By Aaron Zelman
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
What's wrong with this picture?
A Florida city allows a Jewish menorah to be displayed in a public park—but forbids a nativity scene to be placed next to it. i
Seventh graders in a California school take an intensive three-week course on Islam—which includes praying to Allah and conducting a mock jihad—but are not allowed to study Christianity in school. ii
A library employee is fired for wearing a cross pendant to work, and a teacher's aide is suspended for a year without pay for doing the same thing. iii Yet at the same time, in the name of "tolerance," workplaces allow Islamic crescents, Wiccan symbols, Stars of David, and other non-Christian religious signs.
Few people would have believed it 10 years ago—or even five—or even two or three years ago. But Christianity is in danger of becoming a scorned and despised religion in the United States.
The tide is being held back for the moment. The Florida city said the nativity scene could be placed at a different (although less prominent) public location, parents sued the California school district for its promotion of a religion, and judges ordered the fired and suspended employees to be re-instated.
Yet all is not well for Christians in America. Similar incidents are reported every day, and many don't have happy outcomes for followers of Christ. Around the globe, things are worse. We know of at least three genocides within the last hundred years that have specifically targeted Christians. iv With militant Islam on the rise, and some 100 million Muslims worldwide supporting jihad against "infidels," times are dangerous indeed for Christians.
You might imagine Christianity can't be threatened in the United States because it's America's majority faith. But there's no assurance Christians will remain in the majority. And ironically, part of the reason Christianity is so threatened now is that it is the majority faith. It's hard to imagine an employer walking up to a Jew and demanding, "Remove that star of David pendant," or approaching a Muslim and ordering him to take off a tie-tack in the shape of a crescent. The employer would be terrified of being accused of bigotry. But that same employer feels safe demanding removal of Christian symbols because Christianity, as the majority religion, is seen as the "oppressor" of other religions and cultures. (This phenomenon is similar to the way in which white males can be criticized in the workplace more safely than women or minorities.)
Already, the worm of religious bigotry is eating into the heart of the American consciousness—including the Christian consciousness. Not long ago, I spoke with a man who happened to mention he was Christian. Immediately after telling me that, he apologized for his beliefs. I asked why on earth he should be sorry. He began to mumble that Christians were responsible for slavery and oppression and slaughter of native peoples and bigotry toward other religions. In other words, although he was a Christian himself who had never been guilty of any of those evils, he had completely bought into the current cultural prejudice that his religion was inherently cruel and corrupt—something to feel ashamed of.
BIGOTRY AGAINST ONE FAITH IS A TRAGEDY TO ALL
Why should JPFO, as a Jewish group, care whether Christians are suffering discrimination?
We care for many reasons. And so should everyone, regardless of religion or creed.
First, everyone should care because demonizing any religion (or any group for that matter) is dangerous. It's dangerous not only to the targeted group, but to society in general. Once you set a pattern in which bigotry is acceptable, then bigotry can be turned on any group -- to their destruction. Ultimately, you may end up with a society in ruins, as one faction repeatedly turns on another and tears the fabric of a nation apart.
If you are Jewish, you should care because Christian America is the best home our people have found in 2,000 years. Despite all its imperfections, despite the anti-Semitism that some U.S. Christians (and non-believers) have practiced against us, this remains the most tolerant, prosperous, and safest home we could be blessed with.
If you are Christian, you should care because the actions described at the top of this article may be only the beginning. One Holocaust survivor observed, "Auschwitz wasn't built with bricks. It was built with words." That's how it begins. When Christ-haters (or G-d v haters) learn they can get away with small deeds of discrimination, they move on to larger ones ... and more heinous ones. Actions borne of hatred must be chopped off at the roots. Otherwise hatred proliferates.
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms ownership has made exhaustive studies on the pre-conditions for genocide—and we see the very early stages of genocide rising in this country. In fact, the self-hatred expressed by my Christian acquaintance eerily echoes the negative feelings many Jews (especially Jewish children) adopted toward themselves in the early years of Nazi Germany. They learned that there was something very "wrong"merely with being who they were. Demonization leads to self-doubt. Once any group—religious, racial, or otherwise—begins to doubt its own worth, it's less likely to fight back against attacks. And its members come to believe (often correctly) that others won't come to its aid if it does defend itself. vi
NO SPECIAL PRIVILEGES FOR ONE RELIGION,
BUT FREEDOM FOR ALL RELIGIONS
No group is 100 percent innocent. History shows Muslims turning on Christians and Christians turning on Muslims. Pagan Nazis masquerading behind Christian propaganda slaughtered Jews by the millions. Militant communist atheists have killed passive Buddhists en masse. Muslims and Jews accuse each other of genocide. Animists slaughter Christians, then Muslims slaughter animists. I'm not intending, in this article, to place any faith above any other. Or to demonize any faith.
