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July 8, 2015 / 21 Tammuz, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘church’

Fearing Anti-Mormon Prejudice, Romney Plays Down His Religion

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney’s Lacrosse moment awaits him.

The Democratic convention in Los Angeles was where Joe Lieberman made history as the first Jewish candidate on a major ticket on Aug. 17, 2000. But two days later, history came to life in Lacrosse, Wis., the little college town where Lieberman walked – and pointedly did not drive – to the local synagogue on his first post-nomination Shabbat.

Townspeople came out of their homes to shake the vice presidential candidate’s hand, congratulate him and express their admiration for his adherence to the traditional tenets of Sabbath observance. The Middle American scene affirmed for Lieberman the country’s openness to different faiths.

By contrast Romney, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, seems to prefer silence in handling his Mormonism in public. It’s a stark contrast to both Lieberman and Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic who in 1960 famously said he would not take political guidance from the Vatican.

“It’s clear his campaign made a decision that it is not interested in talking about his Mormonism, not its doctrines or theology, his experiences as a church leader, how it shaped his family,” said Patrick Mason, the chair of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif. “He’s always said ‘I’m not running to be pastor in chief.’ ”

In fact, Romney on the trail has even cut off questioners when they ask about his religious beliefs.

There was nary a hint of Mormonism during his one term governing Massachusetts, from 2003 to 2007, said Nancy Kaufman, then the director of the Boston-area Jewish Community Relations Council and now the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women.

“It was never an issue – it never even came up during the campaign,” Kaufman recalled of her many meetings with Romney and his staff on issues such as faith-based initiatives, health care, Israel and Iran divestment. “The only thing I ever heard about it was when we went to receptions and there was no wine.” Mormons abjure alcohol.

That lack of conversation about Romney’s religion is clearly no longer the case. In an e-mail complaint last year to the Washington Post about a story that detailed Romney’s leadership in the Boston-area Mormon community, his Jewish spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, substituted “Jew” and “Jewish” for Mormon in an attempt to underscore what she depicted as the complaint’s intrusiveness and offense. The New York Times has reported that the Romney campaign challenges reporters, “Would you have written this about a Jewish candidate?”

Some experts on Mormonism say the answer should be yes and add that Romney should welcome the scrutiny, especially because of his deep involvement in his church, as a young missionary in France and then as a bishop in Boston.

“His experience as a church leader provides some humanizing narrative of working with people who are unemployed, poor, immigrants,” Mason said. “People in America respect faith.”

Romney should be prepared to accept even greater scrutiny because Mormonism is less well known and much younger than Judaism, said Ryan Cragun, an expert in the sociology of religion at the University of Tampa and a former Mormon.

“Judaism has been around for thousands of years, many people have been familiar with it,” he said. “The same cannot be said of Mormonism. It’s a young religion, it has a number of quirks and oddities, and people want to know more of that.”

Mason agreed, but added that Romney should avoid the particulars of Mormon theology while focusing on broad principles of shared faith with other religious communities. Romney seemed to be doing that last month when he delivered the commencement speech at Liberty University, the evangelical school in Lynchburg, Va., founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Making common Christian cause against secular encroachment served Romney well, Mason said.

“It showed this common language of faith,” he said. “When he leaves [specific] theology out of it, he does well with the evangelicals.”

The approach could be critical for Romney with the GOP’s evangelical base, whose distaste for Mormonism may have been evidenced in Romney’s difficulties in winning primary states in the South this year.

The Anti-Defamation League in tracking anti-Mormon prejudice has found negative attitudes among about a quarter of the population, according to its national director, Abraham Foxman.

Methodist Conference Could Vote on Israel Divestment Motion

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Close to 1,000 delegates from around the world, representing 11-million members, are gathered at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference being held in the Tampa, Florida.

Throughout the 11-day session, delegates will debate the future of the Methodist church, which has experienced a significant participation decline in the United States. Over the last 40 years, US membership has dropped to 8 million, according to church officials.

Four years ago, the conference rejected a divestment motion. But the issue is being pushed again by anti-Israel members, objecting to “illegal settlements, segregated roads, checkpoints, a separation wall, home demolitions and other realities of occupation.”

Methodist Church Unanimously Rejects Divestment Resolution

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The United Methodist General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) voted unanimously against divestment from three companies which do business in Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights, according to a report by the Israel Action Network, a project of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard came under attack by several bodies within the United Methodist Church, which recommended the religious organization sell all their shares in the companies.

GBPHB commended the companies for their human rights policies and codes of conduct.  The Caterpillar Company was acknowledged for providing equipment which “improves the lives of the Palestinian people,” according to the Israel Action Network report.  It was also noted that Caterpillar does not sell construction equipment to Israel, but rather to the US Foreign Military Sales Program.  Hewlett-Packard was complimented on its record of environmental friendliness, and Motorola Solutions was praised for its work in conflict areas such as Eastern Congo.

The Methodist vote took an opposite approach from that of the Presbyterian Church, which voted in 2004 to divest from Israeli companies.  In June of that year, the Presbyterian Church General Assembly issued one resolution stating that “the occupation… has proven to be at the root of evil acts”, and another calling on the US government to prevent Israel from building a separation barrier.  The assembly also adopted policies rejecting Christian Zionism.  In 2006, the Presbyterian Church backtracked, stating that it would only invest in companies involved in peaceful work in Israel and Arab occupied territories.

The World Council of Churches and United Church of Christ have also adopted divestment policies.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rejected a pro-divestment resolution in 2005.

