Who is a True Jew, Christian or any other Faith? This is Not a Question Left to Secular Government


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

One day after he declared war on the United States, Adolf Hitler convened a meeting of high ranking Nazi and government officials. Over 50 were in attendance but no official roll was kept, however the following were known to have been present based on their own diaries or recollections: Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Martin Bormann, Hans Frank, Philipp Bouhler, and Joseph Goebbels.

Goebbels recorded the following in his diary:

Regarding the Jewish Question, the Führer has decided to make a clean sweep. He prophesied to the Jews that, if they yet again brought about a world war, they would experience their own annihilation. That was not just a phrase. The world war is here, and the annihilation of the Jews must be the necessary consequence.”

Goebbels and the other participants knew that Hitler had already “prophesied” the annihilation of Europe’s Jews as early as January 30th 1939 when he said:

If the world of international financial Jewry, both in and outside of Europe, should succeed in plunging the Nations into another world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of the world and thus a victory for Judaism. The result will be the extermination of the Jewish race in Europe

Thus Hitler’s “clean sweep” was no idle threat. Jews in Germany had been already been stripped of citizenship and had been declared an alien race by the Nuremberg Laws. Close to half had already left Germany and Austria had already emigrated after being robbed of nearly every earthly possess they had. Those who remain were doomed, as were the Jews of nations the Nazis conquered who did not even have the smallest of rights remaining to German Jews, as well as people of mixed Jewish-Gentile origins, who depending on their degree of Jewishness had more or less protection depending if they were a first or second degree Mischlinge as defined by the Nuremberg Laws on Race.

Before the Nuremberg Laws Jewishness had been defined as a religion. Afterward, it became a term denoting race, and even non-religious Jews, or Jews who had converted to Christianity were still considered Jews by merit of race. Until yesterday Jewishness was defined as a religion in the United States, then under the guise of protecting Jews on college campuses, President Trump defined Jewishness as a race and nationality, and defined anti-semitism to include opposition to the political and foreign policy actions of another nation, Israel.

I have two problems with the executive order. The first, and most important is defining Judaism as a race or nationality. That definition has been used by anti-Semites since day one. Considering the President’s overt statements about Neo-Nazis and anti-Semitic White Supremacists as being “very good people”, his own characterizations of Jews before he was President, and his unremitting support of the anti-Semitic regimes in Saudi Arabia and Turkey leads me to believe that his executive order is a ruse to deceive Jews about his true intentions and establish a legal basis for future persecution. One cannot forget that many of his supporters are anti-Semitic and racist White Nationalists and Neo-Nazis, and that these groups publicly state that they are emboldened by his support.

Likewise, my second objection is that most of the Evangelical Christian Trump supporters who lend their support to Israel only tend to on their theology. For the Jews their theology means that two-thirds of Jews living will be killed and the final third will convert to receive Jesus as their Messiah.

Now please, before I get condemned to hell, I fully support the existence of a democratic State of Israel, and the rights of American Jews to the utmost. That means not defining Jews as a nationality or race as the Nazis did. Trump’s executive order is a ruse, ultimately it will be used against them, probably by White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis should Trump get a second term. Judaism is a religion, not a race, and the dangers of classifying Jewishness as a racial or national group are extremely dangerous.

Let us start with the question of who is a Jew? The Nazis tried to define that in their Nuremberg Laws. Those debates, which endured until the Wannsee Conference of January 1942 defined which people were full Jews, mixed-Jews (Mischlinge) of the First or Second degree based on their grandparents religion.

In the United States we have Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed Jews, as well as Christians who consider themselves Messianic Jews, and other subsets of people who believe themselves to be true Jews, regardless of their actual ethnicity. In such a case the question of “who is a Jew” matters. This was a question brought up at the Wannsee Conference where Adolf Eichmann in discussing the number of Jews to be exterminated noted that there were many nations where Judaism was not defined racially, and therefore the numbers of Jews might be far higher than Nazi estimates.

Personally, I prefer the understanding that one’s religion has nothing to do with their ethnicity or nationality. That is the basis of the First Amendment to the Constitution. It is the due to brilliance of the Founders that they understood this, and made it part of the Bill of Rights, now President Trump, who is supposedly supporting the Jews is setting them up for future slaughter, as well as curtailing every American’s freedom of speech.

We live in dangerous times, and as for me, I will always speak the truth. In this case it is complicated by the politics of Trump and the Christian Right, who hope to politicize who is a Jew and who is not, something which is best left to real Jewish Rabbis, not Gentiles, even those who fashion themselves as true Jews. No secular law can determine who is and who is nor a Jew, or a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Buddhist, a Hindu, or any other religious group. Civil, not theocratic law derives its essence from the proposition so well enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal…. This is a proposition of the enlightenment, not any religion, including Christianity with the exception of dissenters such as Roger Williams or John Leland adhere to, for the true believers of most religions the truth is you are either for us or against us.

