“ Thank God” for atheists, heretics and other free thinkers

“ Thank God” for atheists, heretics and other free thinkers
Raised by a rabbi who was kicked out of rabbinical associations for having the
chutzpah to provide a Jewish wedding to interfaith couples, I admire iconoclasts
who valiantly oppose the status quo to advance human progress.
Thus, I greatly admire intrepid atheist, Christopher Hitchens, who died too young.
Reviled by mainstream religion and adored by free thinkers, Hitchens, one of the
“four horsemen of atheism”, rode his hobby horse of reason, galloping into a
future which unhorsed humanity from archaic theology and tried to pull in the
reins on religious intolerance that brings untold suffering, especially for Jews.
The prophet Micah began reforming Judaism long ago, replacing a God who
enjoyed blood and charred flesh with a loving deity who preferred justice, mercy
and humility. The revelations of science further our evolved understanding of the
power that generated and sustains the universe, which is not a supernatural
being, but a super and natural creative process, inexorably transforming what is,
into what could be, that is beyond all, uniting all and within all.
Enlightened Christians reject their violent God, such as Catholic theologian
James Carroll, who traces hatred of Jews from Christian Scripture, Church
fathers, Crusades, Inquisitions, pogroms, to its apotheosis; the holocaust. Bishop
Shelby Spong claims that anti-Semitism underlies Christian theology just as the
flying buttress provides the scaffolding for the Catholic Church. Last year both
synagogue shooters quoted Christian Scripture as motivation for their heinous
acts.
Yet, when I suggested that Jews should defend the honor of Jewish martyrs who
died based on a lie, by refuting the false accusation of deicide in Christian
Scripture, in order to prevent Jews of the future from a similar fate, the ADL
rebuked me for disrespecting someone else’s Bible and unceremoniously
removed me from their civil rights committee.
Our failure to refute anti-Semitic lies, contained in a book which millions consider
God’s inerrant truth, renders feckless religious leaders “symptomless carriers” of
intolerance and makes our solemn intonation of “Never Again” ring hollow, as
“ever again” the seeds of hate go unchallenged and Jews suffer. The blood libel
that outrageously accuses the people who gave birth to Jesus with causing his
death, is particularly odious considering it is alleged to have occurred while Jews
suffered under barbaric Roman occupation and is as baseless as blaming Jewish​
authorities for the Nazi murder of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. Moreover, details
about Jesus and even his very existence are dubious.
Among Christian spiritual first responders in the battle against this pandemic
virus of anti-Semitism, stands Pastor Fritz Aufdencamp, who was charged three
times with heresy due to his love for the Jewish people and never backed down. I
have the privilege to call Fritz my friend, but in fact, he is a friend to all Jews and
of humanity.
Pastor Fritz has graced our congregation with songs of peace and words of
wisdom. Rather than spout the usual pablum which typically passes for interfaith
dialogue, that all religions lead to peace (a most obvious lie), this heroic heretic
replaces the traditional Christian God of hate, who condemns non-believers to
eternal torture, with a God of love. When most people his age are retired, this
unretiring pastor spoke these words on Yom Hashoah:
“ Dear Friends, I watched another movie on the Holocaust. I must stop watching
these documentaries. So much of what I watched happened the year I was born
1941. We Christians claim we would never do such a thing. We have no blood
on our hands! But as long as we teach our children 21st century Christian
theology that non-Christians are damned and sent to extermination, are we not
as guilty as the Nazis who exterminated the Jews? Who has the courage to put
an end to this horrendous theology? Will any Christian please explain this to me?
I want to die peacefully as a Christian Pastor with no guilt for exterminating my
neighbor…Is the Christian God better than the Nazis? ”
Fritz’s comments remind me of the observation about the Biblical God, “It would
be better for his reputation if he did not exist.”
Fritz’s passion for truth, love and the planet inspires me, and his message will
prevail. After all, today I see rabbis who used to condemn my father and me as
heretics now performing interfaith weddings themselves. Thus, “The heresy of
one age is the orthodoxy of the next.”

This article appeared in the Jewish Journal