But I do say that American Christians are among the best friends Jews have ever had. And Christians and Jews are now "in it together." Militant Islam hates us both and wants us all dead or converted at sword point. With Islam likely to become the world's dominant religion, based on birthrate alone, and with 10 percent of Muslims believing in the righteousness of jihad, both Christians and Jews should fear, and prepare. We have no fear of the 90 percent of Muslims who are peaceful and tolerant. But 10 percent of the one billion Muslims in the world is 100 million people who hate us ... and that number is growing.
Since most examples of officially sanctioned religious prejudice in the United States are now directed against Christians, it's time for us Jews to defend our Christian brothers.
And it's time for Christians to prepare to defend themselves— intellectually and spiritually for the moment, but perhaps physically in some not-too-distant future.
Someday we Jews may have to stand at the side of our Christian friends in defense of our country, our faiths, and our lives. We should all face this reality and prepare for it. We Jews should stop throwing barriers in the way of self-defense. And Jews and Christians alike should cultivate the mindset and skills for self-defense.
I addressed Jews recently in my article "The Beast Reawakens: A Personal Challenge to All Jews to Defend Themselves." The practical advice about self-defense in the latter half of that article is useful to anyone of any faith or no faith at all.
For the rest of this article, I will address my Christian friends.
The first defense of your faith and your rights, of course, lies in persuasion. I urge you to do all that you can to educate others about the liberties inherent in all humankind—the freedoms so eloquently and uniquely spelled out in America's Bill of Rights. JPFO has put the Bill of Rights on our Web site in 15 languages— including not only all the major European languages, but Russian, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic, and Chinese.
The first amendment of that Bill famously says that the U.S. Congress "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..."
Many Christ-haters or G-d v haters would like to throw that guarantee out forever. Some would replace it with their own non-Judeo-Christian theocracy, while others would prohibit the exercise of all religion in public life, period. We must know our history and show all these people that the free exercise of religion is part of the great tapestry of individual rights that enables millions of diverse human beings to reach their greatest personal potential, free from tyranny, and enables those same millions of diverse human beings to live peaceably together in the world, even when they disagree on many things.
Do not believe that your religion owes any apologies or any concessions to other religions. And understand that they owe none to you. What we all owe each other is an acknowledgement that religous freedom benefits everyone.
This is our most important work of the moment: to build, or restore, a Bill of Rights culture in which all Americans (and hopefully, all the world) can live peaceably and in freedom.
BUT SOME WILL NEVER LISTEN
We must deal with the reality that some of those who hate us will never listen to the beauty and reason of freedom. Therefore, we must also be prepared to defend our lives, our faiths, our religious texts and institutions, and our communities of fellow believers with the most effective tools available against attackers—firearms.
Some Christians (and far too many Jews) believe that pacifism is the most moral course. Many Christians quote Jesus's famous statement that they should "turn the other cheek" to an evil person. They forget that, in the last hours of his life, Jesus also ordered his disciples, "[H]e who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." (Luke 22:36)
Think of that: Under the right circumstances, Jesus himself believed that a sword (the fiercest personal weapon of its day) was more important than clothing.
The Old Testament also counsels that it's moral to kill someone who threatens you. ("If the thief shall be found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed." Exodus 22:2)
(You will find more on the Biblical view of self-defense in "What Does the Bible Say About Gun Control" by Larry Pratt, which is printed as Chapter 18 in the book Death by "Gun Control" by Aaron Zelman and Richard W. Stevens. This book is the basis for the documentary film Innocents Betrayed, which shows in even more poignant terms how bigotry against Christians and others has led to genocide. )
Roman Catholic doctrine echoes Exodus in endorsing not only the right, but the morality of self-defense. Section 2264 of the Catechism says:
Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore, it is legitimate to insist on one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow.
Much of the war against Christians is so far a war of words, or of small injustices like those described in the opening of this article. There is no possible justification for using physical force to defend against such offenses—especially when the justice system is still doing its job.
But violence against Christians has also begun.
After all, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were planned and carried out by men with an implacable hatred for both Judaism and Christianity. Those murderous fanatics and their supporters aimed to destroy both us and our faiths—and the country that shelters us.
