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Thread: Christianity and Anti-Semitism

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    Arrow Christianity and Anti-Semitism

    According to differing points of view, Christianity is considered to be either a divergence from Judaism, an amendment to Judaism, or a philosophical maturation of Judaism. Despite a common origin, growing differences between Christians and Jews often developed into hostilities, and have contributed to the view of "Jew" as "outsider" which has contributed to modern anti-Semitism. Ironically, Jews would come to face hostilities from those that revered the teachings of a crucified Jewish man.


    Early origins

    Christians began to show philosophical differences with Judaism at the early outset of Christianity. The Apostle Paul is largely credited with being the father of Christianity by breaking with the original Apostles,' who did not believe that Jesus abrogated the Hebrew covenant with God. Debates among Paul, other Jewish Christians (e.g. Nazarenes and Ebionites), and other Jews revolved around a unique feature of Judaism: it claimed to worship a universal God through a particular religion.

    In other words, Judaism claims that its God is the God of all, but does not require non-Jews to follow Jewish law in order to worship that God. Since Jesus was Jewish, the question facing early Christians was whether gentiles had to follow Jewish law in order to follow Jesus.

    Paul argued not only that gentiles did not have to follow Jewish law; he argued that Jews ought no longer to follow Jewish law. The establishment of Paul's views led to a break between Christianity and Judaism:

    The Roman Empire viewed Christianity as intolerant, and as long as Christians were marginal within the empire they were persecuted; however, as Jewish pluralism conformed to Roman pluralism, the Empire protected Judaism. Once Christianity was established as the official religion of the Empire, however, Christian persecution of Judaism increased.


    Assimilation

    The assimilation of Jews into majority non-Jewish culture is perhaps the single issue where Christians and Jews differ most sharply. The "conversion" of a Jewish born person to Christianity may be seen by Jews as a scourge ("silent Holocaust") and by some Christians as a "blessing from God" for the "salvation" of a non-Christian for their conversion to Christianity. In the reverse situation, though perhaps more rare, similar sentiments among partisans might also apply.


    Anti-Judaism

    Perhaps best described as 'religious anti-Semitism,' anti-Judaism is a manifestation of a religious hostility toward Jews, that claims to base itself in Christian religious doctrine. Although some Christians have considered anti-Judaism contrary to Christian teaching, it has historically been expressed by most Christian leaders and laypersons. In many cases, the practical tolerance towards the Jewish religion and the Jewish people prevailed. Some Christian groups, particularly in recent years, have condemned verbal Anti-Judaism.

    This article begins by describing passages in the New Testament that some feel are anti-Judaist, as well as anti-Judaist statements and acts by the Church Fathers. It goes on to discuss developments in the 20th century, both promoting and opposing anti-Semitism.

    During the past 1800 years, many Christians have had anti-Jewish attitudes. Some historians and many Jews hold that for most of its history, most of Christianity was openly anti-Semitic and that the severity, type and extent of this anti-Semitism have varied much over time; the earliest form was theological anti-Judaism.


    Anti-Semitism in the New Testament

    Few Jews consider the New Testament anti-Semitic as such. The main concern of most Jews today is how the New Testament has been used to legitimate or provoke anti-Semitism, which is a modern phenomenon. However, a number of elements of the New Testament are anti-Jewish. This takes several different forms:

    1. the claim that Jews are responsible for the murder of Jesus. This is exemplified by I Thessalonians 14-15: For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus which are in Judea; for you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all men.
    2. the claim that the Jewish covenant with God has been superseded by a new covenant.
    3. criticisms of the Pharisees.
    4. criticisms of Jewish parochialism or particularism
    These elements of the New Testament have their origins in first and second century history. Christianity began as a branch of Judaism. Virtually all of Jesus' followers during his life were Jews, and it was even a matter of controversy, many years after his death, as to whether non-Jews could even be considered Christians at all.

    There is considerable evidence that Jesus himself considered himself a reformer in the prophetic tradition, and did not intend to set up a new religion. (See for example the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5 verses 17-19). Although the Gospels offer accounts of confrontations and debates between Jesus and other Jews, such conflicts were common among Jews at the time.

