Ann Coulter is taking a lot of flack for saying that Jews should convert to Christianity, and that they need to do so to be “perfected.” Some, including the talk show host who was interviewing her, suggest that her comments were anti-Semitic. I don’t think so, they reflected chauvinism about Christianity, not hostility to Jews. I’m sure Coulter would say that Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and everybody else should also become Christians. It was the interviewer who, when Coulter suggested she’d like all Americans to be Christians, specifically asked about Jews.
In any event, my understanding is that the official position of the Catholic Church until Vatican II was that to be “saved” Jews needed to convert to Christianity, and that this remains the official position of some, but not all, Protestant denominations. As a Jew, this doesn’t bother me in the least, so long as my non-Christian status doesn’t lead to discrimination, but is merely a matter of theological dispute. If Christianity is a proselytizing religion that believes that all people should become Christians because that’s what God wants, and that Jews are not exempted from that general principle, why should I care? Christians don’t have to think my religious tradition is valid, just so long as they don’t make me wear a yellow star or ban me from owning land (common medieval restrictions on Jews resulting from religious discrimination).
I called this post “Ann Coulter, Christian Chauvinist,” but really any proselytizing religion is chauvinist, otherwise the religion wouldn’t bother seeking converts. Americans who are in the public eye, as Coulter is, have learned that it’s polite not to declare the superiority of one’s religion, and the inferiority of one’s neighobrs’, publicly, which is a good policy for amicable interfaith relations. But Coulter is nothing if not blunt and impolite, so I see no reason to expect her to suddenly become Miss Manners when it comes to religion.
And, in case you’re curious, Judaism traditionally holds that non-Jews need only obey the Seven Law of Noah to have a place in the World to Come (heaven). Some people who aren’t very familiar with the Jewish tradition completely misinterpret the “Chosen People” concept to mean that only Jews find favor with God, providing fodder for anti-Semitism. Given the traditional Christian view that only believing Christians find favor with God, this misunderstanding is understandable, though unjustified. I explain the concept here, and conclude: “So, as far as I can tell, being the ‘chosen’ simply means that Jews are in a particular contractual relationship with God that our ancestors made, one that is not always to our advantage, and that is without prejudice to the status of Gentiles before God.”
UPDATE: BTW, isn’t Ann more of an “eye for an eye” than a “turn the other cheek” kind of gal?