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Anti-Christian Bigotry is Still Bigotry

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman’s article on Tim Tebow is making the rounds today–and not in a good way. The disturbing article, a vicious diatribe against American Christians, has offended not only its Christian targets but also American Jews who have worked hard to produce the gains in Jewish-Christian relations that such attacks threaten to undermine. Here is the most offensive paragraph (which the editors, since this post went up, finally deleted, though the rest of the offensive column remains):

If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants.  While America has become more inclusive since Jerry Falwell’s first political forays, a Tebow triumph could set those efforts back considerably.

Hammerman, a member of J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet, says he is rooting against Tebow as a New England Patriots fan and as a concerned citizen. He gives the impression he believes that fervently hoping for the public failure of an athlete is appropriate if that athlete is overtly Christian. (While there is nothing wrong with being a Patriots fan, Hammerman does call head coach Bill Belichick a “moral exemplar,” which is a bit much considering Belichick was caught cheating to win games and carried on an affair with a married woman, resulting in the couple’s divorce just after his own. One wonders about Hammerman’s moral judgment.)

But more importantly, Hammerman surely knows that what he writes here is plainspoken bigotry, an affront to a nation of civilized people, insulting to Christians for all the obvious reasons, and is a chillul Hashem as well–a blight on Judaism’s reputation and one of Judaism’s most serious sins.

Additionally, since random American citizens don’t “banish” immigrants, Hammerman is obviously talking about presidential candidates as well. In this, he is introducing a religious test for office by warning that a devoutly Christian president is more likely to do terrible things. (By the way, someone should tell Hammerman that our current, Democratic president’s penchant for “banishing immigrants” has far outpaced all those who came before him.)

One question remains: do the newspaper that published this shameful piece (The Jewish Week), his synagogue in Connecticut, and J Street think this is appropriate behavior from the esteemed Rabbi Hammerman?

At a synagogue I attended last week, the sermon centered on Tebow as well–only this one extolled Tebow’s courage, his pride in his faith, and his sense of personal security. Let’s hope that sermon was more representative of American Judaism’s response to Tebow than Hammerman’s disgraceful rant.