    Scholars debate the historicity of the Gospels, and have offered different interpretations of the complex relationship between Jewish authorities and Christians before and following Jesus' death. These debates hinge on the meaning of the word "messiah," and the claims of early Christians. The Gospels make several claims about Jesus: that he was a preacher, faith healer, messiah.

    The first two claims describe roles popular in first century Judea; were Jesus principally a preacher and healer, there is no reason to think he would have come into conflict with Jewish authorities. The claim that he was the messiah, however, is more controversial. The Hebrew word mashiyakh occupation, would have supported him as a liberator.

    It is also likely that Jewish authorities would have been cautious, out of fear of Roman reprisal. At the time the Romans held the high priest responsible for keeping the peace; if the Jewish authorities did not arrest anyone liable to provoke a riot or uprising, they would risk being sent to Rome for execution or other punishment.

    In the Gospels, moreover, Jesus refers to God as his "father," although this was common among Jews at the time. Others refer to Jesus as "lord;" historians debate whether such passages were added after Jesus' death. Christians believe that the New Testament indicates that Jesus is literally God's son.

    However, Hebrew and Jewish texts from the pre- and post-exilic period most often use such phrases in other ways (for example, in the Hebrew Bible "son of God" is used to refer to angels, kings, and the Children of Israel generically; in post-Biblical sources the phrase is often used to describe a just man); Jesus could have used the phrases in these senses. For most Jews, the death of Jesus would have been sufficient proof that he was not a messiah.

    For most Christians, the belief that he was resurrected was sufficient proof that he was. It is possible that some early Christians did not claim that Jesus was the messiah, but continued to celebrate his wisdom and teachings (much as Jews continue to celebrate the teachings of the prophets); such followers of Jesus would not have faced opposition from other Jews.

    However it is clear that Jesus was considered by Christians to be the Messiah, certainly by the time of Paul's writings, and very probably during Jesus' life. Some scholars, however, have argued that the Gospel understanding of messiah developed only after Jesus' death, as a way for followers to maintain their claims that he was the messiah. If this were the case, and early Christians preached that Jesus was about to return, it is virtually certain that Jewish authorities would have opposed them out of fear of Roman reprisal.

    Such fears would have been well-grounded: Jews revolted against the Romans in and Romans who worshipped the traditional Greek and Roman gods, most (משיח) typically signified "king" - a man, chosen by God or descended from a man chosen by God, to serve as a civil and military authority. If Jesus made this claim during his life, it is not surprising that many Jews, weary of Roman66 CE, which culminated with the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE; they revolted again under the leadership of the professed messia Simon Bar Kokhba in 132 CE, which culminated in the expulsion of the Jews from the Land of Israel, which Hadrian renamed into Palestine to wipe out memory of Jews there.

    Another source of tension between early Christians and Jews was the question of observance of Jewish law. Early Christians were divided over this issue: Jesus' brother James believed that Christians had to be Jews and observe Jewish law, while Paul argued that Christians did not have to observe all of Jewish law, and did not have to be circumcised, which was a requirement for male Jews.

    Most scholars (influenced by Martin Luther) have interpreted Paul's writings as rejecting the validity of Jewish law. A small number of of historians suggest that Paul accepted the authority of the law, but understood that it excluded non-Jews. This is not a generally accepted view. Although Gentiles could convert to Judaism and thus be included, the point remained that people could enter this covenant with God only by being Jewish.

    By replacing the written law (the Torah) with Christ as the sign of the covenant, Paul sought to transform Judaism into a universal religion. It is evident that Paul saw himself as a Jew, but other Jews rejected this abstract universalism; after Paul's death, Christianity emerged as a separate religion, and Pauline Christianity emerged as the dominant form of Christianity, especially after Paul, James and the other apostles agreed on a compromise set of requirements (Acts 15).

    Some Christians continued to adhere to Jewish law, but they were few in number and typically considered heretics by the Church. One example is the Ebionites, which, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, were "infected with Judaistic errors" (language which Jews find offensive); for instance, they denied the virgin birth of Jesus, the physical resurrection of Jesus, and most of the books that were later canonized as the New Testament.

    Many New Testament passages criticise the Pharisees; these passages have shaped the way that Christians have viewed Jews. Like most Bible passages, however, they can and have been interpreted in a variety of ways. During Jesus' life and at the time of his execution, the Pharisees were only one of several Jewish groups such as the Sadduccees, Zealots, and Essenes; indeed, some have suggested that Jesus was himself a Pharisee (although this seems unlikely).

