2015-04-26 – So Mike Huckabee thinks that “We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity”? What would he have thought if he had been brought up as a Jew?
Let me tell you. I was.
Before I get to the details, I have to say that America has mainly been good to the Jews during my lifetime. Not entirely, but mostly. Still, from my point of view, this is a Christian country, and the Christian majority uses its power to marginalize my people. You say that you like us. You say “Judeo-Christian” like we’re some kind of partners. But you don’t walk the walk. When your extremists say that this is a Christian country, you’re de facto correct.
And I’m not talking about hot button issues like abortion or contraceptives or guns or racism or gay rights. I am talking about things like the Sabbath and holidays and public prayer. You like to talk about the hot button issues as somehow religion based. I disagree (and I’ll get to that another day). But Sabbath and holidays and public prayer are nothing but religion. You have your way on these and here is how they impacted my life.
When I was a school child in the fifties and sixties, your religion was taught in the public schools. I learned your prayers. I can still recite the Lord’s Prayer by heart. Can you recite my prayers? Can you say the Sh’ma? Do you even know what the Sh’ma is? I also learned Christmas Carols. Do you know my holiday songs?
Your parents could send you to public school and be comfortable knowing that you would be immersed in a Christian culture. My parents could not.
Here’s the thing. If my parents thought it was important for me to learn about being a Jew, they had to take the initiative to enroll me in Jewish schools that met after public school and on the weekend. They had to arrange a carpool to haul a bunch of us from one building to another and then pick us up later to bring us home for dinner.
Though your parents may have done something similar to give you enrichment, it was not required. To be a Jew, it was required. This was not going to happen in public school.
To be fair, some of the more extreme practices of protestant religious instruction in public schools have disappeared since I was a child. But it is not gone. There’s plenty left. I know it bothers you that you can’t use public funds to proselytize my children in as overt a way as you did fifty years ago, but the proselytization is still going on.
(And you know, it’s not just Jews who felt this. Catholics built their own school system. And not long after I went through school, some Jews did too.)
The whole rhythm of life is Christian. And by that I mean that the Sabbath that is observed in this country (such that it is) is the Christian Sabbath, not the Jewish Sabbath. When I was young, there were “blue laws” that compelled merchants to close their businesses on Sunday. If I wanted to observe Saturday as the Sabbath (which Jews do), I had to observe your Sabbath as well. And when I wanted to observe my holidays, I had to take days off of school and be marked absent. I never got a perfect attendance award.
Again, many blue laws have gone away since I grew up. That was not a victory of Jews or even secularists. It was a victory of corporatists. There was a buck to be made. Still, the vast majority in this country see Sunday as the day of rest (or football). Only a tiny minority see the Sabbath as being another day.
I’m not saying that our culture is entirely supportive of Christians, but it’s way more supportive of Christians than it is of Jews. (And it is openly hostile to Muslims.)
So, nu, Huckabee, if you think your faith is being criminalized, maybe you’d want to change places with me . . .
Didn’t think so.