The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information

 TeasersSam Francis Blogview

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
🔊 Listen RSS

Big Business and its bottomless appetite for cheap labor are by no means the only pillars of the Open Borders Lobby that has helped flood the country with Third World immigrants.

There are also the churches, themselves ever hungry for new members as their own religious liberalism drives away their old members. This week the Washington Post carried a story on how Protestant churches in the Washington area are using immigration to keep their collection plates full. [Prayers in Pr. George's Take On a New Dialect, Washington Post, May 8, 2004]

The Protestant churches are the Open Borders Lobby at prayer—though a good many churches seem to spend more time preaching politics than praying.

The Post story explains how white American worshippers have simply taken a powder—“The Presbyterian Church (USA), with a membership of about 2.5 million, says it has been losing about 30,000 members a year,” while “A national survey conducted every 10 years by the Glenmary Research Center in Nashville shows that membership of mainline Protestant denominations is dwindling.”

They’re not dwindling because so many Americans have suddenly become atheists. The Post readily acknowledges the decline of mainline church membership is largely due to the conservatism of those leaving and the liberalism of the church establishments:

“While older members are dying off, younger parishioners have been drawn to more conservative evangelical churches or have quit attending altogether.”

So what are thoroughly modern church leaders going to do?

It doesn’t seem to occur to them to alter their own liberalism. What they have actually done is recruit immigrants—a tactic that not only helps swell attendance and membership but also is compatible with the ideological catacomb in which they have entombed themselves.

“To stem the losses,” the Post reports, “Protestant churches, including the Presbyterians, have launched outreach campaigns directed at immigrants. National Presbyterian leaders want to increase minority membership to 10 percent by 2005 and 20 percent by 2020. The Presbyterian Church is now about 93 percent white, 3 percent black, 2.6 percent Asian and 1.2 percent Hispanic.”

The Post recounts the sad story of one local church, Hyattsville Presbyterian in suburban Maryland, that has flourished for more than 300 years—until next month, when, due to the defection of the whites who have been its mainstay, it will turn its building and the whole caboodle over to the Umoja International Community Church, “a large, thriving African Presbyterian congregation that conducts its main weekly service in Swahili.”

Nevertheless, in the long run, immigration won’t help the churches, let alone the country.

It may save the churches as organizations and thereby put more meat on the platters of those who run them, but it won’t bring the white Christians back.

It’s all very well to talk about how God doesn’t care about the color of your skin or what language you speak, but the human beings who worship Him do care—and have good reason to.

Race and culture affect no human institution more deeply than how people practice their religion.

Language, music, ritual and even theology vary widely according to race and culture.

But like many other truths about the human (and super-human) condition, that lesson seems to be lost on the liberal leadership of the churches, who are eager not only to support immigration as a national policy but also want to make their own churches as multicultural as possible.

Several weeks ago, the Post ran another story reporting how “faith leaders are prodding churches to better reflect and appeal to the country’s changing demographics—and they are doing it from the top, placing minority pastors in white congregations.”[Minority Pastors Preach Diversity, April 4, 2004 ]

(Notice they don’t seem to be putting white ministers into non-white congregations, probably because the non-whites would walk out that day.)

Whites who are comfortable worshipping in Swahili may like the new multicultural church into which their shepherds are herding them just fine, but my bet is that most won’t.

Yet whether they do or not, how the churches are using immigration is of interest.

The churches use immigration in the same way that other failed institutions in American society are.

Labor unions have lost gobs of members in the last 30 years or so, and today they’re booming the virtues of mass immigration so they can restore their muscle.

Republicans and Democrats both compete for immigrants’ votes as American voters yawn and stay home.

One main reason that national elites not only tolerate but actually promote mass immigration is that they have totally failed to retain the loyalties of their own people.

Immigrants help them stay leaders because they provide new followers.

Americans who are not followers saw through the fakery of the liberal churches long ago.

