When USA became Judeo-Christian?

Discussion in 'History' started by dixonmassey, Sep 24, 2004.

  1. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

    My modest knowledge of history suggests that in 19th - early 20th century U.S. populace and upper social strata called this country Christian, founded on Christian values, and so on. However, today both fundies and less extreme folks (not to speak of media and politicians), as a rule, use the phrase "Judeo-Christian". I am wondering when this phrase became a norm in the American society. My blind guess: late 60th-early 70th of 20th century. What happened then?
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2004
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That was a time during which the Religious Left (not that anyone ever coined that term!) was a major political power in this country. Fundamentalism was out of vogue, Catholics were turning secular by the thousands. The most progressive Protestant denominations defined Christianity and, by extension, America. As they had for centuries.

    This was actually nothing new. From the time that the Quakers gave free land in Pennsylvania to Germany's persecuted Anabaptists, through the Abolitionist movement quietly fomenting unrest in Northern churches, into the Reconstruction, and finally to the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s and 70s, Christian liberalism virtually defined much of what was good about America.

    One of those good things was mending fences between the various faiths. Even with non-Christian faiths such as Judaism. At the time, Judaism was the only non-Christian religion in America with a major membership. Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism were so marginal that many Americans had barely even heard of them. The fact that Judaism and Christianity are both Abrahamic faiths (patriarchal, monotheistic, based upon the mythology in the Pentateuch, the first books of the Old Testament) made the healing of that schism a natural goal for the liberals on both sides. Jews had a huge profile in the civil rights movement. No black man in his right mind would have called them nasty names then!

    Since at that time hardly anyone in America knew absolutely anything about Muslims except the horror stories their elders told of the days of the downfall of the Ottoman Empire around the time of World War I -- particularly the Armenian genocide -- yet absolutely everyone knew of the Jewish genocide, the entire nation easily embraced Jewry, Zionism, the modern state of Israel, and the American Jewish community who by now were pretty secularized and acculturated and had given us some of our most beloved entertainers and other cultural leaders. (Think Irving Berlin, Groucho Marx, Albert Einstein, even Lenny Bruce.)

    To a liberal Christian who, when not in church, took the bible as a book of fairy tales designed to teach him how to live an honorable life, the Jews were his brethren. The word "Judeo-Christian" has a valid sociological meaning, since the Jews and the Christians share much of their history and culture in addition to the entire Old Testament.

    If there had been a visible Muslim population in America during the 1960s, I swear that the term coined would have been "Judeo-Islamo-Christian." "Christian" would have still been the dominant component, but all three Abrahamic religions would have been included without argument. But it simply did not go down that way. There were Arab students in our universities and a few prominent but completely secular if not Christianized Arab families in the Southwest, descended either from the camel herders that the Union Army brought over during the Civil War when they thought they were going to have to learn to fight in the desert, or from the date farmers who realized that there was a fortune to be made from America's sweet tooth and that palm trees would grow like weeds in Arizona and California. But other than that, most Americans would never meet a Muslim in the flesh through their entire lives.

    It's hard to understand this today, I'm sure. American Christendom has been taken over temporarily by its Right Wing, which has no use for Jews and other "heathens." American Jews did such a great job of assimilating into mainstream society that black Americans lump them in with the rest of us, their contribution to the civil rights movement long forgotten. Many of us are more than a bit alarmed at Israel's bellicosity and treatment of the Palestinians, and more than a bit suspicious that the only reason our government ever supported Israel was to have at least one rock-solid ally in the Middle East where all that lovely petroleum is buried. Our cities are rapidly filling with Muslim immigrants, who are educated, middle-class, tax-paying professionals in about the same proportion as the rest of us, and who give us, shall we say, a slightly different perspective on Zionism and the politics of the Middle East.

    If you want to start a movement to delete the term "Judeo-Christian" from descriptions of American civilization, I'm behind you one hundred percent. Not because I'm especially sanguine about Islam. Quite the contrary. I hold all the Abrahamic religions in equal contempt. The two or three hundred years during which liberal Christians in America were working for good were the same two or three hundred years when their rivals of the Christian right were buying and selling all those slaves, wearing KKK robes, lynching freedmen, enacting Prohibition, denouncing the theory of evolution, banning contraception and abortion, keeping women in the kitchen, and putting up signs over drinking fountains that read "Whites only." Notwithstanding my whitewash of Christianity's history in America a couple of paragraphs earlier, you don't have to dig much deeper to find that on the balance it's been the same disaster here as it has been throughout the world throughout its history.

