Source:  Free Inquiry, Spring 1993 v13 n2 p7(1).
    Title:  The 'Judeo-Christian' myth.
   Author:  Skipp Porteous

Abstract: Christian preachers have increasingly used the term 'Judeo-Christian' to cover up anti-Semitism sentiments. This became popular in the early 1980s with Jerry Falwell's attempt to appease Jews regarding his secretarian rhetoric. Christian preachers aim to emphasise Christianity's Biblical and Jewish origins through the use of the term, however, they omit 'Judeo' when speaking to Christians alone. This indicates the merely external usage of the term to hide racist attitudes against Jews. Furthermore, the belief that Christianity originated from Judaism is inaccurate since Christianity is more closely linked to paganism.

 Subjects:  Terms and phrases - Usage
            Christianity - Origin
            Evangelists - Attitudes
            Judaism - Influence
Electronic Collection:  A13690298
                   RN:  A13690298

Full Text COPYRIGHT Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism Inc. 1993

An increasing number of Christian politicians are employing the term Judeo-Christian in their speeches to general audiences. In the last few years I've read variations of the phrase ad nauseum: "Judeo-Christian traditional values"; "Judeo-Christian political effort"; "Judeo-Christian theism"; "Judeo-Christian Republicans"; "Judeo-Christian lifestyle of Bible-believers."

This curious construct, while not new, gained currency in the early 1980s. At that time, the sectarian rhetoric of the Reverend Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority alarmed the Jewish community. To ease Jewish concern the Falwell camp began to employ the term Judeo-Christian, saying that, after all, Christianity is based on Judaism. Cynically, the forces of exclusion embraced a terminology of inclusion.

When the religious right uses "Judeo-Christian" to whom does the term actually refer? According to Charles R. Phillips, author of a popular political handbook used by the religious right, people who embrace "Judeo-Christian values" are those who oppose abortion, homosexuality (they call it sodomy), "pornography as an art form," and "sex education that neglects chastity and condones free distribution of condoms."

Robert Simonds, head of the National Association of Christian Educators, a group dedicated to electing candidates who hold "Judeo-Christian" values to school boards, writes, "America is great because devout Christians and courageous politicians have used biblical values to shape our political institutions." "America," he adds "is not the product of secular humanism, atheism, or any other false religion. America is the fruit of God's eternal truth in Christ, the Ten Commandments...."

When speaking exclusively to Christians, however, Simonds drops the "Judeo": "The Christian religion (the Bible) is the basis for all morality (right and wrong)."

In 1989, the Reverend Pat Robertson formed a powerful new political organization. Although he continually preaches on "Judeo-Christian values," he named his group the "Christian Coalition," not the Judeo-Christian Coalition.

And lest there be any confusion among "the faithful" as to whom the term truly applies, Jimmy Swaggart, writing in The Evangelist, used the term Judeo, but added "Christian" in parentheses.

Christian politicians employ "Judeo-Christian" in their external appeals because they know that overt expressions of anti-Semitism are political suicide.

An examination of Christian history fails to support the hypothesis that Christianity has its roots in Judaism. In fact, Christianity borrows more of its customs from paganism than from Judaism. Two of Christianity's central holidays, Christmas and Easter, have their roots in paganism. And Sunday worship is pagan, not Jewish--even Jesus kept the Sabbath on the seventh day. The question remains, "Isn't Christianity derived from the teachings of Jesus, who was Jewish?" No, Jesus never intended to start a new religion. Paul founded Christianity, using a mythical Jesus as a basis.

If people need to link Christianity with its roots, then "Pagan-Christian" is the proper term. "Judeo-Christian" is false and misleading. While "Judeo-Christian" may be used to placate Jews, they should be aware that the use of the term does not include them.

Skipp Porteous' commentaries on the religious right appear regularly in FREE INQUIRY.

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