Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Palin's church sponsors "Jews for Jesus" organization

There are a lot of troubling things, extreme things, about Sarah Palin's religious beliefs. Let's start with Ben Smith's very balanced, middle of the road view of this for now.

from Politico.com: Ben Smith's Blog: Palin: Good for the Jews?

I've got a story up on the question of whether Palin — with her politics, her thin Israel record, and, perhaps most of all, her cultural roots in evangelical Christianity — will solve Obama's Jewish problem.

Here's a new bit:

An illustration of that gap came just two weeks ago, when Palin’s church, the Wasilla Bible Church, gave its pulpit over to a figure viewed with deep hostility by many Jewish organizations: David Brickner, the founder of Jews for Jesus.

Palin’s pastor, Larry Kroon, introduced Brickner on Aug. 17, according to a transcript of the sermon on the church’s website.

“He’s a leader of Jews for Jesus, a ministry that is out on the leading edge in a pressing, demanding area of witnessing and evangelism,” Kroon said.

Brickner then explained that Jesus and his disciples were themselves Jewish.

“The Jewish community, in particular, has a difficult time understanding this reality,” he said.

Brickner’s mission has drawn wide criticism from the organized Jewish community, and the Anti-Defamation League accused them in a report of “targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception.”

Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.

"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem, he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it."

Palin was in church that day, Kroon said, though he cautioned against attributing Brickner’s views to her.

Here's the more of the story:

Palin’s church, the Wasilla Bible Church, gave its pulpit over to a figure viewed with deep hostility by many Jewish organizations: David Brickner, the founder of Jews for Jesus.

Palin’s pastor, Larry Kroon, introduced Brickner on Aug. 17, according to a transcript of the sermon on the church’s website.

“He’s a leader of Jews for Jesus, a ministry that is out on the leading edge in a pressing, demanding area of witnessing and evangelism,” Kroon said.

Brickner then explained that Jesus and his disciples were themselves Jewish.

“The Jewish community, in particular, has a difficult time understanding this reality,” he said.
Brickner’s mission has drawn wide criticism from the organized Jewish community, and the Anti-Defamation League accused them in a report of “targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception.”

Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.

"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it."

Palin was in church that day, Kroon said, though he cautioned against attributing Brickner’s views to her.

The executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Ira Forman, cited the “cultural distance” between Palin and almost all American Jews.

“She’s totally out of step with the American Jewish community,” he said. “She is against reproductive freedom – even against abortion in the case of rape and incest. She has said that climate change is not man-made. She has said that she would favor teaching creationism in the schools. These are all way, way, way outside the mainstream.”

Huffington Post on Tuesday posted portions of Palin speaking at her former church, a politically conservative Assemblies of God congregation, in which she suggested that an Alaska pipeline plan reflects God’s will.

A spokesman for McCain and Palin, Michael Goldfarb, dismissed the notion that Palin would bring a Jewish problem.

“If this is going to be about who was at church on the day of which sermon, that’s not going to be an argument that the Obama campaign is going to win,” he said, a reference to Obama’s controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

“This woman has been on the national stage for all of four days – of course it’s going to take some time for people to get a sense of what her views are on some things,” Goldfarb said. “Once she’s had a chance to make her positions clear on these issues, the Jewish community is going to be very, very comfortable with her.”

In the meantime, however, there’s simply little information available about Palin’s views. Two of Palin’s prominent Alaska Jewish allies, Rabbi Joseph Greenberg and businessman Terry Gorlick, told Politico they consider her a friend of the Jews. But they said they’d never heard her discuss Middle East policy in detail and that she’d never visited Israel, though they cited a boilerplate Alaska-Israel friendship resolution she signed.

read the rest...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight.

AFAIK Jews for Jesus is an organisation that tries to convert Jews (the ethnic group) from Judaism to Christianity. I can't see anything wrong with that, as I can't see anything wrong with a Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh or even Mormon organisation trying to convince me to convert to their faith. Good luck with that - so there's no tooth fairy but the easter bunny is real.

I agree Brickner's comments on terrorist attacks were reprehensible. That puts him in a tradition with lots of other religious nuts who blame high profile disasters on lack of religious observance, from time immemorial.

However, the big problem I have is that Palin has less to do with this than Obama has to do with Reverend Wright. Palin's church gave space to a kook once. Wright preached every week.

Of course Wright isn't antisemitic!

Adam Holland said...

anonymous:

Jews for Jesus tries to convert Jews by deceiving them into believing that they can be both Jewish and Christian. They specifically target immigrants from the former Soviet Union because they were deprived of religious education and don't understand the distinction. Of course, people are free to convert to whatever religion they wish. I object strongly to cynical targeting of naive people and I object to deliberate deception.

In more general terms, I find the targeting of Jews for conversion offensive because it is based on and promotes the view that Judaism is deficient. It is not and those who say it is promote bigotry.

Your point about Wright is well-taken. I'm glad that Obama has specifically denounced Wright and hope Palin will do the same.

Adam Holland said...

I meant to say:

Your point about Wright is well-taken. I'm glad that Obama has specifically denounced Wright and hope Palin will do the same WITH RESPECT TO HER OWN DENOMINATION'S SPONSORING JEWS FOR JESUS.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected. JFJ claim that you can believe in both the easter bunny AND the tooth fairy.

I once met a Christian who was absolutely outraged that Mormons and Jehovahs Witnesses were allowed to proselytise. His argument followed yours, that uneducated people might fall for them. He had not the slightest self awareness that others might view his beliefs with the same incredulity as he viewed the others.

I might respect your objection if you applied the same logic across the board but worrying about uneducated people only when they are persuaded by others, is self serving. Whenever such arguments are deployed the speaker uses "uneducated" as a polite proxy for "stupid".

It seem to me, the worst case scenario is that some Jew is briefly fooled into thinking that he can be a member of the Synagogue and the Church simultaneously. Either the Rabbi or the priest will quickly put him straight. This is a technical issue - these associations tend to have an exclusivity rule, (as they is fully entitled to to do). Having "reformed the sinner" they are free to readmit them or not as they see fit.

I really can't see the issue. You are free to warn the stupid people in advance.

Adam Holland said...

anonymous:

1) Contrary to your assertion, I DON'T believe that Jews from the former USSR are "stupid", only that they were deprived by that tyranny both of religious education and connection to their heritage. That puts that at a disadvantage when confronted with someone saying that they can be both Jewish and Christian. Jews for Jesus frequently invite Russian emigre Jews to a Jewish worship service which turns out to be Christian. Some subset of the invited group will not understand the distinction. Which leads me to...

2) You state that "the worst case scenario is that some Jew is briefly fooled into thinking that he can be a member of the Synagogue and the Church simultaneously. Either the Rabbi or the priest will quickly put him straight." That's just the point. Jews for Jesus maintain the trappings of Jewish practice and state that they are Jews while believing in Christian theology. It's a shell game. Far from putting people straight about the distinctions between the two religions, they deliberate confuse them. But lest they, or you, confuse the issue further, any discussion of the Jews for Jesus must refer to them as Christian and not Jewish. Their formerly Jewish adherents are converts from Judaism to Christianity. What could be clearer than that? Why must they continue to spread lies?

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