• When Jews Go to Christian Religious Services

    I wrote the other day that I had committed to attending Sunday church services with my family. All of the comments I received were very nice and I sincerely appreciate thm, but I realize there’s a critical piece of context I left out of my post. In fact, I didn’t recognize this context at all until just before, well, now.

    That context is my Jewish background, and it is from this context, not from atheism, that going to a Christian church is a big deal to me. And here’s why:

    • Christian churches hit you in the face with Jesus. Jewish synagogues have a few Stars of David or Ten Commandments tablets; the effect is often subtle. Christian churches have much more elaborate iconography. Catholic churches have the Stations of the Cross, which are something like 14 faces of drama and death. It’s a bit overwrought. In the more liberal Christian denominations, you can see paintings of modern men collapsing into the arms burly, white-robed, glowing Jesus. And of course, Jesus appears in most every story.
    • Christian worship is, ah, insistent. Whether it’s one of the creeds or a song from the band Creed, Christian worship seems to me to very much “I am watching myself be humble, sincere, and awed by the majesty of Je-sus.” I’ve seen the worshiping people raise their arms to the sky or toward the pulpit, like singing contestants on American Idol(atry). There’s a theatricality that appears intellectually contrived and insincere, if emotionally authentic.
    • Christian preaching always makes the Jews the bad guys. This is the biggie for me. The Pharisees or the people, Jesus’ contemporaries, just don’t get that Jesus is super. They challenge Jesus. They question him. They are irritated by him. They try to trick him. They plot against him. They don’t automatically accept that he’s the freakin’ Lord from on high walkin’ among them. But the preachers never say Jesus was a Jew. At most they’ll say he observed Jewish customs or some such. But no, all those other people — the ones who didn’t get him, the ones who betrayed him — those are the Jews. And don’t worry, for neither Jesus, nor his followers, nor all the good Christians in attendance are Jews. Maybe I am overdoing it here, but there’s very little way to escape the association of Jews with deficiency in even the most liberal Christian church.

    I could go on much longer, but my point is that I find Christian religious services odious on several levels, right to my core. I wonder whether other people with Jewish backgrounds share some of my opinions of Christian services, but I have found no treatments generally about the Jewish experience in Christian houses of worship. If nothing else, maybe other Jewish Atheists and secular Jews who have visited the Christians will chime in here with their own thoughts. In any case, please don’t hate on me: I imagine a Christian going into a Muslim religious service might have similar reactions to what I have said.

    As I said before, however, I am going to attend church because going is one of those little ways of showing how much I value family togetherness and unity. So, for recognizing that I need to do this and for suppressing my ingrained revulsion of Christian services, attending is a big deal. Plus, I also think that family togetherness and unity are values that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and all faiths and non-faiths can agree on.

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    Article by: Larry Tanner

    • kraut2

      Considering that Christians used to actively persecute Jews and until not too long ago labelled them the killers of Christ, although it was Romans who supposedly executed a supposedly existing man called jeshua- I can understand your discomfort.
      Unfortunately it is not very clear to many christians that this jeshua, did he actually exist, must have been a practicing jew, just as his disciples.

      Considering the length of time it took to move away from the accusatory tone of almost all churches up the the 1800’s it is doubtful that the attitude of Christians can be turned around quickly. Even the so called apocalyptical christian cults support Israel mainly to speed along the end-times, not because any love for the Jewish people.

      • Lucifer Light

        Rome was run into the ground by criminal jews. Thats why jews and italian look alike. Same thing. I explain to the European women what a “shiksa” is and jewish men only use them for sex then dump them. Sex with a jewish man is underwhelming because they have no foreskin to pleasure the woman with. Thats why jewish women hate jewish men; they are shit in bed

    • barbara

      Hey, Intermarried ~
      I know just how you feel.

      I accompanied one of my friends to her synagogue, and we had to sit in the balcony behind a perforated wooden screen.

      I lost all respect for my friend for allowing herself to be treated this way.

