The Problem With Judaism: All The Good Jews Live In Israel

I recall my mother-in-law, a refined Mississippi lady, announced with some surprise that a Jewish family had moved onto their cul-de-sac. Like many evangelicals, I doubt she had ever known a single Jew before. To meet a real live Israeli is an even rarer occurrence within this religiously-sheltered movement. To know one, they say, is to love them. But Jews don’t go to a megachurch, so evangelicals don’t know any. Except on television. But they claim to love the Jewish people – or at least, love Israel.

It’s cool to be a Jew — if you’re also an evangelical Christian, writes Sam Kestenbaum. Messianic Jews are a popular item on Christian television these days, keeping a semblance of halacha, while their audiences of elderly goyim blow shofars like party favors. Some “rabbis” are ekhte yidn that now claim Jesus Christ as Mashiach; they make millions off their new tribe of philo-Semitic goyim. “We’re in the Middle East because of Israel,” Trump said – a calculation in large part aimed at Christian Zionists “reached by televangelists and megachurch pastors preaching the End Times” – and who outnumber Jewish Zionists. His cabinet has been overflowing with evangelicals who are also staunch Christian Zionists, including Mike (“my-Christian-faith-compels-me-to-cherish-the-state-of-Israel”) Pence, Mike Pompeo, Nikki (“The-days-of-Israel-bashing-are-over”) Haley, and Rick “I’m-more-Jewish-than-you-think-I-am” Perry.

All these professions of undying love derive from biblical eschatology and the pivotal role of Israel they read into in the end times. The most popular apocalyptic stream in American evangelicalism today is premillennial dispensationalism, a cultic form of salvation history (Heilsgeschichte) “rediscovered” a century-and-a-half ago. Going through all its twists and turns is more tedious than Wagner’s Ring Cycle. For those interested, you could go to Dallas Theological Seminary and sit through three insufferable years of it. Suffice it to say, God made two covenants with Abraham: to give Israel as an everlasting possession, and to bless all peoples on earth through him. God’s primary concern is keeping his word through their ultimate fulfillment in the triumphant return of Christ. This present Gentile-ruled age will conclude in increasingly severe judgments, and world catastrophes. Before it gets to Israel-hating countries tossing atomic bombs like water balloons, true Christians will be surreptiously “raptured” to Heaven. Left-behinders – made famous through Christian pulp fiction dreck – endure a Superpower Death Match in which three invading armies ravage Israel, and leave a third of mankind dead. It foresees the conversion of global Jewry, which will inaugurate the Second Coming.

What irritates evangelicals is that Jews don’t seem in as quite a hurry to see the world get incinerated as they are. “Jews Welcome Evangelical Love, Money and Influence for Israel. But Call Our Christianity ‘Poison’”, Michael Brown, a converted Jew, writes. I suppose it’s a normal reaction from anybody that feels used as a pawn, not loved as a person. Or share their joy in a divinely-ordained destiny that edges the world towards conflagration. There’s a bit of “just wait and see; I told you so” conceit when the preacher’s offer of salvation is rejected. How can the Jews frustrate [our interpretation of] God’s will?,” Brown asks. “I suspect that, consciously or not, end-times believers crave apocalypse”, writes Dina Nayeri. “They want a leader who will return them to the past, or barring that, hurry it along to its end.”

“All they are interested in is their interpretation of Biblical prophecies.” A millenarian cult and the trust of influential U.S. officials in politicized prophecy results in foreign policy towards Israel being de-Judaizasied. Even today, Christian broadcast networks have 24/7 cameras at the Mount of Olives trained to bring live feed when Jesus touches down. To the dispensationalist mind, hastening the apocalypse (immanentizing the eschaton) is good for Christians, regardless how bad it gets for everyone else. “Many of them relish the second coming because for them it means eternal life in heaven,” a professor of religious studies said. “There is a palpable danger that people in high position who subscribe to these beliefs will be readier to take us into a conflict that brings on Armageddon.” Like he was casually planning another golf round, President Trump threw out the idea of a bombing campaign against Iran. He was warned down by advisors that a major conflict would erupt with unpredictable consequences. Sort of a last-minute foreign policy option to thank incoming President Biden for a rigged election by gifting him a toxic and even deadly diplomatic crisis.

