection to that callous remark. Literature There is no space here for a full discussion of the many leaflets, pamphlets and booklets that were made available on the dozen or more bookstalls at the event. With a couple of exceptions (such as information on some girls schools in the West Bank), none of the material contained even a brief mention of the Jewish, moderate Christian, or Israeli side of events and policies. Much seemed heavily and sometimes viciously expressive of hatred for the State of Israel; placed one hundred percent of the blame for any conflict on Israel or Jewish settlers. Much also discounted, excused, covered up or ignored decades of Arab and Palestinian violence and PLO and Hamas calls for the eradication of Israel because it is a Jewish state and therefore unacceptable in Islamic law. Some of what was there was gross, much of it was subtle. For anyone with a limited knowledge of the history and ideological underpinnings of this dispute, the glosses and mis-statements were persuasive and, unsurprisingly, designed to draw readers into the Palestinian narrative.

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August 15, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Hate groups, what are the differences? – KWQC-TV6

(KWQC) In a news conference held Monday morning, President Trump commented on the racially motivated violence that took place in Virginia over the weekend. In the statement, he referred to the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups, calling them repugnant. The groups have been lumped together when talking about the recent violence, but what is the difference among them? The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization, monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the U.S. On their website, they describe the beliefs of these groups. The SPLC says that these ‘white nationalist groups’ support white supremacist or white separatist ideologies, often focusing on the alleged inferiority of nonwhites. Groups are listed in a variety of other sub categories, including the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi, racist skinhead, and Christian Identity, and could also be fairly described as white nationalist. According to the SPLC; The Ku Klux Klan, has a long history of violence, is the most infamous and oldest of American hate groups. AThe Klan’s primary target has been black Americans but, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics. The SPLC says Neo-Nazi Neo-Nazigroups share a hatred for Jews and a love for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. According to the SPLC, they also hate other minorities, gays and lesbians and even sometimes Christians, they perceive “the Jew” as their cardinal enemy. Christian Identity is defined by the SPLC as a unique anti-Semitic and racist theology. They say that it rose to a position of commanding influence on the racist right in the 1980s. “Christian” in name only, the movement’s relationship with evangelicals and fundamentalists has generally been hostile due to the latter’s belief that the return of Jews to Israel is essential to the fulfillment of end-time prophecy. Racist Skinheadsform a particularly violent element of the white supremacist movement according to the SPLC, and have often been referred to as the “shock troops” of the hoped-for revolution. The SPLC says the classic Skinhead look is a shaved head, black Doc Martens boots, jeans with suspenders and an array of typically racist tattoos. Another group associated with the white supremacist movement is the “alt-right”. The SPLC describes the “alt-right” as: a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization. “Characterized by heavy use of social media and online memes, Alt-Righters eschew “establishment” conservatism, skew young, and embrace white ethno-nationalism as a fundamental value.” More info on hate groups and what groups are located in Iowa and Illinois can be found at the Southern Poverty Law Centre website here: https://www.splcenter.org/

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August 14, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Persecution of Jews – Wikipedia