ADL Praises Mormon Church Prohibition of Holocaust Victims’ Posthumous Baptism

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

The Anti-Defamation League on Friday welcomed a letter from Mormon Church leaders, to be read during services this Sunday, in which they remind LDS members that Jewish Holocaust victims should not be submitted to the church’s online genealogical registry for proxy baptisms.

“Without exception,” reads the letter from LDS President Thomas S. Monson and other church leaders, “church members must not submit for proxy temple ordinances any names from unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims.  If members do so, they may forfeit their new family-search privileges.  Other corrective action may also be taken.”

The church directive comes in the wake of attempts by some members to submit the names of famous Jews – including diarist Anne Frank, slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, and relatives of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel – for proxy baptism in violation of Mormon Church policy.

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, himself a Holocaust survivor, lauded LDS for their move and added: “As two minority religions who share histories as the target of intolerance and discrimination, we will continue to work with each other to bring greater understanding and respect to both of our faith communities.”

As Woody Allen once put it, ” The lion and the lamb shall lie down together but the lamb won’t get much sleep.”

Mormons Posthumously Baptized Anne Frank: New Claim

Friday, February 24th, 2012

The Toronto Star reported that researcher Helen Radkey, a former Mormon who revealed the Wiesenthal baptisms, said this week she found Anne Frank’s name in proxy baptism records dated Feb. 18, showing the ritual was performed in the Dominican Republic.

The new allegation came just a week after the LDS apologized for posthumously baptizing the parents of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in temples in Arizona and Utah last January.

The Mormon church immediately issued a statement which did not mention Frank by name.

“The church keeps its word and is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism,” the Salt Lake City-based church said. “It is distressing when an individual willfully violates the church’s policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention.”

Elie Wiesel Wants Romney to Denounce Mormon Posthumous Baptisms

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

The Boston Globe wrote Saturday that Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel wants Mitt Romney to speak out against the Mormon practice of posthumously baptizing Jews.

“He is a Mormon, and since he’s running for president – the highest office in the world, not only in America – he should know what is happening, and he should have said simply, ‘It is wrong,”’ Wiesel, a professor at Boston University, said in an interview.

Wiesel’s comments could put Romney in the uncomfortable position of defending one of his church’s rituals that is little understood outside the world of Mormonism and has been the source of controversy with Jews in the past.

Romney’s campaign said yesterday that any questions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be directed to the church.

The church acknowledged earlier this week that Wiesel’s name and the names of his late father and grandfather had been entered into a genealogical database as candidates ready for posthumous rites.

Sister Rose Thering: Sister Rose’s Passion

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Sister Rose’s Passion is a documentary film on the life of Sister Rose Thering, a life that stood for love of Jews, for fighting prejudice, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. The film won an award at the Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005, a year after it was made. And the heroine of the documentary, Sister Rose Thering herself received more than 80 humanitarian awards. Among them, the Anti-Defamation League’s Cardinal Bea Interfaith Award, was its first prize ever awarded to a woman.

It was in her early childhood that Rose instinctively rejected expressions of anti-Jewish prejudice. Born on Aug. 9, 1920, the sixth of 11 children, she grew up on a Wisconsin farm where Jews were spoken of in whispers, where in her parochial school catechisms and other religious texts portrayed Jews as Christ-killers. Rose, having learned of the stereotypical messages of intolerance early in life, found them truly troubling. She joined the Sisters of St. Dominic at 16, and earned a bachelor’s degree from the Dominican College in Racine in 1953, a master’s degree from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul in 1957 and a doctorate at St. Louis University four years later. In recognition of her interfaith work, the Rose Thering Endowment for Jewish-Christian Studies was established at Seton Hall in 1992; it has given scholarships to 350 teachers for graduate studies on the Holocaust.

Later, as a teacher, she examined the Catholic textbooks of her students critically and was shocked by what she found. She was in her 30’s and had been teaching for some time when she resolved to act against what she saw as a fundamental flaw in church teaching. “I had ordered the most widely used Catholic religious teaching material from high school and grade school,” Sister Rose recalled. “When I began to read, it almost made me ill.” She cited a passage that asked, “Why did the Jews commit the great sin of putting Jesus himself to death?” and another declaring, “The worst deed of the Jewish people was the murder of the Messiah.”

The result of Sister Rose Thering’s indignation was her study of anti-Semitism in Catholic texts and a dissertation for her 1961 doctorate at St. Louis University that propounded the evidence: textbooks and preaching that proliferate calumnies against Jews and Judaism.

In 1962, when Pope John XXIII convened the ecumenical council known as Vatican II, he used Sister Rose’s study to draft portions of the historic Vatican document “Nostra Aetate” (“In Our Age”). It was this document that reversed church policy and declared of Jesus’ death “what happened in his passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today.” Her conclusion: “The Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by G-d,” is a most significant contradiction to age-old church doctrine.

“They were 15 lines in Latin,” Sister Rose commented later about Nostra Aetate, “but they changed everything.” Indeed, in Catholic texts, in sermons, and in other pronouncements of the church, a new attitude toward Jews was officially adopted and discussions between Catholics and Jews have been elevated to a more respectful plane. At Seton Hall, where she joined the faculty in 1968, Sister Rose established workshops on Judaism for church leaders and teachers, helped write a law mandating the teaching of the Holocaust and genocide in all elementary and high schools in New Jersey, and led student groups on 54 tours of Israel.

After her death at age 85, ADL’s Abe Foxman summed up Sister Rose Thering’s life: “She changed the course of history. She was a woman of valor who brought enlightenment, honor, scholarship, and pure passion to remembering and teaching about the Holocaust, to battling the demon of anti-Semitism and to challenging the ignorance and prejudice and the teaching of contempt for Jews.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/impact-women-history/sister-rose-thering-sister-roses-passion/2012/01/24/

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