    As for Judaism, I have a certain grudging respect for it simply because it is not an evangelical religion and its adherents honestly don't give a damn what the rest of us believe. During their rare periods of prosperity they were even happy to give us jobs taking care of essential work on the Sabbath when they were enjoined from so much as pushing a button on the stove. Since biblical times, they've never persecuted anybody.... up until recently anyway. Then my grudging respect starts to evaporate when Judaism morphs into Zionism and Israel is led by an entrenched theocracy of ultra-Orthodox madmen... who don't even want to let a tribe of genuine, pious African Jews (the Falasha) into Israel because they split off so long ago that they don't practice many of the more recently established rituals.

    So yeah, I'd love to take any hint of Abrahamism out of the definition of America. Go for it, dude!
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  5. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

    Personally, I do not care how religious folks call each other and themselves. However, orthodox and liberal Jews lliving in Israel do not call their state Judeo-Christian (despite significant % of Christians living there). Why? Jews and Christian have so "much in common" according to you. Most of Jews (with some remnants of faith) yelling about common "Judeo Christian" origins here in the US, forget about those false commonalities after setting their feet on Israeli's soil.

    Why? Cause there is little in common between Christian and Jewish faiths, if one will dig deeper. Christians should live according to the New Testament only. Jesus gave them new law after all. Old testament is just for the reference about old ways. Otherwise, Christians will need to stone to death lots of good Christian women and do other savage things. Jews do not accept New Testament. Moreover, everybody who follows the New Testament is a blasphamer for an orthodox/liberal Jew. At least, at the dawn of Christianity it was called a blasphemy (punishable by death). Sure, Jews have learnt to accept religious tolerance since that. On the other hand, Jews unwilling to accept Jesus as their savior are lost souls doomed for the eternal torture for Christians. And nothing more than that. I do not see anything in common between Christian "blasphemers" and Jewish "Lost souls".

    More than that, Jewish state dicriminate Christians BIG time. If Jews were treated like that here in the USA, cries about the 2nd holocaust would be extremely loud. Hypocrisy, no questions about it.

    Fundies have forgotten completely that their Bible not only says something murky about Israel but also it commands explicitly to support their Christian brethren. Fundies do not give a damn about their Christian brethren living in Israel (no time for that, licking Israel's ass keeps them too busy) = Most of fundies are stupid blind unthinking sheep obeying their masters. I am not sure if fundies' masters are 1) stupid 2) bought 3) playing their own weird game.

    The union between orthodox Jews and fundies is the most unnatural. Fundies betrayed their Christian brethren for the sake of such a perverted marriage of convenience. I think Jews just parasitize on fundies' stupidity. I cannot come up with other reasons for the feast of "Judeo Christian" falsehood.

    Political correctness must die. It's false, it stinks.

    Religious left is either dead or near death already.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2004
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That is the way it looks from the perspective of an insider -- someone who grew up in the Jewish or Christian community with Jewish or Christian values. It looks much different to us on the outside.

    The Abrahamic religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all share two major, fundamental flaws that make them not only worthless but positively dangerous as models of the human spirit.

    One is monotheism. To say that there is one god and we all should strive to be like him is to say that the entire universe can be reduced to a one-dimensional spectrum of "right" versus "wrong" and everything falls somewhere along that scale. That's drenn. The universe is far more complicated than that. Furthermore, to provide only one deity after whom to model oneself is to fail to provide the guidance that a religion is supposed to provide. People are much too different. In polytheistic cultures, one can live one's life to honor The Healer, The Warrior, The Leader, The Hunter, etc., and receive good, valuable, specific advice from one's particular god or goddess on how to also honor humanity at the same time.

    The other is patriarchy. Abrahamism marginalizes women because their god has a penis and therefore so do almost all of their priests. In the bible even the good guys treat their women like possessions, or at best, like beloved and faithful dogs. In real life Abrahamists have treated their women far worse than that and in more than half of the modern world's Abrahamic communities they still do: they cannot be priests among Muslims or Catholics, which greatly reduces their ability to influence the development of civilization. And in vast swaths of the earth's Christian and Muslim regions, women have very little control over the use of their own bodies as reproductive machinery.