    Arguments by Jesus and his disciples against the Pharisees were almost certainly examples of disputes among Jews and internal to Judaism that were common at the time (Lutheran Pastor John Stendahl has pointed out that "Christianity begins as a kind of Judaism, and we must recognize that words spoken in a family conflict are inappropriately appropriated by those outside the family.")

    After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, however, the Pharisees emerged as the principal form of Judaism (also called "Rabbinic Judaism"). All major modern Jewish movements consider themselves descendants of Pharasaic Judaism; as such, Jews are especially sensitive to criticisms of "Pharisees" as a group. At the same time that the Pharisees came to represent Judaism as a whole, Christianity came to seek, and attract, more non-Jewish converts than Jewish converts.

    Within a hundred years or so the majority of Christians were non-Jews without any significant knowledge of Judaism (although until about 1000, there was an active Jewish component of Christianity). Many of these Christians read these passages not as internal debates among Jews but as the basis for a Christian rejection of Judaism and Jews.

    By this time, Christians were theologically rejecting any and all groups who rejected the Christian claim that Jesus was God, which of course included the Jews, along with Greek gnostics, and others. Moreover, it was only during the Rabbinic era that Chrtistianity would compete exclusively with Pharisees for converts and over how to interpret the Hebrew Bible (during Jesus' lifetime, the Sadducees were the dominant Jewish faction).

    Some scholars have argued that some passages of the Gospels were written (or re-written) at this time to emphasize conflict with the Pharisees. These scholars observe that the portrait of the Pharisees in the Gospels is strikingly different from that provided in Rabbinic sources, and suggest that New Testament Pharisees are a caricature and literary foil for Christianity.

    At a time when Christians were only seeking converts, and had no political power in the Roman Empire, such a caricature may not have been in any meaningful sense "anti-Judaist." But once Christianity was established as the religion of the Empire, and Christians enjoyed political domination over Europe, this caricature could be used to incite or justify oppression of Jews.

    Some have also suggested that the Greek word Ioudaioi could also be translated "Judaeans", meaning in some cases specifically the Jews from Judaea, as opposed to people from Galilee or Samaria for instance. In recent years teachers in a few Christian denominations have begun to teach that readers should understand the New Testament's attacks on Jews as specific charges aimed at certain Jewish leaders of that time, and upon attitudes displayed by many, inside and outside Judaism.


    The Church Fathers

    The following statements have been used to justify persecution of Jews. Many of the following people were recognized as saints by the Church; none of them explicitly advocated physical violence or murder, sometimes arguing, like Augustine, that the Jews should be left alive and suffering as a perpetual reminder of their murder of Christ.

    • Eusebius of Caesarea, in 325, blames the calamities which befell the Jewish nation on the Jews' role in the death of Jesus: "that from that time seditions and wars and mischievous plots followed each other in quick succession, and never ceased in the city and in all Judea until finally the siege of Vespasian overwhelmed them. Thus the divine vengeance overtook the Jews for the crimes which they dared to commit against Christ. " (Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History: Book II, Chapter 6: The Misfortunes which overwhelmed the Jews after their Presumption against Christ) [1] (http://web.cbn.org/bibleresources/th...ebius-b2-7.asp)

    • Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (340-397 CE) - A bishop was accused of instigating the burning of a synagogue by an anti-Semitic mob, and Emperor Theodosius was preparing to order the bishop to rebuild it. Ambrose discouraged the Emperor from taking this step because it would appear to show special favoritism to the Jews:
      (1) no action was taken against those responsible for burning the houses of various wealthy individuals in Rome
      (2) no action was taken against those responsible for the recent burning of the house of the Bishop of Constantinople
      (3) Jews had caused several Christian basilicas to be burnt during the reign of Julian, yet had never been asked to make reparation, and some of those basilicas were still not rebuilt.

