Monday, December 27, 2004

Don Feder on Christianity

Don Feder, a Jew, catalogues the evidence of a contemporary assault on Christianity and declares his solidarity with Christians in this outstanding essay. Here are a few excerpts:

My support for Christian America is in part based on gratitude. I am exceedingly grateful for Christian support for Israel, especially from the evangelical community.

A generation ago, the term Christian Zionist was an oxymoron. Today, American Christians are a mainstay of public support for Israel. Without their help, U.S. Middle East policy would be far less sympathetic to the Jewish state - a fact recognized by every Israeli prime minister for the past 20 years, all of whom have assiduously courted the Christian Right.

I'm also grateful to Christians for America. I love this country and can't even begin to imagine what my life would be like if I wasn't an American.

It's a truth seldom acknowledged: Christians created America.

Finally, I believe the safety of American Jews lies with Christian America.

In secular Europe, Jews are beaten in the streets. Our college campuses - dogmatically liberal - have turned into snake pits of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The news media, which are so hostile to Christianity, are equally antagonistic toward Israel. (Christians aren't the only ones in desperate need of allies.)

There is a dark force spreading across the globe, rivaling the march of fascism in the '30s and '40s, and of communism is the postwar era. Call it Islamic fundamentalism, militant Islam, Jihadism, or what you will, it is animated by a burning hatred of Christians and Jews. The same toxic creed that murders Jews in Israel and attacks Jews in Europe, kills Christians in Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Asia - and members of both faiths (and others, including their own) in America.

Feder is, we think, correct when he discerns an arrant contempt in the West, even in America, for Christianity. Signs of it have appeared throughout the last two decades in the disdain with which Christianity has been treated by the entertainment industry and particularly in the recent astonishing hostility toward Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. It bubbled briefly to the surface in the weeks following the election, subsiding briefly only to reemerge in this year's controversies over Christmas displays and celebrations.

We fear the antagonism of non-believers will become especially bitter in the following three cultural/social battlegrounds: Confirmation hearings for President Bush's judicial nominations, Christian opposition to gay marriage and abortion on demand, and increasing attempts by believers to roll back the secular monopoly on public education, particularly in the areas of prayer in schools, holiday celebrations, sex education, and intelligent design versus metaphysical naturalism.

We also suspect that one tactic secularists will employ is to attempt to conflate in peoples' minds the horrors of Islamo-fascism with any and all monotheistic belief systems, particularly conservative Christianity. In other words, there will be an effort to convince people that the only reason Christians don't behave like the Taliban is that they lack the power to do so and that America will do well to see that they are never permitted to exert significant influence in the culture again.

Here is a Viewpoint prediction for 2005 which we hope proves wrong: Anti-Christians will become increasingly more vocal, virulent, and intolerant as clashes in the aforementioned arenas become more frequent, more prominent, and more intense.

The Shroud of Turin

Most readers will have heard of the Shroud of Turin. It is a sheet of fabric which had traditionally been believed to have been the burial shroud of Jesus. It has impressed upon its surface a scorched image, the details of which are uncannily congruent with the image made by a man who had been scourged and crucified. The amazing thing about the shroud was that there was believed to be no way that a medieval fabricator could have created such an image.

However, in 1988 the shroud was subjected to a C-14 analysis which dated it to the 13th or 14th century, and that seemed to end the controversy over its authenticity. The radiocarbon tests were regarded by most experts as dispositive. A cloth produced over a thousand years after Jesus' death obviously couldn't have been used to bury him, but lately more questions have been raised.

So much about the shroud indicated a Middle Eastern provenience and a much earlier date of manufacture that some scholars refused to submit to the conclusions of the carbon dating analysis. The image on the shroud was just too difficult to explain in terms of a late medieval forgery and there is now some reason to think that the sample from which the radiocarbon was taken was obtained from a piece of fabric which had been used to patch or repair the shroud about six centuries ago.

Whatever the case, the debate over the shroud's authenticity seems to have been (ahem) resurrected. You can read more about it here.

G.W. as "Dirty Harry"

President Bush has refused to give up the fight to seat qualified jurists on the Bench despite the Democrats' strenuous efforts to keep them off. Daring the Democrats to employ their obstructionist tactics in this session as they have in the past, the president has resubmitted the names of twenty of thirty four candidates who were filibustered by the Democrats in recent sessions of Congress:

The Democrats' ability to stall certain White House picks for the federal bench was one of the most contentious issues of Bush's first term. During the past two years, despite the GOP majority in the Senate, Democrats used filibusters to prevent final votes from occurring on 10 of 34 of Bush's nominees to federal appeals courts.

"The president nominated highly qualified individuals to the federal courts during his first term, but the Senate failed to vote on many nominations," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a statement the White House issued Thursday. "Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the issue of judicial vacancies, compounds the backlog of cases and delays timely justice for the American people."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called for quick action and issued a statement that pressured Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., to support the president's nominees. Specter, a moderate Republican, recently won the backing of Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans to be their new chairman despite his statement that judges who oppose abortion would have a difficult time gaining Senate confirmation, given the opposition from Democrats.

"The president has decided to re-nominate many highly qualified and capable individuals to serve as federal judges," Frist said. "I look forward to working with Sen. Specter, other Judiciary Committee members and my colleagues to ensure quick action and up and down votes on these judicial nominees."

Democrats reacted with irritation. "I was extremely disappointed to learn today that the president intends to begin the new Congress by resubmitting extremist judicial nominees," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in a statement. "Last Congress, Senate Democrats worked with the president to approve 204 judicial nominees, rejecting only 10 of the most extreme."

By "extreme", Senator Reid means that these judges would likely not rule as he would want them to. They may be squarely in the mainstream of public opinion but since their decisions may offend Senate liberals they are placed out on the "fringe" of our political culture.

In fact, however, these are men and women committed to interpreting the constitution and the law according to what it says and not according to the political fashion of the times, and that's what the Left finds so troublesome. Unable to get their agenda enacted through the legislature, the Left has over the last four decades resorted more and more frequently to the courts to impose their ideological preferences on the rest of society. A conservative court would jeopardize this strategy, which has worked so effectively for the Left, and must, in their view, be prevented at all costs.

Tom Daschle led the filibuster of judical nominees over the last four years and paid for it on November 2nd. There are a number of Senate Democrats from states that went strongly for Bush upon whom the lesson was not lost. They will be torn between their own political futures and blocking the president's appointments. George Bush, like "Dirty Harry", is telling the obstructionists to "Go ahead. Make my day."