Rick Santorum’s already minimal chances to win Jewish votes in November just got a tiny bit smaller. Politico reports that the GOP presidential candidate spoke in 2010 at a conference of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, a group whose adherents claim Jewish identity while also professing belief in the divinity of Jesus. Santorum picked up $6,000 for the speaking gig that went unnoticed at the time but now must be considered a minor embarrassment for the former senator.
Messianics, like the better-known group that calls themselves Jews for Jesus, are ardent supporters of the Jewish state and wanted Santorum to speak at their event because of his pro-Israel views. But Christians who may be puzzled by any Jewish resentment about his appearance need to understand two things about this controversy. The first is that the only one thing upon which virtually all Jews — no matter where they stand on the religious or political spectrum — agree on is that belief in Jesus makes a person a Christian rather than a Jew. There is also a strong consensus that Messianic groups are engaging in deceptive practices when they seek to proselytize Jews to join them. Therefore, any connection with such groups is bound to be seen as controversial.