Persecution of Jewish people has been a major part of Jewish history, prompting shifting waves of refugees throughout the Diaspora communities. When Judea fell under the authority of the Seleucid Empire, the process of Hellenization was enforced by law.[1] This effectively meant requiring pagan religious practice.[2] In 167 BCE Jewish sacrifice was forbidden, sabbaths and feasts were banned and circumcision was outlawed. Altars to Greek gods were set up and animals prohibited to Jews were sacrificed on them. The Olympian Zeus was placed on the altar of the Temple. Possession of Jewish scriptures was made a capital offense. In the Middle Ages Antisemitism in Europe was religious. Though not part of Roman Catholic dogma, many Christians, including members of the clergy, have held the Jewish people collectively responsible for killing Jesus. As stated in the Boston College Guide to Passion Plays, “Over the course of time, Christians began to accept that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for killing Jesus. According to this interpretation, both the Jews present at Jesus Christ’s death and the Jewish people collectively and for all time, have committed the sin of deicide, or “god-killing”. For 1900 years of Christian-Jewish history, the charge of deicide has led to hatred, violence against and murder of Jews in Europe and America.”[3] During the High Middle Ages in Europe there was full-scale persecution in many places, with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and massacres. An underlying source of prejudice against Jews in Europe was religious. Jews were frequently massacred and exiled from various European countries. The persecution hit its first peak during the Crusades. In the First Crusade (1096) flourishing communities on the Rhine and the Danube were utterly destroyed, a prime example being the Rhineland massacres. In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France were subject to frequent massacres. The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds’ Crusades of 1251 and 1320. The Crusades were followed by expulsions, including in 1290, the banishing of all English Jews; in 1396, 100,000 Jews were expelled from France; and, in 1421 thousands were expelled from Austria. Many of the expelled Jews fled to Poland.[4] As the Black Death epidemics devastated Europe in the mid-14th century, annihilating more than a half of the population, Jews were taken as scapegoats. Rumors spread that they caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells. Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed by violence in the Black Death persecutions. Although Pope Clement VI tried to protect them by July 6, 1348 papal bull and another 1348 bull, several months later, 900 Jews were burnt alive in Strasbourg, where the plague hadn’t yet affected the city.[5] One study finds that Jewish persecutions and expulsions increased with negative economic shocks and climactic variations in Europe over the period 1100-1600.[6] The authors of the study argue that this stems from people blaming Jews for misfortunes and weak rulers going after Jewish wealth in times of fiscal crisis. The authors propose several explanations for why Jewish persecutions significantly declined after 1600: In the Papal States, which existed until 1870, Jews were required to live only in specified neighborhoods called ghettos. Until the 1840s, they were required to regularly attend sermons urging their conversion to Christianity. Only Jews were taxed to support state boarding schools for Jewish converts to Christianity. It was illegal to convert from Christianity to Judaism. Sometimes Jews were baptized involuntarily, and, even when such baptisms were illegal, forced to practice the Christian religion. In many such cases, the state separated them from their families, of which the Edgardo Mortara account is one of the most widely publicized instances of acrimony between Catholics and Jews in the Papal States in the second half of the 19th century. According to Mark R. Cohen, during the rise of Islam, the first encounters between Muslims and Jews resulted in friendship when the Jews of Medina gave Muhammad refuge. Conflict arose when Muhammad expelled certain Jewish tribes after they refused to swear their allegiance to him and aided the Meccan Pagans. He adds that this encounter was an exception rather than a rule.[7] Traditionally, Jews living in Muslim lands, known as dhimmis, were allowed to practice their religion and administer their internal affairs but were subjects to certain conditions.[8] They had to pay the jizya (a per capita tax imposed on free adult non-Muslim males) to Muslims.[9] Dhimmis had an inferior status under Islamic rule. They had several social and legal disabilities such as prohibitions against bearing arms or giving testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims.[10] Contrary to popular belief, the Qur’an did not allow Muslims to force Jews to wear distinctive clothing. Obadiah the Proselyte reported in 1100 AD, that the Caliph had created this rule himself.[11] Resentment toward Jews perceived as having attained too lofty a position in Islamic society also fueled antisemitism and massacres. In Moorish Spain, ibn Hazm and Abu Ishaq focused their anti-Jewish writings on this allegation. This was also the chief motivation behind the 1066 Granada massacre, when “[m]ore than 1,500 Jewish families, numbering 4,000 persons, fell in one day”,[12] and in Fez in 1033, when 6,000 Jews were killed.[13] There were further massacres in Fez in 1276 and 1465.[14] In the Zaydi imamate of Yemen, Jews were also singled out for discrimination in the 17th century, which culminated in the general expulsion of all Jews from places in Yemen to the arid coastal plain of Tihamah and which became known as the Mawza Exile.[15] The Damascus affair occurred in 1840 when a French monk and his servant disappeared in Damascus. Immediately following, a charge of ritual murder was brought against a large number of Jews in the city including children who were tortured. The consuls of England, France and Germany as well as Ottoman authorities, Christians, Muslims and Jews all played a great role in this affair.[16] Following the Damascus affair, Pogroms spread through the Middle East and North Africa. Pogroms occurred in: Aleppo (1850, 1875), Damascus (1840, 1848, 1890), Beirut (1862, 1874), Dayr al-Qamar (1847), Jerusalem (1847), Cairo (1844, 1890, 190102), Mansura (1877), Alexandria (1870, 1882, 190107), Port Said (1903, 1908), Damanhur (1871, 1873, 1877, 1891), Istanbul (1870, 1874), Buyukdere (1864), Kuzguncuk (1866), Eyub (1868), Edirne (1872), Izmir (1872, 1874).[17] There was a massacre of Jews in Baghdad in 1828.[13] There was another massacre in Barfurush in 1867.[13] In 1839, in the eastern Persian city of Meshed, a mob burst into the Jewish Quarter, burned the synagogue, and destroyed the Torah scrolls. This is known as the Allahdad incident. It was only by forcible conversion that a massacre was averted.[18] In Palestine there were riots and pogroms against Jews in 1920 and 1921. Tensions over the Western Wall in Jerusalem led to the 1929 Palestine riots,[19] whose main victims were the ancient Jewish community at Hebron which came to an end. In 1941, following Rashid Ali’s pro-Axis coup, riots known as the Farhud broke out in Baghdad in which approximately 180 Jews were killed and about 240 were wounded, 586 Jewish-owned businesses were looted and 99 Jewish houses were destroyed.[20] During the Holocaust, the Middle East was in turmoil. Britain prohibited Jewish immigration to the British Mandate of Palestine. In Cairo the Jewish Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang) assassinated Lord Moyne in 1944 fighting as part of its campaign against British closure of Palestine to Jewish immigration, complicating British-Arab-Jewish relations. While the Allies and the Axis were fighting for the oil-rich region, the Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husayni staged a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq and organized the Farhud pogrom which marked the turning point for about 150,000 Iraqi Jews who, following this event and the hostilities generated by the war with Israel in 1948, were targeted for violence, persecution, boycotts, confiscations, and near complete expulsion in 1951. The coup failed and the mufti fled to Berlin, where he actively supported Hitler. In Egypt, with a Jewish population of about 75,000, young Anwar Sadat was imprisoned for conspiring with the Nazis and promised them that “no British soldier would leave Egypt alive” (see Military history of Egypt during World War II) leaving the Jews of that region defenseless. In the French Vichy territories of Algeria and Syria plans had been drawn up for the liquidation of their Jewish populations were the Axis powers to triumph. The tensions of the ArabIsraeli conflict were also a factor in the rise of animosity to Jews all over the Middle East, as hundreds of thousands of Jews fled as refugees, the main waves being soon after the 1948 and 1956 wars. In reaction to the Suez Crisis of 1956, the Egyptian government expelled almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscated their property, and sent approximately 1,000 more Jews to prisons and detention camps. The population of Jewish communities of Muslim Middle East and North Africa was reduced from about 900,000 in 1948 to less than 8,000 today. On March 2, 1974, the bodies of four Syrian Jewish girls were discovered by border police in a cave in the Zabdani Mountains northwest of Damascus. Fara Zeibak 24, her sisters Lulu Zeibak 23, Mazal Zeibak 22 and their cousin Eva Saad 18, had contracted with a band of smugglers to flee from Syria to Lebanon and eventually to Israel. The girls bodies were found raped, murdered and mutilated. The police also found the remains of two Jewish boys, Natan Shaya 18 and Kassem Abadi 20, victims of an earlier massacre.[21] Syrian authorities deposited the bodies of all six in sacks before the homes of their parents in the Jewish ghetto in Damascus.[22] The persecution of Jews reached its most destructive form in the policies of Nazi Germany, which made the destruction of the Jews a priority, culminating in the killing of approximately 6,000,000 Jews during the Holocaust from 1941 to 1945.[23] Originally, the Nazis used death squads, the Einsatzgruppen, to conduct massive open-air killings of Jews in territory that they conquered. By 1942, the Nazi leadership decided to implement the Final Solution, the genocide of the Jews of Europe, and to increase the pace of the Holocaust by establishing extermination camps specifically to kill Jews as well as other undesirables such as people who openly opposed Hitler.[24][25] This was an industrial method of genocide. Millions of Jews who had been confined to diseased and massively overcrowded ghettos were transported (often by train) to death camps, where some were herded into a specific location (often a gas chamber), then killed with either gassing or shooting. Other prisoners simply committed suicide, unable to go on after witnessing the horrors of camp life. Afterward, their bodies were often searched for any valuable or useful materials, such as gold fillings or hair, and their remains were then buried in mass graves or burned. Others were interned in the camps where they were given little food and disease was common.[26] Escapes from the camps were few, but not unknown. The few Auschwitz escapes that succeeded were made possible by the Polish underground inside the camp and local people outside.[27] In 1940, the Auschwitz commandant reported that “the local population is fanatically Polish and prepared to take any action against the hated SS camp personnel. Every prisoner who managed to escape can count on help the moment he reaches the wall of a first Polish farmstead.”[28] For much of the 19th century, Imperial Russia, which included much of Poland, contained the world’s largest Jewish population. From Alexander III’s reign until the end of Tsarist rule in Russia, many Jews were often restricted to the Jewish Pale of Settlement and they were also banned from many jobs and locations. Jews were subject to racist laws, such as the May Laws, and they were also targeted in hundreds of violent anti-Jewish riots, called pogroms, which received unofficial state support. It was during this period that a hoax document alleging a global Jewish conspiracy, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, was created. The Czarist government implemented programs which ensured that the Jews would remain isolated. However, the government tolerated their religious and national institutions as well as their right to emigrate. The restrictions and discriminatory laws drove many Russian Jews to embrace liberal and socialist causes. However, following the Russian Revolution many politically active Jews forfeited their Jewish identity.