Do your ears prick up when you hear the term 'Judeo-Christian'? Have you noticed a marked increase in its use? Do you know what it means, or, more to the point, what its users mean by it? Has it ever struck you as... wink, wink, nudge, nudge... loaded? Have you ever wondered whether it's just code for Christian Zionist? Well, you might like to consider the following clarification:
"The United States of America is the only country in history to have defined itself as Judeo-Christian... the Christians who founded America saw themselves as heirs to the Hebrew Bible, as much as to theirs [and] strongly identified with the Jews... [T]hose who most identify with the Judeo-Christian essence of America are more likely to believe in the moral worthiness of dying to liberate other countries - not only Europe, but Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. That is why America stands alone in protecting two little countries threatened with extinction - Israel and Taiwan... Judeo-Christian [also means] a belief in the biblical G-d of Israel... That is why those who most affirm Judeo-Christian values believe that war... is on more than a few occasions a moral duty. Nothing 'Judeo' ever sanctioned pacifism... [the] Hebrew Prophet, Joel... said... 'Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears'... [T]hose who want Judeo-Christian values to disappear from American public life affirm multiculturalism [and] seek to remove mention of G-d from all public life..." (What does Judeo-Christian mean? Dennis Prager, jewishworldreview.com, 30/3/04)
Interestingly, the term cropped up in a recent questionnaire directed at Australian political parties in the context of the coming federal election by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), which claims to represent one million Christians, and whose "vision is to see Christian principles and ethics accepted and influencing the way we are governed." In reference to the government's proposed national history curriculum, the ACL complained that it "fails to acknowledge the significance of Australia's Judeo-Christian heritage," and asked, "What place, if any, should the Bible have in the national English curriculum, given its status as the most printed and translated literary work, and its obvious effect on the development of western culture, literature and art?"*
It is valid, therefore, to ask to what extent its Managing Director, Brigadier Jim Wallace, subscribes to Prager's model of Judeo-Christianity. Strangely, for someone with direct experience of the bloody consequences of Israeli aggression, he's curiously detached: "I was in a Palestinian refugee camp (as an unarmed United Nations observer in 1980)," Wallace recounted in a 2003 interview, "and some shells had landed [MERC: Note the passive voice here.] and killed some people. The Palestinians understandably held us accountable for that because we were stopping them attacking into Israel but weren't stopping them being bombed and shelled every day. They were a bit angry about that and thrust my hand into the blood that was on a car where a woman and daughter had been killed by one of the shells. They were considering executing us [MERC: Wallace's Arabic is that good?] and I suppose that's a time when you've really just got to trust God, and remember that you've got a big God which, drawing on images out of Isaiah 40, I was able to do. God changed the situation by changing hearts - they just let us go for some reason. It was quite amazing." (sightmagazine.com.au, 1/4/03)
Hm... just lie back and think of Isaiah, eh?
Wallace was also an uncritical supporter of the war on Iraq. Speaking of which, take a look at the incredibly selective concern expressed in the same interview: "Having lived in the Middle East, I'm very much praying for all the people in the Middle East. They're all God's children and I'm praying particularly for the Iraqi church... and of course, I'm personally praying for the safety of our servicemen and indeed all the Coalition servicemen because having been a soldier, I know that... they're there because they believe that what they're doing is serving their country. I might say that in doing that, there's an incredible cost in saying goodbye to their loved ones and knowing that they may not come back." (ibid)
So (Orwell again) all God's (or is that G-d's) children are equal, but some are more equal than others?
In case one is inclined to underestimate the clout of Jim Wallace and his ACL, consider this: "Julia Gillard will intensify her pitch to Christian voters with a major expansion of the school chaplaincy program. Despite identifying herself as an atheist, Ms Gillard has been working hard to court the powerful Christian lobby... Ms Gillard will today announce an allocation of $222 million to boost the number of chaplains by more than one-third... Late last week Ms Gillard met the Australian Christian Lobby to answer questions about her views on religion... The group's managing director, Jim Wallace, said Ms Gillard's atheism was an issue for many Christians... But he said Ms Gillard had assured him that despite her lack of faith, many of her values had been shaped by religion." (Gillard pitches to Christian voters, Josh Gordon, The Age, 8/8/10)
Will wonders never cease?: an atheist whose values have been shaped by religion!
Nor is the leader of Australia's Catholics, Cardinal George Pell, averse to throwing around the term Judeo-Christian, most recently from his Sunday media pulpit: "Many, including myself, are concerned about the environment, so my second point was to urge my listeners to examine the policies of the Greens on their website and judge for themselves how thoroughly anti-Christian they are... They claimed humans are simply another smarter animal... This Green ethic is designed to replace Judaeo-Christianity." (Greens are anti-Christian, Cardinal George Pell, The Sunday Telegraph, 8/8/10)
BTW, you'll be pleased to know that the atheist whose values have been shaped by religion has promised $1.5 million dollars worth of taxpayers' money towards the canonisation of Australia's first saint, Mary McKillop.
[*Re an attempt to inject agenda into the national curriculum by the judeo half of the combo, see my 12/4/10 post Sam Lipski's national Curriculum.]