Ted Haggard Wants Jews to be Afraid
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 04:55:25 AM EST
Ted Haggard's recent email exchange with Mikey Weinstein reveals why he believes it's unwise for Jews to be criticising evangelicals.
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 opposite
Fair 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 Yids
Strangely, 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.

Thanks for your report and analysis, Bartholomew! I'm intrigued by your conclusion: "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."

Supposing you are right, then what would be some strategic ways for defenders of democracy to move from talk to action? What more needs to be done to expose and counter a strategy of fearmongering? Is there a strategy of "love-mongering" or "hope-mongering" that could come into play?

by jhutson on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 10:38:51 AM EST

Dominionists, especially within the pentecostal branches of dominionism (of which Ted Haggard is most certainly a part of--his church, whilst nondenominational, maintains close ties with the Assemblies of God (in housing a Royal Rangers group there) and is fully immersed in the "spiritual warfare" and "deliverance ministry" theology that is the basis of dominionism in pentecostalism) have always had a bit of a weird relationship with Israel.

Firstly, they actively promote Israeli Expansionism and Israel itself to the literal point of idolatry (including telling people--when Israeli policy fits in with premillenial dispensationalism, anyways--that criticism of Israeli policies towards Palestinians is "judging children of God", is blasphemy, and that Israel should be supported even if they commit a total genocide against the Palestinians (my emphasis, I actually heard that line more than once from not only my family but from fellow dominionists in my church).

This is not because they particularly care about Jews, mind; this is because of the critical role Israel plays in their end-time theology.  (Specifically, the end of the world is supposed to be triggered when either the Russians or the Arabs (or sometimes the Arabs backed by the Russians) attack Jerusalem and attempt to invade Israel.)  In fact, heavy pressure is brought on Israeli government (especially Likud) by pentecostal dominionists in the US to expand Israeli borders all the way to the maximum Biblical extent.)

Interestingly, Jews who have no real desire to move to Israel (and there are a number of them; there are even Jews who find the entire idea of Zionism to be more than a bit blasphemous) are seen as "betrayers of their people" by pente dominionists.

Regarding the Jewish people themselves, heavy emphasis is put on converting them to "Messianic Jews"--kosher pentecostals.  This includes not only groups in the US (like Jews for Jesus, which is documented as targeting (among others) Russian Jewish emigres whose religion was repressed in "real life" by the Soviets and who don't know all that much about Judaism) but groups within Israel itself; the very Assemblies of God church I am a walkaway from operates a group, High Adventure Ministries, whose major purpose is to convert Jews in Israel itself to "Messianic Jews".  (The group also promotes tours to Israel geared towards the pentecostal community and operates a large shortwave radio empire.)

Jewish people are seen to be "chosen people of God" but are also seen as "incomplete"--they're basically not really seen as "chosen people" unless they convert to "Messianic Judaism".  More often than not, this is conversion to being essentially an Assemblies of God member who keeps kosher; the vast majority of "Messianic Jew" congregations are in fact "outreaches" of Assemblies of God churches, and there are even some AoG members who call themselves "Hebrew Christians"--people who were born and raised as Assemblies of God members and then took up keeping kashrut, etc. basically playing at being Jewish.

Needless to say, most legitimate Jewish groups are not amused at this, seeing this in a way as a mockery of their religion.

Almost since Israel's founding, dominionist groups (starting with the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International and other pente groups) have been shmoozing themselves with the Jewish community in the US and with Israel's government, claiming they can maintain US support for Israel and also claiming that they are essentially the only group besides the Jewish community supportive of Israel in the US.  This has earned them friends in the Jewish community--less than in past, as many groups (notably Reform Judaism and the ADL) are realising they've inadvertently bedded with someone all too happy to stab them in the back--but still, some.  

Again, this is so dominionists can put the "premillenial dispensationalist" gamebook into play--supposedly all the world's Jews are to move to Israel, pentes and the "Messianic Jews" converted so far will be raptured once a "critical mass" of people converted worldwide is hit, halfway through the Tribulation two people will convert to Christianity and be martyred, this will convince the Jewish population that the pentes were Right All Along, a few more will become Messianic Jews when Armaggedon finally hits seven years after the Rapture, and everyone else gets to literally burn in hell.

The Jews of the world are starting to--in small steps--realise that for the past fifty years they have been played, and played hard, by the pentecostal dominionist and premillenial dispensationalist communities.  Many groups are starting to stand up and state that they are, in effect, no longer willing to be used as pawns by dominionists.

Needless to say, the dominionists are not happy.  This is why they're breaking out the Mafia-protection-racket style speech of "You know, we're you're only friends, you don't pay us the protection money...BAD things could happen.  Really bad things." (And yes, this is exactly what they've done for the past fifty years--essentially played the part of a protection racket for Jews and Israel, even though most of the US is not exactly antisemitic.)  This is what the whole "war on Christmas" thing is about.  

The dominionists, and in particular the premillenial dispensationalist dominionists in the pentecostal community--are raging mad because the Jews realise they're being used in a protection racket and are not playing along with the Rapture Script anymore.

by dogemperor on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 12:45:35 PM EST

with such clear, detailed and calm reporting and analysis. This is important stuff. Not the kinds of things we hear much discussed in the media.

Hagee and Hagaard's condescension towards Jews and the implied threat deserves far wider coverage and opprobrium from religious leaders.

I am glad that Talk to Action can provide a place where we can come together to learn, and try to make sense of these things.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Jan 01, 2006 at 11:40:59 PM EST

For such a careful job covering this. You've picked your way deftly through a minefield of a territory.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 01:32:57 PM EST

Would it be fair then to characterize the relationship of Jewish people to the dominonists as that of the useful idiot?  Certainly they are considered as a tool to achieve the end times only and are then disposable according to the dominionists.

by nofundy on Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 02:44:30 PM EST

The most bizarre thing for me is that even liberal Jews at our Jewish high school honestly believe the nonsense that Christian Fundamentalists are pro-Israel and therefore worthy of friendship and support.  We lose arguments about this all the time, not for lack of logic on our part, but for the naivete that Jews without contact with Christian Fundamentalism's dark underbelly just can't understand that the only reason their non-Jewish "supporters" are cozied up to them have profound roots in antisemitic views and aspirations--not the least of which is the whole end-times trope; a narrative that promises Israel and the one-world government headed by Jesus (the decidely non-Jewish, Christian version) centered in Israel with all the non-Jewish true believers as his right-hand leaders.  It's the ultimate owner-society for a thousand years (and not a Jew in sight).  Unless you've lived amongst folks that think like this you cannot imagine how serious they really are about this stuff I guess.  Of course being converts to Judaism doesn't help our arguments, even though logically it should--you'd think more folks would trust us having personally been there, but they don't.  They'd rather believe the Christian Zionist is their pal.  The reality is the CZ's will be the very first to stab us in the back and the clue to that ulterior murderous motive is in the protection racket. But I just don't know what it will take for our people to realize this before it's too late.  

by JustJack on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 11:38:18 PM EST

great work on writing about this episode and the backdrop to it.

In the meantime, I hope somebody will reach out to Mr. Weinstein and suggest that he remember a piece of advice now universal among communication experts:  "If you write an e-mail or letter in anger, set it aside before you send it; come back to it later and reassess if you should send it out." ;)

He comes across as a total maniac in his response to Haggard. Oh well.

by IseFire on Wed Feb 08, 2006 at 02:35:13 PM EST

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