[29] According to Leon Trotsky, [Jews] considered themselves neither Jews nor Russians but socialists. To them, Jews were not a nation but a class of exploiters whose fate it was to dissolve and assimilate. In the aftermath of Czarist Russia, Jews found themselves in a tragic predicament. Conservative Russians saw them as a disloyal and subversive element and the radicals viewed the Jews as a doomed social class.[30] Even though many of the Old Bolsheviks were ethnically Jewish, they sought to uproot Judaism and Zionism and established the Yevsektsiya in order to achieve this goal. By the end of the 1940s, the Communist leadership of the former USSR had liquidated almost all Jewish organizations, with the exception of a few token synagogues. These synagogues were then placed under police surveillance, both openly and through the use of informants[citation needed]. The campaign of 19481953 against so-called “rootless cosmopolitans,” the alleged “Doctors’ plot,” the rise of “Zionology” and subsequent activities of official organizations such as the Anti-Zionist committee of the Soviet public were officially carried out under the banner of “anti-Zionism,”, and by the mid-1950s the state persecution of Soviet Jews emerged as a major human rights issue in the West as well as domestically. During the 1930s, many Nationalist Party leaders and wide sections of the Afrikaner people came strongly under the influence of the Nazi movement which dominated Germany from 1933 to 1945. There were many reasons for this. Germany was the traditional enemy of Britain, and whoever opposed Britain was seen as a friend of the Nationalists. Many Nationalists, moreover, believed that the opportunity to re-establish their lost republic would come with the defeat of the British Empire in the international arena. The more belligerent Hitler became, the higher hopes rose that a new era of Afrikanerdom was about to dawn.[31] The National Party of D F Malan closely associated itself with the policies of the Nazis. Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe was controlled under the Aliens Act and it soon came to an end during this period. Although Jews were accorded status as Europeans, they were not accepted into white society. The Kelvin Grove sports club, for example, had an exclusive Europeans Only and No Jews policy until recent times. Some 11 such sports clubs had similar policies. Many Jews lived in mixed race areas such as District Six, from where they were forcibly removed in order to make way for a whites-only development. The grand architect of Apartheid Hendrick Verwoerd had studied in Germany, where he obtained a degree in psychology. Controversy developed over whether South Africa’s academics drew inspiration from Nazism when a box of glass eyes, owned by the German Nazi Eugen Fischer and used to classify differences among human beings, was discovered in Stellenbosch University.[32] Dan Newling wrote that “Fischer tools were used to teach volk Lunde, an Afrikaaner variant of cultural anthropology.”[32] In 1936, Verwoerd joined a deputation of six professors who were protesting against the admission to South Africa of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Following the demands of the Nationalist Party, Eric Louw, later Foreign Minister, introduced another anti-Semitic bill that strongly resembled Nazi legislation – the Aliens Amendment and Immigration Bill of 1939. His bill was a means of suppressing all Jews. This bill suggested that Jews threatened to overpower Protestants in the business world, that they were innately cunning and manipulative and that they were also a danger to society. To support his claim, Louw maintained that Jews were involved in the Bolshevik Revolution and therefore intended to spread Communism worldwide. This bill defined Jews as anyone with parents who were at least partly Jewish regardless of actual religious faith or practices.” [33] Another organization with which the Nationalists found much in common during the thirties was the ‘South African Gentile National Socialist Movement’, headed by Johannes von Strauss von Moltke, whose objective was to combat and destroy the alleged ‘perversive influence of the Jews in economics, culture, religion, ethics, and statecraft and to re-establish European Aryan control in South Africa for the welfare of the Christian peoples of South Africa’.[31] During the 1960s, Oswald Mosley, the British fascist leader, was a frequent visitor to South Africa, where he was received by the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet. At one time, Mosley had two functioning branches of his organization in South Africa, and one of his supporters, Derek Alexander, was stationed in Johannesburg as his main agent. Upon Verwoerd’s assassination in 1966, BJ Vorster was elected by the National Party to replace him. While Vorster had been a supporter of Hitler during WWII, his policy towards Jews in his own country, however, can best be described as ambivalent. The 1980s saw the rise of far-right neo-Nazi groups such as the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging under Eugene Terreblanche. The AWB modeled itself after Hitler’s National Socialist Party replete with fascist regalia and an emblem resembling the swastika. There were numerous similarities between the laws passed by the Nazis against German Jews and the laws passed by the Afrikaner Nationalists against the Blacks. Scholar Mzimela Sipo Elijah observed similarities in theology between the “role of the Deutsche Christen and the Dutch Reformed Church, on the one hand, and that of the Confessing Church and the English-speaking Churches on the other.” This is known as the “apartheid heresy” controversy which became important in the struggle against institutional racism in South Africa.[34]

