Identity, Politics

Umm…We Might Need To Get Active Soon

A hat tip to the NJDC for this odd story.
Apparently Dennis Prager has a very vocal, adamant friend in the American Family Association.

Still, some conservative Christians have taken Prager’s editorial as a clarion call. The American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss., for example, sent out an “action alert” to its 3.4 million members urging them to write their congressmen “to pass a law making the Bible the book used in the swearing-in ceremony of Representatives and Senators.”
Swearing in officeholders on Islam’s holy book “represents a change in our society, our culture, if we hold up the Quran as equivalent to the Holy Bible,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon.

The AFA quotes Prager’s editorial in its entirety in its action alert. They want a law mandating that the Bible be the only book allowed for oaths of office, however most requests for alternative books have been by Jews, asking for Tana”chs, or in one case, prayer books. Theodore Roosevelt even decided to forego a Bible at his first inauguration.
What is the AFA trying to prove here? Or is it just the same plain old Islamophobia? Another Islamophobic suggestion which would end up harming Jews. It behooves all of us, Jews — progressive or traditional — to oppose any legislation which would come as a result of such an action alert.

30 thoughts on “Umm…We Might Need To Get Active Soon

  1. jewlicious’ michael and i tonight decided that dennis prager is a plant from a conservative christian organization and in all probability a christian himself

  2. If you can’t win a debate with a much more knowledgeable call him a Christian. Prager has done more to promote Judaism in one week than Jewshool will its entire existence.

  3. yea prager is a dick, but dont worry no law can be passed to require a bible. If anything is a more blatant establishment of religion, it would be that. Thank Allah/Jesus/Tetragramaton for the constitution.

  4. Prager has done more to promote Judaism in one week than Jewshool will its entire existence.
    you mean he’s done more to denigrate judaism!
    i bet you we get more emails from young people who are fired up about judaism thanks to our projects in a single week than prager has ever received.

  5. This is so totally what I expected would happen when I first read that article.
    Will Prager swear on the same bible as George Bush? The one with all that Jesus stuff in the back? And if so, and if he advocates that I should swear by it, what does that make him?

  6. just emailed prager:
    Hi Mr. Prager,
    I was just wondering… For how long exactly have you been a convert to Christianity and how much do receive from Christian organizations annually to preach the gospel under the guise of Judaism?
    Dan Sieradski, editor-in-chief

  7. Why is everyone so SURPRISED by the AFA supporting Prager’s poison pen? It was through AFA that I first read Prager’s op-ed.
    Despite the original Kristol crowd claim that you have to be Jewish to be a neocon (and the subsequent claims by Jewish surnamed rightwingers that usage of ‘neocon’ is thinly-veiled antisemitism), ‘neocon’ were better called ‘neo-fascism,’ and then there would be no surprise that all of the xenophobes of the three monotheistic religions consistently engage in tref behavior with each other (eg. Arutz 7 ‘s not infrequent mailings from newsmax — the latest being a poll to support ‘family values’ man Giuliani for president).
    Let us also not forget — an aside, here — that Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, z’l, was the first to note — in his “A Jew in America” — that the original ‘neocon’ grouping never gave a thought to Israel, until after the capture of Gaza and the West Bank, in 67…

  8. >“I was just wondering… For how long exactly have you been a convert to Christianity and how much do receive from Christian organizations annually to preach the gospel under the guise of Judaism?”
    I don’t get it…. can’t Prager actually believe what he says without having been bribed or converted? Don’t you believe what you say without taking bribes? Maybe Prager’s values simply dictate his statements like your values dictate yours.

  9. Maybe Prager’s values simply dictate his statements like your values dictate yours.
    Last time I checked, compelling people to swear on a Christian bible was not a Jewish value by anyone’s standard. And this is the effect of Prager’s words. He even advocates Jews swearing on a bible containing the Christian Scriptures.
    This cheap demagoguery of Prager’s is going to bite us, and bite us hard, as anti-semitism reaches its inevitable crescendo.

