At a time when the churlish, drunken rantings of Mel Gibson have hit the headlines, the spectre of anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head on XCG with comments by a former WCG member. The moderator, Gary Scott, has responded with a clear statement that expresses his disgust at the sentiments.
Gary has it right. Anti-Semitism, like any other form of racism and ethnic prejudice, is contemptible: especially so among people who claim to bask in the love of God.
Anti-Semitism has always existed in a precarious balance with philo-Semitism in the Armstrong sects. John Trechak reportedly pleaded with David Robinson to remove openly anti-Jewish passages from his book, Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web. Robinson eventually agreed. Robinson saw Stanley Rader as the “Jewish threat” to the church, a view that Garner Ted Armstrong may have exploited. Whether Rader was the Rasputin figure he was made out to be is beside the point: whatever issues surrounded him, they had everything to do with personal ethics and nothing to do with his Jewish heritage.
Armstrong himself was a strong supporter of Israel, and even today the rhetoric in COG publications such as Flurry’s Philadelphia Trumpet amounts to knee-jerk endorsement of militant Israeli policy. But the very basis of Armstrong prophetic teaching, British Israelism, is by its very nature grounded in a variety of racism that proclaimed the primacy of white, English speaking nations. No one expresses this with less sophistication than Roderick Meredith with his constant references to “our English speaking peoples.” British Israelism is the ultimate insult to Jews, appropriating their identity in a fictional history that relegates them to bit players while Anglo Saxons become the new, true stars of Bible history and prophecy.
Catholicism and Lutheranism in particular have unenviable records of bigotry toward Jews, both to the religion and the people. It is to their credit that much of this has been swept aside in wake of the holocaust. It’s ironic then that some “Hebrew roots” groups – especially those with WCG connections – seem to have made little or no progress. Even when positive statements abound, the price is a vitriolic contempt for Arabic people. Contempt toward Palestinians or Lebanese (many of whom are not Muslim but Christian) is every bit as vile as anti-Semitism. A gospel that embraces all people without distinction still sadly seems very far removed from the public proclamation of the Churches of God.