Theory of Fundamentalist Antisemitism

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Wilhelm Kaulbach, The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, 1846.

The Theory of Fundamentalist anti-Semitism matured in the 1970s. There are three versions: one that Fundamentalists were hostile to Americans Jews. Two, that Fundamentalists were hostile to Israel and Zionism. The second version is false.

Third, Islamic fundamentalism has been very hostile to Zionism and Israel for decades. This point is not controversial.[1] Jews fled most of the Muslim countries in the Middle East after 1950; most went to Israel or the United States.

Jewish fears

Fears of fundamentalist anti-Semitism were expressed by Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, President of the American Union of Hebrew Congregations, in a letter to other reform Jewish leaders quoted in a June 1976 issue of Time magazine: "historically, anti-Semitism had its roots in fundamentalist religion."[2] This theory received further support from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (then named National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC)). In their "Joint Program Plan 1975-1976" it is implied that a literal interpretation of the Bible engenders "negative images of Jews and Judaism".[3]

According to Judaic scholar David A. Rausch, Liberal Protestant clergy associations have encouraged this view.[3] Such liberal Christian organizations "issue declarations against Evangelicals as if Judaism's existence depended on silencing all evangelism."[3] David A. Rausch points out that even historian Martin E. Marty has promoted this view: "[Evangelicals domestically] have often tended toward anti-Semitism, while mainline and liberal Protestants [are] not known for anti-Semitism 'next door.'" Marty goes on to claim that peer-reviewed studies show that the more fundamentalist views a Christian holds, the more anti-Semitic he or she becomes.[4]


The Fundamentalists and Evangelicals agree with Jews on Zionism, but strongly disagree on most other political issues.[5] The Fundamentalists and Evangelicals have been part of the Republican coalition since 1980; in recent years 75-80% voted for Bush and McCain. The Jews have been just as loyal to liberal Democrats at the 80-90% level. One way to keep Jews from listening to Republicans who claim to be better friends of Israel is to suggest that the religious right is anti-Semitic, or that they are trying to make America into a Christian nation, or they want to require Christian prayers in schools, or that they are trying to convert Jews. The falsity of the allegations do not weaken their effect. Polls show that in 2004 many Jewish voters were attracted to the Republican ticket by its support for Israel in 2004, but at least as many were repelled by fears of the evangelicals.[6]

In Canada, anti-Semitism has been (and remains) strongest in the Catholic areas of Quebec.


"Fundamentalist anti-Semitism"...has been passed down from mentor to student throughout the twentieth century. It has been repeated by historians and theologians alike. It is a straw man in the profession of history that must be destroyed if accuracy and honesty are to be pursued. Because it has become such a vital part in historical narrative, its demise will certainly be painful. ...if it is allowed to continue, the distortion of factual material will infect a new generation of scholars with an old generation's handicap.[3]

In his book American Protestantism and a Jewish State (1973) Hertzel Fishman provides a historical analysis of Christian Century that finds "Liberal Protestanism consistently and historically opposed a Jewish State in Palestine, obstructed immigration of Jewish refugees, minimized the Holocaust, tried to reduce Israel's boundaries and supported Arab 'rights'.".[3] Marty notes that the Christian Century fought relentlessly against anti-Semitism in America.[7]

Fundamentalism is closedly tied to millennialism theology, which has been Zionistic all along: before and after the creation of modern Israel. Furthermore, most conservatives applaud Israel as a vital ally against anti-American elements in the Middle East.

When William Bell Riley, a leading Fundamentalist theologian of the 1930s, started preaching anti-Semitism, his fellow preachers rejected and denounced his position.[8]

See also

Further reading

  • Mittleman, Alan et al., eds. Uneasy Allies?: Evangelical and Jewish Relations (2007) essays by Evangelical and Jewish scholars excerpt and text search
  • Rausch, David A. "Our Hope: Protofundamentalism's Attitude toward Zionism, 1894-1897," Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 40, No. 3/4 (Summer - Autumn, 1978), pp. 239–250 in JSTOR
  • Rausch, David A. Fundamentalist-Evangelicals and Anti-Semitism. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1993
  • Rausch, David A. Communities in Conflict: Evangelicals and Jews (1991)
  • Wald, Kenneth D., et al. "Reclaiming Zion: How American religious groups view the Middle East" Israel Affairs, Volume 2, Issue 3 & 4 Spring 1996, pp. 147–168


  1. "As in Europe, antisemitism is propagated in the North American Islamic diaspora by fundamentalist preachers, often with a Wahhabi or Muslim Brotherhood background." Richard Levy, ed. Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution (2005) pp 359-61 online
  2. "CARTER AND THE JEWS" Time magazine Monday, Jun. 21, 1976
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Zionism Within Early American Fundamentalism 1878-1918: A Convergence of Two Traditions, David A. Rausch, Edwin Mellen Press, 1979, ISBN 9-88946-875-3, ISBN 0-88946-976-8, page 1,2, 27
  4. Martin E. Marty, "Jimmy Carter is an Evangelical!", Moment, September 1976, pp. 9-12; 60
  5. There are anti-Zionist Jews, but they are relatively few. Hasia Diner, The Jews of the United States, (2004) 326-29.
  6. Eric M. Uslaner and Mark Lichbach, "Israel and Evangelicals:The Two Front War for Jewish Votes," (2005)online version; pdf version
  7. Martin E. Marty, "War’s Dilemmas: The Century 1938-1945", Christian Century, Sept. 26, 1984, p. 867 online edition
  8. William V. Trollinger, God's Empire: William Bell Riley and Midwestern Fundamentalism (1991) online pages 77-79