You probably couldn't have effectively defended yourself on that black Tuesday unless you were on one of those planes and physically able to subdue, or kill, the hijackers. But few attacks in the inevitable years of terror will be on the scale of 9-11. Look to Europe now, where attacks against Jews are growing. You'll get a glimpse of what the future may be for Christians in a world overrun with Islamic fundamentalism.
Typical acts of violence (like those now being committed against European Jews) might include beating priests or nuns, burning churches, shooting into the windows of religious schools, desecrating cemetaries, throwing excrement on worshippers, or even suicide attacks carried out by fanatics who walk into your churches, schools, meeting halls, or neighborhoods.
Against these evil deeds, you can indeed defend yourselves, if you're well-armed and vigilant.
But you can only defend yourself if you're physically, emotionally, and intellectually prepared to do so—and if you are able to carry effective tools for defense.
This is where many of my Jewish brethren and your Christian liberal brethren need to get out of your way. We must stop tryng to disarm America's potential victims, in the naïve believe that benevolent government will protect everyone. Courts have ruled repeatedly that the government has absolutely no duty to protect anyone. (Read Dial 911 and Die by Richard W. Stevens or my article "The Beast Reawakens" for a few key examples of those court rulings.)
Rather than assuming that ordinary people are incompetent to defend themselves, our Jewish and Christian leaders should realize that self defense is, by its very nature, a job for ourselves, a job that cannot be delegated to far-away "experts." Self-defense is also a moral job, and the individual and collective responsibility of moral people.
Christians, Jews, and people of other religions or no religion have enjoyed a blessed safety in America. We've forgotten that in most places, and in most modern times, it's been normal for one religious group to hold political power and to use that power to oppress, or even slaughter, the minority. Don't merely look at the Holocaust and say it only happened once and "Never Again!"
Look at the many religiously motivated genocides of the 20th century. Look back at the savage religious struggles of the Reformation. The Crusades. The Inquisition. The English civil war. When fanaticism takes over any religion, disaster can strike believers of other religions, or those whose beliefs don't meet some other standard of perfection. Look also at the nominally peaceful countries where, nevertheless, some religious minority lives under the thumb of a majority, deprived of the right to freely practice its chosen faith.
I've said before that America has been a haven for the Jews. Let us not forget that it's also been a haven for Christians of every varity, from high-church Episcopalians to speaking-in-tongues Pentacostals, from mainstream churches like the Methodists to tiny sects like the Amish, from cloistered Roman Catholic nuns to the very public missions of non-traditional Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.
My Christian friends: Appreciate this land that has blessed you with such freedom. But also recognize how rare your freedom of worship has been in history. If fanatics overrun us and force their views upon us, it won't be any new and unprecedented disaster; it will be a return to a historic norm.
If you want your freedom of worship, if you want your loved ones to continue to live in an exceptional land that enables you to think and believe freely, then preserve the free culture of this land. Show your best appreciation by being ready to defend this rare culture that has encouraged such freedom. For the present, defend freedom by respecting and teaching others about all of the Bill of Rights for all citizens.
When the day comes that you and your faith are violently attacked, be ready. Ready to defend your faith, your family, your community, yourself, and your freedom.
And know that brave armed Jewish brethren are ready to stand beside you on that day.
i — Travis, Scott. "Palm Beach restricts display of Nativity scene to foot of bridge." Sun-Sentinel.com. December 24, 2003.
ii — Miles, Rev. Austin. "Public schools embrace Islam—A shocker." ASSIST News Service. January 10, 2002 . Also see Lynne, Diana. WorldNetDaily.com. "District sued over Islam studies." WorldNetDaily.com. July 2, 2002.
iii — "Cross-wearing woman sues over suspension." WorldNetDaily.com. May 10, 2003.
iv — Turkey, 1915-1917 (target: Armenian Christians); East Timor, 1975-1999 (target: Roman Catholics); Sudan, mid-1990s-to-present (targets: Christians and animists).
v — G-d is spelled this way because it is against Jewish tradition to spell or speak the name of the Almighty outside of sacred settings.
vi — For more on the stages of genocide see Miller, Richard Lawrence. Nazi Justiz: Law of the Holocaust. Praeger Publications, 1995. For information on the characteristics of a police state (including demonization of targeted groups), see Wolfe, Claire and Zelman, Aaron. The State vs the People: The Rise of the American Police State. Mazel Freedom Press, 2002.