WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress have joined numerous groups and individuals in condemning the call by Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, for the United States to have one religion.
“If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion,” Flynn said Saturday at a rally in Texas for ReAwaken America, a Christian-themed speaking tour backed by the Christian news network America Faith. “One nation under God, and one religion under God.”
The ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, and the American Jewish Congress both took to Twitter to call Flynn’s statement “anti-American.”
“To suggest that the United States of America, a nation founded on twin bedrocks of pluralism and the freedom to practice any religion, should ‘have one religion’ is anti-American, anti-democratic and downright dangerous,” Greenblatt said.
“Michael Flynn’s statements are both unacceptable & anti-American,” the American Jewish Congress said. “Such dangerous rhetoric runs counter to American values and threatens the foundations of our democracy.”
Numerous Democrats and a number of Flynn’s old colleagues in the military, where he reached senior ranks, also denounced Flynn.
The rally was reportedly held at the sanctuary of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, run by prominent evangelical pastor John Hagee — founder of the Christian Zionist group Christians United for Israel. Hagee spoke at the Trump administration’s 2018 dedication of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. A spokesman for CUFI directed a reporter’s inquiries to Cornerstone Church.
In response to a query, the Cornerstone press team said: “This past week, Cornerstone Church facilities were used by an outside organization. Cornerstone Church is not associated with this organization and does not endorse their views.”
Trump fired Flynn after he confessed to lying to senior Trump administration officials about conversations he’d had with Russian officials. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those conversations, including one conversation that had to do with Israel policy.
Trump eventually pardoned Flynn, and Flynn has become the purveyor of some of the more outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding Trump’s presidency; he’s also endorsed Trump’s false claim that President Joe Biden’s election was fraudulent.
Greenblatt tied Flynn’s rhetoric to the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, spurred by Trump’s claims of election fraud.
“We are living in a post-traumatic moment as a nation, reeling from the fallout of the Jan. 6 insurrection,” he said. The ADL “is deeply concerned that rhetoric like Flynn’s — which elevates one religion over others — has the potential to further those rifts and incite political violence.”
Flynn had at least one Jewish backer: Josh Mandel, a Republican candidate for senator in Ohio who has pushed what he calls “Judeo-Christian” values in his campaign, said on Twitter, “We stand with General Flynn.”
A number of Jewish groups in 2016 joined a call on Trump by liberal groups not to name Flynn to the job, citing his anti-Muslim rhetoric and his retweeting an antisemitic statement. (He apologized for amplifying the antisemitic statement.)