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

After Charlottesville, will white pastors finally take racism seriously? – Washington Post

By Jemar Tisby By Jemar Tisby August 12 White nationalists were met by counterprotesters in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, leading Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state emergency. A car plowed into crowds, killing one person and injuring 19 others. (Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post) Last night, white supremacists assembled in Charlottesville for a public demonstration of hate. They held torches and chanted phrases such as White lives matter! and Jews will not replace us! Following an event that the citys mayor called an unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation, white pastors have a critical role to play. There is no greater need to apply the biblical call to speak the truth in love than in the area of white supremacy and the church. As a Christian, I believe the church remains instrumental in dismantling the racial caste system in America. Black Christians and their allies have been decrying white supremacy as long as it has existed. Too often, though, our warnings and protestations are met with tepid responses. In the wake of the Charlottesville rally and the countrys ongoing racial tension we look to the church and ask, White pastors, will you now work to end white supremacy? I know that term white supremacy is unpopular. It tends to shut down conversation because folks think it only refers to racists who wear hoods and burn crosses. They think its too harsh to apply to them, the people they know, or the church. But lets call it what it is. We cant change the white supremacist status quo unless we name it and confront it. Lets also be clear that we cant really end white supremacy. In the Christian view, racism is a sin, and sin cannot be completely eradicated on this side of eternity. But we are called to fight against sin in all its forms, so we should expect positive change in our churches and society at large as we fight against it. Black Christians have pointed to the warning signs. Plenty of us said that the current president, based on his rhetoric during the campaign, would energize a new era of bigotry. President Trump has created a context in which white supremacists feel emboldened in their views and have no shame in admitting them publicly and vocally. Yet at the polls, white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Despite all of their verbal commitments to equality and racial reconciliation, 80 percent of white evangelicals went against the voices of their brothers and sisters of color. When a black pastor in the largest Protestant denomination in the country presented a resolution condemning the alt-right and white supremacy, a small group of mostly white pastors dismissed it out of hand. It took the protests of other pastors, as well as a swift backlash on social media, for the Southern Baptist Convention to pass a modified resolution at its annual meeting in June. [Southern Baptists voted overwhelmingly to condemn alt-right white supremacy] The dilemma is all too familiar. More than 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. penned a response to white pastors after they sent a message urging restraint and gradualism in the civil rights movement. In his famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail, King said, I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be some of our strongest allies. Instead, some few have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows. Kings words still resound prophetically today. The time for caution has long passed; we must take courageous action to expel white supremacy from the church. White Christians will inevitably ask, But what do we do? This question perpetuates the problem. People of color did not create white supremacy; white people did. To ask a racial minority how to solve a problem they didnt create and one under which they suffer only adds to their burdens. There are no straightforward, plug-and-play solutions. Despite all the unique situations in churches across the country, some general principles for battling white supremacy apply: Despite all our efforts, some white pastors still remain silent on Sunday. They relegate racism to the status of a social issue and not a gospel issue. Leadership in churches and other Christian organizations remain all or mostly white. Its the same with the boards of directors and trustees of these institutions. Evangelicals who prostitute the faith for political power remain in the pulpit and are given wide latitude to stir up racial resentment in the guise of race neutral language. Despite their insistence on justice, black Christians who speak boldly about racism and white supremacy often get muted or silenced. We can only infer that the sensitivities of white listeners matter more than the pain of black brothers and sisters. No one likes to be pressured into speaking out about injustice. You want to do it from your own conviction. I get it. I really do. Just know that the time has never been more urgent for white Christians, pastors in particular, to decry white supremacy in our day. I appreciate the notable exceptions those white pastors who have spoken up about white supremacy, sometimes in the face of strident opposition. Unfortunately, they are all too few. We are waiting for the day that the racists in Charlottesville at least feel enough shame to practice their hatred in secret. But black Christians cannot do this alone. White pastors, now is the time for courageous action in the face of white supremacy. Jemar Tisby writes about religion, race and culture as president of the Reformed African American Network, and he is the co-host of the Pass the Mic podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JemarTisby.

