Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Origins of the Judeo-Christian Meme

Whence the 'Judeo-Christian' meme?

Food for thought from:

Curriculum review: where did 'Judeo-Christian' come from? (Chloe Patton,, 12/1/14)

"Education minister Christopher Pyne has copped it from the Left with both barrels for demanding that the Australian education curriculum teach students 'the significance of Judeo-Christian values to our institutions and way of life.' He did this in announcing his review into the national curriculum late last week...

"By simply typing 'Judeo-Christian' into [the Australian parliamentary website's] search tool, Australia's youngsters will be no doubt regaled with stirring accounts of Australians founding a modern democracy on a shared commitment to a Judeo-Christian heritage, or valiantly fighting to defend Judeo-Christian values on the battlefield at Gallipoli.

"The only problem is that they won't. The term doesn't even appear until 1974. Throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s it is used in only a handful of contexts without any apparent consistency in its meaning. In fact, the vast majority of the 855 results the search generates are dated from late 2001 onwards. Until September 11, it appears Australians didn't give a fig about Judeo-Christian values.

"The notion of a Judeo-Christian tradition is, in fact, borrowed from American public discourse. But even in the US, it is still a relatively recent idea. According to US researchers, the term only began to regularly appear during and after World War 2, when progressives sought an inclusive term that naturalised the incorporation of Jews into mainstream US society. The political intent driving its use changed from one of inclusion to one of exclusion in the post-September 11 era, however, when it most often signified the perceived challenges of Islam and Muslims.

"Even now, the term Judeo-Christian is used more commonly in the US. As Monash academic Sue Collins has found, the term appeared 6,418 times in North American newspapers between 2006 and 2013. By contrast, it was used only 765 times in all European newspapers, including the British print media, and 304 times in major Australian newspapers:

"On close analysis of Australian use of the term, Collins finds that the 'Judeo' element is merely tacked on for political expedience: 'The term has become a kind of shield for undeclared conservative interests which really want to privilege, and actually mean, the Christian tradition, but are conscious this would be politically counter-productive'...

"Christopher Pyne can dress it up in any way he likes, but the only historical significance Judeo-Christian values have in Australian public discourse is in post-9/11 conservative rhetoric."

See also my posts Onward Judeo-Christian Soldiers 1 (9/8/10) and 2 (27/4/11), and The Push for a Judeo-Christian Curriculum (12/3/14)


Anonymous said...

The term Judeo-Christian replaced the previously used term to describe our alleged civilisation: Greco-Roman.

There goes the neighbourhood!!

Anonymous said...

"shared commitment to a Judeo-Christian heritage, or valiantly fighting to defend Judeo-Christian values on the battlefield at Gallipoli."

Wasn't that an invasion of a sovereign state 1000s of kms away? Pyne should go back and take history 101 again. Not to mention there were Indian muslims and other faiths fighting alongside the Anzacs as cannon fodders.