(JTA) — Madison Cawthorn, the newly elected congressman from North Carolina who was criticized for selfies he took at Hitler’s vacation retreat in Germany, is a zealous Christian. And the 25-year-old firebrand conservative and part-time preacher is trying to convert Jews and Muslims.
In an interview with Jewish Insider published Monday, Cawthorn said he has read through “just about every single religious work there is,” the Torah and the Quran included — in part to become better at proselytizing. He claims he has succeeded with “culturally Jewish people” but not religious ones.
“[Muslims] believe Jesus is a real person,” he said.
Later in the interview, he added: “But being a practicing Jew, like, people who are religious about it, they are very difficult. I’ve had a hard time connecting with them in that way.”
Jewish Insider pointed out that Cawthorn hinted at that dynamic in a sermon he gave last year in his side career as a preacher.
“If you have Jewish blood running through your veins today, this might not mean as much to you, but for someone like me, who’s a gentile, this means a lot,” he said about a chapter from the New Testament’s Gospel of Mark.
Asked if he plans to separate church and state in his thinking as a congressman, he said, “I always think of that question as just so silly.”
“[Religion] is the basis of all of my experience and everything I’ve learned, everything that I believe in, how I’ve formed all of my worldview,” he said. “My family is a bunch of true frickin’ believers.”
Clarification (Nov. 18, 2020): This story has been updated to show that some quotes from Cawthorn did not appear consecutively in the Jewish Insider interview.