Proselytizing" – A Smear Term to Silence Christianity
Rev. Ted Pike
term "religious proselytizing" is being used to prejudice the
public against Christian evangelism. It conjures up images of Moonies in
airports or religious fanatics ranting on street corners. The very sound
of the term (similar to "parasitizing") is threatening. Most
people don't know what the word means, but of one thing they are sure:
they are against it.
has the phrase come from?
is used most frequently in Israel, becoming common with the passage on
December 25, 1977, of Israel's infamous "anti-missionary" law.1
This is a statute that decrees a prison term of up to five years for any
gentile attempting to proselytize a Jew away from his faith.2
Proponents say this is vital to the survival of Israel because so many
young Jews are being seduced away from the fold, largely by Christianity.
The severity of the sentence, they argue, is warranted because such theft
of Jewish souls can lead to genocide, or the extinction of a race.
Judaism resents the encroachment of Christianity not just in Israel, but
also throughout the world. With 40% of the American Jewish boys marrying
gentile girls, and the Jewish birthrate not keeping up with the rest of
humanity, Jewish leaders are desperate that the physical and spiritual
unity of the Jewish race be preserved.
such a mindset against Christianity, we may understand why Billy Graham
and other Christian evangelists have never held a crusade in Israel.
Graham has held many meetings throughout the Soviet bloc and Russia. Yet
not in Israel. Despite the friendliness of the Israel tourist industry,
the fact remains that all religious affairs of the state of Israel are
controlled by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem, who enforces the strictly
orthodox point of view. The result is that, although Israel proclaims
itself the only real democracy in the Middle East, in matters of religious
liberty it is more inflexibly anti-Christian than even hardened Communist
American Jewry reflects Israeli attitudes, it is not surprising that
official Jewish groups in the United States should oppose the public
advancement of Christianity. This is nothing new. The New Testament church
began amid withering harassment from the Jewish establishment.
modern, or "rabbinic" Judaism is directly descended from the
ancient Sanhedrin, it is not strange that Judaism's underlying antagonism
remains. Thus we see Jewish dominated "civil liberties"
organizations invariably opposing the proliferation of Christian symbols
and traditions. Such traditions include the right to read the Bible or
pray in the classroom, at commencement, swearing-in ceremonies, or at the
beginning of court sessions. Invariably, the American Civil Liberties
Union, led by Jewish national director, Ira Glasser, comes out to do
battle with public Christianity. Although not entirely Jewish (an ACLU
poll found 21.4% of its members and 27.3% of ACLU's leaders to be Jews3),
the ACLU is emphatically anti-Christian. As a direct result of ACLU
harassment, prayer and Bible reading in the schools of America have been
largely outlawed, as well as official prayers on tax-supported properties.
The ACLU will take even a Christian judge to court if he opens his court
Christian right under attack is the privilege of school children to hear
the creationist point of view, as well as that of the evolutionist. The
most visible opponent to creation science is "People for the American
Way," founded and controlled by Jewish television producer, Norman
Lear. "Paw, "like the ACLU, stands ever vigilant, not just to
protest the spread of Christian ideas and values, but to resist Christians
all the way to the Supreme Court.
would think certain Christian customs so harmless, so benign, that even
Jewish watchdog groups would look the other way. Don't count on it!
Should a local Christmas or Easter committee be so bold as to put
up a cross in the town square or a manger scene on public property, or
sing hymns or Christmas carols in public, they are in for a rude
very powerful "Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith" (ADL) and
the "American Jewish Congress" (AJC) will not permit it. These
Jewish groups shout, "This is in violation of separation between
church and state! This is discrimination by the Christian religion over
others!" The result is that crosses and nativity scenes are
disappearing across the nation during the holidays. Curiously, while the
cross of Christ is effectively banned on public property, federal courts
have upheld the right of the menorah, symbol of Judaism, to be displayed
in public. The menorah, they argue, is not as specific a symbol as the
Israel, it is easy to enact and enforce anti-missionary legislation. In
America, it is necessary for Jewish groups to veil their true motivation
as they work to establish an American equivalent of Israel's
anti-missionary law. Rather than give the impression that they oppose
Christianity, they say it is "racism," "prejudice,"
"intolerance," which they are against. Yet, they have one
target, as they have in Israel: Christianity. To weaken its influence over
Jews, Jewish leadership continues an aggressive, many-faceted program to
discourage its outward expression, especially in public places. For it is
in the public arena, in higher education, in government, that Christian
missionaries, such as "Jews for Jesus," find lonely, searching
young Jewish men and women, and move them to belief in Israel's rejected
message is clear. Jewish anti-Christian groups envision a world in which
it will be not just impolite, but actually illegal for Christians to
publicly "proselytize" or reprove. With this objective, such
groups are working feverishly on both federal and state levels to
establish "anti-hate" legislation, laws which could eventually
make it illegal to condemn homosexuality, or to say that the Jews are lost
without faith in Christ. Such traditional attitudes they label as
"hate" - a form of "prejudice," "religious
harassment," or "verbal violence." So far, Jewish groups
have been successful in passing "anti-hate" legislation because
of one reason: Christian leaders are terrified of being labeled
"anti-Semitic" or "racist" should they resist a
"civil liberties" program which the Jews are promoting.
fear of the Jews must subside if our basic liberty to preach the whole
gospel is to be preserved.
Knesset passed Israel's anti-missionary law in 1977 on Christmas day so it
would be perfectly clear against whom it was directed.
Anti-missionary law 5738-1977. Strictly speaking,
"proselytizing" under this law involves a gift, no matter how
small (such as a tract) given to a Jew by a Christian. Under Israeli law
it is a crime to "give or promise money, the equivalent of money or
any other material benefit in order to entice a person to change his
religion." Yet, realistically, the word "proselytizing" is
much more loosely interpreted. As a case in point, evangelical Christians
showed a film about the second coming of Christ in Jerusalem's largest
hotel, the Shalom. This outraged Israel's chief rabbi, Yitzhak Kolitz, who
forbade them to further "proselytize." However, the manager
reassured the Christians that "they are welcome if they do not
violate the law." (Jesus Film Stirs Hotel Row, "Jerusalem
Post, International Edition, Oct. 16-22, 1983, p.5)
ambiguity keeps Christians in Israel on edge, vulnerable to accusations
that they "violate the law." Speaking in defense of
evangelicals, Charles Kopp, chairman of the "United Christian Council
in Israel," says such Christians "do not engage in
proselytizing." ..."We do not give out leaflets in the streets
or witness at our jobs." ("Friendly Strangers in our
Midst," Jerusalem Post, International Edition, May 25, 1991,
government remains suspicious - and anti-Christian. Daniel Rossing, head
of the Department of Christian Churches for the Israel Ministry of
Religious Affairs, summarized his government's position: "The
government, by all available means, discourages missionary activity."
(Christian Missionary Activity in Israel Under Fire," L. A. Times,
Part I, March 8, 1984, p.8)
Civil Liberties and Nazis: The Skokie Free Speech Controversy, James
L. Gibson and Richard D. Bingham, page 53, Praeger, New York, 1985.
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