Christians: Jews hate you

“Salvation Is No Solution to America’s Social Problems – Forward.com”

The Supreme Court was set to hear opening arguments this past
Wednesday in a case brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The suit charges that conferences held in the White House to promote
President Bush’s faith-based initiative were, in fact, Christian
revival meetings.

I
can attest to the fact. I have worked closely with some of the
Christian leaders targeted by the architects of Bush’s faith-based
initiative, and I am convinced that this president still believes that
atheists, Jews and Ted Haggard notwithstanding, America is still one
nation under Jesus
.

The faith based-initiative
was Bush’s first unsuccessful war. Battling the ravages of poverty in
Christ-centered ways, his plan was to redistribute savings from cuts in
existing programs to evangelical Christian churches and heal people one
soul at a time.

The plan, however, posed a
quandary for administration officials. Because Jews and some other
denominations do not address poverty by saving souls, it was hard to
find a way to include these groups — if for no reason other than to
provide cover for the faith-based initiative’s real agenda.

That
agenda was brought into sharp focus by the administration’s reaction to
two high-profile events: the medical condition of one comatose woman,
and the damage caused by a category-five hurricane. It took five days
for Bush to visit New Orleans, where thousands of poor Americans were
trapped without food, water or adequate sanitation. By contrast, it
took him less than 24 hours’ time to return to Washington to sign
legislation blocking the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube.

Bush’s
well-crafted measures were intended to dismantle the welfare state in
the name of eradicating poverty. Attempts to buy new friends within the
African American and Jewish communities convinced some in those
communities that this policy was sound. The American Jewish community’s
most prominent representative, Senator Joseph Lieberman, was among
those lulled by the administration’s tactics, which included a 2003
allocation to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.

The
problem with these faith-based allocations was not just that those
making them knew next to nothing about the network of local
social-service systems around the country. The real problem was that
they just did not care.

. . .

I speak from experience. I
am a Jew in the Bible Belt, where the Southern Baptist Convention
officially proclaims Jews as targets for conversion, and where the
local paper used to advertise the “Christian Yellow Pages.” My
religion, though, didn’t much matter to the Rev. Odell Cleveland of
Mount Zion Baptist Church here in Greensboro, N.C.

He
asked me to lend a hand at Mount Zion because I possessed a skill set
that could help turn his increasingly overwhelmed emergency-assistance
ministry into a thriving work force-development agency. So lend a hand
I did — and in the process I got a perspective on Bush’s faith-based
initiative far different from the one being peddled to the general
public.

Cleveland showed me how the president
was courting African American clergy members
. In 2002, David Barton,
founder of the evangelical Christian organization WallBuilders, sent
Cleveland an invitation to a “Pastor’s Briefing” at the White House and
on Capitol Hill. The agenda included a “Spiritual Heritage Tour,” as
well as meetings with such right-wing Christian politicians as Rep. Tom
DeLay and Senator Sam Brownback. In the closing sentence of the
invitation, Barton neatly captured the spirit of the faith-based
initiative: “In prayer that our Government will once again be upon His
Shoulders, and that we will again become one nation under God.”

Cleveland
balks at the idea that salvation is the solution to social problems.
“Black people,” he said, “have plenty of religion. They need skills!”
His view, however, is not shared by everyone in the faith-based
community.

The Rev. John Castellani is the
former head of Teen Challenge, a Christ-centered drug rehabilitation
program that has more than 100 outposts across the country and touts
the “Jesus Factor” as the key to its success. “When a person finds a
relationship with God,” Teen Challenge teaches, “everything changes.”

God,
to hear Castellani tell it, is a one-size-fits-all deity. During a 2001
House government reform committee hearing exploring the effectiveness
of faith-based programs, Republican Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana asked
whether Teen Challenge accepts non-Christian clients. Castellani
replied that some of the Jews who finish the program become “completed
Jews.” The term “completed Jews,” for those unfamiliar with it, was
coined by the right-wing evangelical community to describe Jews who
convert to Christianity.

. . .

“Salvation Is No Solution to America’s Social Problems – Forward.com”

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One Comment on “Christians: Jews hate you”

  1. Karly Says:

    For more information about Teen Challenge, read “Investigating Teen Challenge” at http://teenchallengecult.blogspot.com/


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