Being pro-Israel does not translate into being pro-Jewish, however. Despite professions of undying love for Israel, anti-Semitic beliefs seem to be growing among evangelicals. It’s never been far below the thin veneer of Christian refinement. “A lot of the Jews are great friends of mine,” Billy Graham commented to Richard Nixon during a 1972 White House meeting. “They swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country.” Good Jews live in Israel. But not here. American Jews are overwhelmingly devoted to the Democratic Party and espouse liberal ideals. According to Trump, Jews who vote Democratic show ‘great disloyalty’. He tells them, he loves “their” country – but apparently they do not love “ours”. And “some very fine people” were neo-Nazis at Charlottesville.

Overt anti-Semitism is growing among evangelicals – a movement which sometimes overlaps with the far-right. One major influence is Q-Anon, which with demonic baby-eaters and a global Satan-worshipping conspiracy run by Jewish billionaires is a revision of that odious book of libels, The  Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A Christian broadcaster claimed George Soros was paying $50 an hour to go protest and riot. (He heard it authoritatively from a friend who heard it from another friend.) Ginni Thomas, evangelical wife of a Supreme Court justice, spins the conspiracy theory that George Soros is the evil mastermind behind the Democratic Party.

That’s the way the Jews work,” says nutball end-times evangelist Rick Wiles. “They are deceivers, they plot, they lie, they do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda.” Wiles received White House press credentials. Not once, but again even having called Trump’s impeachment a “Jew coup”.  The chief banker funding the satanic sedition against President Trump is George Soros, he maintains. Once relegated to the lunatic fringe, fascist crackpots are now the most influential evangelical voices. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example: U.S. Representative-elect and committed Christian. Also a Q-Anon believer who wrote that Zionist supremacists were flooding Europe with migrants to wipe out the white population – the so-called “Great Replacement Conspiracy”.

“‘Respectable’ conservative evangelicalism has always been a fig leaf,” writes David French. The darker of its impulses are rising to the top. Trump – along with his motley crew of religious courtesans – will leave the White House soon, but the odor will linger like a twenty-dollar hooker’s. Christian anti-Semitism is only getting started. To my Jewish friends, be wary and remember Elie Wiesel’s words:

I’ve got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He’s the only one who’s kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.[1]


[1] Wiesel, Elie, Night (New York: Hill and Wang) 2006, 81.

Oh, the Wicked Web We Weave…..

Bits and Pieces I’ve Been Thinking About:

Get Your Stories Straight:

When you try to manage a tangle of lies like a fraudulent election victory, sometimes your mouth gets ahead of your brain, and you forget which part of the truth you are trying to conceal.  Anyone who’s gotten their car repaired knows that the parts equal more than the whole. So it is with keeping track of all the little lies that keep the Big Lie going:

Donald Trump on November 15th: “He won because the Election was Rigged.” Donald Trump, about an hour later, trying to eradicate the morsel of truth he accidently said: “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING!”

Headline-seeking preacher Robert Jeffress, writing for Fox News on November 7th: “If President Biden succeeds, we all succeed.” Later that week, perhaps Jeffress heard the murmurings of his congregation, and put his money where his mouth is mouth where his money is. He must have realized how lonely it can get out ahead of his Dear Leader, and he backpedaled mightily:  “We do NOT have a ‘president-elect’ until electoral college votes December 14.”