I’ll also bet they will see through their newest gamble to use immigration to keep themselves and their crumbling institutions intact.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Christianity, Immigration 
🔊 Listen RSS

OK, I’ve seen Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ and am therefore entitled to pronounce the definitive and final word on a subject over which more ink has already been spilled than cuttlefish can squirt.

I have to confess the film did nothing for me religiously and even less aesthetically. It’s a well-made movie, but the brutality inflicted on the person of Jesus I found repellent, tasteless, bordering on the blasphemous and implausible.

A human being who gets the kind of beating administered in the movie would be dead or dying, and he wouldn’t be lugging a 15-foot-tall cross for several miles an hour or so later.

I had much the same reaction to the graphic torture scene in Mr. Gibson’s earlier film Braveheart, though that was less brutal and mercifully shorter.

But the violence of the Passion is only a small part of the controversy. The bigger question has been, is The Passion of the Christ anti-Semitic?

The answer is “No.”

Yes, Jewish priests and their hired mob are depicted as engineering the execution of Jesus, carried out by Roman soldiers. This is from the New Testament account, the only historical source we have about the event, and it’s perfectly consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church today . “The Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ,” Pope Paul VI stated in his 1965 Nostra Aetate declaration.

The writers (mainly but not entirely Jewish) who have denounced the movie for anti-Semitism have dwelled on the Jewish role in the crucifixion as the main basis for their claims, and they don’t hesitate to instruct Mr. Gibson, a lifelong traditional Catholic, in his own religion.

Probably at least a dozen Jewish writers invoked the 1965 statement and Mr. Gibson’s supposed deviation from it.

But neither the Church nor Mel Gibson can rewrite historical documents the way these writers demand. The more important point is that neither Paul VI nor Mr. Gibson’s film holds Jews today or all Jews responsible for the killing of Christ, which is what most of the critics try to lump in with the historical account. The pope added , “What happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today.”The movie insists on the universal responsibility of mankind for Christ’s death and dwells most of all on Christ’s own forgiveness of those who tortured and killed him.

At no time during or after the movie did I get the idea that it blamed all Jews or that you were supposed to get that idea.

Yet the response to the film has been literally hysterical. Gibson’s Blood Libel, yells Charles Krauthammer. “Fascistic” concludes Richard Cohen . “Unambiguously contrived to vilify Jews” says Frank Rich. Gibson “has chosen to give millions of people the impression that Jews are culpable for the death of Jesus,” writes Leon Wieseltier in the New Republic.

That’s only a small sample.

But probably the most bizarre reaction comes from an Orthodox Rabbi, Ariel Bar Tzadok, who writes that he feels nothing for the sufferings of the mother of Jesus watching the crucifixion of her son, a story “considered by many non-Christians to be a fictional account recorded in the Gospels.”

What the rabbi does identify with are

“the Jewish mothers who cried for their sons, suffering from German Nazis, Russian Cossacks, Spanish Inquisitors, and all types of European Crusaders. All of these persecutors of the Jews held one thing in common, they were all Christians, and they had all at one time or another seen a ‘passion play,’ similar to Mr. Gibson’s movie that motivated them to, in their eyes, take revenge for Christ against those who killed him.”

Well, now, speaking of “fictional accounts.”

Aside from his insulting parody of Christianity, what’s important here is what the rabbi’s fiction tells us about the Jewish reaction to The Passion. His response is extreme—but not really very different from other reactions.

And what that reaction reveals is that many Jews—Orthodox and traditional as well as modern and secular—seem to harbor a deep, ineradicable and obsessive hatred of Christianity itself and the central events of the New Testament.

It’s more than the normal dislike one religion often feels for another but a hatred drawn from what they insist are centuries of vicious persecution of Jews, a persecution held to come from the heart of Christianity itself.

If that kind of hatred does lurk in the Jewish psyche, then there’s a much bigger problem here than Mel Gibson’s movie.

There’s a fundamental (and perhaps irresolvable) conflict with a country and a civilization that—as the immense popularity of The Passion of Christ shows—continue to insist on calling themselves Christian.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Christianity, Jews, Mel Gibson 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”