As evangelical Christians, we want to express our genuine friendship and love for the Jewish people. We sadly acknowledge that church history has been marred with anti-Semitic words and deeds; and that at times when the Jewish people were in great peril, the church did far less than it should have.
The ADL was not too pleased, and issued the following statement:
Ad Targeting Jews For Conversion 'Offensive And
New York, NY, March 28, 2008 … A statement by an Evangelical Christian group which defends targeting Jews for conversion by Christians who grew up as Jews, was labeled "offensive and insulting," by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Sponsored by the World Evangelical Alliance, "The Gospel and the Jewish People: An Evangelical Statement," appeared as a full-page advertisement in the March 28 edition of The New York Times. ADL said the statement validates and defends those who converted from Judaism to Christianity for using their religious and cultural Jewish experience as tools to proselytize Jews, such as Jews for Jesus and so-called "Messianic Jews."
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a statement:
The World Evangelical Alliance Statement defending the targeting of Jews for conversion is offensive and insulting to the Jewish people and brazenly dismisses Jewish self-definition. Instead of validating God's irrevocable covenant with the Jewish people, and ongoing Jewish covenantal life, themes also found in their Scripture, this group of religious leaders does the opposite.
It is especially odious to defend the duplicitous proselytizing of Jews by groups such as Jews for Jesus and so-called "Messianic Jews." While they claim to deplore the use of deception and coercion, they "reject the notion that it is deceptive for followers of Jesus Christ who were born Jewish to continue to identify as Jews," thus turning the meaning of deception on its head.
ADL said the statement also stands in contradiction to Rev. Billy Graham who said: "I believe God has always had a special relationship with the Jewish people, as St. Paul suggests in the book of Romans. In my evangelistic efforts I have never felt called to single out the Jews as Jews..." In 2000, Graham defended Jews during the Southern Baptist Convention's major effort to proselytize Jews, saying, "I normally defend my denomination. I'm loyal to it. But I have never targeted Muslims. I have never targeted Jews."
The statement, signed by 44 Christian academics, clergy and journalists, states that "we recognize that it is good and right for those [Jews who converted to Christianity] with specialized knowledge, history and skills to use these gifts to introduce individuals to the Messiah, and that includes those ministries specifically directed to the Jewish people."
I'm glad to see that the ADL - an organization with a very mixed record - was on the ball this time. But it seems that back in 1972 the Reverend Billy Graham would have liked to have targeted the Jews - albeit in a different sort of way - if given the chance:
''I go and I keep friends with Mr. Rosenthal at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know,'' he told Mr. Nixon, referring to A. M. Rosenthal, then the newspaper's executive editor. ''And all -- I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I'm friendly with Israel. But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances.''