      Ambrose asked that Christian monies not be used to build a place of worship for unbelievers, heretics or Jews, and reminded Ambrose that some Christian laity had said of Emperor Maximus, "he has become a Jew" because of the edict Maximus issued regarding the burning of a Roman synagogue. Ambrose did not oppose punishing those directly responsible for burning the synagogue. He halted the celebration of the Eucharist until Theodosius agreed to end the investigation without requiring reparations to be made by the bishop. (from the 40th and 41st Epistles of St. Ambrose of Milan)
    Catholic Encyclopaedia entry on Ambrose (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01383c.htm)
    • Augustine of Hippo in Book 18, Chapter 46, of The City of God. wrote "The Jews who slew Him [Jesus], and would not believe in Him, because it behoved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and were dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ." [2] (http://www.ccel.org/fathers/NPNF1-02...e/cog/t103.htm)

    Augustine deems this scattering important because he believes that this is a fulfillment of certain prophecies, thus proving that Jesus was the Messiah. This is because Augustine believes that the Jews who were dispersed were the enemies of the Christian Church. He also quotes part of the same prophecy that says "Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law".
    • Ephraim the Syrian wrote polemics against Jews in the fourth century, including the repeated accusation that Satan dwells among them as a partner. These writings were directed at Christians who were being proselytized by Jews and who Ephraim feared were slipping back into the religion of Judaism; thus he portrayed the Jews as enemies of Christianity, like Satan, to emphasize the contrast between the two religions, namely, that Christianity was Godly and true and Judaism was Satanic and false. Like John Chrysostom, his objective was to dissuade Christians from reverting to Judaism by emphasizing what he saw as the wickedness of the Jews and their religion.
    Ephraim the Syrian and his polemics against Jews (http://syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye/Vol1No2/HV1N2Palmer.html) Analysis of Ephraim's writings (http://syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye/Vol5No1...hepardson.html)
    • In his Dialog of Justin, Philosopher and Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew, the Christian scholar Justin Martyr advanced arguments for the truth of Christianity and wrote to his imaginary Jewish opponent: "You think that these words refer to the stranger and the proselytes, but in fact they refer to us who have been illumined by Jesus. For Christ would have borne witness even to them; but now you are become twofold more the children of Hell, as He said Himself."[3] (http://www.ccel.org/fathers/ANF-01/j...tintrypho.html)

    • Saint Jerome (374-419 CE) - He denounced Jews as "Judaic serpents of whom Judas was the model." In his The Jews in the Roman Empire (Les Juifs dan L'Empire Romain) [Is this really a work by Jerome, or a modern history?] he wrote: "The Jews seek nothing but to have children, possess riches and be healthy. They seek all earthly things, but think nothing of heavenly things; for this reason they are mercenaries."

    • Saint John Chrysostom (ca 344 - 407 CE) - wrote of the Jews and of Judaizers in eight homilies Adversus Judaeos, Against The Jews (or Against the Judaizers) [4] (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sourc...tom-jews6.html). These quotes are translations from the original Greek posted by Paul Halsall: other researchers give slightly different translations.
    "Shall I tell you of their plundering, their covetousness, their abandonment of the poor, their thefts, their cheating in trade? the whole day long will not be enough to give you an account of these things. But do their festivals have something solemn and great about them? They have shown that these, too, are impure." (Homily I, VII, 1)"But before I draw up my battle line against the Jews, I will be glad to talk to those who are members of our own body, those who seem to belong to our ranks although they observe the Jewish rites and make every effort to defend them. Because they do this, as I see it, they deserve a stronger condemnation than any Jew." (HOMILY IV, II, 4)"Are you Jews still disputing the question? Do you not see that you are condemned by the testimony of what Christ and the prophets predicted and which the facts have proved? But why should this surprise me? That is the kind of people you are. From the beginning you have been shameless and obstinate, ready to fight at all times against obvious facts." (HOMILY V, XII, 1) Historical note The goal of these sermons was to discourage Christians from intermixing Jewish belief and practice with Christian belief and practice, because Jewish belief and practice were evil and un-Godly.
    • Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe (467-533 CE) - In his "Writings", written about 510 CE, he states "Hold most firmly and doubt not that not all the pagans, but also all the Jews, heretic and schismatics who depart from the present life outside the Catholic Church, are about to go into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (See also: Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.)



    Later Christian Writers

    • Thomas of Monmouth, a monk in the Norwich Benedictine monastery, wrote a detailed anti-Semitic tractate holding that Jews tortured to death Christian children during Passover. His tractate was called The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich, 1173.

