At this very moment, some 60 members of the Republican National Committee are in Israel, courtesy of the anti-gay hate group the American Family Association, on a trip organized by Religious Right activist and full-blown Christian nationalist David Lane.
This trip has been a source of controversy for all involved, resulting in the AFA unsuccessfully trying to distance itself from its most notorious bigot, Bryan Fischer, last week. While Fischer no longer works as the group’s director of issues analysis and is no longer an official spokesman, he is still a daily radio host on the AFA’s radio network.
Fischer has a long history of not only attacking gays and Muslims, but also of declaring that the First Amendment only applies to Christianity, meaning that no other religion is entitled to any sort of constitutional protection … and that specifically includes Judaism, as he explained back in 2013 when he said that Jews only represented 0.2 percent of the population at the time of this nation’s founding and were never intended to be covered by the First Amendment.
“By ‘religion,’ the Founders were thinking of Christianity,” Fischer said, approximately 2:30 into this clip. “So the purpose was to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith. It wasn’t about protecting anything else. They weren’t providing any cover or shelter for the free exercise of Islam or even Judaism or even atheism.”
On top of that, Fischer has repeatedly declared that anyone who wishes to immigrate to the United States ought to be required to “leave behind their religion and their god” and convert to Christianity.
Fischer’s views were so disturbing that, according to Politico, the Anti-Defamation League privately contacted the RNC and asked them to cancel the scheduled trip to Israel, to no avail:
A week before Republican National Committee members were set to depart Saturday on a trip to Israel sponsored by a pair of evangelical groups active in right-wing politics, officials at the Anti-Defamation League privately reached out to the RNC with a warning.
While they appreciated the interest in the Jewish state, it would be “inappropriate” for committee members to travel there with the American Family Association and the American Renewal Project — groups known for “incendiary and bigoted” language attacking gays, Mormons and Muslims, said Stacy Burdett, the ADL’s government affairs director.
The trip — a nine-day expenses-paid excursion to explore Israeli history and issues of religious liberty, according to one participant — nevertheless proceeded as planned.
Amid all the controversy surrounding this trip, Fischer himself tried to do a bit of damage control, writing a column last week declaring that “The U.S. Should Support Israel Because God Does.” Interestingly, the crux of Fischer’s argument is that America must support Israel because Christianity and Judaism both worship the same God:
The Jewish people zealously protected, preserved, and passed on the very words of God as recorded by the ancient prophets and historians in Israel. Our faith as a Christian nation is rooted in Jewish soil. No Judaism, no Christianity … Our Messiah, the one we regard as the Savior of the world, walked this earth as a Jew and practiced the Jewish faith. Simple regard for the person of Jesus commands respect for the faith he himself followed and the people to whom he belonged.
So it is odd that just a few days after saying that Christians and Jews worship the same God, Fischer then wrote a new piece arguing that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God, which he attempted to prove by arguing that the god that Muslims worship does not have a son:
The God of the Bible has a Son. The god of Islam does not … The plain declaration of Christianity, then, is that Jesus is the eternally begotten Son of the true and living God. There never was a time, not even in eternity past, when he was not the Son of God.
But Islam, on the other hand, flatly denies that Allah has a son at at all. “He begetteth not, nor is begotten.” In fact, believing that God has a begotten Son will get you stoned to death in many parts of the Muslim world.
On top of all this, and of particular offense to orthodox Muslims, is the fact that Christians worship Jesus himself as God as the second member of the Trinity. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:3). Muslims are horrified at the thought that Jesus could be worshiped as God and consider such a belief as blasphemy worthy of death.
So, do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Absolutely and unequivocally not.
Obviously, the problem Fischer now encounters is how to explain how Christians and Jews can possibly worship the same God when Jews, like Muslims, do not believe that “the God of the Bible has a Son.”
Given that Fischer’s group has reportedly spent several hundred thousand dollars to send dozens of members of the RNC on this trip to “stand with Israel because God does,” we’d be really interested to hear Fischer’s explanation of how Christians and Jews can worship the same God when, by his own standard for Islam, that does not appear to be the case at all.
After all, if Muslims are not entitled to First Amendment protections, according to Fischer, because they do not worship the same God as Christians, than neither do Jews, according to Fischer’s own logic.
The AFA has attempted to distance itself from Fischer’s views, but that does not answer the question as to why the RNC would agree to send dozens of members on a trip to Israel paid for by an organization that employs someone who argues that Jews in America are not entitled to First Amendment protections?