Earlier this week Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX, appeared on Fox News and compared the situation of Christians in America today to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. Rabbi Jack Moline responded to Pastor Jeffress’ assertions in an open letter to the religious leader.
Dr. Robert Jeffress
First Baptist Church Dallas
1707 San Jacinto
Dallas, TX 75201
June 12, 2015
Religious persecution is a significant problem around the world. Many people live in fear for their lives because of their faith, Christians included. You and I and everyone should do more to remedy the situation.
However, your recent comments on Fox News comparing your experience as a conservative Christian to Jews living in Nazi Germany show disrespect to the victims of the Holocaust, and do a disservice to the critically important cause of ending real religious persecution. The honest disagreements that people of faith in this country have about public policy issues are hardly the beginning of a path towards genocide.
Let’s understand the full import of what you are saying. If Christians (as you define them) are the Jews of pre-Holocaust Europe, then the rest of us are the Nazis and their sympathizers. It serves your rhetorical purpose to demonize those with whom you disagree, but it shows that you lack a true understanding of what the term “Nazi” means or the history that led to their crimes. And in the practice of hyperbole, you reduce the progress and expansiveness of American values of inclusiveness and equal rights to a plot to steal the rightful dominance of people who are most like you.
You have a reputation for complaining that other faith traditions are evil, false and cultic. That is your right and, as strongly as I disagree with you, I will defend your right to be wrong. Ironically, the provisions of the Constitution, which extend that right to you, have been dismissed by you in the name of religious exclusivity. You owe the American people an apology. We are a nation that celebrates diverse beliefs and views and we are undeserving of the allegation you have made.
Someone once told me, “The first person to use ‘Nazi’ always loses the argument.” You have proven her point.
Rabbi Jack Moline
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.