      It is my understanding that Judaism — like Islam — is deeply infested with ideas about the wrongness and dirtiness of women. I will certainly never subject myself to such systematic insults again.

      And I’m no believer in the mealy-mouthed claims that it is because men need to be shielded from the temptations incurred by looking at women.

      1) For one thing, to whatever extent this is true, it is a classical case of psychopathically blaming the victim. If Jewish men (unlike Christian men) are such slavering, out-of-control pigs (even during holy services!), then let them put THEMSELVES behind a curtain.

      2) For another thing, this idea is pushed to hide the real problem: Jewish men force their women to sit apart because they are afraid that a woman who was menstruating might have been sitting on a chair they want to sit on — and that would contaminate the man with female filth.

      So when it comes to repugnance at religious behavior, you and I are just alike!
      That service was the most odious treatment I had ever experienced.
      Ugh.

      • Larry Tanner

        It must have been an orthodox synagogue. I grew up in that scenario, but my mother didn’t like it so my parents brought us (my brothers and me) to a conservative synagogue later on. When I myself was an adult, I attended services like that.

        Unfortunately, I did not accept the arrangement was offensive until I shed my belief. So, I found the services of other religions strange and odious while the services I was born into seemed — I don’t know — quirky or not so bad as it might seem to someone outside the faith.

    • sailor1031

      Well the essence of christianity as invented and promulgated by Saul of Tarsus is that Yeshue bar Yussef was rejected by his own people (or most of them anyway) and that opened things up for doG to offer salvation to the gentiles since it was rejected by the jews. That this is totally made up and wrong is indicated by the parts in Acts of the Apostles where Saul goes to Jerusalem and meets with Peter and James the Just only to be told that he’s got it all wrong, it’s a jewish thing and if he wants to take his version to the gentiles that’s fine but leave them alone. The rest, as they say, is church history.

    • sailor1031

      PS: I hope that in all of this you are somehow exposing your children to alternative narratives and point of view. If they only hear one side, and that repeatedly, it will be very difficult for them to shake off the conditioning later in life.

    • Girlie

      Hi, it’s funny you say this, because I felt the exact same way coming up going to church. I used to say that I really didn’t think the Bible was meant to show us how awful Jews are. I mean Jesus was actually called Yeshua, had a Brit Milah and a Bar Mitzvah according to the New Testament. I would get so angry sometimes about the way Jews were stomped on in some churches. I would be like, You do realize that there would be no Christian without the Jews? Also, the idolatry of all the graven images, I am sure sickens G-D. Futhermore, none of the early Christians believed in a trinity. One of the most famous Christians, Paul, was a Pharisee and he said the main arguments were about the fact that he believed in the resurrection, a common argument with Sadducees. Also, anyone who believes in more than one G-D, the one Abraham serves is an idolater and you should not enter their place of worship. Early Jews who followed Yeshua believed that G-D sent a Word to His people and gave it human form, that only Hashem will save. It is why the Word was called Yeshua/ Yehoshua “G-d-Saves”. The Jewish prophet Isaiah foretold that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon Messiah. The ancients also said that Torah would be written on the hearts of G-d’s people. This is not a new god, these are not multiple deities. Any person who believes in three gods is nothing but an idolater. There is no doctrine of this amongst early Christians. Anyone who downcasts Jews goes against Paul who said not to boast against G-D’s Yisrael. The New Testament also says that all of Yisrael shall be saved. None are forsaken by G-D. I believe HaShem is also the Savior of His people. He is not three but Echad, One. The problem often comes in with a mistranslation of Hebrew concepts. That’s why I will no longer go into those money-grabbing idol centers called churches; they aren’t right. We shouldn’t worship a building, we shouldn’t worship three or more gods. We shouldn’t look for someone to save us besides the only One who ever could: Hashem. It has always been He, Hashem Saves — Yehoshua.

      • Lucifer Light

        Jews are criminals.