In this essay, it is my intention to give consideration to the importance of the religious vote to the recent re-election of Bush, particularly to the Jewish element of that choice.

The title comes from a sentence of a proclamation by the “Provisional Government of the Irish Republic to the people of Ireland.” The proclamation was written in 1915 and has been preserved by the Irish National Museum in Dublin. A facsimile copy has been in my possession for many years.

Among the aims of the Provisional Government of Ireland was the solemn promise to “Cherish all the children of the nation equally.” You may recall that at the time the proclamation was written, England had dictatorial control over the Irish nation.

As a descendant of Irish forbearers, it seems to me that the vow to “cherish all the children of the nation equally,” is inspirational in its concept and lyrical in its choice of English words. The vow imposes a sacred duty on the men who signed the Proclamation to treat all Irish citizens equally. By 1916 after the Easter Uprising at the General Post Office in Dublin, nearly all the men who signed the Proclamation had been executed by the English. The Irish said they intended to control their own affairs. John Bull said such people were unruly rebels and deserved to be shot – which was done.

The Proclamation came back to me this week as the Bush re-election is being celebrated. It came back to me because the “children” of this nation who subscribe to the Evangelical Christian faith are being treated with great favor, while the so-called elitist’s children who live on the East and West coasts of the United States are to be treated with considerable disfavor. Contrary to what Bush and John Kerry may have said during the campaign, there are no prospects for the “children” of this nation being treated equally. Now, the prospects for inequality of treatment are increasingly greater. Looking at the distribution of recent tax cuts going almost totally to the richest Americans, is one example that comes immediately to mind.

My comments in this piece have to do with the seeming confluence of views between Evangelic Protestants, far right Catholic prelates who seem to be hung up on abortion and same sex marriages, and people of the Jewish faith who have recently discovered desirable qualities in George Bush.

To comment on this three-way confluence takes some bona fides. My bona fides certainly do not come from a seminary of any sort or from a university that offers courses in religious appreciation. Unfortunately , my bona fides come from forced attendance at the marathon church services offered by the Southern Baptists, the Nazarenes, the Pentecostals and finally the Free Will Baptist church which banned all organ or piano music to accompany the hymns. It may be that Satan himself sponsors instrumental music.

My reaction to the primitive inanities of all these churches was outright disdain which soon became an intense dislike bordering on hatred for their ignorance of obvious facts. And to think that my mother had hoped and planned for me to become a preacher. She had not succeeded with my older brothers, so as the youngest child of the family, she had ordained me as her final hope for a preacher who would follow in the steps of the Blessed Billy Sunday. She was increasingly aware of my gross disenchantment with divine services so her disappointment was muted as my attendance at Protestant churches of her choosing came to an end at the time of my attaining the age of 13 years.

Since that time, there has been an active intent to keep up with some developments in religious life largely as a result of my on-going interests in affairs of the United States and the world. The television fulminations of such ill-informed and ignorant know-nothings as the Graham-Falwell-Robertson combine are occasionally followed with curiosity that flows from my disbelief that they actually believe the tripe they are preaching. Did the sun stand still, was the Red Sea actually parted and did Jesus walk on water? The Catholic channel, EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), has only recently acknowledged that there MAY POSSIBLY have been some unseemly moral behavior between priests and altar boys. As a general principal , the performers on EWTN make it clear that non-Catholics are going to have one hell of a time to get to purgatory, much less to the eternal ecstasy of heaven.

So my bona fides come from exposure to the right wing evangelic sects as well as to watching Catholic preaching on EWTN. Over the years, my exposure to members of the Jewish faith has been through secular contacts. Jews don’t seem to preach on radio or television. It seems to me that Jews have an inordinate capacity to produce articles and papers that offer cogent comment on the affairs of the day. And on top of all that, it seems to me that the Irish and the Jews seem to get on well together. One of the reasons may be that the Jews have no apparent legislative agenda which would force other groups to accede to the principals of the Jewish faith. For example, the Jews were never behind Prohibition. It is doubted that Jews are enthusiastic to overturn Roe v. Wade. It is also doubted that Jews would subscribe to banning birth control devices or the teaching of creationism to the exclusion of evolution in our schools.