The Bible is consistent on truth-telling; lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. I’m reminded of when God was paying attention to Sarah’s snicker and denial: “No! You did laugh.” If you want to be a credible voice, you can’t disavow yourself by pulling a Yogi Berra-ism: “I didn’t say everything I said.” Just like you can’t take your words back, integrity and reputation can’t exist amidst dishonesty and deceit.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do:

“Some believe such a tariff would place a practical limitation on religious freedom.” The CEO of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association was protesting that proposed tariffs on China would effectively amount to a Bible tax on Christians and religious organizations. Large Christian publishing firms outsource printing of Bibles and other Christian titles to Chinese factories providing cheap socialist – perhaps even slave – labor. Some estimate over half of our Bibles are printed in China. Bibles that Christians in China are not allowed to possess. The Southern Baptists, for example, publicly attacked China for its human rights abuses, while its publishing arm has a deep relationship with China.What does that say about their Christian business principles?” What does it say about us? As believers living in the Land of the Free, flush with Shiny New Things – and Bibles – from China, we need to ask whether we raise concern for human rights only when it is convenient and good for the bottom line.

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart:

Boy, did we screw up!” After decades of deep-pockets funding of right-wing causes, Charles Koch has made his peace with the culture wars. He promises working towards “a better way forward” and “break down the barriers holding people back.” Seems like a Scrooge-like transformation is underway.

My spiritual pain is unbearable. I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle took away people’s lives, then can it be that I… am guilty for people’s deaths, even if they were enemies?” In his twilight years, Mikhail Kalashnikov expressed regret for designing the AK-47. At age 91, he was baptized and thereafter called himself “a slave of God.”  Now a believer, he died repenting of the global killing machine he had created.

You Broke It, You Own It

November 3, 2020. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Tomorrow is the beginning of the end of a national travesty. It’s a fresh morning for the least of these: the poor, the immigrants, those afflicted by the epidemic, climate change, racial or gender injustice, to name a few.

Trump’s insistence on a round-the-clock spotlight on himself has seen to it that the election is a referendum on himself. We have not voted on America so much as on a needy Donald Trump. It’s also a referendum on an evangelical Christianity that anointed him King of America. Evangelical media outlets have been puffing a Trump landslide and dissing Biden as demonic, ramping up a spiritual offense against the forces of evil seeking to win the election. If you followed Charisma News – not that you would ever want to – you would see the firehose of prophecy pouring forth, announcing Donald Trump’s anointed victory lap:

  • Hank Kunneman Prophesies Donald Trump Will Win 2020 Presidential Election
  • Trump Win Will Be Third of My Recent Prophecies to Be Fulfilled, Prophet Jeremiah Johnson Says
  • Sid Roth Predicts Trump Will Be a ‘2-Term President’
  • R. Loren Sandford Prophesies Trump Will Be Re-elected by a Wider Margin Than Expected
  • Prophetic Word: Trump Will Fulfill the Lord’s Will for US, Israel
  • Spirit-Filled Pastor Prophesies, ‘We’re Headed for the November Surprise’

They’ve made a huge investment in Donald J. Trump, except their trades are made in spiritual currency. Trump loses the election; they lose their moral credibility. They may not be on the ballot, but they likewise own the result. Perhaps that is why so many Media Christians embrace Trump. He’s come out of as many bankruptcies as they have. “I blow the wind of God on you.” Kenneth Copeland, another Luftballoon, last April executed judgment and declared COVID-19 destroyed. This is November, and here in the real world, Dr. Deborah Birx warns the pandemic is entering its most deadly phase.

Many evangelicals laugh these pronouncements off as performance art; the stock-in-trade of religious hucksters. Many others are nevertheless enticed by prophecies that are “a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.”[i] When I hear these false prophets come up short on their prophecies, I marvel that they are never held accountable. I always wonder, did God fail you, or did you fail God?  That question isn’t even an afterthought with this crowd.

