To the Editor:
Hillel Halkin gets it wrong in his assault on my call for concern about efforts to Christianize America ("Essay: Foxman's Hypocrisy," Nov. 11).
My speech had nothing to do with the right of Christians to express their values or religious beliefs. And it surely was not challenging their right to lobby members of Congress or others as Jewish groups such as ADL have long done.
What it does have to do with, and what I believe is a new development in American life, is a desire by some groups to coerce Americans to subscribe to a narrow religious perspective which will result in exclusion, both practically and psychologically, for Jews, other religious minorities, non-believers, and many Christians themselves.
When the Alliance Defense Fund says that "court victories are vital steps to ... reclaim the legal system for Jesus Christ" that points to intention to threaten America's pluralistic society which is at the heart of Jewish security.
When the Texas GOP platform says the U.S. is a Christian nation and that the separation of church and state is a myth that is not merely a matter of expressing ones religious views but must be of concern to Jews and other non-Christians.
When hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds are appropriated for religious institutions without prohibitions against proselytizing or when the U.S. Air Force Academy, a federally-funded institution, is a place where Jews and other non-evangelicals are feeling religious coercion, then something is amiss.
As one who heads an organization that fights for free expression of religion, that believes religion is an important part of a healthy American democracy, and that has encouraged Evangelical support for Israel. I am very much aware of issues that Mr. Halkin raises.
In the long run, however, what has made American Jewish life a uniquely positive experience in Diaspora history and which has enabled us to be such important allies for the State of Israel, is the health of a pluralistic, tolerant and inclusive American society.
We believe the American people as a whole value such a society. We also believe that to alert the public to gathering threats to that kind of society serves America, the Jewish community and ultimately the ability of American Jews to support Israel in its quest for peace and security.
Abraham H. Foxman