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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Previous current news items

The latest current news items are here. More earlier items are here.

Jerry Falwell denies saying that Jews can get into heaven without converting to Christianity

By JewsOnFirst, March 8, 2006

Links to the articles mentioned in this report immediately follow it.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, one of Israel's main right-wing evangelical Christian allies, quickly denied a Jerusalem Post report that he no longer believes that Jews must convert to Christianity to be "saved." The Post's sources, televangelist John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg of Congregation Rodfei Sholom, both of San Antonio, also said the Post was mistaken. The mistake turned on some fine points of theology, but it revealed some interesting things about how Jews and right-wing evangelicals regard each other.

Hagee and other prominent right-wing evangelical Christians recently established Christians United for Israel, described as a Christian version of "AIPAC," Israel's powerful Washington lobbying organization, which the Jerusalem Post covered.

Sources and context
Hagee and Scheinberg were the Post's sources for the recent report about Falwell--according to the Post. They subsequently told the San Antonio Express-News that they were actually talking about proselytizing Jews -- not the putative need to convert them. The context, taking a further step back, was that, under the leadership of Hagee, CUFI would not "witness" to Jews about Christianity.

For right-wing evangelical Christians, this is apparently a delicate issue. According to the Express-News, fellow Christians have accused Hagee of believing that Jews do not need conversion because Hagee has something called a "dual covenant theology." In a statement to the San Antonio paper, Hagee denied holding such a theology.

Falwell made his denials to the Baptist Press and WorldNetDaily,a right-wing website. Baptist Press reported that " Rabbi Aryeh Sheinberg [sic] of Texas is the source" of the Post's story. Actually the Post named both Scheinberg and Hagee as its sources, though it quotes Scheinberg extensively.

The Falwell incident comes on the heels of Pat Robertson's declaration that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was God's punishment for the removal of Jewish settlements from Gaza. That may cost Robertson his business interest in a Christian theme park in Israel. Falwell was one of the main trend-setters for right-wing Christian involvement with Israel in the 1970s and has been, post-Robertson, seen as one of the more tactful Christians. It is not clear if his unsubstantiated improvement will cost him with Israelis. Both he and Hagee express support for continuing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

The conversion issue is one of the most uncomfortable (indeed, unmentionable) aspects of the cozy relationship between Israel and American Christian Zionists, a mainstay of Israel's tourism industry and an important political ally. Even so, none of this would be that important, if it were not for the fact that a majority of major Jewish organizations so value Christian Zionist groups' support for Israel that they have shrunk from public opposition to right-wing evangelical Christian groups' domestic agenda. (See JewsOnFirst's previous postings)

Indeed, there is overlap between the two groups. For instance, Pastor Rod Parsley (click here) is a supporter of CUFI. A short essay by another Texan, Rabbi Stuart Federow of Houston, (see below) shows how uncomfortable the nexus of the Zionist and theocrat types of Christians can be.

Falwell denies Post story, says Jews need Christ for salvation

Baptist Press, Mar 2, 2006

"'Denying a Jerusalem Post story that said he had embraced a 'dual covenant' theology, Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell said March 1 that he believes all people, including Jews, 'must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to enter heaven.' Texas Evangelist Dr. John Hagee too denied that he believed in a 'dual convenant.' Rabbi Aryeh Sheinberg of Texas is the source that Jerusalem Post reporter Ilan Chaim quoted.”Click here to read the report, which includes Falwell's full statement.

Falwell: Jerusalem Post 'fabricated' story on me
Newspaper claimed Christian evangelist had new tune on how Jews get to heaven

WorldNetDaily, March 1, 2006

In an interview with the right-wing website WorldNetDaily, religious right leader Jerry Falwell denied a Jerusalem Post report that he no longer believed that Jews must be Christians to go to heaven. WorldNetDaily reports Falwell saying the Post fabricated the story. Falwell also says he is still a Zionist. Click here for the interview.

Hagee denies belief in 'dual covenant theology'

By J. Michael Parker, San Antonio Express-News, March 4, 2006

Neither San Antonio televangelist John Hagee nor the Rev. Jerry Falwell has expressed a belief in a "dual covenant theology" as reported Wednesday in the Jerusalem Post, Hagee and a local rabbi said Thursday.Click here to read the report.

Falwell: Jews can get to heaven

By Ilan Chaim, Jerusalem Post, March 1, 2006

An evangelical pastor and an Orthodox rabbi, both from Texas, have apparently persuaded leading Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell that Jews can get to heaven without being converted to Christianity. Click here to read the report.

Regarding the conversation here on the Christian Right:

by Rabbi Stuart Federow, spiritual leader of Shaar Hashalom in Houston, March 8, 2006

HOUSTON. What bothers me most about the Christian Right is not their agenda for what they consider to be the End Of Days, ultimately our mass conversion. This part of their eschatology is no less unBiblical than the rest of their Christian theology.