Losing is never easy. Not for me, it’s not,” says Trump. Neither is it for failed prophets, who never admit they’re wrong. Like a TV serial, each episode ends in a dangling cliffhanger which resolves itself in the next episode, and so on. One might assume there is some benign complicity on God’s part; he’s like the Divine parent who lovingly watches his kid get an occasional hit, but usually strikes out. There’s always the next game, Son.

I, for one would feel I made a total ass out of myself for fabricating words in God’s mouth, let alone a legacy littered with failed divinations. And then there’s the Bible, which condemns one speaking presumptuously in the name of God to death.[ii] That would seem to be quite a negative incentive. On holidays, whenever we went into a gift shop, I always hovered over the kids in fear they’d touch something we would be forced to buy. And just like Trump, these false prophets never pay for the things they break. They won’t own this one either.


[i] Jeremiah 14:14

[ii] Deuteronomy 18:20

The Fourth Seal

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. Rev. 6:8

Over President Trump’s term, Christianity had enjoyed “three of the greatest years since maybe Jesus walked the Earth”. We are still one week away from November 3rd, 2020, and there are strong indications the Chosen One of God will be unchosen by the voters of the United States. This, even though Archangel Michael, the captain of the army of the Lord of Hosts, has been assigned to “lead a team of fellow archangels to descend from heaven to achieve the victory.” They’ll  come in pretty handy, because according to the D.C. Police Chief, “(i)t is widely believed that there will be civil unrest after the November election regardless of who wins”. 

In the “supernatural realm”, nothing will change in Trump aftermath, because the Evangelical Industrial Complex has too many sunk costs waging the holy culture war between Good and Evil. Evangelical leaders depended on Trump – but not really. A perfectly wealthy Paula White told him she didn’t need his money. Like her, many megastar Christians have become millionaires through feeding their ardent followers with religio-political codswallop. “Winning” is relative where Trump is on the ballot, not them. They have their weaponized media to combat the enemy’s nefarious tactics, constantly reminding their vote-rich audiences that Satan will be fighting like never before in the days ahead. “There is also widespread belief that violence and anarchy are being organized and funded by powerful forces that are maneuvering America toward a socialist dictatorship”, writes James Dobson. President Biden is going to “hurt the Bible, hurt God … He’s against God”, according to Trump. We need to pray against those who refuse to accept Christ, according to one activist; “we pray God to take his enemies and rid us of them and destroy them.”

Juxtaposed against this is the apocalyptic evangelical persecution complex. Evangelicals have always functioned more effectively as a righteous opposition. And a volatile one, nourished on victimization. Franklin Graham warns that militant leftists are coming for you and your guns.  “I believe we’re going to see persecution in this country,” he warns. We have our backs to the wall and the spiritual battle is ongoing, no matter the election results. In addition to the usual litany of end times fear-mongering, a number of evangelical leaders juiced up on the Democratic demonic death cult predicted – or even encouraged – armed rebellion. “If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I’m afraid it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal,” Robert Jeffress warned during the impeachment proceedings – and Trump re-tweeted it. James Dobson intimates that violence and anarchy fomented by Soros-funded socialists may cause “another civil war”. Were Trump to be impeached, Jim Bakker warned in 2019, Christians would finally come out of their shadows and begin a second civil war. Trump’s vindication in the Senate was a further indication of God’s hand on the President. Undeterred, in their Plot to Steal 2020, the forces of Satan will try anything to win through treachery – deceitful tampering with ballots, fraudulent ballots from dead people, cyber-subterfuge, intimidation – and 1000’s of spell-casting witches.

