New House Bill Makes the Bible Antisemitic

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The House recently passed the bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act by a vote of 320-91, with the support of Democratic moderates who are strong supporters of Israel. The bill, introduced by Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), aims to combat antisemitism amidst pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses. However, it has raised serious concerns among some Christians who believe it could infringe upon their First Amendment rights.

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who sponsored the bill and, according to opensecrets.org, has received 59,801 from AIPAC

The Antisemitism Awareness Act would require the Department of Education to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s broad definition of antisemitism when enforcing anti-discrimination laws. The IHRA defines antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.” It provides examples such as “accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group” and “using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus) to characterize Israel or Israelis.”

The IHRA definition it adopts is controversial because it is overly broad. It has had a chilling effect on legitimate political speech related to Israel-Palestine when adopted in other contexts. Understandably, Christian leaders must be concerned about its application here.

Under this definition, pastors could potentially face legal consequences for preaching sermons that adhere to biblical passages stating that Jewish authorities played a role in Jesus’ crucifixion. The New Testament contains several accounts of Jewish leaders plotting against Jesus:

Matthew 26:3-5: 

“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

Mark 14:1-2

It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him,for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.

Luke 22:1-2 

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.

Matthew 26:14-16 

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

These passages are central to the Christian understanding of Jesus’ life and death. There is concern that if the IHRA definition is enshrined into law, it could have a chilling effect on the expression and transmission of Christian beliefs, silencing the passing down of faith.

Banning specific religious texts violates the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of religion and speech. We are now at a point in American politics to silence dissent and protest our garment will even censor bible scripture. .

For many devout Christians, especially in communities of color where faith plays a central role, this bill is a betrayal by the very politicians they have loyally supported and welcomed into their churches. The question is, will prominent pastors who have forged alliances with officials backing this legislation now have the courage to speak out, even if it puts them at odds with their political allies? Like Jesus challenging the authorities of his day, will they defend the right to preach the Gospel freely, or will they calculate that staying silent is the more prudent path? The faith community deserves clarity from their leaders on where they stand in this critical moment.”

According to OpenSecrets.org, AIPAC and other similar organizations have spent millions of dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying efforts to shape U.S. policy in ways favorable to Israel’s government. It’s reasonable to question whether this financial clout played a role in garnering bipartisan support for a bill that some Christian leaders feel could restrict their freedom to teach and express their beliefs about biblical accounts of Jewish authorities’ role in Jesus’ crucifixion.

The fact that this legislation, which adopts a definition of antisemitism that encompasses “claims of Jews killing Jesus,” passed the House with 148 Democrats joining most Republicans in support suggests that AIPAC and its allies still wield significant power on both sides of the aisle. Politicians who rely on campaign donations and other forms of support from pro-Israel groups may feel pressure to back bills like this, even if they have misgivings about potential First Amendment implications.

Ultimately, the faith community will have to press their elected representatives for answers about whether and how this law could impact the expression of traditional Christian teachings derived from the New Testament. If pastors and parishioners feel their rights are being infringed upon or their loyalty is taken for granted, they may have to reevaluate their political allegiances and hold politicians accountable. The influence of money in politics is certainly relevant to this bill, but so are the details of the legislation itself and the ongoing effort to balance the fight against hate with the protection of core liberties. 

DAMON K JONES
DAMON K JONEShttps://damonkjones.com
A multifaceted personality, Damon is an activist, author, and the force behind Black Westchester Magazine, a notable Black-owned newspaper based in Westchester County, New York. With a wide array of expertise, he wears many hats, including that of a Spiritual Life Coach, Couples and Family Therapy Coach, and Holistic Health Practitioner. He is well-versed in Mental Health First Aid, Dietary and Nutritional Counseling, and has significant insights as a Vegan and Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach. Not just limited to the world of holistic health and activism, Damon brings with him a rich 32-year experience as a Law Enforcement Practitioner and stands as the New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.

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