Skip Thanksgiving—the far-right wingnuts have commenced the war on “War on Christmas” beginning with Sarah Palin’s new book. According to Steve Benen, the three-fold attack of this tome is a tribute to the holiday, an explanation of Christianity’s superiority to atheism, and a guide to opposing all those “litigious secularists.” Anyone trying to understand why a business wanting customers from all beliefs should incorporate inclusive holiday-season language or why a non-Christian might not want to listen to governments showing a preference for Christianity over all other beliefs won’t find help in Palin’s directions. Instead, she thinks that these fringe beliefs endanger religious freedom in the country.
Palin probably ignored the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht yesterday. Literally “Crystal Night” and also called the Night of Broken Glass, the term names the attacks against Jews in Germany and parts of Austria by Hitler’s forces and non-Jewish civilians that killed 91 Jews and arrested and incarcerated another 30,000 in concentration camps. The name came from the broken glass covering the streets because attackers smashed windows in Jewish businesses, homes, hospitals, and schools. That horrific event changed the persecution from economic and social to beatings, incarceration, and murder.
Seventy-five years after the turn toward open violence that led to a world war, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe again. Two-thirds of respondents to a poll believe that this prejudice is a problem, 76% thought that anti-Semitism had increased over the last five years, and 46% said they worried about being verbally assaulted or harassed in public because they were Jewish. One-third of the respondents were worried about being physically attacked, and 57% said they had heard or seen someone claim over the last year that the Holocaust was a myth or had been exaggerated.
Almost 6,000 Jewish people in eight EU member states–Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the UK–took part in the survey. About 90 percent of the EU’s Jewish population lives in these eight countries. The survey found 29% of those surveyed had considered emigrating because of concerns about safety, with particularly high figures recorded in Hungary (48%), France (46%) and Belgium (40%). One in five respondents had personally experienced at least one anti-Semitic verbal insult and/or a physical attack in the year before the survey.
One British respondent said the Internet communicated a “phenomenal” amount of anti-Semitic material: “This is in some ways setting us backwards as now young people are circulating content like the [anti-Semitic hoax] Protocols of the Elders of Zion which had, prior to the Internet, pretty much died out.” The report also said that Jewish people faced discrimination in schools and the workplace.
This week the U.S. and the World Jewish Congress criticized the far-right Hungarian Jobbik party for unveiling a statue of the wartime leader Miklós Horthy, who allied Hungary with Nazi Germany.
Not all people in the United States are open to Judaism, including the immediate (appointed) past president George W. Bush. This coming week he is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser in Irving (TX) for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute. Its purpose is to train people in the world to convert Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The goal is to “restore” Israel and the Jews and bring about about the second coming of Christ. The Dallas-based MJBI claims that it acts like the Apostle Paul in helping to “educate Christians in their role to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy and thus save some of them (Romans 11:11-14).”
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said he is disappointed that Bush cannot “accept the validity of the Jewish covenant.” Rabbi David Wolpe of Los Angeles’ Sinai Temple was more direct when he tweeted, “This is infuriating.” Bush follows last year’s star, Glenn Beck, who received a “Defender of Israel” award. The tickets this year range from $100 to $100,000. MJBI refused to say whether Bush would receive a speaking fee and, in fact, took his name off the website as keynote speaker.
MJBI board member Rabbi Marty Waldman of Baruch HaShem, a Messianic congregation in Dallas, explained that money is needed to hasten the return of Jesus. When there are “enough” Jewish people who call Jesus their savior, “some sort of a trigger will go off in heaven, and our father in heaven will say, ‘Okay, son, it’s time to get your bride,’” Waldman said.
These are some characteristics of people who “call Jesus their savior”:
Ignorance: While protesting the bill on legalized marriage equality in Illinois, a state representative failed to understand why people would advocate for civil rights in the debate. According to him, the United States was founded on “the scriptures,” not the constitution.
Fraud: LGBT-hater Dave Wilson used a creative way to get elected to the Houston Community College Board of Trustees by pretending to be black. Right-Wing Watch reported:
“Wilson’s campaign fliers were filled with black faces that he admits to simply pulling off of websites, along with captions such as ‘Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.’ Another flier announces that he was ‘Endorsed by Ron Wilson,’ which is the name of an African-American former state representative. Only by reading the fine print will voters discover that the ‘Ron Wilson’ who actually endorsed Dave is his cousin. The cousin lives in Iowa.”
Wilson beat long-time incumbent Bruce Austin, who really is black, in the African-American district.
Hypocrisy: Doug Phillips, married and father of eight children, has preached about his strong belief in “biblical patriarchy” over women and home-schooling. Women should not “work alongside men as their functional equals” outside the home, according to Phillips. Last week he stepped down from his position as president of Texas-based Vision Forum Ministries. Phillips wrote:
“I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.”
Phillips’ ministry took in $3.3 million in 2011; the related for-profit group, Vision Forum Inc. was paid $193,176 in 2011 for “labor and services.” Phillips plans to retain ownership of the for-profit business. The photo of Phillips and his family is from Vision Forum Ministries.
Bigotry: American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer accused First Lady Michelle Obama of inviting “demons into the White House.” She hosted an event honoring the Hindu “festival of lights.” Fischer said:
“This is a counterfeit religion. It is an Eastern religion. It is, in essence, an occult religion. It’s a counterfeit, a false alternative to Christianity. It ultimately represents the doctrine of demons, that is what you have with Hinduism and now this is being celebrated in the White House.”
Fischer called on the people of the nation to elect a Christian president. He missed the fact that George W. Bush also celebrated the Hindu holiday.
Intolerance: After the Rev. Frank Schaefer officiated his son’s same-sex marriage “because I love him so much and didn’t want to deny him that joy,” the pastor faces a church trial with accusations that he broke his pastoral vows by performing the ceremony. Hundreds of other Methodist ministers have rejected anti-LGBT doctrine, and some of them also face discipline. Today 50 clergy members showed support for Schaefer by presiding over a same-sex ceremony in Philadelphia, one which will not have state support because of Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage equality.
Stupidity: Pat Robertson has been awarded the British Stonewall “Bigot of the Year” award reserved for “an individual who has gratuitously caused hurt and offense to gay people around the world,” according to the Daily Mail. In the U.S. right-wing extremists are rejecting Robertson because he has said that the world is older than 6,000 years. He was mocked because he denied the myth about the Earth’s age because the 6,000 years came, not from the Bible, but from a book by Ireland’s Archbishop James Ussher in the seventeenth century.
Next Sunday, I’ll fill you in on how everyone knows that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs. If you can’t wait, you can Google it!