Readers of a January 13 article about the Senate Judicial Committee hearings on the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court might be left with the impression that The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring is not “mobilizing their membership” even though we do oppose Alito’s nomination (“Florida Democrat Chosen To Testify at Alito Hearings”).
In fact, we are calling on our members around the country, and especially in those states in which representatives are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to contact their senators and urge them to vote against his appointment to the Supreme Court.
While we do not question Alito’s experience and intellectual abilities, his judicial rulings and written documents on issues of vital interest to the Jewish community — such as the separation of church and state, protection of civil rights for all minorities, protection of refugees seeking asylum and the right to privacy — cause us great concern. His presence on a deeply divided court would set back advances made in these areas during the past 50 or more years, creating a less open and less tolerant society for generations.
Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring
New York, N.Y.
A January 6 article lifts the curtain between Jews and evangelicals over conversion pressure at the U.S. Air Force Academy (“Evangelical’s Spat With Jewish Activist Goes Public”). It also adds more weight to the debate begun by the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, and added to by Union for Reform Judaism president Rabbi Eric Yoffie, both of whom say that to attempt to Christianize America does a disservice to all Americans.
Both topics drew from our evangelical friends an outright challenge to cease such talk if we wish them to defend Israel, at least as strongly as they have in the past.
It is clear from such talk that Jews need better friends, for without them our enemies will begin to expect a higher return on their ransom than we have so far given them. This is not to in any way demean those sincere Christians who continue to support Israel because the cause is just, and not some kind of quid pro.
Our evangelical friends of the Christian persuasion, to turn the phrase, need to re-evaluate their stance. Such friends have blundered, and I hope that as they search their hearts and souls, divine guidance may expand their horizons and allow them to walk humbly with their God. They may need a time-out, lest they speak too freely for themselves, forgetting the mystery of their own God. It happens, sometimes.
It is understandable why Mikey Weinstein feels the way he does about suggestions that his lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force Academy is endangering Jewish-Christian relations. However, attacking evangelicals’ right to proselytize does nothing but borrow trouble.
Why make enemies of people who vehemently support you? With increasing levels in Western society of antisemitism, as well as of anti-Christianity, it is important that believers of all religions stand together to support an individual’s right not only to believe, but also to pursue religion how he or she sees fit.
To be afraid of ideas is a sign of true weakness. It is amazing to me that anyone these days would try to limit the freedom of expression, and with it the full freedom of religion. Thomas Jefferson had his personal opinions about the separation of church and state, but the idea did not make it into the Constitution. Allowing for people to express their freedom of speech while pursuing the freedom of religion simply does not, for all the arguments to the contrary, establish a state religion.