From: Tom Pardue 13 Jul 94 17:38
To : all
Subj: the truth comes out
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* Date: 11 Jul 94 10:00:11
* From: Tom Pardue @ 1:260/338.4
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Here is an intersting column from the paper Sunday. It was
written by syndicated columnist Frank Rich.
When Arlen Specter, the moderate Republican senator from
Pennsylvania, spoke out against the radical religious right at
his party's Iowa convention last month, he was booed. His words
were far from incendiary. He was merely defending "the basic
American principle of separation of church and state." The
speech was heartfelt, telling of his penniless immigrant
father's escape from Russia to America in 1911. The senator
seemed to be speaking not just as a politician but as a Jew.
Is it coincidence that Specter, the only Jewish Republican
senator, is one of the few GOP leaders who have dared criticize
the Christian right? Hardly. If you are an American Jew, you
have every reason to worry about a political movement whose
most powerful leader, Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition,
calls the constitutional separation of church and state "a lie
of the left" and vows to dismantle it. I, for one, still
remember how it felt to be a Jew involuntarily praying to Jesus
in a public elementary school before the Supreme Court outlawed
school prayer in 1962.
The extremists of the Christian right want to turn back the
clock on school prayer, as they do on abortion and other
issues. Their Republican defenders argue that those who
challenge their views are leftists and Christian-bashers. But
Specter is no pinko bigot. And there's nothing far-out about
the Anti- Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the research
organization whose book-length study "The Religious Right" has
become a political football in the weeks since its publication.
As Iowa Republicans booed Specter, so the far right,
starting with the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, and
Patrick Buchanan, have worked overtime to discredit the ADL and
its report. What do they fear? Not the religious right's
familiar hostility to pro-choice women and homosexuals but the
relatively secondary sections that deal with the religious
right and Jews. The radical right knows that Jews can be
formidable political adversaries and so wants to distract them
from the ADL report by trivializing it as an anti-Christian
broadside obsessed with anti-Semitism.
But the study is not anti-Christian. At the outset, its
author points out that most evangelicals and fundamentalists
"are not affiliated with religious right groups" and often
share the same moral concerns as Jews.
Nor is the ADL report preoccupied with anti-Semitism. Though
it cites a few ugly incients, it more strenuously notes that
leaders like Pat Robertson are staunchly pro-Israel.
But Robertson is pro-Israel for a theological reason that
does Jews little good: His prophecy of a Second Coming turns on
a gathering of Jews in their biblical homeland. And his
movement's relentless drive for a theocracy, if not
anti-Semitic, does Jews no favors, either. The Christian
America he envisions will enforce its narrow views on everyone
through the schools and courts.
Critics of the ADL report attack its footnotes rather than
its main thesis, hoping that Jews won't read the actual
document, which presents the Christian right as a more subtle
threat than the rabid, headline-grabbing anti-Semitism of Louis
Farrakhan. But Jews have been through too much in their history
not to look at the fine print. They can see that the only Jews
who are supporting the religious right are those whose
conservative Republican causes and candidates come first.
Specter is not putting his party first. His brave speech,
barely reported but still resonating, may mark the beginning of
the end of the religious right' s honeymoon with mainstream