Opinion

Sorry, there’s nothing outrageous about trying to convert others to your faith


The Daily Beast reports ominously that Madison Cawthorn, the North Carolina Republican who will soon become the youngest-ever member of Congress, “has admitted he tried to convert Jews and Muslims to Christianity.” So what?

As a Jew, I’ve had several Christian friends try to turn me toward Jesus. I assume that they wouldn’t be very good Christians if they weren’t spreading the Gospel. It is, from what I gather, one of the central premises of the enterprise. Indeed, I’m often surprised at how shy Christians are at this task.

I am flattered by the attention. And as a person in possession of free will, I am also unconcerned. Never once have I found such efforts to be “anti-Semitic.” The very universality of the endeavor tells me it isn’t. I simply assume that my friends are troubled that I have forsaken salvation. Maybe they’re right. I’ll find out soon enough.

The notion that Jews should be offended by Christians approaching us with theological ideas is un-American. Trust me, Jews aren’t helpless in the face of arguments. And unlike progressives — who try to force nuns to fund abortions — no Christian has ever tried to coerce me to perform his rites.

In an interview with Jewish Insider, Cawthorn claims to have converted “several Muslims.” When asked if he had ever tried to convert Jews, he answered: “I have, unsuccessfully. I have switched a lot of, uh, you know, I guess, culturally Jewish people. But being a practicing Jew, like, people who are religious about it, they are very difficult. I’ve had a hard time connecting with them in that way.”

Indeed, religious Jews are notoriously difficult to convert, since the entire notion of a Second Coming is incompatible with their beliefs. Jews have spent a few thousand years stubbornly resisting this sort of pressure. Proselytism is somewhat of a foreign concept to Orthodox Jews, as they are commanded to push away newcomers.

But all the feigned anger directed at Cawthorn is about smearing evangelical Christians — and little do with anti-Semitism. I know this, because many of the very people who pretend to be insulted for Jewish people are constantly excusing genuine anti-Semitism.

“This is a really anti-Semitic thing to say,” says the theatrical Chris Hayes of Cawthorn. “And the entire GOP should condemn it. But of course, they won’t, and I’m willing to bet it gets one-20th of the coverage of [Rep. Ilhan] Omar’s tweet. And this speaks to something pretty profound about . . . whose ‘extremism’ gets attention.”

Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of Christianity knows that it isn’t “extreme” to spread the Gospel. One can’t say the same for those who single out Jews as being bestowed with uniquely “evil” ability to hypnotize the world or to buy off Christians with their “Benjamins.” Apologists for Ilhan Omar, for Hamas, for the Holocaust-denying Iranian terror regime are, at best, functionally anti-Semitic. “Anti-Zionism,” not belief in the Trinity, is the predominant justification for violence against Jews around the world.

Yes, I understand that many evangelicals support Israel, in part, because they believe it is necessary for the fulfillment of end-times prophecy. Since I don’t share their theology, I am completely unbothered by this position.

Those about to fire off e-mails with refresher courses on the history of European Jewry, please save your efforts. For more than a century now, attacks on Jews have predominantly emanated from secular fascists and leftists, Arab nationalists and Islamists — not Christians spreading the good word. It is in secular France, where gruesome murders of Jews are now an annual event, that men can’t wear yarmulkes in public. And rest assured, it isn’t because of Mormon missionaries. An American Jew is far more likely to encounter anti-Semitism on progressive campuses than anywhere else in this country. If an evangelical Christian approaches you while saying, “God is good!” the only thing you are likely to lose is your time.


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