Please excuse us for missing this last week, but First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress has again said something as odious as it is catastrophically stupid. American Christians, Jeffress said, are being treated in the same way Jews in Nazi Germany were treated before the Holocaust.
“I want to remind people that, you know, the Nazis weren’t able to take the Jews to the crematoriums immediately. The German people wouldn’t have allowed for it. Instead, the Nazis had to change public opinion. They marginalized the Jewish people, disparaged them and make them objects of contempt," he told Sean Hannity on Fox News.
Ghettos, public humiliation, stars of David on clothing and Kristallnacht? Same thing as saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," allowing gay people to marry and whatever other thing Jeffress is mad about that day. Just like President Obama isn't the Antichrist — he's simply paving the way for him or her, Jeffress has said — the vast conspiracy against the professed religion of choice of every single American president is only making the eventual systematic killing of 71 percent of the U.S. population possible, it isn't actually killing anyone yet.
Admittedly, that reading of Jeffress words does disparage him and make him on object of contempt, but that's got nothing to do with his being a Christian — just a twit.
Friday, Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, lambasted Jeffress in an open letter:
Religious persecution is a significant problem around the world. Many people live in fear for their lives because of their faith, Christians included. You and I and everyone should do more to remedy the situation.
However, your recent comments on Fox News comparing your experience as a conservative Christian to Jews living in Nazi Germany show disrespect to the victims of the Holocaust, and do a disservice to the critically important cause of ending real religious persecution. The honest disagreements that people of faith in this country have about public policy issues are hardly the beginning of a path towards genocide.
Let’s understand the full import of what you are saying. If Christians (as you define them) are the Jews of pre-Holocaust Europe, then the rest of us are the Nazis and their sympathizers. It serves your rhetorical purpose to demonize those with whom you disagree, but it shows that you lack a true understanding of what the term “Nazi” means or the history that led to their crimes. And in the practice of hyperbole, you reduce the progress and expansiveness of American values of inclusiveness and equal rights to a plot to steal the rightful dominance of people who are most like you.
You have a reputation for complaining that other faith traditions are evil, false and cultic. That is your right and, as strongly as I disagree with you, I will defend your right to be wrong. Ironically, the provisions of the Constitution, which extend that right to you, have been dismissed by you in the name of religious exclusivity. You owe the American people an apology. We are a nation that celebrates diverse beliefs and views and we are undeserving of the allegation you have made.
Someone once told me, “The first person to use ‘Nazi’ always loses the argument.” You have proven her point.
Rabbi Jack Moline
Jeffress heads a church with more than 12,000 members that recently spent more than $135 million on upgrades to its opulent downtown campus without breaking a sweat.