|My Love Affair With Evangelical Christians
by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, WorldNetDaily, November 2, 2004
|Nearly the whole world is arrayed against President George W. Bush. The long list includes Europe, The United Nations, the Arab
countries, the world's media, Hollywood, the universities, and half the United States. The question becomes: How can this man
possibly survive as president?
The answer to this question lies in the biggest American development since women's suffrage, namely, the rise of the Christian
right. The United States has 70 million born-again Christians, comprising the single largest voting block in the country. They are
guided by faith and they vote with their values. They are the moral force behind America's resurgent spirituality. And they
constitute the constituency that keeps George Bush in power, even as the entire world gangs up to defeat him.
The impact the American evangelical voting block has had on world affairs is incalculable and explains why there has been a revolution in the way the world does business. The staunch support of evangelical Christians has enabled George W. Bush to
pursue a foreign policy based not on expediencey or realpolitik, but on a deep-seated morality wherein tyrants are punished and
the oppressed liberated. These policies would have been unthinkable without the steadfast support of Bush's die-hard constitu-ency of evangelical Christians who comprise one quarter of the American electorate.
I have long recognized and commented on this remarkable fact, that a great moral leader is kept in power principally by a great
moral constituency. On the eve of the election, therefore, it is time that I put in writing what I have long felt in my heart.
I am a Jew who is deeply in love with evangelical Christians. Although I am at odds with them on various issues, they today constitute the most potent force for good in all America, and the most influential constituency who consistently demands that
America be a nation of justice, standing up for the persecuted and living up to its founding ideals of serving as a global beacon of
To be sure, I am devoted to my Judaism. Wild horses and iron combs could never pry me away from my Jewish identity and I
have devoted my life to the dissemination of the Jewish ideas in the mainstream culture and to bringing wayward Jews back to
their heritage. But I must give credit where credid is due. And evangelical Christians, more than any other group today, are
responsible for America being a G-dly country.
Whenever I am in the company of evangelical Christians, I feel completely at home, among true brothers and sisters of faith. More
so, I feel inspired, like I am in the company of an authentic G-dly host. Evangelical Christians are at the forefront of asserting that religious conviction demands moral action. You cannot call yourself religious unless you act with justice. Period. So many religious people around the world have utterly embarrassed themselves over the past few years by condemning the United States for the war in Iraq, a war that removed the world's foremost mass murderer from power. But the evangelicals have been stalwart
in defending the Iraq war as a conflict in which America served as G-d's long arm of justice.
Evangelical Christians, like orthodox Jews, have a deep-seated hatred for evil. Many religious people have a problem with hatred, believing it is inherently unG-dly. Evangelicals reject such wishy-washy, on-the-fence moralizing, understanding the hatred of
evil is the single best gauge of authentic spiritual commitment. While so many other religious denominations practice either
spiritual narcissim (the cult of new-age personal growth), or a watered down version of amoral liberalism, evangelical Christians
stand against tyrants and murderers, and are committed to using American power to bring them to justice.
When evangelical Christians talk to me about G-d, they speak with an immediacy and sense of intimacy which is both inspiring
and impressive. To the evangelicals; G-d is a loving Father rather than a distant relative. And unlike secularists who love
making up their own morality, evangelical Christians humbly submit to the Divine will. The potency of evangelical faith is mani-fest in their being at the forefront of feeding the hungry, curing the sick, and giving clothes to the poor - deeds which are practiced
by an army of missionaries around the world.
Unlike so many Americans, evangelical Christians utterly reject materialism. They raise G-dly children who are open-hearted
and uncorrupted. Evangelical Christian parents protect their children from a corrosive culture that is so harming America's youth.
The evangelicals have remarkably created their own music, TV and film industries which promote values-based entertainment as
opposed to crude sexual exploitation. Their women are taught to value themselves and would never contemplate surrendering
their bodies to a man who has not committed to them in marriage. And their men are taught to value women and to work to be
worthy of them.
This is not to say I don't have serious disagreements with evangelicals. Indeed, on my daily radio show, I have a regular parade
of evangelical pastors who debate with me constantly, like the Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Rescue in North Carolina. I will
accuse Flip of an unG-dly homophobia, being too fixated on combating and condemning homosexuals while ignoring the 50 percent
divorce rate in America. He will counter that I am watering down the Bible. I will cry out to him that we dare not reduce the
richness of religion to a ban on abortion, which in Judaism is severely prohibited but, unlike Christianity, is not considered murder.
He will accuse me of ignoring the sanctity of the unborn. I will strongly object to his insistence that those who do not believe in
Jesus will not go to Heaven and accuse him of spiritual bigotry and religious racism. He will stand his ground. And yet, I know
that he would lay down his life for me, and for all Israel, in a moment.
It is on the subject of Jesus, especially, and other related theological questions, that I am, of course, most distant from my evangelical brothers and sisters. I have had many televised debates against leading evangelicals forcefully rejecting Jesus as the
Jewish Messiah. But for all that, I have never felt any emotional distance from the evangelicals. All I have felt is love.
Many of my Jewish brethren reject evangelical Christians as dogmatic and intolerant. In so doing they are guilty of themselves
of rejecting one of Judaism's most seminal teachings; to judge a man by his actions rather than his beliefs. Just try and find kinder,
more compassionate people who are more willing to assist their fellow man in a time of crisis than the evangelicals. And this is
especially true of the evangelical love for Israel.
As an American Jew, I have two great loves: the United States and Israel. The Talmud says that what makes Israel unique is that
G-d's presence is a tangible reality in the Holy Land. In Israel, one can sense and feel G-d's holy presence. Thanks largely to
evangelical Christians, the same is true today of the United States. G-d is alive and well in America. And it is primarily for that
reason that this great country is so blessed.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is a nationally syndicated radio host daily from 2-5 p.m. EST on the Liberty Broadcasting Network, and
was named by Talker's magazine as one of America's 100 most important talk-radio hosts. A best-selling author of 14 books, his
latest work is "The Private Adam: Becoming a Hero in a Selfish Age" (Harper Collins).
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