What bothers me is their most recent response to the Jewish community. Members of the Jewish community were objecting to now Supreme Court Justice Alito's appointment, and making statements against his anti-abortion stance and his other Conservative political attitudes. Members of the Christian Right began to make statements threatening withdrawal of support for the State Of Israel, if the Jewish community did not silence these objections, and stop fighting the Christian Right on such Conservative Issues. Continue...

Evangelicals to launch 'Christian AIPAC'

By Ilan Chaim, The Jerusalem Post, February 2,2006

A leading US evangelist is forming an umbrella organization under which all pro-Israel Christians in America can speak as one in support of the Jewish state.

Pastor John C. Hagee of San Antonio, Texas, is to launch Christians United for Israel (CUFI) at an invitation-only "Summit on Israel" next Tuesday at his Cornerstone Church. Click here to read the report.

Alito writes inappropriate letter to Focus on the Family head

Text of letter, obtained by Colorado paper, is below

JewsOnFirst, March 2, 2006

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote his thanks to Focus on the Family head James Dobson for supporting his nomination and pledged to "keep in mind" their "trust" in him. Dobson read the letter on his "Family Radio" program on March 1st and confirmed its contents but declined to release it to reporters, according to the Associated Press.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State castigated Alito in a news release, calling the letter ''grossly inappropriate.'' Said the group's executive director, the Rev. Barry Lynn: ''This note strongly suggests that Alito is carrying out a right-wing agenda instead of being a justice for all.'' Click here for the release.

Text of the Alito letter
The Colorado Springs Gazette obtained a copy of the Alito letter to Dobson, which, with thanks, we reproduce below.

Dear Dr. Dobson:
This is just a short note to express my heartfelt thanks to you and the entire staff of Focus on the Family for your help and support during the past few challenging months.
I would also greatly appreciate it if you would convey my appreciation to the good people from all parts of the country who wrote to tell me that they were praying for me and for my family during this period.
As I said when I spoke at my formal investiture at the White House last week, the prayers of so many people from around the country were a palpable and powerful force.
As long as I serve on the Supreme Court I will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me.
I hope that we’ll have the opportunity to meet personally at some point in the future.
In the meantime my entire family and I hope that you and the Focus on the Family staff know how we appreciate all that you have done.
Sincerely yours,
Samuel Alito
Alito Says Thank You; Liberals Cry Foul
A simple note of appreciation turns into a media storm

By Pete Winn, Citizen Link (Focus on the Family), March 2, 2006

"Associate Justice Samuel Alito at the White House ceremony, Feb. 1, 2006 Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is the subject of controversy for sending a thank-you note to Focus on the Family Founder and Chairman Dr. James Dobson." Click here for the report.

Rep. John Boehner elected House Majority Leader

JewsOnFirst, February 2, 2006

Religious right organizations hailed the election of Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner by his Republican colleagues to the second-most important post in the House of Representatives. Organizations campaigning for church-state separation, gay rights, reproductive rights and public education saw little to celebrate. Jews concerned about those issues will find Boehner's record troubling, especially his votes with the Republican extreme right on church-state issues.

Boehner has repeatedly supported efforts to legislate religion into the public square. According to the National Jewish Democratic Council, he has voted to permit religious discrimination in hiring for federally funded programs. He voted against confronting religious coercion at the Air Force Academy and against the removal of a huge Ten Commandments sculpture from Alabama's highest courthouse. And he has supported numerous school prayer measures -- including one to deny federal funds to schools that do not allow prayer. (He currently chairs the House education committee.)

The National Jewish Democratic Council has posted a detailed list of measures antithetical to values held by a majority of Jews which Boehner has supported. You can see them by clicking here for the NJDC website, then looking for "What Every American Jew Should Know About John Boehner" in the Domestic Policy section.

The NJDC list also notes Boehner's support for "intelligent design" in the Ohio public schools, his repeated votes against reproductive rights and his terrible record on the environment.

Boehner has a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which monitors legislation on gay and lesbian issues, according to, which also reports that Boehner is a sponsor of federal legislation against gay marriage. He has supported barring gay couples from adopting and stripping school libraries of books about gays. Click here for the report.

Meanwhile, religious right organizations expressed happiness with Boehner's anti-abortion stance. "The GOP has a new majority leader in the U.S. House -- and his unabashedly pro-life leanings have at least one pro-family leader singing his praises," enthused an Agape Press article, which you can read by clicking here.

On another note, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency posted a "breaking news" item, reporting that Boehner not the first choice of pro-Israel organizations. "The pro-Israel community privately preferred [Missouri Rep. Roy] Blunt, who as majority whip has taken a lead role in passing pro-Israel legislation and in leading congressional delegations to Israel." (Organizations that support the First Amendment, civil rights and privacy saw little difference between Blunt and Boehner.)

Continued JTA: "Boehner, however, also has a solid pro-Israel voting record and Ohio Jewish leaders said he reached out to them although his mostly rural southern constituency has almost no Jews."

JTA then concluded: "Boehner was chairman of the House Education committee and some national Jewish groups are wary of his avid pro-school voucher record, as well as his preference for a greater role for religion in the public square."

The latest current news items are here. More earlier items are here.