San Francisco (Oct. 27)
A prominent sociologist has cautioned Jews against treating the evangelical/fundamentalist religious movement as being incipiently fascist because “their attitudes just do not warrant such a characterization.”
Furthermore, according to Earl Raab, an author and executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, Marin County and the Peninsula, the evangelical population is not captive on general political and economic issues to the politicized preachers and their movements, such as the Moral Majority and the Christian Round Table, and Jews “should not impute more power to those preachers and movements than they have.”
Raab made his remarks at the closing session of the four-day meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. Addressing ADL leaders, Raab said Jews ought to be concerned “perhaps more than they are today” with conditions which might be fertile for the growth of extremist movements “rather than mistakenly scapegoat” evangelical/fundamentalist movements.
RIDE CREST OF CONSERVATIVE MOOD
He said such movements did not create the conservative mood of the country “but rather had a free ride on its crest.” He attributed the nation’s mood change to “problems of inflation, a stagnant economy and dwindling American prestige.”
“If anyone wants to redirect the political winds of this country,” Raab declared, “he would be well advised to direct himself to those objective conditions, neither dismissing them nor ascribing our political direction to some group which has illicitly subverted the American consciousness.”
Raab observed that Jews “have to watch for the growth of traditional extremist political movements with their over-simplified comprehensive solutions, their conspiracy phobias and their ethnic targeting,” as well as their counterparts on the left. He added, however, that “the evangelical/religious political movements of today, offensive though they may be to some of us, are simply not on that track …. While the major evangelical/fundamentalist movements have adopted conservative stances, they have just not called for the breaches of democratic procedure which recall political extremism.”
The concern with groups like the Moral Majority should be their trying to establish too precise guidelines of moral behavior in government law, and the political fight must be against that, Raab said. Jews should have a fundamental concern about attempts to Christianize America through government law or quasi-official societal practice. He cited as examples efforts to require prayers in public schools and campaigns to support candidates because they are Christian or because they espouse explicit Christian values.