NEW YORK (Jun. 28)
The Rev. Bailey Smith, a fundamentalist Christian leader, has once again recommended that Jews be “born again.”
Smith, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, gained notoriety in 1980 when he said that “God Almighty doesn’t hear the prayer of a Jew.” He subsequently apologized.
Addressing the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists in St. Louis June 17, Smith said that “unless they (Jews) repent and get born again, they don’t have a prayer.”
Rabbi A. James Rudin, director of interreligious affairs of the American Jewish Committee, said: “Smith’s recent statement clearly reveals that he remains where he was seven years ago: a self-imposed prisoner in a theological swamp of narrow triumphalism and religious imperialism.” But, Rudin noted, “his negative views and limited understanding of Jews and Judaism are daily being repudiated by an increasing number of Christian bodies and leaders, including members of his own Southern Baptist Convention, and most recently the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.”
According to a tape of Smith’s remarks in St. Louis, the fundamentalist leader said: “I’m not against the Jewish people. Unless they repent and get born again, they don’t have a prayer. You say, ‘Man, that’s going to cause you trouble.’ I don’t care what trouble it causes. I love the Jewish people and the greatest love you can have for the Jews or anybody else is to tell them without Jesus Christ you don’t have a hope. That’s the only hope there is. Through Jesus Christ.”