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Time for All Christians to Denounce White Supremacy – Daily Beast

A wave of hatred is threatening to crash on this country. It is a seismic crash of historic proportions. And some of the most prominent Christian voices in the nation are standing by, watching their own people drown in the growing flood. Today in Charlottesville, Virginia White nationalistsmany of whom claim to be Christianssought to define America. They spoke with one voice, with AR-15 rifles slung over their shoulders and Confederate Flags, Trump signs, and skull insignias on full display. They said that America is not a place for Jews and Blacks. They said Muslims and immigrants are not welcomed here. They also said that their rally “fulfills the promises of Donald Trump”David Duke’s words, not mine. Duke, the Klan leader, continued: “That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trumpbecause he said he was going to take our country back.” Somebody went so far as to drive a car into a crowd, mowing down those who came to protest the nationalists. No muted tweets from the President today can change these stunning facts. If anyone was unsure before, after Charlottesville we should all now know exactly what “take our country back” means. It means back to a place where whites have continued superiority in every part of American life. Back to a place where Blacks, Jews, Latinos, Asians, and immigrants, Muslims, women, gays and more live in relative subjugation. The haters have spoken and they are clear. What is not clear is the position of many Christian leaders, especially in the white (and even some in the Latino) Evangelical church. Deafening silence from the pulpits in Orange County. Telling quiet from the mega-churches in Atlanta. Nashville, muted. The folks at Liberty Universitythe president and his activist friendson the careful moral sidelines of this fight. Wheaton and Manhattan and Chicago and more, tentative and couched. Perhaps they’ll echo Trump’s ambiguous condemnation. Perhaps we’ll hear nothing at all. These evangelical pastors and Christian activists, authors, and leaders are fearful. They are fearful of sanction from congregations where people in the pews may have voted for a morally problematic candidate because they did not like the alternatives. They’re fearful of losing their platforms, book sales, positions if they stray too far. They are fearful of having their club membership revoked. But as they stand in fear they are also slowing ceding moral authority. They stand while the nationeven the worldsimmers and threatens to burn. My friend LeVar Burton said today that “this moment is but another in a chain of opportunities to choose what you stand for.” It is an opportunity, indeed. Far too many in the Christian church sanctioned slavery. Many purported Christians even owned, bought and sold human beings themselves. Evangelicals took decades to stand against Jim Crow, and only stood when the fight was long over. From Apartheid in South Africa to women’s rights here at home, far too many Christian pastors and leaders moved when it was safe, if at all. They may have a heart for digging wells in Africa or a passion to end the scourge of human trafficking; these issues are centrally important, but they are also safe, problems that everyone agrees we need to solve. But when it comes to the more complex moral disasters right in front of us, the fire of courage often fails to burn. This is why many evangelicals hold on so dearly to the history of William Wilberforce, the 18th Century Christian abolitionist The tale of Wilberforce makes them feel courageous, although the courage he showed hundreds of years ago is a far cry from what we see today. Today, courage is in short supply. We are grateful for conservative pastors and leaders like Dr. Russell Moore, Dr. Joel Hunter, even Erick Erickson and others who speak out at risk to themselves, but they should not have to stand alone. What would it mean for evangelical Christian leaders to speak out in the age of Trump? It means consistently leveraging public platforms and private leadership to define what is right and wrong. In the case of what we just saw in Charlottesville, it means sermon series on the dangers of white supremacy, the reality of privilege, and the importance of empathy for those who do not look like you. It means using podcasts and books and voices to lift up morality and condemn immorality, whether that immortality is found in the streets of Charlottesville or the Oval Office of the White House. It even means admitting with humility that they don’t know what to do, but know they should do something, and then showing an openness to take action. The world is watching American Christians. Many who need the Good News of the Gospel are disgusted and pushed away by the bad news of a quiet church. Without question, this past presidential election kicked wide open the floodgates of hatred in this country. All around us, we see the seas rising. Will Evangelical Christian leaders follow the example of Jesus and step, with faith, out onto uncertain waters? Or will they tremble in fear, as the country drowns in the flood?

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed


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