The Christian Coalition's fourth annual Road to Victory conference featured five ultraconservative Jewish speakers. Their presence attempted to lend an air of inclusiveness to this political rally. This is consistent with last year's Road to Victory theme of "casting a wider net," taken from what is reputed to have been Jesus' commandment to be "fishers of men."
The viewpoints of the five Jewish presenters were virtually indistinguishable from their Christian counterparts. The wholeheartedness with which the speakers embraced the agenda of the Christian Coalition was most disturbing. The Jewish speakers were:
Medved began his presentation by asking, "What's a nice Jewish boy like me doing in a place like this?" Medved informed us that he is an observant Jew, president of Rabbi Lapin's synagogue, and author of Hollywood vs. America, in which he addressed the "assault by the popular cultural on some of the fundamental values that most Americans hold dear." After acknowledging that he did not support every single item on the agenda of the Christian Coalition, he stated:
"But the fact is we share basic values and those values are far more important than any disagreements. And aside from everything that we share, I recognize that you have been under attack and I believe that the nature of that attack has been unfair, illegitimate, and, in fact, despicable. There has been a concentrated and concerted effort to try to isolate a major group of Americans based upon their religious beliefs. And I'm here to let you know that there are thousands of Jewish people who aren't going to stand for that; who aren't going to let you be isolated, or marginalized, or trivialized because on this issue, we stand with you."
He continued by stating that what is happening to the Christian Right is reminiscent " ... to Jewish ears, there is an eerily familiar ring to some of the criticism, some of the attacks, some of the libels that have been leveled at the Christian Coalition and other conservative Christians across this country. When people start talking about a religious conspiracy, when they start talking about secret agendas, or holy fanatics who will stop at nothing, spreading their sneaky tentacles into various organizations, trying to dominate the whole society, you know what, you can take the words Christian Right and take them out and put in words like 'international Jewry' or 'Jewish conspiracy,' and you've got the same kind of lies that anti-Semites were using 50 years ago and 100 years ago and 200 years ago. And that kind of paranoia, that kind of scapegoating, that kind of bigotry was wrong then, and its wrong today."
It is apparent that Michael Medved is unfamiliar with the Christian Right's proliferation of speakers, books, videos and literature promoting anti-Semitism and those same old anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Rabbi Lapin's topic was "Jews and Christians in Unity." After enumerating all of the reasons that he believed "we" are on the Road to Victory, he stated, "And I stand before you in this solemn moment in our history and I recall another time that Jew and non-Jew stood together -- Naomi the great-grandmother of King David bids farewell to her daughter-in-law Ruth and Ruth refuses to abandon her Jewish mother-in-law, and ladies and gentlemen, in your welcome to me this morning, I hear Ruth's unforgettable prose: 'Do not force me to leave you, for where you go, I will go [thunderous applause], where you lodge, I shall lodge, thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God even unto death do us apart [applause].' Yes my friends, where you go, I will go. We shall not flinch until the smear of aggressive secularism has been wiped from our free land. We shall not flinch until in His good time God grants us joyous serenity. Until then my friends, we have to gain victory. That is our task."
In Don Feder's "Who's Afraid of Religious Conservatives?," he referred to the "mythical" wall of separation of church and state. Feder, like conference participants David Barton of WallBuilders, Reverend Peter Marshall of Peter Marshall Ministries, and America's God and Country, believe that our Constitution has no provision for the separation of church and state. Because they are literalists, treating every word in the Bible as the inerrant word of God, they treat the Constitution similarly, albeit with much less respect. Unless the language exists in the body of our sparsely worded Constitution, these people do not believe that such rights exist under our Constitution. For the most part, they ignore the legitimacy of U.S. Supreme Court rulings over the past 200 years, as they fail to see our Constitution as a living document, continually being modified by the High Court's rulings.
If we asked these people if they believed the U.S. Constitution embraced the principles of "right to a fair trial," "the separation of powers," or "religious liberty," instead of the "separation of church and state," they might come to a different conclusion. None of those important constitutional principles can be found in the literal words of the document.
The Friday afternoon breakout session titled, "Jewish-Christian Cooperation" proved to be even more interesting than the morning general assembly sessions. Marshall Wittman served as the moderator, with Rabbi Daniel Lapin and Beth Gilinsky presenting.
Marshall Wittman's opening remarks consisted of an attack of the recently published Anti Defamation League (ADL) report, The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance and Pluralism inAmerica. Wittman termed the ADL report "scurrilous" and a ttacked the groups mentioned on the acknowledgments page. (The Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc. is the first group listed on that page.) In a heated tone, Wittman continued to say that "what is most scurrilous is that the ADL is using its good name to attack American Jews' best allies — the Christian Right."
Rabbi Lapin followed Wittman and posed the question: "What do Jews want?" He answered by saying Jews want three things: one, kosher food; two, prayer; and three, circumcision. In his answers he attempted to show that it is not the Christian Right which poses a threat to Jews, but the liberal left. Lapin said it is the animal rights activists who pose a threat to kosher food supplies, and stated that Jews in Sweden have to have their kosher food imported, because the animal rights lobbies in Sweden have succeeded in preventing the kosher slaughter of animals in Sweden.
In discussing prayer, Lapin told us about a debate he had with Reuben Greenberg, Charleston, South Carolina's chief of police. In that debate, one of the members of the audience asked him if he understood the dangers of state sponsored prayer in public schools. Lapin countered with lets change the prayer from "In Jesus' name" to "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," which Lapin felt would be more inclusive. The questioner was not satisfied with Lapin's solution. Lapin stated that non-observant (in the Orthodox sense) Jews are not really Jews, stating: "Their religion is not Judaism — it is liberalism, and like any faith, they resist all logical arguments." Is Lapin admitting that he, being a man of faith, resists all logical arguments?
In showing that the Jewish tradition of circumcision is threatened by the left, he pointed to Marion Wright Edelman and Hillary Clinton who are active with the Children's Defense Fund (CDF). Lapin asserted that the CDF is working toward preventing circumcision by requiring an informed consent form, by the child, once he has reached the age of majority.
Lapin reiterated that the liberal left is responsible for our nation's ills, not the Religious Right. In perhaps the most astounding assertion of the afternoon, Lapin asserted that taxes are unbiblical. Taxes make people a slave of the state. Once the state takes over the role of "father," real fathers disappear and families are destroyed. Lapin reminded his predominantly Christian audience that in the Prophets of the Jewish Bible, the prophet Samuel, through God, warned the Jews of the pitfalls of having a king, but the Jewish people wanted one, nonetheless. Among the pitfalls was that the king might tax as much as 10 percent of the grain and vintage, and 10 percent of livestock. Lapin asserts that many Americans are paying up to 50 percent of their income to the government, which in essence creates a form of slavery. Individuals are forced to work up to six months each year for the state. (Although concerned about financial slavery, Lapin does not consider forcing a woman to bear an unwanted child to be a form of involuntary servitude.)
Lapin is in step with the Religious Right's agenda to "save America." "We are the best hope, perhaps the only hope," he said. "I believe with all my heart that our army is on the road to victory. The battle is the Lord's!"
By joining forces with the Christian Coalition, the Jewish Right has provided the Christian Coalition with an excellent propaganda tool -- the illusion that the Coalition is indeed "casting a wider net."