  10. Well first I’m not talking about “Jewish values” I’m talking about Prager’s values–did Prager really need to be “bribed” to have his opinion? Do you need to be bribed to have yours?
    Anyway Prager says that he takes his position because it is that bible that created American society, which happens to be the best ever for Jews in exile. Anyway i’m not clear if he said the bible should be “sworn on” or simply be present in the room. From his perspective its basically an issue of honoring the foundational text of American values. I don’t really see why it’s “cheap demagoguery”. It’s PRager’s opinion love it or hate it. I think we should be able to intellectually argue against an opinion without charging the opinion holder of having been “bribed”. It just drags the whole discussion down to a nonsense level.
    “I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him…” —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik

  11. Not at all – if Prager’s only concern was to have a Christian bible present in the room in some kind of deference to the people who created the US (as a nation where everyone would have freedom of religious expression, by the way…) then why should it be such an issue for the person taking office to have a copy of whatever book they hold holy?
    If I was taking office (please no…) I might not object to a copy of the KJV somewhere in the room, but if anyone expected me to put my hand on the thing? Forget it – I’d bring my tanakh. And I think that a Muslim has the same right to bring the Koran.
    It is cheap demagoguery when Prager claims to believe that it’s somehow indicative of disrespect to the whole nation – I don’t think for a minute that Prager is really that stupid and/or paranoid.

  12. Eric-
    While I happen to agree with Mobius on this one, no one follows the quote below. It happens all the time. This is an issue of free expression, while Prager can say and believe whatever it is that he wants – bigoted and ridiculous as it may sound – we also have the right to tell him he is full of it.
    I have high regard for anyone willing to shoot his mouth off that far. But he must also have had some sort of idea that calling for the end of the First Amendment and the destruction of VI Article of said amendment would not go over well with the majority of the Jewish community, let alone the “liberal media.”

  13. Actually Prager said he would have no problem if Ellison brings both a koran and a bible to the ceremony. I think prager’s concern is that it is the christian bible whose values basically are the foundation of american society and its religious freedom. He said that if a hindu scripture had been the foundation of American society and it had always been present at swearing-ins of politicians he would object to somebody refusing to have that scripture present also. I just don’t get why thats “demagogic”.
    It’s an opinion about honoring those unique things that create a society. Agree or disagree we can’t just call it “stupid” and be done with it. Its a real argument that deserves to be discussed. If anythings demagogic its this name calling and accusations of “conversion” and “bribery”. Talk about cheap hits. Whatever happened to discussing ideas back and forth intellectually?

  14. So then you would contend that it would be justified to say to the Jewish representatives that they must swear on a Christian Bible because, after all, it contains Hebrew scripture as well — but it was the “Christian Bible” which provided the foundation of this country?
    One swears allegiance to the foundations of this country when they swear allegiance to the Constitution. What the holy book does is add gravity to that original allegiance. “I swear to uphold the Constitution and laws of the US” to the best of my ability “so help me G-d” — the holy book says “and when I say G-d I mean He who is mentioned in this book here”.

  15. I think that Prager is using the whole thing as an excuse to drive people towards even more fear and anger at Muslims. There’s really no other reason. And Y-Love is right – if Prager is so concerned about honoring the founders of the nation, why not swear on the Constitution? I strongly disagree with Prager, and I’ve tried to express that in intelligent discussion, but some of his comments in his article were so ridiculous that I can’t take them seriously.

  16. Getting into a debate about whether Prager has been bribed or not is silly. My guess is that Prager’s Islamophobia is simply so extreme that he’s willing to make a proposal harmful to Jews in his attempt to keep Muslims out. In that way, it wasn’t too different from the proposal on these very pages to limit Muslim immigration on the basis of religion. History is pretty clear that when we draw religious hierarchies and codify the into law, Jews tend to get the short end of the stick (at elast in Diaspora societies–I don’t want this to become an Israel discussion).

  17. Well I think one reason for not swearing on the constitution is that its never been done before. Virtually every official whos ever been sworn in in America has done it either on a Bible or with a bible present. Because just swearing on a constitution is kind of meaningless–its a document that is the basis of laws not social values (for goodness sake even North Korea’s constitution protects “freedom of speech”! Seriously read it). I don’t think people should be legally forced to take an oath on a holy book that is not theirs–first of all the oath might be meaningless. Secondly there might be violations of the religious test and equal protection clauses of the constitution and maybe establishment clause issues as well.
    But the issue isn’t legal anyway. Pragers said that he doesnt want the law involved at all here. He just wants Ellison to do what every previous US official has done and at least have a bible present at the swearing in. Ellison himself started the issue by making a public announcement that he would only have a koran and not a bible present at his ceremony. I don’t know whether i agree with Prager or not but Ellison doesn’t have some kind of immunity protection from being criticized or questioned for his public decisions.
    If Ellison started the issue by making an unprecedented announcement then he better be able to defend it. Lets just think about what it will mean if every other official follows Ellison’s lead. We will all be able to take an oath of office on whatever text is most treasured to us personally. So various officials will bring in Dianetics, the solution to Fermat’s last theorem, the collected works of Voltaire and the Complete idiot’s guide to HTML. Come on- is that really just some minor nonissue? If somebody’s going to overturn 230 years of practice then you need to have a good argument. “You’ve been bribed” and “You’re a stupid bigot” don’t really cut it.