    Excerpt from the Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (http://www.unc.edu/courses/pre2000fa...isemitism.html)
    • Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274) preached that the Jewish people were damned because they had slain Jesus, and the only way they could be saved was to renounce their faith and be baptized as Christians.

    • Geoffrey Chaucer (?1343-1400) wrote in "The Prioress's Tale" of his Canterbury Tales of a devout little Christian child who was murdered by Jews affronted at his singing a hymn as he passed through the Jewry, or Jewish quarter, of a city in Asia:
    Our primal foe, the serpent Sathanas,Who has in Jewish heart his hornets' nest,Swelled arrogantly: "O Jewish folk, alas!Is it to you a good thing, and the best,That such a boy walks here, without protest,In your despite and doing such offenseAgainst the teachings that you reverence?"From that time forth the Jewish folk conspiredOut of the world this innocent to chase;A murderer they found, and thereto hired,Who in an alley had a hiding-place;And as the child went by at sober pace,This cursed Jew did seize and hold him fast,And cut his throat, and in a pit him cast.I say, that in a cesspool him they threw,Wherein these Jews did empty their entrails.O cursed folk of Herod, born anew,How can you think your ill intent avails?Murder will out, 'tis sure, nor ever fails,And chiefly when God's honour vengeance needs.[5] (http://classiclit.about.com/library/...au-can-pri.htm)
    • Martin Luther, founder of Protestant Christianity, was at first very friendly towards the Jews, believing that the evils of Catholicism had prevented their conversion to Christianity. When he discovered that Jews did not find the Protestant form of Christianity any more congenial, he became very hostile to them instead and preached, in his book On the Jews and their Lies, that they were "venomous beasts, vipers, disgusting scum, canders, devils incarnate. Their private houses must be destroyed and devastated, they could be lodged in stables. Let the magistrates burn their synagogues and let whatever escapes be covered with sand and mud. Let them force to work, and if this avails nothing, we will be compelled to expel them like dogs in order not to expose ourselves to incurring divine wrath and eternal damnation from the Jews and their lies."

    • Pope Clement VIII (1536-1605). "All the world suffers from the usury of the Jews, their monopolies and deceit. They have brought many unfortunate people into a state of poverty, especially the farmers, working class people and the very poor. Then, as now, Jews have to be reminded intermittently that they were enjoying rights in any country since they left Palestine and the Arabian desert, and subsequently their ethical and moral doctrines as well as their deeds rightly deserve to be exposed to criticism in whatever country they happen to live."
    Many websites have lists of supposed quotes by Christian leaders and saints. For example, one page on More Christian Jew Haters (http://www.nt-antisemitism.ic24.net/antisem/hate.htm) claims to list "quotes that reveal shocking hatred against the Jewish people and false accusations against the Jews by popes, 'saints' and other Christian religious functionaries". Many of these quotes turn out to be partly or completely fabricated by people seeking to discredit Christianity. Amongst the victims of these misquotations is Gregory of Nyssa.


    20th century Christian statements

    Reverend Jerry Falwell gave a statement (January 14, 1999) that caused concern in the Jewish community. He stated that "the Anti-Christ is probably alive today and is a male Jew. Is he alive and here today? Probably. Because when he appears during the Tribulation period he will be a full-grown counterfeit of Christ. Of course he'll be Jewish. Of course he'll pretend to be Christ.

    And if in fact the Lord is coming soon, and he'll be an adult at the presentation of himself, he must be alive somewhere." Falwell later expressed astonishment at the idea that Jews would find this anti-Semitic, and offered an apology for hurting anyone's feelings, but stood by his position. He was making these statements according to a view of Christian eschatology called premillennial dispensationalism, which anticipates the appearance of a false Messiah.

    They expect this anti-Christ to deceive the world by at first seeming more perfectly than Jesus to fulfill the scriptural promises of a coming prophet and king of the Jews. The same view of eschatology teaches that the curse of God will come against anyone who curses the Jewish people, and that of all people in the world the Jews alone will not be deceived by the anti-Christ. Nevertheless, the majority of Jews, both religious and secular, feel that such claims are hostile to them.


    The Jews' expulsion from England

    Edward I of England expelled all the Jews from England in 1290 (only after ransoming some 3,000 among the most wealthy of them).