In the case of the recent presidential election, there was a communion of sorts between Bible thumping Evangelic Protestants and Catholics who seemed to believe that abortion and same sex marriages were a greater threat to the Republic than the deaths in Iraq, the assault on civil liberties, and the record deficits that will have to be paid by the children of our grandchildren.

For Catholics to overlook what Lancet, the respected British journal, calls 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths and the loss of over 1220 deaths among our own soldiers is astounding to this former soldier from World War II. Now, election results point out that some Jews joined in this crusade to elect Bush over a pious Catholic who was a hero in the Vietnam War. You will recall that Bush and Chaney avoided service in that conflict with Bush fleeing to the Texas Air National Guard and with Chaney saying he had “other priorities” rather than to serve as a military person.

Based upon my experience with Evangelic Protestants, it is my unshakeable belief that the concordant with the other Christian groups will be short lived. The Protestant-Catholic dispute goes back to the year 1517 when Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, posted 95 theses to the castle church in Saxony, Germany. Luther was offended by the authorities in Rome granting indulgences that spared church officials the inconvenience of going to purgatory after their deaths. Of course, money was involved here. As a result of Luther’s protests against the Roman Church, a new Christian sect or faith was established. These were the Protestants as the protestors against indulgent practices were called. The passage of nearly 500 years has not mitigated the separation of the Protestants and their former church, the Catholics. Among other beliefs, Protestants reject priestly celibacy, the bar against females in the Catholic clergy and the idea of purgatory. Protestants have no ban on the use of birth control.

The Catholics maintain that theirs is the one true church of God, regardless of the establishment of all other religions. It must be assumed that adherents to the Catholic faith reject Protestantism as well as the Islamic, Hindu and the Buddhist faiths. Simply joining hands with the Evangelic Protestants to support Bush will do nothing to erase 500 years of disagreement and displeasure between the Catholics and the Protestants.

When it comes to the evangelic fundamentalists congregations in the right wing of the Protestant denomination, there is a sense of being “aginners.” In spite of the fact that Catholics are fellow Christians, the “aginners” will assure you in no uncertain terms, that Catholics can never aspire to what the right wing religionists call, “The Kingdom of Heaven.”

It has never been made convincingly clear to me why the Protestant fundamentalists believe that Catholics are headed for the eternal damnation of hell. Perhaps it is bingo games in the basement of Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Perhaps it is that Catholics do not submit to total immersion when being baptized which the Protestant religious right holds sacred. Perhaps it all has to do with being “aginners” but the Nazarenes and the Baptists and the Pentecostals say that God himself has made it clear that they will enjoy the endless pleasures of heaven while Catholics will be sent to eternal damnation and torment. There is no meeting ground.

Does anyone, Catholic, Protestant, Pagan or Jew, believe this chasm on the Christian side of things may be papered over when Sadie Liebowitz marries Suzy Brown, simply because there is an imminent threat to the Republic that only George Bush can master? He has mangled so much so far in his first term, that bringing Catholics and born again Protestants into the same tent will be an accomplishment that will avoid solution for the next 500 years. In the Christian faith, dislike for other sects bordering on fanaticism or hatred is a component that will probably exist forever.

When a Jew from any branch of his faith would contemplate joining with the born again Protestants and the militant Catholics in support of Bush, he should give a thought or two to Martin Luther and realize the depth of the disagreements that exist within the Christian faith. It is for this reason that any long term support for Bush is problematic and the Jew who gets involved in intra-Christian disputes is bound to be burned.

On the Protestant side of this arrangement, a little more is known to me by virtue of my forced exposure to the incoherent primitive services of the Baptists (Southern and Free Will), the Nazarenes and the Pentecostals. Every prejudice was cited or invented to claim that other Protestant sects were never going to enjoy the exquisite pleasures of heaven. According to the preachers my parents forced me to hear, anyone who danced or played cards, or owned gold jewelry, or enjoyed worldly things such as baseball games would receive a one way ticket to hell. Remember, this is one Protestant sect making such claims against competing Protestant groups. While the Protestants fight among themselves, they all harbor ill feelings against their ancient rivals, the Catholics.

