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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What Are "American Christians"?

Dennis Prager wrote about the Torah's specific support for capital punishment in "Murderers Must Die". Wrote Prager:

One should not confuse Jews or Christians with Judeo-Christian values. Many Jews and many Christians, including many sincerely religious ones, take certain positions that are contrary to Judeo-Christian values (which I have defined at length: In a nutshell, they are Old Testament values as mediated by Christians, especially American Christians).

Then, as respects capital punishment and the Bible, he wrote:

When God creates the world, He declares a fundamental value and law to maintain civilization: "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God He created him." And the law is repeated in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

When all murderers are allowed to keep their lives, murder is rendered less serious and human life is therefore cheapened. That is not only the Judeo-Christian biblical view. It is common sense. The punishment for a crime is what informs society how bad that crime is. A society that allows all murderers to live deems murder less awful than one that takes away the life of a murderer.

Bill Suda asked the following: How does Dennis Prager define "American Christians" in this context?

Allen Gorin repeated Prager's initial paragraph for context and then explained:

Being a regular Prager listener--my wife downloads his daily programs and prepares dinner according to them--I'm guessing that Dennis is referring to intellectually honest American Christians; those who honor "original intent" in the religious realm. For example, American Christians of this mindset cannot possibly read the Torah, or Torah commentary (the Talmud), and conclude that homosexuality is to be treated as a normal, alternative lifestyle. Any values pertaining to homosexuality are grounded in this worldview. If one chooses to view homosexuality as normal, the intellectually honest approach (vis a vis the Torah) is to say that it is dead wrong on the subject.

Of related interest in the development of Judeo-Christian values is the distinction between American Christianity and its European version. American Christianity has been extraordinarily welcoming of Jews and Judaism. Many of the founders spoke Hebrew and revered the Old Testament. Jews have, in most respects, been full partners in the American experiment, and thus assiimilated well. Contrast this with a fact that Prager discussed during last evening's program: that European Jews, by and large, never really feel completely accepted and assimilated into their respective countries.

Why is this so? Prager opines that Americans--Christian and Jew--descend from immigrants, and thus don't place great stock in how many generations of family they can trace throughout American history. Not so with, for example, the British or French, few of whom are the descendants of immigrants to these respective countries.

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