What is “Judeo-Christian”?

I think it’s an attempt to claim the respectability of an ancient religion for its heretical successor.

Posted in religion. Tags: . 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “What is “Judeo-Christian”?”

  1. theobromine Says:

    Speaking as someone from a Jewish background, I have to say that I despise the term “Judeo-Christian” when used to describe the founding principles of countries such as Canada, US, UK etc. People using this term are (either deliberately or ignorantly) overlooking inconvenient facts such as that, until about the middle of the last century, it was both legal and acceptable for various institutions to engage in both overt and covert anti-semitism, ranging from golf and business clubs not allowing Jewish members, Canadian universities applying a quota limit for how many Jews would be admitted, and Canadian hospitals to refusing to employ Jewish doctors.

    I found this particularly annoying when reading the comments on a recent article on the removal and subsequent replacement of a Christian nativity scene in the lobby of the Ottawa Hospital (http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/nativity-scene-back-on-display-at-the-ottawa-hospital-1.2156254). In addition to citing the “Judeo-Christian” founding principles, there were Christians talking about how removing this display infringed on their freedom of worship, and others saying that Canada is “still” a Christian country (and complaining about how immigrants are ruining the place). Also, one commenter said that he recalls some decades ago when many Jewish store owners would have Christmas displays in their windows, claiming this as evidence that even Jews acknowledged the “true meaning of Christmas”. More likely, much like Jews in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s who Anglicized their names, they simply acknowledged that being different was dangerous (and of course, they were business people who quite reasonably took pragmatic actions to promote their business).

    One more thing about the Jewish contribution to present day culture – unlike the Catholic religious tradition, Judaism strongly encourages lay learning about religion, and the Talmudic method of study often involves questioning (though, like any religion, some of the answers are pre-determined in advance). And it’s worth noting that many modern atheists are from a Jewish background. Examples include Paul Kurtz (founder of CFI), and, interestingly, a number of women who have been both atheist and feminist activists – eg Rebecca Goldstein, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Katha Pollit, Susan Jacoby.


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