Trump has never met a white supremacist – “very fine people” – he didn’t like. In a shout-out which many interpreted as tantamount to encouraging violence, he told a gun-toting, far-right group to “stand back and stand by”. “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if this election is rigged,” Trump declared, stoking fears he will refuse to accept the results. He cheerleads the chants of “Lock Them All Up”. But he was “having only fun” at a Trump rally – after thirteen people had been charged with domestic terrorism in a plot to lynch Michigan’s Democratic governor. White evangelicals attend his super-spreader rallies in droves, and share many of the ideological principles as their white supremacist confrères. They swim in the same ocean of disinformation, conspiracy theories and lies. Evangelicals love this “meanest, toughest, son-of-a-you-know-what” and his violence-exploiting rhetoric. Grievance-nursing evangelicals may not actively sanction armed rebellion, but they have a shared destiny where whites will come out on top. Their End Times narrative keeps them locked into it. Like Saul, they would watch over the cloaks laid at their feet. Rick Wiles threatened Trump’s loss would force him to stockpile to defend his home and church. “We’re in time for war,” Rick Joyner said, adding a vision in which he saw godly militias popping up like mushrooms.  “At the end of the day, the least you’ve got right now is in the low tens of millions of people who’ve actively prepared to murder their countrymen and in many were looking forward to it.”

There will never be a peaceful transition of power under Donald J. Trump,” warned Michael Cohen. Get ready; the knives are out. Whoever did this to Donald Trump is not gonna get away with it.

The Greatest Years Since Jesus

Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

According to Fox & Friends, the Trump administration has beenthree of the greatest years since maybe Jesus walked the Earth with his ministry”

Here’s what people are saying about his Christ-likeness:

I think I am a great moral leader.” – Donald Trump

Voting for Trump is voting Christian values: “For a Christian, it’s who they are as a person, what they believe, and how they act (in other words, their fruit) that’s important.” – Ken Ham

I found a very caring man. I found a man who had more integrity than most people that I had encountered. A compassionate man.” – Paula White-Cain

Trump is a soft-spoken, kind man. “He watches Christian television: Kenneth Copeland, Jim Bakker, Paula White-Cain and others.” – Kenneth Copeland

I believe he has moral character and that he is a man of God.” – a New Jersey evangelical

Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment.” – Jerry Falwell, Jr.

Trump has “a heart of compassion and love”. – Sid Roth

In all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetime.” – Michelle Bachmann

“President Trump and Vice President Pence are the most Christian acting political leaders of our lifetime. However, Biden and Harris are the most Satanic candidates in USA history.” – American Christian Voting Guide

 

More Coronavirus Ironies

Let’s Not Meet The Lord In The Air:   Televangelist Kenneth Copeland casts the threat of Coronavirus into his own brand of spirituality. “You get your tithe in that church if you have to go take it down there and drop it off or stick it under the door or something”.[i] He runs a high-overhead business funded by ordinary people sacrificing their paychecks. If his marks are broke, he’ll be broke too. Never mind you’re unemployed; you need to keep giving him the Lord’s money even if you may not see another paycheck for a long time. Maybe a better money-raising idea for him would be to put his fleet of private jets on the block. This is Coronavirus lock-down time; no one’s flying anywhere. As he once protested against his flying commercial – “This dope-filled world, and get in a long tube with a bunch of demons. And it’s deadly.”[ii]

Guess the Country Quiz: “________ have been put at risk by the callous policies of _____________ that values retaining power, protecting its image, and safeguarding its own economic, political, and ideological interests over public health.”[iii] If you guessed this was some rational person talking about Trump, you’d be wrong.

Pooping out Christian lawyers into an oversaturated market satisfies the Fundamentalist itch to save America. Liberty is the go-to pipeline to fill out the Trump administration; they have that working for them. Perhaps its best that the University preferred a law school over a medical college. Given the prevalence of anti-vaxxers, even if a vaccine were found, these tribalists probably wouldn’t support it. Being anti-science is a quaint religious belief, until it starts killing other people.

See how they love one another!  It’s been widely reported that Jerry Falwell Jr. is not shutting down in-class studies at his Liberty University, implying that the coronavirus outbreak only affects the elderly and infirm. “I think he is dangerously wrong here and seems unable or unwilling to recognize it,” an LU professor had the temerity to write.[iv] Brother Falwell is right one respect – mortality from the virus is more prevalent among vulnerable populations. And yet, any one can be an asymptomatic carrier – and we have no idea how many people have the virus but have not been tested. We’ve always been told that brotherly love is infectious. We’ll see how Typhoid Mary plays out in the Liberty dorms.

