I try to ignore emails from the Family Research Council. They arrive with cringe-worthy puns in the subject line (e.g. “Is the Penn Mightier Than the Sword”… get it? It’s about Penn State!) and generally function as fundraising pitches, regardless of whether the ask comes, as this one did, several hours later in the next email (“Powerful institutions have sworn to abolish your religious freedom.
Will you let them?”).
But in the process of arguing (incorrectly… or at the very least impertinently) against the removal of Gideon Bibles from hotel rooms on the campus of Penn State University, Perkins’ latest communique couldn’t resist a little dig at Judaism.
It’d be like defending some diss aimed at both your and your friend Lucy’s mother by saying: “OMG, Lucy’s mother so does not cheat on her father!”
But let’s backtrack a sec to his main point, in which he quotes the ADF in support of his argument that it’s constitutional for a state-run hotel to include a Gideon Bible in every room: “Federal cases have consistently affirmed private citizens’ rights to share religious literature at public schools.” Allow me to help complete the picture since he seems to have left off the last part of the sentence: “…on equal terms with those promoting non-religious literature.”
It’s also misleading since that quote refers to the distribution of religious literature to willing passersby, not the placement of it in a private space. (Satanic Temple and Lucien Greaves, take note: according to the FRC’s argument you ought to be allowed to place material on Satan in every state-owned hotel room!)
So fine, the argument is specious. But this was the portion that caught my eye:
In a wild misrepresentation of the Old Testament, FFRF claims the Bible calls for “killing nonbelievers, apostates, gays, ‘stubborn sons,’ and women who are not virgins on their wedding nights.” According to the Foundation’s bullies (none of whom bothered with the actual context of the Scripture they’re distorting), the Bible is “inappropriate” and “obnoxious” reading material that shouldn’t be available in “state-run lodges.”
Apart from being wildly impertinent (and if we wanted to be impertinent toward propagandistic ends we could, say, point out that the Gideons don’t appear to allow women as members) there’s this: In a wild misrepresentation of the Old Testament… Say what?
But the FFRF—whose statement is admittedly about as deep (and fundraising-focused) as Perkins’—didn’t actually specify that it was referring to the “Old Testament.”
It is, at best, sloppy for Perkins to refer to Hebrew Scripture as the “Old Testament”—a term that, while widely used (even by Jews), has disturbing supersessionist implications—but for him to perpetuate the Jewish Bible = violence/Christian Bible = love myth moves well into offensive territory.*
This is the Gideon Bible we’re talking about, for crying out loud.
Perkins and his ilk would, no doubt, deny having any issue with Jews or Judaism pointing, perhaps, to his unyielding support for Israel, but he’s been quite clear, when speaking to Messianic Jews (aka evangelical Christians), both that his support for Israel is so strong that he’s willing to chastise Jews who aren’t on board with him, and that he knows full well what the Bible says and which parts he believes in. Too bad he feels the need to passive-aggressively segregate the “Old Testament” when he doesn’t find it flattering to his version of Christianity.
*Those in doubt about the Christian Scripture’s stance on violence should, for starters, have a look at the Book of Revelation…