  18. “Overturn 230 years of practice”? Eric, did you read Y;Love’s original post? He wrote,
    most requests for alternative books have been by Jews, asking for Tana”chs, or in one case, prayer books. Theodore Roosevelt even decided to forego a Bible at his first inauguration.
    This makes clear that this is not overturning 230 years of practice. If you’re questioning Y-Love’s facts, do so directly and explain why. If you’re accepting his facts, don’t make claims about such overturning. Ellison’s choice of what to swear on should be a footnote, not a cause of ahistorical hysteria.

  19. The overturning of practice has to do with insisting that no bible be present–when for 230 years it has been in one form or another. I certainly respect those Jews whove chosen to take their oath on a Tanach but if they also insisted that no christian bible be present in the room i think theyd be provoking the exact same questions. Even in that case though the fact is the tanach is the root of the christian bible so they’re really not excluding it in the same way. (thats what i don’t really get about ellison in the first place. I thought islam holds that both tanach as well as the christian bible are holy and are part of their scripture.)
    The Theodore Roosevelt thing is totally inaccurate and i don’t understand how thats become a topic of discussion. Roosevelt was inaugurated immediately after the assassination of Mckinley. He was given an emergency swearing-in in Buffalo on saturday afternoon of september 14, 1901 and the only reason they didnt use a Bible was because there was no time to find one because Mckinley had already died 12 hours earlier, and they were very anxious to restore the presidency to the country and so the entire urgent affair took place under emergency conditions. The one other time that a bible was not used that i’ve heard of was with John quincy adams–he felt that the bible was so holy that he could not take a political (or maybe any) oath on it.
    I’ll just add that ellison himself obviously does not feel that this issue is just “a footnote”.

  20. Dude, please, you obviously didn’t even take the 1/16 of a second it would have taken to extend the flexon in your index finger to evenclick on the link. You would have seen precedents from such presidents as J. Q. Adams and Franklin Pierce. And governors, and two Jewish represenatives, and and and…
    J. Q. Adams may have had his motive rooted in fear of G-d, as may Pierce have. The point remains — the AFA would have incarcerated (at worst) or invalidated the inauguration (at best) of all of these men. And on what basis?

  21. In fact i had already extended my index flexon, clicked the link and read through the entire article and there’s nothing there that contradicts anything i wrote. JQA avoided the Bible b/c of fear of God. Pierce “affirmed” instead of “swore”. Hoover also “affirmed”. And several Jewish congressmen/women have sworn with their hands ON a tanach or siddur. So what? That has nothing to do with a bible being in the room or demanding that it not be in the room.
    I do not support the AFA proposal. Based on what i’ve heard him say neither does prager. (he says he does not want any legal action at all on this) As i already said I’m against forcing anybody to swear with their hands ON a book they do not believe is holy. But that has nothing to do with whether or not the foundational text of america should be in the room. I dont support the AFA proposal because its: 1. in very bad taste. 2. flirting with the religious test clause of the constitution. But i’ve already covered that. This isnt a legal issue. Its an issue of american culture and custom and political life.

  22. Has it occurred to you guys that Prager is a road block and distraction designed to keep you focussed on the lunatic fringe rather than on the people who actually have power in this country?

  23. Whatever your opinion of his op-ed, Prager is a proud Jew, unlike most of the people on this “progressive” site.

  24. All of us are self-hating Jews? Since when was there any one thing everyone on Jewschool could be considered as having the same opinion on! 😀

  25. Aw, Mobius, do you really need to dump ‘pragerwasright,’ because of the idiotic remark? Shouldn’t we keep the lines of communication open? Where would we all be if we simply turned our backs on the thoroughly ignorant? If we do turn our backs, how can we expect the ignorant to make t’shuvah?
    And, by turning our backs, does this not mean that WE reject t’shuvah?

  26. Mobi,
    Holy shit! I think you might want to take a deep breath. I mean, I couldn’t possibly agree more with your frustration, or simple disgust, at the insipidity and tendentiousness of the ubiquitous “self-hating Jew” reflex. Nonetheless, Miriam is quite right; the instantaneous “your-banned-for-life” edict is a tad on the Nero-level imperious side. Besides, it’s kind of comforting to know that the many commenters at Jewschool include the occasional fish in a barrel like Pragerwasright.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.