[Hpn] Let your historical sense of right and wrong guide your pen in voters booth

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Tue, 2 Nov 2004 09:57:26 -0500


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Tuesday, November 2, 2004
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My love affair with evangelical Christians
By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
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Nearly the whole world is arrayed against President George W. Bush. The long 
list includes Europe, the United Nations, the Arab countries, the world's 
media, Hollywood, the universities, and half the United States. The question 
becomes: How can this man possibly survive as president?

The answer to this question lies in the biggest American development since 
women's suffrage, namely, the rise of the Christian right. The United States 
has 70 million born-again Christians, comprising the single largest voting 
block in the country. They are guided by faith and they vote with their 
values. They are the moral force behind America's resurgent spirituality. 
And they constitute the constituency that keeps George Bush in power, even 
as the entire world gangs up to defeat him.


The impact the American evangelical voting block has had on world affairs is 
incalculable and explains why there has been a revolution in the way the 
world does business. The staunch support of evangelical Christians has 
enabled George W. Bush to pursue a foreign policy based not on expediency or 
realpolitik, but on a deep-seated morality wherein tyrants are punished and 
the oppressed liberated. These policies would have been unthinkable without 
the steadfast support of Bush's die-hard constituency of evangelical 
Christians who comprise one quarter of the American electorate.

I have long recognized and commented on this remarkable fact, that a great 
moral leader is kept in power principally by a great moral constituency. On 
the eve of the election, therefore, it is time that I put in writing what I 
have long felt in my heart.

I am a Jew who is deeply in love with evangelical Christians. Although I am 
at odds with them on various issues, they today constitute the most potent 
force for good in all America, and the most influential constituency who 
consistently demands that America be a nation of justice, standing up for 
the persecuted and living up to its founding ideals of serving as a global 
beacon of freedom.

To be sure, I am devoted to my Judaism. Wild horses and iron combs could 
never pry me away from my Jewish identity and I have devoted my life to the 
dissemination of Jewish ideas in the mainstream culture and to bringing 
wayward Jews back to their heritage. But I must give credit where credit is 
due. And evangelical Christians, more than any other group today, are 
responsible for America being a Godly country.

Whenever I am in the company of evangelical Christians, I feel completely at 
home, among true brothers and sisters of faith. More so, I feel inspired, 
like I am in the company of an authentic Godly host. Evangelical Christians 
are at the forefront of asserting that religious conviction demands moral 
action. You cannot call yourself religious unless you act with justice. 
Period. So many religious people around the world have utterly embarrassed 
themselves over the past few years by condemning the United States for the 
war in Iraq, a war that removed the world's foremost mass murderer from 
power. But the evangelicals have been stalwart in defending the Iraq war as 
a conflict in which America served as God's long arm of justice.

Evangelical Christians, like orthodox Jews, have a deep-seated hatred of 
evil. Many religious people have a problem with hatred, believing it is 
inherently unGodly. Evangelicals reject such wishy-washy, on-the-fence 
moralizing, understanding that hatred of evil is the single best gauge of 
authentic spiritual commitment. While so many other religious denominations 
practice either spiritual narcissism (the cult of new-age personal growth), 
or a watered down version of amoral liberalism, evangelical Christians stand 
against tyrants and murderers, and are committed to using American power to 
bring them to justice.

When evangelical Christians talk to me about God, they speak with an 
immediacy and sense of intimacy which is both inspiring and impressive. To 
the evangelicals, God is a loving father rather than a distant relative. And 
unlike secularists who love making up their own morality, evangelical 
Christians humbly submit to the Divine will. The potency of evangelical 
faith is manifest in their being at the forefront of feeding the hungry, 
curing the sick, and giving clothes to the poor - deeds which are practiced 
by an army of missionaries around the world.

Unlike so many Americans, evangelical Christians utterly reject materialism. 
They raise Godly children who are open-hearted and uncorrupted. Evangelical 
Christian parents protect their children from a corrosive culture that is so 
harming America's youth. The evangelicals have remarkably created their own 
music, TV and film industries which promote values-based entertainment as 
opposed to crude sexual exploitation. Their women are taught to value 
themselves and would never contemplate surrendering their bodies to a man 
who has not committed to them in marriage. And their men are taught to value 
women and to work to be worthy of them.

This is not to say I don't have serious disagreements with evangelicals. 
Indeed, on my daily radio show, I have a regular parade of evangelical 
pastors who debate with me constantly, like the Rev. Flip Benham of 
Operation Rescue in North Carolina. I will accuse Flip of and unGodly 
homophobia, being too fixated on combating and condemning homosexuals while 
ignoring the 50 percent divorce rate in America. He will counter that I am 
watering down the Bible. I will cry out to him that we dare not reduce the 
richness of religion to a ban on abortion, which in Judaism is severely 
prohibited but, unlike Christianity, is not considered murder. He will 
accuse me of ignoring the sanctity of the unborn. I will strongly object to 
his insistence that those who do not believe in Jesus will not go to Heaven 
and accuse him of spiritual bigotry and religious racism. He will stand his 
ground. And yet, I know that he would lay down his life for me, and for all 
Israel, in a moment.

It is on the subject of Jesus, especially, and other related theological 
questions, that I am, of course, most distant from my evangelical brothers 
and sisters. I have had many televised debates against leading evangelicals 
forcefully rejecting Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. But for all that, I have 
never felt any emotional distance from the evangelicals. All I have felt is 
love.

Many of my Jewish brethren reject evangelical Christians as dogmatic and 
intolerant. In so doing they are guilty of themselves of rejecting one of 
Judaism's most seminal teachings: to judge a man by his actions rather than 
his beliefs. Just try and find kinder, more compassionate people who are 
more willing to assist their fellow man in a time of crisis, than the 
evangelicals. And this is especially true of the evangelical love for 
Israel.

As an American Jew, I have two great loves: the United States and Israel. 
The Talmud says that what makes Israel unique is that God's presence is a 
tangible reality in the Holy Land. In Israel, one can sense and feel God's 
holy presence. Thanks largely to evangelical Christians, the same is true 
today of the United States. God is alive and well in America. And it is 
primarily for that reason that this great country is so blessed.


 2004



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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is a nationally syndicated radio host daily from 2-5 
p.m. EST on the Liberty Broadcasting Network, and was named by Talkers 
magazine as one of America's 100 most important talk-radio hosts. A 
best-selling author of 14 books, his latest work is "The Private Adam: 
Becoming a Hero in a Selfish Age" (HarperCollins).