Falwell's "Gracious Correction" emphatic : No, Jews Can't Get Into Heaven
Now, the hullaballoo surrounding James Dobson recent condemnation of "Spongebob Squarepants" had elements of high comedy and led to the following explanation by Dobson for his antagonism towards the beloved children's cartoon character representing a small talking sea sponge :
If you had told me a month ago that I'd be devoting my February letter to a cartoon character named SpongeBob SquarePants, I'd have said you were crazy. Nevertheless, by now you probably know that I have been linked to that famous talking sponge by hundreds of media outlets, from the New York Times to "MSNBC" to "Saturday Night Live." The story of how this situation unfolded is somewhat complicated, but it must be told..... ( source : Focus On The Family website )
By comparison, Jerry Falwell's latest unfortunate ejaculation, on "The Conservative Voice" website, has none of the absurdist elements implicit in the "Dobson vs. Spongebob" affair.. Jerry Falwell did not excoriate a random, beloved cartoon character - no, he delivered a forceful rebuttal to a recent Jerusalem Post story suggesting Falwell believed that Jews could enter heaven, and - unless Mr. Falwell qualifies his theological beliefs to insert some sort of special purgatory, limbo, or other such holding tank or parking lot for those deserving souls who somehow lack the special pass for entry into heaven, the logical implication is that all Jews who have not converted to Christianity will go to hell.
[ Fallwell's statement ] Earlier today, reports began circulating across the globe that I have recently stated that Jews can go to heaven without being converted to Jesus Christ. This is categorically untrue.....
In this age of political correctness and diversity, the traditional evangelical belief that salvation is available only through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is often portrayed as closed-minded and bigoted. ( source )
Despite token attempts to present the American Christian right as somehow part of a broader religious movement - Falwell's statement is consistent with a wider pattern described by Talk To Action writer Esther Kaplan :
Never mind that Christian right leaders such as Jerry Falwell have called Jews "spiritually blind and desperately in need of their Messiah and Savior"; that the Southern Baptist Convention has made the conversion of Jews a special mission; and that much Christian right support for Israel is based on End Times scenarios in which Jews must return to Israel to expedite the second coming of Christ. There's just one catch: Once that glorious event occurs, Jews who don't convert will burn in hell for all eternity. As Craig Unger vividly illustrates in his article in the December issue of Vanity Fair, in which he recounts his travels to the Holy Land with best-selling apocalyptic novelist Tim LaHaye, if you peel back Christian right support for Israel, you find a Jewish death wish. ( source )
Rising religious supremacist tendencies on the Christian right have lately alarmed American Jewish leaders such as Abe Foxman who - as described in The Forward - sounded an alarm at a November 2005 Anti Defamation League national conference :
In a speech last week at the ADL's national conference in New York, Abraham Foxman blasted several conservative organizations, including Focus on the Family, The American Family Association and the Family Research Council. He declared that such groups "had built infrastructures throughout the country... intend[ing] to 'Christianize' all aspects of American life, from the halls of government to the libraries, to the movies, to recording studios, to the playing fields and locker rooms of professional, collegiate and amateur sports, from the military to SpongeBob SquarePants."
"Today we face a better financed, more sophisticated, coordinated, unified, energized and organized coalition of groups in opposition to our policy positions on church-state separation than ever before," Foxman stated. "Their goal is to implement their Christian worldview. To Christianize America. To save us!"
Foxman said the conservative effort was "not an assault" on Jews as a community, but he warned that Jews "may become... its major victims." ( source )
Indeed, Christian right groups have indicated that their support for Israel is err.... a bit qualified and motivated by something less than goodwill. Max Blumenthal, in a piece entitled "Did Tim LaHaye Just Call Israelis "Not-To-Be-Trusted Yids?" characterizes a recent statement by Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, apparently directed at Jews, as a "gangland-style threat" and highlights tone of a piece, by Stan Goodenough, recently featured on Tim Lahaye's website:
[ Goodenough ] "But do you know what, Jews of Israel - and those Jews still in exile who so fervently support this way? You may think that in so acquiescing, you are setting a glowing example to the nations of the world.
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. And, as far as the Muslim world is concerned, your actions only confirm their view of you as a dhimmi nation, fit only to be ruled over by, and subdued under, Islam." ( source )
Will American Jewish leaders move towards more forceful denunciations of such tendencies on the Christian right ? And if so, will those translate into reduced Jewish support for the GOP ?
Some - such as the ADL's Abe Foxman - have indeed woken up to smell this coffee. That's good, because it's foul stuff, acrid and tarry coffee reduced down to a thick sludge from far, far too long left simmering on a stove that some would call hate.