The same preachers who denounced dancing and card playing claimed that more sophisticated sects such as the Presbyterians, the Episcopalians and the Congregationalists would be barred from heaven because they did not submit to the primitive beliefs of the born again sects. In effect, the fundamentalists said the uptown church goers would be ineligible for heaven because their beliefs were too uppity.

When the preaching and the conversation in the fundamental sects, turned to the more sophisticated sects, the word “infidel” would soon surface. The point is that many born again Protestant sects seem to be comfortable with their holiness only when other Protestant sects are diminished. They have to put down competing sects to make themselves feel superior and more holy.

Here is what is being said in the born again circles. Peter Wallsten writes in the Los Angeles Times of November 12, 2004, about his interview with Jerry Falwell. Two short paragraphs tell us all we need to know about the Reverend Doctor Jerry Falwell:

“Jerry Falwell — is so concerned about harnessing his movements power within the GOP and national politics that this week he formed the Faith and Values Coalition, which, as he put it, aimed to be the 21st Century version of the Moral Majority.

“The group will seek to register millions of additional voters, starting in January, to ensure that supports of abortion rights, such as former New York Mayor Rudolph Guilani, or backers of gay rights such as Arizona’s Senator John McCain, don’t win the GOP presidential nomination and that Republicans retain the White House in 2008.”

Guilani and McCain are both Christians, but their right wing credentials leave much to be desired in Falwell’s eyes. Also, it must be assumed that his new Faith and Values outfit deplores divorce. Unfortunately, divorce is much greater in Falwell’s Bible belt state when compared to the states that voted against George Bush. Maybe Falwell ought to devote some effort to healing traditional marriages rather than to harp on same sex unions.

Guilani is a Catholic politician who is now involved with his third marriage. McCain is believed to be an Episcopalian. Does anything in Falwell’s diatribe strike you as conciliatory or conducive to preserving the loving arrangement with the Catholics or the Jews?

To my Jewish friends, it must be said that any agreement on political or religious matters with the Christians will perforce, be short lived.

James Dobson is another of the Christian moguls. Dobson runs a religious enterprise in Colorado. “He has compared recent steps toward gay marriage to Pearl Harbor and likens it to D-Day,” says Michael Crowley in an assessment in the New Republic published on November 12. When Dobson got a thank you call from the White House, he told the caller that Bush “needs to be more aggressive” about pressing the religious right’s pro-life, anti-gay agenda. Crowley calls Dobson a “Republican kingmaker.”

Once more, my Jewish friends must be asked if they intend to place their trust in a born-again Christian who fancies himself a Republican kingmaker. What is in it for any Jew? Any Jew must ask whether the fanaticism or Dobson or Falwell or Robertson has elements of anti-Semiticism in it.

The fraying of the embrace between Christians is not confined to debates between Christian sects. James Hatfield in an Online Journal dated April 24, 2001, says this about Bush:

“Dubya often talks the talk, but seldom walks the walk of his faith.
“Dubya and I have one thing – and only one thing – in common.
We are both members of the United Methodist Church.
“You might think the election of the third Methodist to the Presidency would be a source of pride.
“Think again, folks.”

Hatfield has filed a long report which excoriates Bush for his actions as a human being and as a Methodist. So the Protestant squabble is inter and intra-sectual. (That may be a neologism.) Is this the sort of arrangement that Jews would be pleased to find themselves within?

Now when this essayist says a concordant between Christians will be short lived, my point is hammered home in the November 3, 2004 congratulatory letter to Bush from Bob Jones III, the president of Bob Jones University. You may recall that this school banned interracial dating until national attention was called to it as a result of Bush making a campaign speech at that institution. Excerpts from the congratulatory letter follow:

“In your re-election, God has graciously granted America – though she doesn’t deserve it – a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet.

“Don’t equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ.

“The student body, faculty and staff at Bob Jones University commit ourselves to pray for you – that you would do right and honor the Savior. Pull out all the stops and make a difference. If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them.

