By / May 28

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss Biden’s investigation of COVID origins, protests and violence in Belarus, Lebanon, Ohio’s abortion ban, William Shakespeare and Eric Carle passinng away, and eating cicadas. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Jordan Wooten “What is religious liberty, and why is it important? An interview with Andrew Walker on Liberty for All,” Stephen Johnson with “Why I’m thankful I grew up in an elderly church: 3 ways older saints cared for me,” and Catherine Parks with “What we need most for hard choices in parenting: Smartphones, sports, and wisdom.”

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. Biden asks intelligence community to intensify investigation of COVID origins
  2. Intelligence on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Debate on Covid-19 Origin
  3. Belarus fighter jet intercepts Ryanair flight
  4. Protests, violent clashes in Belarus as ruler cracks down after contested vote
  5. Statement by President Joe Biden on Diversion of Ryanair Flight and Arrest of Journalist in Belarus
  6. Ohio city of Lebanon becomes 29th to ban abortion in nation
  7. William Shakespeare, the first man in Britain to receive an approved Covid vaccine, dies at 81.
  8. Author Eric Carle passes away at 91
  9. Can you eat cicadas? Yes, and here’s the best way to catch, cook and snack on them.

Lunchroom

  • Lindsay: “Your local epidemiologist” on Facebook
  • Josh: Gangster Capitalism, Season 3 Jerry 
  • Brent: Bill Haslam’s new book

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By / May 28

Antisemitic activity has been on the rise over the past few weeks. As The New York Times reports, there has been “an outbreak of anti-Semitic threats and violence across the United States, stoking fear among Jews in small towns and major cities. During the two weeks of clashes in Israel and Gaza this month, the Anti-Defamation League collected 222 reports of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and violence in the United States, compared with 127 over the previous two weeks.”

Incidents are “literally happening from coast to coast, and spreading like wildfire,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the A.D.L.’s chief executive. “The sheer audacity of these attacks feels very different.” The Times notes that, “The recent spike is occurring on top of a longer-term trend of high-profile incidents of anti-Semitism in the United States.”

While Jews make up only about 2% of the U.S. population, they are the target of 13% of the hate crimes perpetrated each year. In 2019, the FBI identified 7,314 hate crimes, of which 953 were against Jews.

What is antisemitism?

Antisemitism is hatred of and hostility toward the Jews as a religious or ethnic group, which often includes the belief that Jews pose a threat to society and should be eliminated.

The term was coined in 1879 by German journalist Wilhelm Marr, founder of the Antisemiten-Liga (Anti-Semitic League) in an 1879 pamphlet opposing the influence of Jews on German culture. (Later in life, Marr published another pamphlet, Testament of an Antisemite, renouncing his own hatred of the Jewish people, and expressing concern that antisemitism in Germany was becoming entangled with mysticism and nationalism.)

 Should it be spelled anti-Semitism or antisemitism?

Both ways are grammatically correct, though many Jewish groups prefer the non-hyphenated spelling. In 2015, a group of scholars issued a statement explaining why the term should be spelled without the hyphen:

[T]he hyphenated spelling allows for the possibility of something called “Semitism,” which not only legitimizes a form of pseudo- scientific racial classification that was thoroughly discredited by association with Nazi ideology, but also divides the term, stripping it from its meaning of opposition and hatred toward Jews.

The philological term “Semitic” referred to a family of languages originating in the Middle East whose descendant languages today are spoken by millions of people mostly across Western Asia and North Africa. Following this semantic logic, the conjunction of the prefix “anti” with “Semitism” indicates antisemitism as referring to all people who speak Semitic languages or to all those classified as “Semites.” The term has, however, since its inception referred to prejudice against Jews alone.

What constitutes antisemitism?

There is no universal agreement on what constitutes antisemitism. But the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by 31 countries, defines it in terms of 11 key areas:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government, or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g., gas chambers), or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

What is “Christian antisemitism”?

Christian antisemitism is antisemitic attitudes that are supposedly derived from or based on theological reasons. In actual practice, such antisemitism is often due more to cultural, ethnic, or nationalistic reasons than theology. ERLC president Russell Moore has said,

As Christians, we should have a clear message of rejection of every kind of bigotry and hatred, but we should especially note what anti-Semitism means for people who are followers of Jesus Christ. We should say clearly to anyone who would claim the name “Christian” the following truth: If you hate Jews, you hate Jesus.

Anti-Semitism is, by definition, a repudiation of Christianity as well as of Judaism. This ought to be obvious, but world history, even church history, shows us this is not the case. Christians reject anti-Semitism because we love Jesus.

What is the Southern Baptist position on antisemitism?

The Southern Baptist Convention has renounced antisemitism in resolutions in 1873, 1948, 1971, 1972, 1981, 2003, and 2008.

In the 2003 resolution titled, “On Anti-semitism,” the messengers of the SBC denounced all forms of anti-Semitism as “contrary to the teachings of our Messiah and an assault on the revelation of Holy Scripture”; affirmed to “Jewish people around the world that we stand with them against any harassment that violates our historic commitments to religious liberty and human dignity”; and called on “governmental and religious leaders across the world to stand against all forms of bigotry, hatred, or persecution.”

