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US Jews feel threatened by religious right
By Michael Conlon
December 15, 2005

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. Jewish leaders say they are increasingly worried that Christian conservatives want to turn America politically and culturally into a country that tolerates only their brand of Christianity.

"There is a feeling on all sides that something is changing," said Abraham Foxman, director of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League.

"The polls indicate a very serious thing -- that over 60 percent of the American people feel that religion and Christianity are under attack," he said on Thursday in an interview.

"Some are saying we are attacking (Christianity). This whole movement is not anti-Semitic or motivated by anti-Semitism. But sometimes unintended consequences are much more serious than intended" he added.

Foxman recently arranged a meeting in New York involving six Jewish organizations to discuss the problem. He said that while participants did not agree on the exact level of the problem, they felt a strategy was needed.

"It's not a war room strategy," he added. "It's to understand what's out there."

He said Jews are a people of faith but are opposed to anyone who would say only they know the truth and want to impose it on everyone else.

While every December brings disputes over what to call the "holiday season" and its trappings, the level of lobbying by those who fear Christmas is becoming something generic has been particularly high this year.

But the issues raised by Foxman and others goes much deeper into American society, ranging from challenges to teaching evolution to bans on abortion and same-sex marriage or deciding

what kind of people who should serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Every room (from bedroom to classroom) in the American mansion is under assault to impose either de facto or de jure a Christian theocracy -- I call them Christocrats," said Rabbi James Rudin, former head of interreligious activities for the American Jewish Committee.

"They are people who believe there should be a legally mandated Christian nation, where the concept of separation of church and state is weakened or abandoned," he added.

Rudin said he has met pastors "who say that Jesus Christ is the ultimate leader of America and that God's law trumps the Constitution ... I'm very concerned."

While far from all evangelical Christians hold those views, he said, the influence of those who do is strong.

Rudin, whose book "The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us" will be published in January by Avalon, said those with a theocratic agenda are not anti-Semites, and in fact some of them are among the strongest supporters of the state of Israel.

But he said they are Christians who see secular humanists and globalists as their enemies and who feel they are being attacked.

Mathew (cq) Staver, general counsel of the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, a group which backs conservative Christian causes in court and which has been particularly active in Christmas-related issues, says "there is absolutely no effort that I'm aware of to theocratize America or put down other faiths to expand Christianity."

He credits the increased activity surrounding Christmas issues this year to three years of building an organization over the matter.

"People have said enough is enough," he said, citing such incidents as naming Boston's Christmas tree a "holiday tree" and the publication of a sales catalog by a major retailer which featured Kwanza and Hanukkah gifts but made no mention of Christmas.

President George W. Bush, who describes himself as a born-again Christian, also faced criticism recently for sending out cards wishing people a happy "holiday" season.

"This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture," William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights told the Washington Post.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

The right wing recently lost their battle with Ford on the gay issue so it's highly likely they're losing power quickly. In fact, I don't think they ever had power. They only have power if we let them have it.