“We could not be more thankful that God has given you four more years to serve Him in the White House never taking off your Christian faith and laying it aside as a man takes off a jacket, but living, speaking, and making decisions as one who knows the Bible to be eternally true.”

Now, the people at Bob Jones University are the gung ho supporters of Bush. In the congratulatory letter to Bush, do you see a scintilla anywhere that might even suggest that Jews might be welcome in the George Dubya arrangement? It would be a failure of great proportions to see Jews being taken in by Christians of this born again stripe. What the Dobsons, the Falwells and the other born-agains are saying is that our faith – not the Catholic or the Jewish faith will get us to heaven and all you elitist readers of the New York Times will be condemned to enjoying eternal torment. Hell, here we come.

Now a further thought about Christianity. In the red states of the 2004 election, 70% of those citizens believed that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. One third believe that the majority of world opinion supported the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. These folks are by and large, Christians. A goodly proportion, perhaps a majority, of them believes that in ancient times, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. Their clerics have told them so. Does any Jew anywhere believe that he or she will be welcomed as a full partner with the born again Protestants and the Catholics when he/she pledged support of Bush?

No matter how you cut it, intense rivalries and arguments on theological grounds permeates the Christian faith. When the Jew approaches this enduring fact with an endorsement of people like Bush, is he prepared to live with permanent animosity? If the Shias and the Sunnis were to unite within the Islamic faith, would the ordinary Jew want to be the third party in that arrangement? In my estimation, the Jew would have more success in joining with the Islamic agreement than he or she would with the short lived agreement within the Christian faith.

Now if a Jew became a leader establishing a sect called Jews for Jerry Falwell, it might be necessary for me to tuck my tail between my hind legs and seek a hiding place. On the other hand, it is my belief that Bush will use the forces of religion as long as it is of use to his political career. Jewish support is important to Bush’s career, therefore, he courts Jews. But all Jews should bear in mind the example of Vincente Fox, the President of Mexico. When Señor Fox declined to send troops to the hell holes of Iraq, a distinct coolness developed in our relations with Mexico. Fox no longer speaks to Bush; he is obliged to converse with lower levels in the Bush administration. All this comes after Bush once promised that the United States and Mexico were inseparable.

When Jacques Chretian, the Premier of Canada refused to endorse the fool hardy pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, he was cut off. In his four years in the Oval Office, Bush has yet to visit our neighbor to the north.

Is this mean-spiritedness toward our two closest neighbors what Jews wish to support? Do they understand what “born again” means? In the recent appointments to Bush’s cabinet, the Jewish names are distinguished by their absence.

My relationship with Jews is very important to me. My life has been enriched by having an active relationship with male Jews that could only come from a genuine liking for each other. Take Larry Friedman, who married Doris Woodward, a lovely lady who is much too good for a guy like Friedman. Larry said he had a kosher butcher on Bleeker Street in New York City who could perform cut rate circumcisions on goys like me. Some of us goys responded by inviting Larry to lunch at a place that served only oysters, eels, cockles and mussels. This turned out to be a bad deal because Larry was an observant Jew except when it came to eating. He would eat anything. But the kosher butcher was located on Houston Street, not on Bleeker at all.

My older passports carry stamps that show my work took me to Israel perhaps 15 times on communications business. My Israeli counterparts received me with uncommon courtesy and friendship. Aryeh Ron, Jake Haberfeld and Gideon Lev had left Europe as the Nazis took over. Aryeh Ron was called Lee Ritter in Vienna when storm troopers ordered him to bring his toothbrush to clean the sidewalk. He got the hint and took off for Palestine.

Aryeh appointed himself as my guide to his new country. On one occasion, we were driving in the northern part of Israel and my host driver seemed to be in no hurry. He suggested that we stop for a drink of Israeli orange juice at the cafeteria of the University of Haifa. He said we both might learn something. A member of the university administration joined us. When he innocently inquired about my academic credentials, he was laughingly told that, in terms of college work, there were none. He said, “That can be fixed.” So he escorted me to many departments of Haifa University. Upon leaving, he told me that my tour of the University and my long friendship with Aryeh Ron qualified us both as honors graduates of Haifa University. That academic achievement is not one that is worn on my sleeve, but there it is nonetheless.

