Religion Unplugged

Violence And Conspiracy Create Perilous Times For Jews and Christians

Adjunct Fellow, Center for Religious Freedom

“The images keep coming back to me, again and again,” David, the 29-year-old victim explained. “They used me as a punching bag. I asked myself, is it possible, in 2020, to be beaten up like that simply because you are Jewish?”

The answer to David’s question is, unfortunately, yes.

It is altogether possible to be beaten up for being Jewish in today’s troubled world. And, furthermore, it’s even more likely in France, where David was attacked by men who screamed, “Dirty Jew!” “Dirty son of a whore!” “Dirty race!” and “You’re a dead man, and we’ll kill you!”

Algemeiner reported that 29-year-old David was wearing his kippah when he was attacked. “While he was tapping the door code to enter the building, the assailants — described as two well-dressed black males in their 20s — hurried in behind him as the door opened. They then rode with David in the elevator, launching their attack when they arrived at his parents’ floor,” the report stated.

The violence David endured and is slowly recovering from is nothing new to French Jews. A January 2020 anti-Semitism report, published by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), discovered that “nearly one quarter of [France’s] 500,000 Jews had been subjected to at least one violent anti-Semitic assault in their lifetimes.”

In fact, hundreds of Jews are leaving Europe behind and moving to Israel. Pnina Tamano-Shata, Israeli Minister of Immigration and Absorption, anticipates that some 10,000 immigrants – Olim – from around the world will be welcomed to Israel in 2020. She considers it a privilege to assist them “during these challenging times.”

French Christians are also facing violence and vandalism. The U.S. Department of State’s 2020 Religious Freedom Report, covering incidents in France during 2019, recounts “1,052 anti-Christian incidents, most of which involved vandalism or arson of churches and cemeteries, and 687 anti-Semitic incidents ... an increase of 27 percent compared with the 541 incidents recorded in 2018.”

Tragically, the hatred that led to damage and destruction in Europe has spread to the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has gripped the world with panic, has magnified already existing prejudices against Jews, including outrageous lies that they are responsible for the virus.

Besa Center explains, “A number of conspiracy theories have quickly emerged linking Jews and Israel to the coronavirus pandemic. These are new mutations of historical strains of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including the ‘poisoning of Gentiles’ motif and the accusation that the Jews want to control the world.”

And Jews aren’t the only ones facing abuse. Several U.S. Catholic churches were recently burned, statues of Christian saints were overturned and vandalized, and anti-Christian graffiti appeared on schools and other religious sites. This springs from the radical secularist “cancel culture,” embodied by Antifa, BLM and other violent rioters in the United States.

During times of upheaval and violence, prejudicial attitudes are acted out. For example, in some unpredicted twists during the COVID-19 lockdowns, New York Jews were repeatedly condemned by Mayor Bill DeBlasio for gathering for funerals and other religious events, while protestors and rioters were applauded. As I described in Jerusalem Post,

“The funeral of a respected rabbi had attracted a large gathering in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Permits for the funeral had been granted.

“Although New Yorkers of every description had also packed themselves in, shoulder to shoulder, to watch a flyover by the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds, the Jewish funeral attendees were easily identified by their traditional religious attire. And that seemed to have triggered the mayor’s outrage.”

Since then, several U.S. state governors have banned Christian services or drastically limited church attendance. Pastors are threatened with fines and imprisonment. Meanwhile, casinos, big box stores and bars have largely remained open, welcoming one and all. One amusing incident appears on a YouTube video, in which an enterprising group of Christians informally “went to church” in a Walmart location and joyfully burst into a gospel song.

Worldwide difficulties for people of faith are distressing and, as David’s story illustrates, sometimes brutal. Several French Jews have been murdered in recent years simply for being Jews, and anti-Semitism surges across the West. At the same time, countless Christians are paying the ultimate price for their faith every day, thanks to Islamist terrorists, Marxist thugs, radicalized Hindus, atheistic communist fanatics and more.

In fact, we were warned long ago about such “perilous times,” when people will be…

lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

(2 Timothy 3 KJV)

Jews and Christians will continue to be reviled, rejected and at times far worse, because of – among other things – our mutual beliefs.

We believe in One God, Creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

We believe that this One God has revealed objective truths and moral teachings through God-breathed scripture.

We also believe that, as we honor and obey God-revealed truths and teachings, we will indeed encounter persecution. And we will stand with one another in that suffering.

Meanwhile, those of us who are Christians continue to walk in the shadow of the cross. We take heart that Jesus—who endured the worst persecution imaginable—has overcome the world. And we rejoice that he has promised to be with us, even to the very end of the age.

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