John Leland the great Virginia Baptist and promoter or religious rights for all in the new United States wrote:

“Is conformity of sentiments in matters of religion essential to the happiness of civil government? Not at all. Government has no more to do with the religious opinions of men than it has with the principles of mathematics. Let every man speak freely without fear–maintain the principles that he believes–worship according to his own faith, either one God, three Gods, no God, or twenty Gods; and let government protect him in so doing, i.e., see that he meets with no personal abuse or loss of property for his religious opinions. Instead of discouraging him with proscriptions, fines, confiscation or death, let him be encouraged, as a free man, to bring forth his arguments and maintain his points with all boldness; then if his doctrine is false it will be confuted, and if it is true (though ever so novel) let others credit it. When every man has this liberty what can he wish for more? A liberal man asks for nothing more of government.”

Now, with American Jews considered also citizens of a foreign country, what will that do? The first consideration is that of the Nazis, they could not be citizens of the Third Reich. Likewise, since they were no longer German citizens and belonged to no state they were decimated, and other Jews, throughout Europe were deprived of all rights and slaughtered during the Holocaust. You can be a perpetrator, victim, or bystander to what happens next.

Historian Yehuda Bauer wrote:

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

So if  you think Trump’s executive order is a good thing for Jews, or the First Amendment protections of free speech for all Americans, you are being deceived.
So I will leave you with that for tonight.


Padre Steve+



Filed under civil war, ethics, faith, History, Political Commentary

8 responses to “Who is a True Jew, Christian or any other Faith? This is Not a Question Left to Secular Government

  1. Pingback: So, I’m an anti-Semite | Another Spectrum

  2. I am a Jew who converted in to the faith. This executive order is deeply troubling to me for numerous reasons which you identify. I don’t support the actions of the government of Israel in many cases. What sort of enemy of the state does that make me in Trump’s eyes?

  3. Pingback: Who is a True Jew, Christian or any other Faith? This is Not a Question Left to Secular Government — The Inglorius Padre Steve’s World | Talmidimblogging

  4. You have put Trump’s executive order into a new perspective … one I hadn’t considered before. Although I am not religious today, I was born of a Jewish father and Catholic mother, attended Catholic schools Monday thru Friday, and Hebrew school on Saturdays. (Now, perhaps, you can understand why I am non-religious!). So, under Trump’s definition, I wonder what that makes me? Thanks for adding some context to this issue … I must ponder.

    • padresteve

      That is the Pandora’s Box he has opened. Who and who is not a Jew. The Nazis would have considered you First degree mixed, assuming that your grandparents were the same religion as your parents. Which was not good unless you had friends in the upper echelons of the Reich. They went around and around the issue between 1936 and 1945, with conditions deteriorating for Jews or “Mischlinge” each year, especially once the war began.

      • I thought we had learned from the Nazi experience. I thought we had learned from the Civil Rights era. It seems that a generation or two later, we simply forget the lessons of history. I am both angered and frightened by the current state of affairs, not only in the U.S., but elsewhere as well. Look at Bolsonaro in Brazil, Johnson in the UK, and if Macron doesn’t get his act together, it is predicted that Le Pen may win in France next time. I sigh and growl a lot these days, Padre.

      • padresteve

        Me to Jill

  5. Steven


    You are wrong—those who Hate did not forget. They endure their defeats and nurse their causes, inflamed and manipulated by wealthy old white men who care nothing for or about them, or those they Hate, or anything other than their money and the power it confers.

    Unlike the centre, safe and filled with comfortable people reaping the benefits of others’ struggles—a sated centre of reason who so easily surrender their rights as being of no present needfulness—those who Hate do not ever forget, they do not ever yield. They suffer defeat as temporary; they endure ill-use and ostracism as the due burden of their cause. They wait.

    And thus they are here, upon the scene in full measure and multiplied; as if by magic, full of venom and eager to work rage and ruin. It does not matter to them that the principles they espouse are contrary to their own interests, nor that they will ultimately be employed against them by those same wealthy old white men, when their usefulness is done.

    So no, Madam, it would seem “we” did not learn. “We” did not learn that Adolph Hitler personally murdered no one. What he did do was convinced an entire continent to murder entire Peoples on an industrial scale and with systematic efficiency. “we” forget that the German people **elected** Adolph Hitler, that the complicated politics of the centre-right enabled him to take power, and that his maniacal determination was far more attractive to the great body of the people (“We”) than was the everyday self-interest of other politicians. He believed in something other than himself; they believed in ensuring their personal comfort.

    Let the French middle class of 1936 remind you of what “We” clearly HAVE forgotten:

    “Better Hitler than Blum!”

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