As it turned out, Aryeh was killing time until his granddaughter finished her first grade class in Haifa. His meeting with that little girl was a sight to behold with kisses and hugs flying everywhere. Aryeh’s guest was not overlooked in the affection department.

Jake Haberfeld, a refugee from Poland, was an important figure in the Israeli telephone industry. In business meetings, Jake presented himself with great dignity, but always with a sense of humor. On one occasion when Israel was in a dispute with Syria over the Golan Heights, your author told Mr. Haberfeld that the U.S. Government would support Israel on the Heights question, provided that Israel would agree to returning Miami Beach to us. Instantly, Jake said, “That is the trouble with you Americans. You always want a package deal.” Everybody roared. That round went to Jake Haberfeld.

Now we turn to the thought that got us here in the first place. That thought has to do with whether the Bush administration backed by the Protestant born again right and by evangelical Catholics and by some Jews will indeed, treat all the citizens equally. It goes without saying that most of the 55,000,000 voters who supported John Kerry do not think so with, for example, with tax breaks going to the most well off Americans and with rampant favoritism being shown to heavy contributors to Republican Party coffers. In my experience, Jews have almost always supported fair treatment for all of us.

Many Irish people contend that Ireland’s only debt to their long term oppressors flows from teaching English to the Irish. Of course, the title of this piece is a part of a Proclamation written by Irishmen in the English language. The rest of the sentence from which the title of this essay was lifted is instructive and should guide every politician who is given the responsibility to run a government. The rest of the sentence says:

“The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious to the difference carefully fostered by an alien government which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.”

Of course, my forbearers were Irish so some may say my thoughts are a bit prejudiced. On the other hand, there is much to ponder over in that marathon sentence from the Proclamation of the Provisional Government of Ireland, particularly on the minority-majority question.

The lyricism and the harmony of these words continue to be impressive after nearly 90 years. When electorates of this country elected to go in the election of 2004 with faith over facts, when it elected to go with ideology over reality, when it decided to endorse belief rather than reason, there is no reason to believe that there will be any desire to cherish the citizens equally.

Sandra J. Sucher of Waban, Massachusetts summarized it this way: “The officials who perpetuated these untruths and those who believe in them, despite evidence to the contrary, lead us down a path in which no reason can be brought to bear on matters on which our lives and the lives of millions around the globe depend.”

It is painful to say that the ensuing years will be a time of great trial. This country doesn’t deserve the fate that faith and ideology have brought us. It is my belief that upon reflection, our Jewish friends would agree with that conclusion.

November 16, 2004


I feel like I was missing something in this one until I saw the publication date. I suppose the whole piece is a reaction to Jews somehow contributing to the election of Bush? Did this happen? I don’t remember reading much about the role of the Jewish vote specifically, but I was fourteen at the time and don’t remember reading much news at all. So I guess this essay becomes some sort of cautionary tale to Jews, on the grounds that religious difference with the GOP mean that they’ve elected someone who won’t watch out for their interests.

I can’t recall any Bush-era policies that encouraged discrimination against Jews or singled them out specifically, but I can appreciate the message sent here anyway. This election cycle, the same sort of logic would apply to all the working-class Americans who elected an unsympathetic demagogue billionaire — precisely the sort of person who they would normally decry. But they elected him anyway because he spoke in language they could understand and promised to turn their xenophobic hatred into national policy.

The gist of this essay is that Republicans aren’t great about being compassionate human beings, so you probably shouldn’t ally yourself with them unless you are sure they’re going to support you. This time it was the US’s the poor and working-class white Christians who got duped, and my prediction is that they’re going to get burned by this change in leadership almost as much as their minority counterparts who they were seeking to attack. If Obamacare gets repealed, for instance, Appalachia is going to feel that every bit as much as inner-city Detroit. It’s going to be hard to feel sorry for them when the other shoe drops in a few years.

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