There’s not a lot to add to what those smart people have already said, but here’s what I’ve got:
I’m a Jew. I’m figuring out everyday what the means for me in terms of belief or lack thereof in God, but I know very clearly what it means for me in terms of my relationship to governments past and present.
I once told my mother I wanted to get some kind of Jewish tattoo: a Star of David, maybe, or maybe the text of the Sh’ma. She told me I could get anything in the world but that. And why?
“You don’t know they won’t come back.”
This kind of sentiment echoed throughout my entire childhood.
“You don’t know the Nazis won’t come back.”
“You don’t know that Israel won’t be wiped off the face of the earth.”
“You don’t know that the government of the United States won’t turn against the Jews.”
These are direct quotes.
My family may be given to paranoia (just look at this blog, ha), but they’re not completely wrong. It happened to my grandparents. It could happen to you, to me. Maybe it won’t be the Jews this time. But it will be somebody.
It doesn’t matter whether I believe in God or not. It doesn’t matter whether I choose to practice. I will always be a Jew.
Romney mentioned the Jews in his speech, including them in his in-group of believers. He further said (and Hugo Schwyzer latches on to this sentence too), “Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me.”
But I know who my friends and allies are, and they are not neoconservative Christian fundamentalists (all of whom look just about the same to me). I know who will protect my right to my traditions. I know who will protect the liberal, semi-secular synagogue where my brother was bar mitzvahed last month. I know who will protect my religion’s traditions of discussion, debate, and reinterpretation. I know who will protect our values of justice, education, and community. I know who will stand with us against violence and exploitation. I know who will stand with us and say, with seriousness, “Never again.”
And it’s not people who think that “freedom requires religion.” It’s not someone who would equate a “believer in religious freedom” with “any person who has knelt in prayer.” It’s not someone who completely discounts atheists, implying that being an American, and appreciating American freedom, requires a belief in his God.
It’s not someone who would say that appreciating freedom requires anything. The moment you have committed yourself to the idea that any subset of humanity is incapable or undeserving of liberty, you are no ally of mine.
As a woman, an American, a religious person, and a Jew, I trust the atheists, the agnostics, the secular humanists, the intellectuals. To whatever extent that fellow religious people overlap with those groups, I trust them, too. These are my real allies. An enemy of secular values is my enemy, too.
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