Thursday, September 21, 2006
Fear of 'Christocrats' -- Or How Christians Should Just shut Up
As Muslims rage across the globe killing people for publishing cartoons and threatening religious leaders for reading the words of an historical figure, some people paradoxically seem to imagine a greater threat looms over the world.
Rabbi James Rudin is one of those people. He has even invented a word to describe them: "Christocrats".
Like so many who have made a living raising strawmen to knock down, Rudin cannot see the world in which we live, but the one he wants to exist ... the one that might more easily keep him flush.
Like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, men who still imagine we live in the era of Jim Crow, Rabbi Rudin, Director of the Interreligious Affairs Department of the ACJ (American Jewish Committee), imagines that we still live in an era of the Inquisition and that we are about to be overtaken by these "Christocrats".
Sounds ominous. But, most stawmen do, don't they?
The last time Rabbi Rudin was making the rounds he was denouncing the Movie "Passion of the Christ" as a one made solely to disparage Jews. On CNN, Rudin denounced the movie saying, "I saw the film twice. I'm very disappointed. I'm very angry. I'm disappointed because Mel Gibson could have made a thoroughly Christian 'Passion' play without beating up on Jews, vilifying my religion, my people, as he's done."
Now he is out hawking a book he entitled, "The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us". This screed is a rather insidious attempt to inflame Jews and secularists against Christians exactly in an era where we all face Islamofascism, the biggest threat to civilization since WWII, and in an era where we should be coming together to face this threat.
Yet, even as one reads Rabbi Rudin's book one finds little by way of substance and almost no real solutions other than to tell Christians to just shut up. Additionally, one cannot help but get the feeling that the good Rabbi is revealing his own hatreds for everything Christian. The whole tome feels like some personal vendetta.
In a recent interview, Rudin went out of his way to preface his words with the disclaimer that he didn't mean "all Evangelicals". On Buzzflash.com, Rudin said of the average Evangelical, "I’ve found that the overwhelming majority of Evangelical Christians are not committed to changing the basic relationship between church and state, and between government and religion."
He also warned that his boogymen were not very numerous, but were merely "a small, but very potent group, who are driven to say it’s not just Christianity, but their form of Christianity that must be the legal, mandated, dominant form." Rudin even claims that the men he fears the most, Francis A. Schaeffer, and John Rushdoony (the Rushdoony who died in 2001), are "men who are pretty much unknown to the general American public".
This book, however, makes the fib to these disclaimers of a small, unnoticed cabal of Christian toughs because he ascribes all manner of outsized actions and successes to this "small, but very potent group" and inflates their power unduly. He sees Christian boogymen under his bed, in his closet, in his Courts and in Congress all controlled by people who most Americans have never heard of.
Rudin imagines that these "Christocrats" want to change the Constitution to "define exactly the kind of Christianity that is legally the mandated version" and worries that "even other Christians would become second class" citizens as a result.
Worse, Rudin feels that these "Christocrats" are just as vicious as any extremist Islamist might be.
Sadly, it seems Rudin views his enemy from afar and must not know very many of them. It would be interesting, for instance, to see Rudin address the fact that a great majority of his hated Evangelicals support Israel. But it is presumed he would explain that support away as a product of the "End Times" thinking that many anti-Christians so fear. In this theory, Christians only support Israel because a strong Israel will bring about the end of the world, a silly and ridiculous claim.
Rudin's rant against Christians seems rather reminiscent of the wacko conspiracies that too many deluded people blame on Jews, doesn't it? Can you say "Elders of Zion"? Apparently, Rudin does not see the irony in his own actions.
What Rudin rails against the most is the efforts by Christians to get politically involved -- a trend that started in the late 70's and early 80's. Here Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" comes in for special conspiracy theorizing. Rudin bemoans the lost days when Christians just shut up and voted without worrying about what really went on in Washington.
"Christian conservatives' concern always was, get right with Jesus, get right with Christ, get right with God on a personal level. Yes, they voted. And they participated in elections. But they did not see political parties or political movements as a means of carrying out God’s will. God alone would determine that, and voting was a citizen’s duty. But the Christian conservatives didn’t look to the Democratic or Republican Party to deliver theological gifts or theological concerns or provide theological answers."
So, now we see Rudin's real problem. Christians are fine if they stay uninvolved in politics. He feels they should forget about that stuff and leave it to smarter men like himself, presumably. He cries foul at the "parallel media system of television, radio, magazines, newspapers, which reflect their point of view" that Christians have created, warns against the political action groups Christians have orgaized, moans about the money raised and gesticulates madly over the influence that this terrible religion has over Washington. Curiously, he doesn't see any parallel with the many Jewish groups that do the very same things for his own religion, some of which he works for.
And one wonders why Rabbi Rudin thinks it is that Christians were called to a greater involvement in politics in the 1980's, in the first place? It wasn't a sudden movement lead by crazed but charismatic leaders who simply misled the public into invlvement, but a response to decades of an American political scene that had drifted further and further from the conservative and religious precepts that had been the mainstay of American political discourse for nearly two hundred years. It was a result of a large group of regular Americans that had had enough of the warping and tearing down of traditional Americanism. If this disgust with the extreme left in America had not existed no Jerry Falwell could have become the powerhouse he became for a short time. Falwell or no, American Christians have every right to try and stop the march to leftism that was invading their schools and their politics.
Amazingly, Rudin claims that Christians are un-American just as they became involved in the most American endeavor; political activity. He doesn't accept that Christians have the very same right to advocate for their ideas and political needs as any other group and are not doing anything differently than the very organizations that Rudin works for.
All in all, it seems more like Rudin is engaging in wishful thinking and propagating the kind of anti-Christian rhetoric he has become famous for and not truthfully reading America's Christian community. His book is a mere screed against Christians masquerading as cogent cultural and political analysis.
Rudin's message is that he just wants Christians to shut up and go away and wants them to know that he feels they are not real Americans.