He has a radio “audience of over 1 million listeners on more than 180 stations nationwide.”

Bryan FischerHe is called “a Christian pundit.” http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Bryan_Fischer.

Like any pundit, Bryan Fischer has opinions. At times Mr. Fischer’s opinions make headlines in the mainstream press, presumably helping to increase his audience-share of the radio-listening public.

Recently Mr. Fischer has captured media attention by expressing his opinions on immigration to the United States of America. He suggests that the US should communicate to potential immigrants:

You’ll be welcome here, we’ll open our arms to you, we’ll open our hearts to you, we’ll open our communities to you… http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/fischer-all-immigrants-are-welcome-america-provided-they-convert-christianity#sthash.UhQQ46cX.dpuf

This sounds enlightened and hopeful. But…

Fischer’s “welcome” comes with a big “but” and it’s the “but that is important:

… but we will expect you to adopt our cultural and Christian moral standards. We will expect you to adopt our Christian heroes and we will expect you to adopt our Christian history.

 

Fischer is clear that,

Strangers are welcome here in the United States

But then again he adds his dark  devilish “but…”

 

under one condition, that they be willing to assimilate completely into American culture. That they be willing to adopt our God, that they be willing to adopt our Judeo-Christian heritage … adopt our Christian holidays … If you come to America, you understand that we are a Christian country and therefore we observe Christian holidays; don’t expect us to make room for your holidays. We’re expecting you to accommodate yourself to our standards, our traditions, and our holidays.

 

Which “standards” and “traditions” are these “welcome” newcomers expected to “accommodate”? Who gets to decide which “standards” and “traditions” newcomers must accommodate in order to qualify for Mr. Fischer’s “welcome”? How must they demonstrate that they have indeed adopted Mr. Fischers “cultural and moral standards”? Will there be a test? How much accommodation is adequate? Will the “welcome” initially extended be withdrawn if/when they fail to measure up to the “moral standards” required? What about people who are born in the US? Will Americans find they are no longer welcome in Mr. Fischer’s America if they fail to adequately “adopt our Christian heroes and…. our Christian history”?

It is tempting to dismiss Fischer as merely an extreme example of the lunatic fringe in the US. But it is important not to overlook Mr. Fischer and his abhorrent attitudes. More times than I care to count, I have heard opinions similar to Mr. Fischer’s expressed in cultured sophisticated circles here in Canada.

We are not immune to the kind of narrow-minded bigotry and prejudice Fischer expresses and which, tragically, he feels free to call “Christian.”

Fischer subscribes to a simplistic narrow view of his nation. He apparently believes the US is “a Christian country,” in which there is a uniform “American culture” Fischer calls “our Judeo-Christian heritage.”

What is this “Judeo-Christian heritage” that Mr. Fischer believes characterizes the “Christian country” of the United States of America? Is it some hybrid religion that sprang from the teachings of Jesus, a combination of Judaism and Christianity? Is it neither entirely Jewish, nor solely Christian? Do Jewish people subscribe to a “Judeo-Christian heritage”? How Jewish does a person’s faith need to be to qualify as “Judeo-Christian”? How “Christian” can a person be until they no longer qualify as “Judeo”?

My fear is that, when Mr. Fischer uses the term “Judeo-Christian,” he does not mean Jewish at all. He actually means Christian. The Judaism has been co-opted under the banner of Christianity. If he were honest, Mr. Fischer would have to admit that there is nothing really authentically Jewish left in his “Judeo-Christian” version of faith.

To lump Judaism and Christianity together as if they are really one thing is neither intellectually credible, nor morally sustainable. It is a sly form of antisemitism. And Christians must repudiate antisemitism in any form in which it rears its ugly head.

The label “Judeo-Christian” pretends to respect Judaism while in fact subsuming the Judeo part under the umbrella of Christianity which is believed to have surpassed its Jewish birth-mother. “Judeo-Christian” glosses over the significant differences between Judaism and Christianity and, in the process, respects neither.

Mr. Fischer does not honour the Jewish faith nor the Jews who follow faithfully their belief system. His “Christian country” has no more room for Judaism than it has for Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

A “welcome” that says you are welcome if you agree to become like us because we are the dominant group is no welcome at all.  A Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist believer holds his faith with as much commitment and conviction as I imagine Mr. Fisher holds the tenets of his belief system. We cannot afford to exclude anyone simply because they do not adopt “our” personal vision of life, even if we represent the majority view.

As long as a person is willing to seek to do no harm to the people or place we share, they must be welcomed with the unconditional acceptance that Mr. Fischer would no doubt demand if he were to move to Egypt where I doubt he would warmly embrace the dominant faith.

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