Monday, December 4, 2006

Jews and Evangelicals

There is nothing wrong with Evangelical Christians. They have a right to their beliefs. They have a right to believe that abortion is wrong and that capital punishment is right. They have a right to believe that embryonic stem cell research and use is wrong and that prolonging the life of the comatose is right. They should not be denigrated for those beliefs. Those beliefs are held by some very intelligent people – even though I may find it very difficult to understand. But even if we don’t understand it, that doesn’t mean it has no merit.

Many things we believe are not explainable, but have merit. It has been my philosophy to pay special attention to what may sound idiotic if someone whom I know to be very intelligent believes in this so-called ‘idiocy.’ Maybe we all should do the same. William Bennett is no idiot. Kenneth Starr is no idiot, Jay Sekulow (whom I have personally met as a fellow student in undergraduate school) is surely no idiot. Neither is John Ashcroft, Harriet Miers, Nathan Hecht, or even George Bush.

These are all evengelical Christians with a right to their views – the views of highly accomplished and/or intelligent people. They should be treated with respect for their beliefs -beliefs which are very deeply held and to which they have a true commitment and to which they dedicate a tithe of their incomes. Listen to what they say – they are not stupid.

David Brooks, in a discussion at the 92St. Y commented on the Evangelicals – their number, their commitments, and how ignored they are by the religion columnists of the mainstream press, including his own, the NY Times. He actually counted the number of times they were referred to in serious columns in his paper, and decried the negligible number! Mr. Brooks, by the way, is an modern orthodox Jew who sends his children to a Jewish Day School.

Evangelicals, like everyone else with the proper credentials, have a right to political appointments and judicial appointments. The fact that they are Evangelicals and may believe that abortion is wrong, or embryonic stem cell research is wrong should not bar them from such appointments, just as counter-views should not bar candidates for these appointments. This is the United States – we should not discriminate against the religious beliefs of our compatriots. They are not criminals. Sure they have their freaks and nutcases (don't we all) who are potentially dangerous, but, as a rule, they are law-abiding and peaceful.

Think about it – is it so crazy to think that a fetus is a human being and shouldn’t be killed? It was easy when we all thought the beginning of life was birth – but so many now seem to believe otherwise – that it begins before birth. Since that concept has been accepted by so many, the beginning of life becomes very vague and without real definition, except legally. Remember that viability today is not necessarily the viability of tomorrow. As medical science progresses, the ability to maintain 'life' ex-utero may exists earlier and earlier in fetal development. We are presently able to maintain the life of a 500 gram newborn. Tomorrow it may be a 100 gram newborn. It follows that people in favor of abortion-on-demand must continue to hold this view even when the age of viability changes!

Those who oppose abortion are often challenged with the concept of caring only about intra-uterine life, but not about post-uterine life. Being pro-life does not imply being pro-all-life; just being pro-innocent-life. A very important distinction!

What do Jewish writings say about abortion? An unborn child has the status of "potential human life" until the majority of the body has emerged from the mother. Potential human life is valuable, and may not be terminated casually, but it does not have as much value as a life after birth.

The Talmud seems quite clear: it says ratherbluntly that if the fetus threatens the life of the mother, cut it up within her body and remove it limb by limb if necessary, because its life is not as valuable as hers. But once the greater part of the body has emerged, you cannot take its life to save the mother's, because you cannot choose between one human life and another.

Think about it.

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