    The Jews' expulsion from Spain

    In 1481, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, the rulers of Spain who financed Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New World just a few years later in 1492, declared the Spanish Inquisition. All Jews in their territory were compelled to convert to Christianity or flee the country. While some converted, many others left for Morocco and North Africa. Estimates are that between four and eight thousand secret Jews (morraños) were burnt alive, as well as many Moriscos. It is arguable whether this constitutes anti-Semitism in the racist sense, since it was directed at recent converts from Judaism.


    Church teachings and Nazi Germany

    Many historians hold that Nazi policies towards Jews were based in traditional Christian culture and teachings. The following are examples of Christian beliefs towards Jews that became Nazi policy

    • The Synod of Clermont (Franks), 535 CE, prohibited Jews from holding public office.
    • Nazi Germany, 1935 CE - Prohibited Jews from holding public office.
    • The 12th Synod of Toledo (Spain), 681 CE, ordered the burning of the Talmud and other Jewish books.
    • Nazi Germany - Ordered the burning of the Talmud and other Jewish books.
    • In 692, the Trulanic Synod forbade Christians to go to Jewish doctors, attend Jewish religious feasts or have friendly relations with Jews.
    • Nazi Germany - The Nuremberg laws forbade people to go to Jewish doctors
    • The Fourth Lateran Council, 1215 CE, forced Jews to wear a distinctive badge on their clothing.
    • Pope Paul IV, in 1555, issues a papal bull forcing Jews to wear yellow hats; this same papal bull confines Jews to ghettos, and bans them from working in most professions.
    • Nazi Germany adopted every one of these laws in 1939; the only change was that the yellow hat was changed to a yellow star.
    • In the 1930s Nazi Germany help the Lutheran church and other Christian churches publicise Martin Luther's teachings; his recommendations were carried out on every Jew in Germany and its occupied lands.



    Christian opposition to the Holocaust

    There was little in the way of organized resistance to the Nazis' anti-Semitic policies by any Christian group during the 1930s in Germany, whether Catholic, Orthodox Christian, or Protestant. However, there were many individual Christian clergy and laypeople of all denominations who publicly and actively opposed the Nazis' anti-Semitic policies. The Catholic Church officially condemned the Nazi theory of racism in Germany in 1937 with the Encyclical "Mit Brennender Sorge", signed by Pope Pius XI.

    Amongst Christian clergy who actively preached against Antisemitism in Germany there was the Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, though in the end his opposition cost him his life, and the Catholic parson of Berlin Cathedral, Bernhard Lichtenberg, who also died. By the 1940s, fewer Christians were willing to oppose Nazi policy publicly, but many secretly helped save the lives of Jewish people. There are many sections of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Museum, Yad VaShem, dedicated to honoring these "Righteous Among the Nations".


    Reasons that anti-Semitism continued

    The isolation of Jews as a special case may be a partial cause of both beneficial and detrimental special treatment of the Jews. This special case treatment can be seen from very early times, into the present in both, politics and religion.

    One principle which arises directly from Christian teaching, for example, is that, to know God as He is revealed in Jesus Christ is eternal life: "No other name under heaven is given among men, by which they must be saved". To the service of this exclusivist religious motive, Christian rulers adapted and applied the same tools of Empire under which Christians had formerly, occasionally suffered as a persecuted minority.

    The Christian rulers argued that those who take away the possibility of eternal life should be prevented by force; especially apostates from the Christian faith or those who drew converts away from the Church, since this would be worse than murder or any purely temporal evil. Therefore, at times, no public displays of any non-Christian religion were allowed, and proselytizing to convert people away from Christianity was also forbidden: sometimes purely for reason of Empire, sometimes more directly arising from the power and authority of the Church. These intolerant practices have had mixed results throughout Christian history. Many religions faded away in the regions where the Christian Empire dominated, but others simply retracted their public presence, or asserted themselves covertly within the Christian context.

    However, a special case had always been reserved for the Jewish religion. Christians have believed that the Jewish practices were prefigures of the Christian ones, and that they may not be forcibly stopped (although Christians never ceased from attempting to convert Jewish people). This singling out of Jews had the negative side-effect of isolating Jews into a special class, as a group excluded from the general rule.

