In a probing essay published by Rewire, United Church of Christ minister Peter Laarman asks what Christians owe the Jewish people in a moment of spiking global anti-Semitism.
Laarman says that liberal Christians have long grappled with how the history of Christianity and theology have fueled anti-Semitic hate and violence for centuries. But are modern Christians doing enough? What can they do to be better allies?
“Liberal Christians—my tribe—have the kind of complex and loving relationship with Jews and Judaism that prompts us to grieve and to show up in solidarity when something like the Pittsburgh shooting happens,” Laarman writes. “We’ve studied the grisly history of Christian anti-Judaism. We see the connection between, say, the Gospels’ collective blaming of Jews for the death of Christ and the deep stain of anti-Semitism running through the entire history of European Christianity.”
Laarman gently ribs fellow liberal Christians for the eagerness with which they cite the Martin Niemoeller “First they came for…” poem in political moments that are dangerous for the most vulnerable .
But denouncing hate and quoting poetry is not longer enough, Laarman argues.
“This moment of terror for American Jews calls for a little more soul searching and a lot more action. Being “correct” on the history and theology—and feeling guilty about Christianity’s central role in supporting Jew hatred—will not suffice,” he writes.
“On the action tip, what are we prepared to do beyond the statements and the solidarity vigils now taking place?” he writes.
“If ever there were a moment to rededicate ourselves to working for radical inclusion, this would be that moment. Those of us who have pulpits or other platforms should say clearly, Yes, we are internationalists—and here is what that means,” he writes. “No, we will not tolerate a politics that treats anyone as “lesser than” or less deserving of justice and dignity. And every single time we see marginalization and injustice happening we will speak up and show up.”