October 15, 2007

Perfect the Jews?

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So Ann Coulter ’84 apparently made some controversial comments; what else is new? During her most recent spat, Coulter proclaimed that all Jews need to be perfected into Christians on CNBC’s Big Idea. The host of Big Idea, Donny Deutsch—who is a Jew—found himself justifiably taken aback by her comments, but in response demonstrated a much higher level of character, in spite of his need for “perfection.” While Coulter may righteously profess the tenets of her own faith, her insensitive and cruel remarks showed her own imperfect flaws in her words, theology, and political ideology.


Ann Coulter on CNBC’s Big Idea

Since Coulter has dubbed herself an evangelist of sorts, let’s evaluate her tactics. In fact, let’s compare her to a Christian evangelist frequently mentioned in the Bible, Paul, and his visit to Athens in the 17th chapter of Acts: “Paul then stood up in the meeting of Areopagus and said: ‘Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.’ ” Even though these men worshiped false gods in Paul’s view, he did not condemn them; he instead praised their religious zeal, building off this to establish rapport with the crowd. No crazy, extreme, or hateful rhetoric. Had Coulter spoke, she likely would have said something along these lines: “Unrighteous idolaters! I see that in every way you are damned to hell. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your false idols, I even found that you idiotically worship an unknown god. Now what you know not of your fate in hell I am going to proclaim to you.”

“To perfect you!”

Furthermore, Coulter’s strange vision of a Christian nation looks eerily similar to the Republican National Convention, perhaps because she equated the two. However, her own words hardly match up with what Jesus said in the 18th chapter of John: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Believe it or not, the Bible does advocate separation of church and state—albeit not the same version that the American Civil Liberties Union advocates. Christians can make America better and have contributed to this nation in the past, but this in no way requires America to be a Christian nation. And as Coulter has certainly shown, some Christians can really mess it up.

Misinterpreting religion is nothing new, though. While Jesus himself lived on this earth, he received constant persecution from the corrupt Jewish leaders or Pharisees of the day. Constantly attempting to “perfect” Jesus, these Pharisees criticized Jesus for not conforming to their own strict, misguided interpretation of Judaism. Such problems continue today, but the roles have been reversed. A modern-day corrupt Christian leader, Ann Coulter, is trying to perfect the Jews, force-feeding her perversion of religion down their throats. However, neither the Pharisees of the past nor the Coulter’s of today accurately represent their own religions.

Nonetheless, Ann Coulter’s words do possess some level of theoretical truth. If the entire nation of America professed the teachings of Jesus Christ and perfectly followed his example, then a nation of Christians would represent an ideal America. However, that does not happen in practice. In fact, my shift from a private, Lutheran school to a public school was a direct result of the horrible treatment I received from my own Christian classmates. Likewise, although I went to a public high school full of unbelievers, many times you could not tell these unbelievers apart from the Christians at the nearby Lutheran high school. Christianity may guarantee salvation, but it never guaranteed that Christians would be perfect (another fact for which Coulter is living proof).

Christianity teaches that belief in Jesus Christ, not good works, leads to eternal life, but at the same time, Christians should exhibit good works as a result of their salvation. While good works do not matter for the world above, they do matter in this world. To quote Republican presidential candidate, former Arkansas governor, and Christian Mike Huckabee, “When discussing faith and politics, we should honor the ‘candid’ in candidate—I have much more respect for an honest atheist than a disingenuous believer.” When we measure Ann Coulter by her own actions rather than the faith she professes, we find not only a glaring contradiction between the two, but a woman less dignified than many of the atheists and liberals she dismisses. Before Ann Coulter calls for the perfection of the Jews, she should first act to perfect herself. Or, as Jesus said in the eighth chapter of John, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone…”

Mike Wacker ’10 is The Sun’s Assistant Web Editor. He can be contacted at mwacker@cornellsun.com.