    For example, Christian law forbade Christians to lend money and reclaim it with interest; Jewish law likewise had the same restrictions. But during the middle-ages, European Christian nobility often forced Jews to take on this role; over time, some Jews naturally played an important role in the economies of the Middle Ages. On many occasions, when their high-powered debtors decided they did not want to pay back their debts, they relied on the "Christ's murderers" tradition to expel the Jews and default on their obligations. To many, this would appear to be a case of misuse of Scripture and tradition to justify actions that would otherwise be condemned.

    An almost automatic respect is often accorded to a Jewish convert to Christianity, which goes hand in hand with a special contempt for Jewish apostasy from Christianity. Especially strong fascination with Jews and Judaism, both positive and negative, has typified Christianity from the beginning. No family lineage has the significance to Christianity that belongs to every Jew, simply by being born Jewish.

    Special interest in their history and religion has occasionally produced among Christians a special interest in winning their conversion; the dark side of which, is that an especially virulent disdain has been reserved for ethnically Jewish converts to Christianity who practice Judaism after conversion to Christianity, or revert to Judaism. Jewish rejection of Christian claims has been felt with unique disappointment, sometimes erupting into hatred and violence toward them, for reasons that would not even remotely apply to any other ethnic group. This has been the important cause of Christian anti-semitism for centuries, and especially during the Inquisition.

    As with any other religion, Christianity is transmitted through the voices of men. The shape of anti-Semitism in the Christian world has changed so much according to place and time that, on nearly anyone's account, it is unfair to say Christians per se have taught anti-Semitism. But again, on nearly anyone's account, it can certainly be said that Christian anti-Semites have often turned to Christian scripture to justify their actions.


    Anti-Semitism in modern-day nations

    Allegedly Anti-Semitism in some European countries still remains a substantial problem. The entry on Religious freedom in Poland discusses the current state of religious tensions in predominantly Catholic Poland. Anti-Semitism exists to a lesser or greater degree in many other nations as well, including: mostly countries with immigrants from Muslim countries.

    While in a decline since the 1940s, there is still a measurable amount of anti-Semitism in the United States of America as well, although acts of violence are quite rare. The 2001 survey by the Anti-Defamation League reported 1432 acts of anti-Semitism in the United States that year. The figure included 877 acts of harassment, including verbal intimidation, threats and physical assaults ([6] (http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ASUS_12/4057_12.asp)).


    Current attempts to convert Jews to Christianity

    Some Jews consider any attempt to convert Jews to another belief is a form of anti-Judaism. It has been the viewpoint of Evangelical Christians that all people must accept Jesus Christ as their Savior in order to find salvation. It follows that from their point of view all people should be given the chance to convert to Christianity, regardless of race, colour or current creed. Not to evanglize Jews would be tantamount to discrimination.

    The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant Christian denomination in the U.S., has explicitly rejected suggestions that it should back away from seeking to convert Jews, a position that critics have called anti-Semitic but that Baptists see as consistent with their view that salvation is found solely though faith in Christ. In 1996, the SBC approved a resolution calling for efforts to seek the conversion of Jews "as well as for the salvation of 'every kindred and tongue and people and nation.'"

    Most Evangelicals agree with the SBC position, and some have similarly been supporting efforts specifically seeking Jews' conversion. At the same time these groups are among the most pro-Israeli groups. Among the controversial groups that has found support from some Evangelical churches is Jews for Jesus, which claims that Jews can find their Jewish faith become complete by accepting Jesus as the Messiah.

    By contrast, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Canada and the Roman Catholic Church have ended their efforts to convert Jews. Most Jews see evangelism directed specifically at Jews as anti-Semitic.


    The "White Power" Movement

    The Christian Identity movement, the Ku Klux Klan and other White supremacy groups claim to be very strongly Christian in nature; they are vehemently anti-Semitic, as well as racist. The Klan is also demonstrably anti-Catholic. A racial belief common among these groups, but not universal, is an alternative history doctrine, sometimes called British Israelism. In some forms this doctrine absolutely denies that modern Jews have any racial connection to Israel of the Bible. Instead, according to extreme forms of this doctrine, the true racial Israel and true humans, are the Adamic (white) race.


    Reconciliation between Judaism and Christian groups

    In recent years there has been much to note in the way of reconciliation between some Christians groups and the Jewish people. Most of this reconciliation has occurred between the Jewish community and the Catholic Church, and some liberal Protestant Christian organizations.
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    Lightbulb The Subconscious of Anti-Semitism

    This following article was published by the Haaretz (one of the largest newspapers in Israel) website on 27 October 2005. It was later removed. Read it and you understand why.

