UAHC Board of Trustees
New York, New York
There is much evidence to suggest that this nation may soon be exposed to a massive campaign of evangelistic fundamentalism. Under the auspices of such groups as the Campus Crusade for Christ, colleges and universities throughout our country are already the scene of such activity. Moreover, such fervor is now reaching into the public high schools of our nation. Soon the country will be exposed to "Key 73," a widespread evangelical effort whose aim will be to bring the American people to Christ. Evidently evangelism, with its concomitant fundamentalist Christian theology, is becoming increasingly vital as a social and religious force in our society.
While this activity is not specifically directed toward Jews, it is inevitable that missionary movements such as the old American Board of Mission to the Jews and the newly formed Jews for Jesus movement, whose primary aim is to convert Jews, will gain impetus from the above movement.
The right to proselytize is a part of religious liberty and cannot be denied in a free society. However, there are implications of this thrust that disturb and concern us:
- That fundamentalist fervor not damage the carefully cultivated roots of Christian-Jewish relations in our society.
- That the fabric of religious pluralism and liberty not be threatened or destroyed.
- That the rational basis of religious thought not be impugned or denigrated.
We, therefore, appeal to the official bodies of American Christianity, both denominational and interdenominational, to take every possible step to restrain the excessive zeal of the evangelist groups, particularly as these groups may subject Jewish young people and adults to harassment and attempts at coercion. We ask them to reaffirm their commitment to the recognition of Judaism as a living, permanent faith as valid in God's eyes as any other.
Finally, we call upon our Jewish organizations and agencies to concentrate now on the development of more intensive and extensive educational programs of Judaism so that all elements of our community may better understand their own faith and those historical and intellectual areas that distinguish Judaism from its sister religions. As always, the armor of knowledge is the weapon of faith.