Posted April 8, 2009
Newsweek magazine’s cover proclaims The Decline and Fall of Christian America, while the article inside the cover proclaims The End of Christian America. The substance of the article doesn’t really prove the headline, but the goal of whichever editor wrote the headline is clear: The undeniably Christian nature of this country is coming to an end, and that’s a good thing.
The Newsweek headlines are consistent with the pervasive hostility of the liberal media, legal, artistic and entertainment elites towards Christianity in general, and any concept of this country being a “Christian Nation.” Mocking Christianity and the Christian foundation of this country is not just acceptable, it is a path to fame. Mock Islam, and you may get killed; mock Judaism, and you will be criticized; but mock Christianity, and you will get a show at an art gallery, an award from a civil liberties union, and bragging rights at a DailyKos convention.
Camille Paglia sums it up as only she can:
“Yes, something very ugly has surfaced in contemporary American liberalism, as evidenced by the irrational and sometimes infantile abuse directed toward anyone who strays from a strict party line. Liberalism, like second-wave feminism, seems to have become a new religion for those who profess contempt for religion.”
A second, and parallel, theme also emerged during Barack Obama’s tour of Europe. Not only is the United States not a Christian Nation, it is not exceptional. We are at best just one equal nation among many, and our sins are so great that we, and we alone, must apologize to others. And if this apology requires that the President bow down to a monarch whose country does have a state religion, so be it.
The emergence and strength of these two themes, the disdain of Christianity and the denigration of American exceptionalism, are dangerous. As a Jew, I am glad that I live in this exceptional Christian Nation. Outside of Israel, there is no place where Jews are more accepted. A Jew need not fear wearing a keepa (yarmulka) in public as one must in virtually every major European city, from London to Paris to Brussels.
While I do not underestimate the depth of anti-semitism which resides in some individuals, groups or institutions, this is not a nation which has known pogroms or nights of broken glass. To the contrary, this nation from its founding has welcomed its Jewish citizens. Reading George Washington’s Letter to the Touro Synagogue of Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, brings tears to my eyes:
“May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.”
No country in the world has accepted Jews into its arms as has this Christian Nation. Although you wouldn’t know it from listening to the liberal intelligentsia which dominates so much of the dialog, hatred of Jews is not a threat in America. To the contrary, the only true threat is that Christian Americans love us so much. Intermarriage, not hate, is the single biggest threat to Jewish life in America, which says a lot about how much Jews have become interwoven with the fabric of this exceptional country.
When I think of the exceptional nature of this country, I also think of the rows upon rows of white crosses in cemetaries above the beaches of Normandy, of thousands of mostly Christian soldiers floating on the shores of islands in the Pacific, and the mostly Christian American soldiers who liberated numerous concentration camps.
I think of Christian Americans like Vernon Tott of Iowa who not only liberated concentration camps, but took the time thereafter to bear witness to what he saw (and decades later to reunite with one of the prisoners he liberated):
“I was a radio operator in the Infantry and on April 10, 1945, we were going to attack Hanover, Germany. Early that morning I was sitting in my radio jeep with Capt. Reed, at a crossroad, west of Hannover. After the sun came up we could see down a dirt road that someone was waving to us. Capt. Reed thought these people might be American POW’s so he told me to drive down to them. A couple truckloads of riflemen came with us. When we got there we could see that it was a Jewish slave labor camp (Ahlem). What we saw inside of the camp was Hell on Earth.”My memory of what we saw when we first entered the camp was the pile of dead bodies. The men alive were in ragged clothing and they were just skin and bones. They came towards us with smiles on their faces. They knew their horrible nightmare was finally coming to an end.
And of the black Christian American soldiers who, though facing discrimination at home, helped liberate the camps:
I also think of the Harry Truman, the Christian American President who made the United States the first nation to recognize the State of Israel in 1948, and Richard Nixon, the Christian American President who saved the State of Israel with an emergency airlift of military supplies in 1973. Whatever personal sentiments these two men harbored regarding Jews, they stood with the Jews when it counted. And Christian American President after President has stood with Israel at the U.N. almost alone in the face of the world’s tyrants.
Tonight is the first night of Passover, which commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, and celebrates freedom. One of the key sections from the Passover Haggadah warns of the dangers in the world:
For not just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand!
Nothing has changed in thousands of years. They still rise up in every generation to destroy us, but this time the names are not Haman or Adolf, but Mahmoud and Osama. And on this earth, it will be Christian Americans almost alone who will stand with us.
I’m reminded of the bumper sticker from the 1960’s: “If you hate cops, next time you are in trouble call a hippie. ” Jews, of all people, should not wish too hard for The End of Christian America. There is no one else to call.
So particularly at this Passover time, we should not wish too hard for the End of Christian America. We might just get it.
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