There’s been a lot of uproar over the last week or so over former President George W. Bush headlining a fundraising dinner for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group whose entire goal is to convert Jews to Christianity. He’s taking a lot of heat from Jewish leaders over it, including from one of his own former advisers.
Of course Tevi Troy has heard the hubbub.
He knows full well that his onetime boss, former President George W. Bush, plans to speak Thursday at a Dallas fundraiser for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute – a group dedicated to converting Jews to Christianity.
“I have yet to meet a Jewish person who hasn’t heard about this,” says Troy, who served as a Bush administration liaison to the Jewish community and was a former deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The topic of conversion can prompt a visceral reaction for Jews whose darker times have been marred by persecution, expulsion and forced conversions. Millions have died for and because of their faith.
“There’s good historical reason for the Jewish discomfort,” Troy says.
But honestly, I don’t see why this is such a big deal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to convert Jews to Christianity. I know that Jews, unlike Christians, rarely attempt to convert others to their beliefs, but that doesn’t mean doing so is wrong in and of itself (those beliefs can be wrong, of course). Trying to convert someone just means trying to convince them that they’re wrong and you’re right. Don’t we all do that every day on lots and lots of subjects? And there’s nothing wrong with it. As long as it isn’t coercive, why is it suddenly wrong in this one instance to make an argument to someone to convince them that you’re right?