Rabbi Yaakov Menken teaches a Congressman real Tolerance
August 24, 2023

After a Christian advocate proclaimed her belief in traditional Christian doctrine, Rep. Max Miller (R-OH-7) reacted with fury, calling it “bigoted.” Lizzie Marbach, then the Communications Director at Ohio Right to Life, declared that “There’s no hope for any of us outside of having faith in Jesus Christ alone,” Rep. Max Miller (R-OH-7) tweeted in response, ” “this is one of the most bigoted tweets I have ever seen. Delete it, Lizzie. Religious freedom in the United States applies to every religion. You have gone too far.”

Many felt that his statement was inappropriate for a member of Congress. Rabbi Yaakov Menken wrote a pair of responses on X (formerly Twitter), each of which has been seen over 100,000 times:

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“Bigoted” is denying others their freedom of religion. You’re supposed to be a political leader who knows and follows the Constitution. I suggest you read up.

Challenging the freedom of others to follow and proclaim their faith *never* goes well for Jews.

Rabbi Menken then wrote a longer explanation of why he believed observant Jews generally take a more tolerant approach.

As a practicing Jew, I feel like I need to say more about this. It is common for non-practicing Jews (which Rep. Miller, as far as one can tell, appears to be) to be very defensive about the faith of others, especially if they somehow feel excluded.

Observant Jews are not.

Whether it is Miracle Hill Ministries or Holston United working exclusively with Christians, Mormons declaring Jews to be Mormon after their departure from this life, or Christians purportedly supporting Jewish rights and Jewish life in the Jewish homeland solely because of the need for all Jews to be in Israel for the “rapture” (which is undoubtedly true for some, but I’ve heard it denied too many times by Christians who are very honest about their beliefs)… we’re not bothered.

We’re not bothered because we have our own beliefs, and we are confident in those beliefs. We are quite certain that G-d knows how to sort it all out in the World to Come.

We are obviously the last ones to whitewash a millennium of European Christian history with Jews. None of us view the Crusaders with respect. But that’s not what we find in America today.

If a person believes as Ms. Marbach does, and as a result is kind to Jews, supports our rights to live in our homeland (and defend ourselves), and to educate our children, observe our Sabbath and consume kosher food here in America, what, precisely, is the problem?

What we see in Rep. Miller’s tweet (X?) is a display of his own insecurity. He lacks confidence in his own religion enough to brush off her proclamation of a different belief and move on. I would love to see him learn more about the glory of his own heritage.

In Religion Dispatches, writer Ben Lorber took a hostile approach as a Jewish progressive, in a piece entitled “‘Sit Down And Be Quiet’ — MAGA Attack On Jewish Republican Exposes Christian Nationalism’s Shaky Commitment To Pluralism.” He claimed that “As the Christian nationalist movement builds unprecedented power in the U.S., their aggressive reaction to Miller’s cry of protest abruptly exposed the limits of their oft-professed love for Jews, at the hard edge of their dystopian vision.”

Lorber took issue with Rabbi Menken’s viewpoint, insisting that “Christian nationalists” are “disastrous for Jews” … because they support traditional moral values that are, despite Lorber’s protestations to the contrary, clearly rooted in Torah Law.

Yaakov Menken, leader of the Haredi far-right Coalition for Jewish Values, acknowledges that “we [Orthodox Jews] are obviously the last ones to whitewash a millennium of European Christian history with Jews.” But, Menken continues, Orthodox Jews like himself are “not bothered” by expressions of open Christian supremacy because “we are quite certain that G-d knows how to sort it all out in the World to Come.” Miller, however, who is not Orthodox, “lacks confidence in his own religion enough to brush off her proclamation of a different belief and move on.”

As long as Christians support far-right Israeli nationalism and allow American Jews to observe religious law, Menken concludes, “what, precisely, is the problem?” This elaborate rationalization overlooks the basic fact that Jews, and many others, have good reason to be troubled by expressions of the religious ideology directly responsible for the centuries of oppression inflicted by Christians.

There have long been Jews in the Christian nationalist camp. Intellectuals like Yoram Hazony (founder of National Conservatism), pundits like Ben Shapiro, and political candidates like Josh Mandel have all expressed support for the movement’s core principle that America is or should be a ‘Christian nation’.

But the Christian nationalist agenda is, and will remain disastrous for Jews. It threatens to roll back reproductive freedoms that are clearly supported by Jewish religious law (a point which Orthodox Jewish voices have affirmed). It threatens to deny adoption and other state-funded services to Jews, much as they’re increasingly denied to LGBTQ folks; and this denial for Jews, and other minorities, finds growing support among the MAGA base. In these and other ways, it threatens to turn Jews, and many others, into second-class citizens, denied full inclusion in ‘we, the people’.

See his full article in the Religious Dispatch

Notably, Max Miller soon apologized, saying that “I posted something earlier that conveyed a message I did not intend.” He did not explain which part he did not intend, or what he intended to say.

Photo Credit: Rep. Max Miller official photo, shared on Wikimedia Commons

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