“You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.” Committed evangelical and Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick was speaking on behalf of all AARP-age people.  He said he and other American seniors would be willing to die from the coronavirus in order to save the economy. Patrick was mimicking Trump, who was mimicking Fox News. “My message is: Let’s get back to work,” he said. “Those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country.”[v] Moral Triage: If the price is a few dead old people, so be it. Like the Nazis thought, they are simply “useless eaters” anyway.

David Brody now on Enemies List? As political reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network, David Brody has had carte blanche access to the President. Maybe not so much anymore, after two negative tweets accused the President of providing “… false information about testing…multiple times! Invoking hyperbole in certain situations may be permissible but false statements about the #Coronavirus is sloppy & dangerous.”[vi] Does this signal an evangelical divorce from President Trump? No, but Trump will etch this disloyalty into his very stable genius. He never forgets a slight, and forgiveness is not in his moral vocabulary.

What do you say to these beans? They’re magical. Plant them overnight and …”, Jack protested to his mother. Never mind that Jim Bakker can’t sell his miracle silver Kool-Aid any more. Now he’s peddling “some of the most common and powerful medicinal herbs that can be readily grown from seed”. You can buy a bucket’s worth of this medicine exclusively from him for $99. Or you can get a similar one on Amazon for $20. You have to hand it to Brother Bakker. He may be greedy, but at least he’s resourceful.[vii] 


[i] Michael Stone, “Televangelist Copeland Commands Unemployed Followers To Keep Giving”, Patheos, March 19, 2020. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2020/03/televangelist-copeland-commands-unemployed-followers-to-keep-giving/  (accessed March 23, 2020).

[ii] Jessica Chasmar, “Televangelists Defend Private Jets: Commercial Planes Full Of ‘Demons’”, The Washington Times, January 5, 2016. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jan/5/kenneth-copeland-jesse-duplantis-defend-private-je/  (accessed March 24, 2020).

[iii] James Phillips and Nicole Robinson, “Iranian Regime’s Reckless Disregard Made the Coronavirus Outbreak Worse, Daily Signal, March 20, 2020. https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/03/20/iranian-regimes-reckless-disregard-made-the-coronavirus-outbreak-worse/ (accessed March 24, 2020).

[iv] Marybeth Davis Baggett, “Dear Liberty University Board: Please Stop Jerry Falwell Jr. Before It’s Too Late”, Religion News Service, March 22, 2020. https://religionnews.com/2020/03/22/dear-liberty-university-board-please-stop-jerry-falwell-jr-before-its-too-late/  (accessed March 24, 2020).

[v] Jonathan Tilove, “Dan Patrick’s Coronavirus Sacrifice: I’ll Risk My Own Life To Keep Economy Humming”, Austin Statesman, March 24, 2020. https://www.statesman.com/news/20200324/first-reading-dan-patrickrsquos-coronavirus-sacrifice-irsquoll-risk-my-own-life-to-keep-economy-humming  (accessed March 24, 2020).

[vi] Sky Palma, “‘A Major Failure’: Evangelical Pundit Turns On Trump For ‘Confusing People‘ With His Coronavirus Lies”, Raw Story, March 12, 2020. https://www.rawstory.com/2020/03/a-major-failure-evangelical-pundit-turns-on-trump-for-confusing-people-with-his-coronavirus-lies/   (accessed March 24, 2020).

[vii] Hemant Mehta, “Jim Bakker, Unable to Sell Virus ‘Cure, Promotes ‘Make Your Own Medicine’ Plant”, Patheos, March 20, 2020. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rolltodisbelieve/2020/03/20/jim-bakkers-at-it-again-chat-post-2/  (accessed March 24, 2020).