Sunday, November 20, 2005

Reform Jewish Leader Blasts Religious Right's "Monopoly On God"

The leader of the largest branch of American Judaism blasted conservative religious activists in a speech Saturday, calling them "zealots" who claim a "monopoly on God" while promoting anti-gay policies akin to Adolf Hitler's.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, took his place alongside other "religious left" leaders, saying that "religious right" leaders preach that "unless you attend my church, accept my God and study my sacred text you cannot be a moral person."

"What could be more bigoted than to claim that you have a monopoly on God?" he said to a receptive audience during the movement's national assembly in Houston, which runs through today.

He used particularly strong language to condemn conservative attitudes toward homosexuals. He said he understood that traditionalists have concluded gay marriage violates Scripture, but he said that did not justify denying legal protections to same-sex partners and their children. Of the three major streams of U.S. Judaism -- Orthodox and Conservative are the others -- the Reform movement is the only one that supports civil marriage for same-gender couples.

"We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations," Yoffie said. "Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry."


Yoffie also urged lawmakers to model themselves on presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, who famously told a Houston clergy group in 1960 that a president should not make policy based on his religion.

Contrast Yoffie's words about Kennedy with President Bush, who recently tried to win support for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers on her evangelical Christian background.


Anonymous Bellamia said...

Rabbi Eric Yoffie rocks!
Great post, thanks! And the link, JABBS, rocks too. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

11:23 AM  

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