By / May 21

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss Dr. Moore resignation from the ERLC along with his move to Christianity Today, views on masks guidance, the latest on Israel and Hamas, Texas signing a six-week abortion ban, and SCOTUS taking up Mississippi case. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Jordan Wootten with “How do we make sense of modern culture? An interview with Carl Trueman about The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self,” Ethan and Michaela Holsteen with “The importance of the church when dealing with disability and grief: How one family leaned into community after their child’s diagnosis with Cri du chat Syndrome,” and Jared Kennedy with “3 subtle sins to warn your kids about: Any why it matters when wrestling with sexual temptation.”

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. Russell Moore to Join Christianity Today to Lead New Public Theology Project
  2. Onward.
  3. Mask guidance
  4. Latest on Israel and Hamas
  5. Texas governor signs into law bill banning abortions at six weeks
  6. SCOTUS takes up MS case

Lunchroom

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  • Every person has dignity and potential. But did you know that nearly 1 in 3 American adults has a criminal record? To learn more and sign up for the virtual Second Chance month visit prisonfellowship.org/secondchances.
By / May 14

Clashes between Israelis and Palestinians lead Tor Wennesland, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, to say on Tuesday, “We’re escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of deescalation.”

The recent tensions appear to be due to a pending decision by Israel’s Supreme Court that could evict approximately 75 Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem. Violent clashes also resulted when Muslims were reportedly blocked from Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site. The terrorist group Hamas, which controls the area of Gaza, escalated the conflict by firing approximately 1,500 rockets at civilian targets in Israel, killing five people and injuring over 200.

The Israeli Defense Force responded by launching airstrikes targeting missile launching sites in Gaza. Because Hamas often uses civilian neighborhoods as “human shields,” the air strikes have reportedly led to the deaths of 65 people in Gaza, including 14 children.

What is the origin of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict?

The ancient nation of Israel ceased to exist when in AD 138 the Roman emperor Hadrian crushed the Bar Kochba revolt and banned all Jews from Palestine (i.e., the biblical regions known as the Land of Israel). Over the next 12 centuries, the land was conquered and reconquered by various nations and empires. In 1517, the land was captured by the Ottoman Empire, which would retain control until 1917. During World War I, the British captured Jerusalem and drove the Turks out of Ottoman Syria. Following that war the British controlled the area known as Palestine, and were given a mandate by the League of Nations to provide security and order within the territory.

Because the land was now in the hands of the British, it became an ideal location for Jews fleeing persecution in Russia and Ukraine. This influx of Jews from 1919 and 1923, along with the Balfour Declaration, led the Arab inhabitants of the land to develop their own political movement known as Palestinian nationalism.

As historian Martin Bunton notes, “Before the First World War, there was no ‘Palestine’ as such; rather the territory consisted of the districts of Jerusalem, Nablus, and Acre, all of which were defined according to an evolving framework of Ottoman administration.” Since then, Arabs in the region adopted a national identity as Palestinians, with the primary objective of opposing Zionism (i.e., the reestablishment of the Jewish nation of Israel).

The United Nations voted in 1947 for the areas occupied by Palestinians to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city. While Jewish leaders accepted the proposal, it was rejected by the Arab contingent.

Why are Palestenians being evicted from East Jerusalem?

During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the western part of Jerusalem was captured by Israel, while the area known as East Jerusalem was captured by Jordan. Israel took over East Jerusalem after defeating Jordan in the 1967 Arab–Israeli War. Since then Israel has considered the area to be a part of their nation while the U.N. and most of the international community (with the exception of the U.S.) considers it to be occupied territory. 

In 1956, Palestinian refugee families were relocated to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem with the support of the U.N. and Jordanian government. But the Israeli courts contend that these Palestinian families are living in houses built on land owned by Jewish religious associations before the establishment of Israel in 1948. While many Israelis believe it is merely a legal dispute over land ownership, many Palestinians consider it a strategy to expel them from East Jerusalem

Who controls Palestine?

In 1994, Israel agreed to allow the Palestinian National Authority, an interim self-government, to govern the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, which currently exists within the boundaries of the modern State of Israel. In 2007, these two areas, sometimes referred to as the “occupied territories,” were divided between two political entities, Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. Hamas has been officially designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union, Jordan, Egypt, and Japan. 

Where does Hamas get its rockets?

After Israeli security forces pulled out of Gaza in 2005, Hamas was able to smuggle in rockets and mortar shells produced by allies, such as Iran. More recently, Hamas has claimed that they are now able to build rockets themselves in Gaza.

Despite having fired more than 10,000 rockets into Israel since 2005, the Israeli government believes that Hamas still has an arsenal of between 5,000 to 6,000 rockets that can strike anywhere between the Gaza border communities and 25-35 miles into Israel.

How many Palestinians identify as Christian?

Based on the 2017 census by the Palestinian Authority, there are roughly 47,000 Palestinians, about 1% of the population, who identify as Christian. 

A survey taken in 2020 found that about half of Palestinian Christians (48%) are Greek Orthodox while slightly more than a third (38%) are Latin Catholic. About 4% identify as Evangelicals and Lutherans. Out of those, only about 1 in 3 label themselves as “religious” (36%).