by JewsOnFirst, March 30, 2006
A "War on Christians" conference in Washington DC this week featured a dozen or so top leaders of the religious right, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and an litany of perceived (or contrived) grievances. And, for a conference portraying the resurgent Christian right as victimized, there was a disturbing focus on Jews -- albeit by Jews.
The individual training the spotlight on Jews was Don Feder, head of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation. The intended audience for his expressions of Jewish solidarity with the "persecuted" Christian right is not readily apparent. Was it potential Jewish supporters? Or was it Christians who might be encouraged to conclude that Jews are perpetrating the perceived "attacks" on Christians?
Feder evoked a favorite negative stereotypical view of Jews when, according to the Washington Post, he "urged the crowd not to blame 'the liberal, self-hating Jews in Hollywood. Remember, the people in this audience are more Jewish than people like Barbra Streisand, because you embrace Jewish values, she doesn't,' he said."
In his March 31st column, New York Jewish Week Washington correspondent James Besser reports Feder singling out Hollywood, "which he said makes movies that depict Christians in unflattering terms."
According to the Forward, Feder is a former editorial writer for the Boston Herald; his anti-defamation organization has no members or paid staff.
A Jewish panel
Feder is also communications director of Vision America, the organization that put on the War on Christians conference. In addition to the general news release for the conference, there was a special news release focused on Jews, entitled Conference to Include 'Jews Confront The War On Christians' Panel
The release listed the Jewish panelists: Rabbi Aryeh Spero (an Orthodox rabbi from New York City), Hudson Institute scholar Michael Howowitz, Joseph Ben Ami (executive director, of the Institute for Canadian Values) and moderator Jeff Ballabon of the New York-based Center for Jewish Values.
The release quoted Vision America President Rick Scarborough saying: "I am heartened that these Jewish leaders, activists and intellectuals are making common cause with conservative Christians. They understand that attacks on Christians ultimately are attacks on Judeo-Christian morality."
An announcement on the Renew America website of former Ambassador Alan Keyes, a conference speaker, also noted the Jewish panel.
Besser of the Jewish Week quotes Feder saying that Jewish groups' concern over church-state separation “is basically just a way to end not Christian activism, but any public connection between faith and government.”
Feder told Besser that Anti-Defamation League's national director Abraham Foxman "has a problem with Christianity; he views it as being inherently anti-Semitic.” Foxman's retort cited Feder's "ignorance and bias," and a political agenda of undoing church-state separation.
According to Besser, "Feder conceded that the Jewish community 'remains strongly liberal and continues to vote overwhelmingly Democratic,' but said that will change as the Orthodox community grows and as the non-Orthodox community continues to experience a falling birthrate. 'That’s what it will take, in the long run' he said."
Patriot pastors, lethal liberalism
Vision America President Scarborough runs a program to mobilize Christocratic clergy called Patriot Pastors. Its website offers pastors
the tools you need to stand up and speak out on the great moral issues of our day. We can provide you with educational, legal, and moral support through a network of professionals who are committed to Biblical truth and dedicated to restoring America's Christian heritage.
Scarborough's new book, Liberalism Kills Kids, was promoted at the conference.
Aside from its Jewish content, the War On Christians conference featured such religious right luminaries as Gary Bauer, Sen. John Cornyn, Phyllis Schlafly, and Sen. Sam Brownback. Most reports estimated the attendance as several hundred.
According to the Washington Post, speakers portrayed criticisms of the theocratic agenda as efforts to destroy "Christianity" — meaning the Christocratic variety of it. Some speakers cited years-old media criticism.
Post columnist Dana Milbank reported that host Rick Scarborough introduced DeLay as "a man that I believe God has appointed" and attributed the former leader's fall to his Christian faith. (Scarborough told the audience he couldn't "endorse" DeLay's candidacy for reelection because of his organization's tax-exempt status.)
The right-wing Cyber News Service quoted the Rev. Lou Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition, saying that "the 'gay agenda" would come to a quick end if Americans rose up 'in numbers against it.... While most speakers said they prefer using the word 'homosexual' instead of 'gay,' Sheldon said he usually sticks with the term's original meaning: 'sodomite.'"
Writing about the conferene for an Alternet blog, Melissa McEwan said the "attacks" include "our devious machinations to throw Christians in jail, forcibly abort their fetuses, and compel them to engage in sexual acts with members of the same sex in accordance with our radical gay agenda."