I felt old when I told my son that when I was a child there was no security areas at airports, we simply bought a ticket and boarded the plane. He was incredulous. Perhaps, he will feel old one day when he tells his son that when he was little, he used to enter a synagogue without passing through security. Even if not directly affected by the loss of a loved one, we all pay a price for living in a violent world; with the loss of our freedom of movement and our fear of crowded areas, including a synagogue. Rather than solutions, many politicians tell us to get used to mass murder and offer mere thoughts and prayers, while our President advocates armed guards at every house of worship. Apparently, they seek to rewrite the gospels from “Whenever two or more of you are gathered in my name there is love”, to “Whenever two or more of you are gathered in my name you shall be armed”.
As Thomas Paine observed “To argue with someone who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead”. Thomas Paine was a “doubting Thomas” and “pain” in the neck to religious conservatives, because he reviled organized religion and warned “belief in a cruel God, makes a cruel man.” A god who sends non-believers to eternal torment is about as cruel as they get, so when Christian Scriptures condemn Jews to hell for rejecting Jesus, it should come as no surprise when a gunman parrots these lies and proceeds to massacre Jews. Such atrocities have been committed all too often against Jews in the past by faithful Christians who are told that God condemns Jews to hell, thus killing Jews is a “godly act” and the carrying out of “divine justice”.
As Sam Harris observed “The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy. Because each new generation of children is taught that religious propositions need not be justified in the way that all others must, civilization is still being besieged by the armies of the preposterous. We are, even now, killing ourselves over ancient literature. Who would have thought something so tragically absurd could be possible?”
Eighty years ago, on Kristallnacht, (the night of broken glass), Hitler chose Martin Luther’s birthday to implement Luther’s recommendations for the treatment of Jews, i.e. murder, beatings, destruction of synagogues, looting of businesses and mass arrest. Germany, which had been softened by centuries of Lutheran doctrine and Europe, which had imbibed Christian anti-Semitism for millennia were silent about such barbarism, which was perceived by Hitler as a green light to unleash his “Final Solution” with impunity.
Courageous Catholic scholars such as Bishop Shelby Spong have admitted that anti-Semitism is as integral to the Catholic Church as the flying buttress and Christian theologians such as James Carroll draw a direct link between historic Christian anti-Semitism and the holocaust.
The truth is that the Gospels do not contain “Gospel truth”, parts of them teach monstrous lies. As we speak, millions of potential synagogue shooters are being indoctrinated as children with hatred for Jews by being shown the violently pornographic, Passion of the Christ, which portrays the gruesome, grotesque, graphic, grisly death of Jesus, and falsely blames the Jews for this Roman torture. Making sure that everyone knows who the real enemy is, the fictitious traitor who informs the Romans of the whereabouts of Jesus, is named Judas (Latin for “Jew”), and the movie has the Romans throwing coins at Judas to repay him for his betrayal, then pans down to the perfidious Jew picking coins up off the floor to gather the blood money thrown at him by the disgusted Romans for betraying God. The abysmal failure of the Jewish establishment to challenge these lies with a call to reason as we sacrifice truth on the altar of political correctness and tolerance renders “Never again” a meaningless slogan. Gibson defends the movie as merely reflecting “Gospel Truth” with a capital “T”.
Leading us out of darkness will require Jews and Christians to overcome the blind faith of the past with the light of reason, reflected in the Sabbath candles and Chanukah, our festival of lights, that celebrates our ability to overcome darkness with the light of reason and Jewish ideals.