Ted Haggard Wants Jews to be Afraid
Non-Prophet reports on an email exchange between Ted Haggard (pastor of New Life Church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals) and Mikey Weinstein, who has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the local air force academy. Weinstein accuses evangelicals at the academy of abusing their position to force their beliefs on others; Haggard believes Weinstein wants government regulation of religious free speech (the story was discussed on Talk to Action a couple of days ago, in a contribution from Lorie Johnson.)
The exchange was passed to Non-Prophet by Rob Brendle, one of Haggard's assistant pastors. This appears to have been strategic, as Weinstein's style of discourse is rather eccentric and bombastic (see example below; Weinstein calls the release "an ambush"). Haggard's main point:
My concern, though, as I expressed on the phone to you, is not exclusively the American issue, but the global struggle for the advancement of representative government, civil liberties, and fundamental freedom. It is my view that both Christian and Jewish leaders would be wise to unite together to protect those who are threatened with extermination and death. If Jewish and Christian believers in America remain fractured, we're going to lose too much world-wide. Instead, Christian and Jewish believers need to become friends and work together.There then follows a list of recent anti-Semitic incidents, lifted directly from a report that appeared a few days ago in Arutz Sheva, a conservative Israeli newspaper. Haggard concludes:
These types of issues deeply alarm me and I think they need to be addressed by innovative men like yourself. It's a mistake to juxtapose Jewish and Christian believers in America. No doubt, it's financially profitable for groups leading both sides. I think, though, it would be best if leaders stood hand in hand, heart to heart, protecting peoples lives.This brings to mind Haggard's statement from during the Passion controversy:
"There is a great deal of pressure on Israel right now, and Christians seem to be a major source of support for Israel," said Ted Haggard. "For the Jewish leaders to risk alienating 2 billion Christians over a movie seems shortsighted."So, Haggard is again warning Jewish critics of evangelicals that they ought to back off, since they need evangelicals to protect them from anti-Semitism. Weinstein is unconvinced (but also, alas, a bit incoherent):
".............how DARE you try to assert that me and my supporters are making it MORE difficult for YOU to fight "global antisemitism!!!!!.........("with friends like you, eh??!!)....in other words, you exhibit a boundless hubris in trying to posit that, because we take a firm stand against you and yours, we are, thus, endangering YOUR noble national and international efforts to "protect" me, my family, my people and what??...all of the rest of world Jewry too!!??.......[...] !!!....."we" don't depend upon ol' Ted to be our worldwide protector.....sigh...perhaps someday you'll see me as something other than solely as a Jew.Haggard's response is rather curious:
...No doubt, it will take more people than just Evangelicals to protect Jewish people from anti-semitism, but we need to do our part.But why should "doing our part" require Jews to avoid criticising evangelicals? I've been criticised by some Jews (and others) for supporting Palestinian rights, but that's never made me less willing to criticise anti-Semitism when I've come across it. Despite claims to the contrary, Haggard seems not to think in terms of individuals, but of "Jews" as some sort of homogenous group:
...I've been in Evangelical churches all my life and I've never heard any teaching other than support for Jewish people and interests, and respected Jewish leaders have reinforced this view. Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Avraham Hirchson, Marvin Hier, Danny Ayalon and many other highly recognized Jewish leaders have all communicated with me about the positive and vital role evangelicals have in the support of the causes to which they have dedicated their lives. Your note communicates the oppositeFair enough, although selective - perhaps the next time Haggard's having a cosy photo-op with Sharon, he might like to ask him about the persecution of Messianic Jews in Beersheba and Arad. And when it comes to supporting "Jewish interests", it all depends on which Jews are under discussion. A passage from Gershom Gorenberg's The End of Days gives a pertinent example of this problem, in a discussion of a book by John Hagee:
Hagee, pastor of a 15,000-member San Antonio church, starts by praising Rabin's brilliance and personal warmth. But then he gives the backdrop to Rabin's murder. Israel, he says, is divided between religious Jews who think they have a "holy deed to the land" and Jews who "put more faith in man than in the God of their fathers."...And, he says, Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir, belonged to the religious side of Israel. From there, readers are left to draw their own conclusions. (1)
Hagee has some differences with Haggard. Haggard says his support for Israel is "predominantly political", while Hagee, like Hal Lindsey, sees Jews and Palestinians primarily as puppets in a bloody End-Times drama. In practical terms, however, both offer pretty much unqualified support for Israel; although Haggard has made some vague statements in favour of a Palestinian state, his New Life church has particular links with the illegal West Bank settlement of Beit Haggai. Non-Prophet suggests that
...the evangelicals are forming an alliance to fight a global war against Islam in the near future. Am I wrong about that? I don't think so. I've discussed this topic at length with senior New Lifers. Rob Brendle told me that he believes that France, Spain and Sweden are already hopelessly lost and shall become Islamic Republics within 15 years. He says that the rest of Europe may very well soon follow and that we are at risk of the same right here. Ted Haggard himself has been quotedas saying, "My fear, is that my children will grow up in an Islamic state." (2)There may be something in that. If you're aiming for Christian hegemony over the USA as the only antidote against an Islamic threat, Jews are likely to be the minority who be taken the most seriously if they suggest such an idea to be unwise, for obvious historical reasons. Making Jews fearful of anti-Semitism, or flattering them through such terms as "Judeo-Christian", are both strategies to bring Jews on-message.
But Haggard is also following a strategy of the Likudnik Jewish right: last year, Herb Zweibon of Americans for a Safe Israel warned against any deviation from the vision of Greater Israel:
[If] Israel withdraws from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, I think you will see anti-Semitism in America like you have never seen. These people [Christian Zionists] will see it as a betrayal of their own trust. Why should they stand by [Israel], if the Jews don't?This seems to me to be astonishingly insulting towards Christian Zionists, but no objections were raised from that quarter. A similar forecast recently appeared on Tim LaHaye's Left Behind website, and was picked up by Max Blumenthal on Talk To Action. The author, Stan Goodenough, warns how the Israelis will be perceived in the Arab and Muslim worlds if they withdraw from occupied land:
But as far as these nations are concerned, the last thing they will want to do is emulate you. All you are doing is proving them right in their long-held belief that you are illegitimate, land grabbing, not-to-be-trusted YidsStrangely, Goodenough does not make clear whether Israel will be "proving them right" in just their own eyes, or objectively.
Evangelicals and some Jews are already united; but it's a unity based on a strategy of fearmongering - and the target is the Jewish community in general.
(Tipped from The Revealer and Get Religion)
(1)The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, Oxford University Press, New York, 2001, page 165.
(2) These fears are now the subject of a new schlockbuster novel, which I blogged on a couple of weeks ago.
Ted Haggard Wants Jews to be Afraid | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden)
Ted Haggard Wants Jews to be Afraid | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden)