In what they titled a “A National Reckoning of the Soul”, the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations (CCJCR) released a statement last week calling on churches in the US to address “the greatest crisis of public antisemitism in a century”.
“Prominent figures—entertainers, athletes, media personalities, politicians—are using twenty-first century technologies to spread antisemitic lies and conspiracies to millions of people,” the statement read. “So-called ‘Christian’ nationalists openly declare that true Christians hate Jews. Jews are being verbally and physically abused in the streets, vilified in social media, attacked on campuses, and assaulted and shot in their synagogues.”
In November, FBI director Christopher Wray addressed the ADL, saying, “The tragic reality [is] that the Jewish community uniquely ends up on the receiving end of hate-fueled attacks from all sides.” He noted that “a full 63% of religious hate crimes (in the U.S.) are motivated by antisemitism.” It should also be noted that Jews represent 2.4% percent of the general population.
The statement emphasized that the members were “increasingly alarmed that we may be witnessing the normalization of antisemitism in American discourse, which recalls events that happened in Germany when the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s. History also shows that the dehumanization of one minority group is often accompanied by the dehumanization of other minorities, as is happening today as well.”
The statement noted the Christian interest adopted by most churches as stated in the New Testament in the eleventh chapter of Romans which states that the Jews have a special status in God’s eye:
“God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew… So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace…for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”
The CCJCR statement continued:
“We are living in a strange time when there is both a blessed and growing friendship between Christians and Jews alongside a resurgence of antisemitism and neo-Nazism,” it read. “We implore all churches to redouble their efforts to denounce antisemitism publicly as antithetical to the very essence of Christianity itself. We appeal to preachers and teachers to reiterate that hatred of Jews is a sin against God and humanity.”
At the same time, the statement acknowledged the role Christianity had played throughout history in antisemitism.
“There is a further profound reason why all this is morally obligatory for Christians. As students of history, we know that the roots of modern antisemitism and associated conspiracy theories grew out of Christian libels perpetuated against Jews in medieval Europe and out of centuries of Christian religious teaching of contempt for Jews. In Nazi Germany, certain theologians went so far as to call for the ‘de-Judaization of Christianity,’ with some even arguing that Jesus himself was not really a Jew, but an ‘Aryan.’ As many recent official church statements have observed, this anti-Jewish legacy weakened resistance to Nazism even among those Christians who discerned the sacrilegious nature of antisemitism.”
The statement offered points for Christians to consider in determining if antisemitism was rooted in their thoughts:
- Do we think about Jesus as if he were an outsider to Judaism, or as a Jew devoted to the Torah and its proper interpretation?
- Do we contrast the teachings of Jesus with the Old Testament as if his own spirituality was not inspired by those sacred texts?
- Do we conceive of the crucifixion as primarily motivated by Jewish figures or as a Roman execution of one more Jew among the thousands of Jews crucified by Rome?
The statement was unanimously endorsed by 30 of the group’s member organizations, most of which are based at colleges and universities throughout the US and Canada.
The call comes as the Anti Defamation League (ADL) reported 2,717 antisemitic incidents across the United States. This represents a 34% increase from the 2,026 incidents recorded in 2020 and is the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.
The CCJCR is is an association of centers and institutes in the United States and Canada devoted to enhancing mutual understanding between Jews and Christians.