Ad Targeting Jews For Conversion 'Offensive And Insulting'
New York, NY, March 28, 2008 … A statement by an Evangelical Christian group which defends targeting Jews for conversion by Christians who grew up as Jews, was labeled "offensive and insulting," by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Sponsored by the World Evangelical Alliance, "The Gospel and the Jewish People: An Evangelical Statement," appeared as a full-page advertisement in the March 28 edition of The New York Times. ADL said the statement validates and defends those who converted from Judaism to Christianity for using their religious and cultural Jewish experience as tools to proselytize Jews, such as Jews for Jesus and so-called "Messianic Jews."
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a statement:
The World Evangelical Alliance Statement defending the targeting of Jews for conversion is offensive and insulting to the Jewish people and brazenly dismisses Jewish self-definition. Instead of validating God's irrevocable covenant with the Jewish people, and ongoing Jewish covenantal life, themes also found in their Scripture, this group of religious leaders does the opposite.
It is especially odious to defend the duplicitous proselytizing of Jews by groups such as Jews for Jesus and so-called "Messianic Jews." While they claim to deplore the use of deception and coercion, they "reject the notion that it is deceptive for followers of Jesus Christ who were born Jewish to continue to identify as Jews," thus turning the meaning of deception on its head.
ADL said the statement also stands in contradiction to Rev. Billy Graham who said: "I believe God has always had a special relationship with the Jewish people, as St. Paul suggests in the book of Romans. In my evangelistic efforts I have never felt called to single out the Jews as Jews..." In 2000, Graham defended Jews during the Southern Baptist Convention's major effort to proselytize Jews, saying, "I normally defend my denomination. I'm loyal to it. But I have never targeted Muslims. I have never targeted Jews."
The statement, signed by 44 Christian academics, clergy and journalists, states that "we recognize that it is good and right for those [Jews who converted to Christianity] with specialized knowledge, history and skills to use these gifts to introduce individuals to the Messiah, and that includes those ministries specifically directed to the Jewish people."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.