The Campaign’s Religious Odds & Ends
01/05/2010 - 12:32
Jonathan Mark
Thursday, September 18th, 2008   Adam Brickley is widely credited with being the first blogger on the Palin bandwagon (as you can read in Slate and The Denver Post, , launching his blog  “Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President” in February 2007, while still a college student in Colorado.   He’s become a minor celebrity, appearing on The Colbert Report (watch the clip here). Brickley’s now 21, living with his mom, and according to the blog’s “about” page (that you can see here), he’s interested in Zionism. The first three books on his list of favorites are the Torah, the Haftarah and Brit Chadashah.   JTA writes, “We’re trying to track him down, but Colorado Springs is a redoubt for Christian evangelicals where no one would raise an eyebrow at a Christian describing himself as a Zionist, so don’t jump to conclusions that he’s Jewish.”   Wait a second.   Isn’t “Brit Chadashah” the Hebrew name for the New Testament, a term primarily used by Jews For Jesus and Christian Messianic Jews? Just about every journalist going on Brickley’s blog jumped at his listing of  “Zionism” and “Torah,” but apparently no one - until now — has picked up on “Brit Chadashah.” If he were simply a Christian, why wouldn’t he simply write “New Testament”? (By the way, the Hebrew language “Brit Chadashah” New Testament is much more seductive to the Jewish reader, the Hebrew cadences lending an aura of authenticity with linguistic echoes of the Jewish bible, in ways that the “Lenny Bruce goyish” King James Version, for all its English elegance, simply can’t.)   Brickley and his “Brit Chadashah,” evangelical or not, isn’t the responsibility of Palin, of course, but it’s a definite curiosity. I just so  happen to be among those who very much appreciate evangelicals and their love for Israel.   A nice benefit of The Jewish Week being online is getting e-mails from Christian Zionist readers from across America, such as a mother and daughter in Nebraska who spent months volunteering in Israel, leading to a story I was privileged to write in 2006 .   Jews For Jesus doesn’t scare or offend me any more than do a lot of supposedly normative lunacies I’m too polite to point to in supposedly mainstream Judaism, in some ways it scares and offends me less, but that “Brit Chadashah” is one of Brickley’s favorite books still sent up a flare.   Here’s what offends me: I find it disturbing that many Jewish journalists,  newspapers and organizations who were so eager, earlier in 2008, to cover and protest each and every “smear” against Obama (all the while insisting they were non-partisan) have now gone off the smear patrol as soon as Palin started to get unfairly smeared. (This is further covered in an online-only Media Watch).   Just as lawyers for the ACLU and several Jewish organizations scrutinize Christmas displays for allegedly violating church-state separations that our Founding Fathers could never have envisioned (I prefer lawyers for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who legally fight for the free expression of all religious traditions), I’ve been bothered by the frequently negative depiction of religion over the course of the campaign.   Considering the loud, negative reaction from the liberal Jewish community to The New Yorker cover satirizing Obama as a Islamic extremist (here’s an interesting slide show of other politically satirical New Yorker covers by that same artist, Barry Blitt), I couldn’t help but notice that same Jewish community’s silence to cartoons that were not satirizing Obama/Islam but out-and-out mocking Palin’s Christianity.   Here’s one recent example from The Washington Post  depicting Palin “speaking in tongues” in a particularly nasty way. Do I comprehend the theology and praxis of “speaking in tongues”? No, I don’t. But I also wouldn’t want to see a cartoon making fun of Joseph Lieberman putting on tefillin, which I’m sure most journalists see as every bit as weird as anything Palin ever did. Aside from which, Palin stopped attending that “tongues” church a long time ago, and not under political pressure but out of her own religious convictions. She doesn’t deserve to be mocked for that, and neither do tens of thousands of Americans deserve to open one of America’s most prominent newspapers and be made to feel like an idiot for the way they connect to God.   With every unfair taunt, another person tells a pollster they’re for the candidate that’s getting the worst of it, more out of gallantry, wanting to protect, wanting to protest the bullying, rather than as an affirmation of that candidate’s politics.   What is it about the media, and American culture, that so many feel compelled to relegate those with whom we disagree to “idiots”? Isn’t it possible to disagree with candidates, and their followers, while behaving like a mentch?

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