    The subconscious of anti-Semitism
    By Avi Beker

    A century ago, Vienna Chief Rabbi Moritz Guedemann, a liberal, educated man, explained that anti-Semitism derives from the psychological tension created within Christianity by its relations with Judaism.

    Using the vocabulary of Sigmund Freud, who lived in the same city and period, Guedemann analyzed the "subconscious" of the anti-Semitism that prevailed in Vienna in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. "The Christian kneels before a Jew's image, rubs his hands before a Jewess' (Mary) image, Jesus' apostles are Jews and so are the psalms he recites. Only few would be capable of overcoming these contrasts, and most of them seek to relieve the tension by means of anti-Semitic acts. Since they are obliged to worship a Jew as a god, they take revenge on the rest of the Jews, whom they describe as sons of Satan."

    It was only in 1965, 20 years after the Holocaust, that the Catholic Church begin to deal seriously with the anti-Semitic components at the center of Christian theology. Today in Rome and next week at the President's residence in Jerusalem and in dozens of events throughout the world, Jews and Catholics will mark the 40th anniversary of the Vatican's adoption of Nostra Aetate (In Our Time), the landmark document that launched a new relationship between the Church and the Jewish people.

    The Vatican's declaration on the relationship of the Church with non-Christian religions established for the first time, following a historic gathering of the Vatican Council, that the Jews must be exonerated of the charge of deicide and that incitement against them must stop.

    The 1965 promulgation, and the less-known interpretation of it in the Church's 1974 directives, emphasizes the new approach's implications for religious texts and prayers in churches. After centuries of ignoring the issue, the Church declared unequivocally that Jesus and the apostles were Jews, thus reaffirming Christianity's Jewish roots.

    The psychological conflict in the position of the Catholic Church, which represents more than a billion worshipers, derives from the Christian doctrine that maintains that because of the Jews' sins, God repented choosing them and made Christians the chosen ones. They are the "real Israel." Therefore, Jews were doomed to be humiliated and degraded until they convert to Christianity.

    For centuries, the Catholic Church suppressed the story of Jesus' birth and Christianity's Jewish roots. Only the shock of the Holocaust, followed by decades of evading responsibility, brought the Vatican to acknowledge, albeit partially, the responsibility of Christians - but not the Church - for the connection between hating the Jews and the policy of genocide.

    Addressing this required psychological therapy with regard to the unconscious rivalry for the birthright and role of chosen people; for a conservative institution like the Catholic Church, the change in doctrine seemed impossible. The turning point began with the Church's recognition in 1965 that the Jews were still "chosen" by God and with the declaration by Pope John Paul II in Rome's central synagogue in 1986 that the Jews are the Christians' elder brothers.

    The Vatican's establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel in 1993 and the pope's official visit here in 2000 symbolized the shattering of another ancient taboo - the recognition of the Jews' return to their homeland under Jewish sovereignty.

    Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ," which presented the anti-Semitic version of the crucifixion to hundreds of millions in 2004, proved that even changes to the doctrine are not irreversible. Gibson and his Holocaust-denier father are members of an ultraconservative Catholic movement that rejects the 1965 changes.

    Granted, despite the brutal violence in the movie and the stereotypical, Der Stuermer-like presentation of the Jews, there are no signs that viewers emerged from the cinema calling, "Death to Jews." However, we must not forget that these are powerful messages that are absorbed with even greater force than church sermons, and could lead to touble in times of crisis.

    John Paul II's successor, Pope Benedict XVI, was the cardinal in charge of interpreting Catholic doctrine and was partner to the changes regarding Judaism. As head of the committee on doctrine, he made sure to point out that Jews who do not convert can not be redeemed - only Christians can.

    Hence the importance of the intention of Rabbi David Rosen, president of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligous Consultations, to demand of the Vatican tonight to clarify that they have struck their ancient aspiration to convert Jews from the Church's agenda. He will also demand that they instruct future clergy students in this spirit.

    Catholic theologians have already spoken of the need to remove the chosen people issue from inter-religious debate. The American Bishops' Organization has provided a theological solution - defining the Jews' historic role as witnesses to the first choice of the creator of the world and his moral edicts.

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