A Public Condemnation of Jews for Jesus

“That Jew Died For You” screenshot.

The always-offensive evangelistic group, Jews for Jesus, released the above video just in time for Easter last week. It is, quite honestly, one of the most blatantly offensive and disgusting pieces of Christian propaganda that I’ve ever seen. In fact, I’m not going to link to it, because I don’t want you to watch it, and I don’t want them to receive any more permanent inbound links.

The video is called “That Jew Died for You.” It’s a cheaply produced piece of crap, in which “Jews” are pushed around by Nazi soldiers and sorted between the work camp and the showers. The, the only colorized character comes to the front of the line. It’s Jesus! And he is sent to the gas chambers. After that, the Suffering Servant text rolls across the screen and some images of Marc Chagall paintings of the crucifixion are shown. Get it? Since Chagall was a brilliant Jewish painter who used a Christian image in his work, Christians can take the Holocaust and use it for evangelism!

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Five Reasons You Probably Shouldn’t Attend a Christian Seder

The Seder plate at Rabbi Joseph Edelheit’s home, including oranges, olives, and tomatoes.

It’s Passover until this evening, and lots of Christians — especially evangelicals — are attending Passover Seder dinners. But they’re not traditional Seder dinners, with Jews. No, they’re a co-opted rite, sometimes hosted by a “messianic” Jew, and sometimes just by Christians who’ve read a Wikipedia entry.

I’ve been to a Seder for the past couple years. My family and I have been hosted by Rabbi Joseph Edelheit, a sometime contributor to this blog, and a dear friend. In his role as director of the religious studies program at St. Cloud State University, Joseph has hosted Seder dinners for Christian students — at the Lutheran campus ministry for instance — but the difference is that he’s really Jewish. He’s a rabbi. He’s not playacting. This is really his thing.

Many Christians, particularly evangelicals, are drawn to primitive Christianity. They want to follow Jesus like those first Christians did, before Constantine and Charlemagne mucked everything up with Christendom. I personally think that’s a noble goal, and I’m not totally averse to it. However, having a Seder meal at your church or Christian college is not the way to do here. Here’s why:

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Let’s Talk about What Happened Yesterday at World Vision [UPDATED]

I’m not going to recount the facts. Others have done that. I’m going to tell you what I know from unnamed sources inside the World Vision headquarters and I’m going to opinionate about what this means for the state of Christianity in America, especially in regards to GLBT issues.

According to my sources, many staffers at WV headquarters in Seattle are very upset. This is a change that had been talked about and planned by the executive team for several years and was being rolled out department-by-department. It was a minor human resources change establishing non-discriminatory hiring policies in accordance with Washington State law (marriage equality became law in Washington on February 13, 2012 and was approved by voter referendum on November 6, 2012).

Someone on the WV staff leaked this change to Christianity Today magazine, CT informed WV that they were going to run a story with or without WV cooperation, and WV president gave CT an exclusive interview to explain the change.

My thought: Granting an exclusive to CT may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was like throwing red meat to hungry lions. A better PR strategy would have been to go to the mainstream media — probably the New York Times — rather than trying to explain this policy change to evangelical insiders. The fact is, the vast majority of people who have a sponsor child on their refrigerator door are not reading CT, nor are they particularly concerned about whether gays work at WV headquarters in Seattle.

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This Is an Important Moment for Progressive Christians

In the struggle for who gets to define the gospel in 21st century America — which I happen to think is a good struggle to have — this weekend looks to be important. As happens every year as Easter approached, mainstream media is tuning in to religion in general, and Christianity in particular. And some cultural items have come to the front of the American consciousness.

I won’t call this a “battle,” because it’s not that. It’s a conversation, taking place in the public square, about what kind of vision we have for the gospel. And, believe it or not, it involves more than just gay marriage.

1) Who Will Sponsor World Vision Children?

Tweets today are reporting that World Vision has lost 2,000 sponsors of children since announcing on Monday that they would no longer discriminate against married gay persons in their U.S. hiring policies. Progressive voices like Kristen Howerton are campaigning for others to fill the gap and pick up those children. Having been to Sri Lanka on a WV trip, I can attend to their great work. I sponsor Afra, and I encourage you to sponsor a child:

 

2) Who Will See Noah?

This morning, I’m going to a press screening of Darren Aronofsky’s movie, Noah. Conservatives have already turned on this movie — some, like Rick Warren, tweeting that he wouldn’t see the movie (then deleting that tweet) — and a wholesale ban on the movie in the Muslim Middle East for breaking the Koranic prohibition on depicting a prophet.

The major objections among conservative evangelicals seem to be that Noah adds to the biblical account (um, just like every biblical epic movie ever), and that Noah uses a biblical story to make commentary on contemporary issues like the environment, climate change, and overpopulation (um, just like every sermon ever).

Book publishers have long wondered if there is a strong enough market among progressive Christians to sell books at the numbers that conservative authors sell. This weekend, movie studio executives are going to be asking the very same question.

3) How Much Freedom Do Women Have Over Their Bodies?

That’s one way to frame the question of whether the federal government can force Hobby Lobby and other corporations to pay for their employees’ access to all forms of contraception. The other way to ask it is, Can corporations have religious freedom?

How a corporation can claim personhood and the rights ensured thereto is still an open question in our society, and one that confounds many of us. “Corporations are people, my friend.” This may seem a distant concern to religious folks, until a corporation says it has religious beliefs.

 

Surely more issues will bubble up in coming days. To whom the New York Times and your local newspapers turn for quotes and analysis will be interesting. Pay attention to that. And also, let your voice be heard on these issues — in a letter to the editor, on your blog, on Facebook and Twitter, and on the sideline of your kids’ soccer game.


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