    Judaism and Christianity -- and Islam as well -- have so much in common that it's easy to condem them all with a single curse, especially if the one cursing is female.
  8. parasite Registered Member

    Infact, there are many things in common with the Jewish and Christian faiths - more than either jews or christians would like to admit.
    the fact is that they both trace their routs back to Abraham (as does Islam), and fromt there they split paths.
    HOWEVER both religions have the same basic beliefs
    • the messiah will come - although they do not agree on if he has come before
    • The divinity of one God
    • the 10 commandments given to Moses by that God

    PLEASE tell me if i've missed something - as far as I know, those are the basics of both religions (obviously each goes more in depth as far as religious laws and history - but the basic idea is there)
    Obviously I'm Jewish, and I'm always looking to learn more about other religions - especially understand the christian faith more completely, so tell me if I'm way off base
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    They also share the belief that women do not have all the same rights as men do. Even the Commandment about "coveting" casually dismisses them as chattel.

    Of course, it took the further accretions provided by Mohammed to turn this dismissal into outright degradation.

    Really, is there anything more we need to bother learning about a family of religions that holds half the adults on this planet as subordinate to the other half?
  10. Silas asimovbot Registered Senior Member

    I'm pretty sure that the term "Judaeo-Christian" simply arose as a tacit reminder to Christians that when discussing items such as the Ten Commandments or the Patriarchs or even Adam and Eve, that they are common to both Christianity and Judaism, via the same set of scriptures. It is a reference to a common culture, not specifically religion. A Christian culture is Judaeo-Christian because Christianity is derived from Judaism (and Jesus was, after all, a Jew). A Jewish culture is not Judaeo-Christian no matter how many Christians live in Israel. The largest single practicing Christian sect in the United Kingdom is, believe it or not, Catholicism. That does not make the UK a Catholic country in the same way Ireland or Italy are.
  11. dixonmassey Valued Senior Member

    Silas, it seems you contradict yourself. "Common culture" on one side, "Jewish culture is not Judeo-Christian" on the other. What is in common between Old and New Testaments? What is in common between an Orthodox Jew and a fundy (besides bigotry)? Not much. More than that, Jews and Christians think that only their side is chosen (so much for the common culture). I repeat, Old testament does not define core of the Christian believes, it's mostly for the reference. New Testament (defining Christianity) differs quite a lot from the Old Testament. It was written mainly by goyims who had little clue about ancient Jewish ways. There is quite a contradiction regarding the lineage of Jesus. Infallible Bible seems contradicts itself in that regard. Mary would not have been considered a "proper" Jew in her lifetime (if she ever lived).

    Western Culture came not from Palestine but from Athens and Rome. Despite fundy's BS, American law is based on pagan Roman law not on the Bible. Therefore, claiming that Western Civilization was born out of the Jewish one.... is nonsense. Sharing the common myth about Adam and Eve is not sufficient to bring "Judeo Christian" in the wide circulation. "Mason Christian" phrase deserves widespread use much more.
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I beg to differ. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (the Abrahamic faiths) share one glaring flaw that distinguishes them from most older religions: patriarchal monotheism. There is only one god and it has a penis.

    This provides a pathetic, oversimplified model of the human spirit that is virtually useless as a tool for understanding and fostering maturity in oneself and others. The entire universe is judged on a one-dimensional scale ranging from good (you're with the god) to bad (you're with the devil). You've got one role model, no matter what kinds of talents and dreams you've got inside you. Women are marginalized.

    Polytheism is a more useful model. If you're just not a Warrior you can model yourself after the Healer, the Teacher, or a couple of dozen other archetypes. If you have to figure out how to make the best of a bad situation, you can analyze it down into 23 vectors and do some serious situational ethics.
    Yeah OK, but where did they come from? From one of the four Original Civilizations: Mesopotamia. Our culture is not descended from Jewish culture so much as that both of them (as well as Islamic culture) are descended from the Sumerians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, etc.

    We actually have more of a direct link to Islamic culture for a couple of reasons. During the Dark Ages it was the Arab world that kept the literature and science of the Greeks alive. And both the Moors and the Turks made serious inroads into Europe during their imperial eras, so there is quite a bit of Muslim influence on European culture around the continent's southern extremities.
    Actually the biblical creation myth is a shameless ripoff of the religions that came before it. Scholars refer to it as "the Babylonian creation myth."
    If you're strictly talking about religion, the term Judeo-Christian actually has a referent and speaks to something important: patriarchal monotheism, which by the way is poised to destroy this planet. It should really be called Judeo-Islamo-Christian this time.

    And if you're talking about culture, then Islamo-Christian is probably a more historically accurate term than Judeo-Christian.
  13. Balder1 Registered Senior Member

    Give me one example(other than the mythical Amazons) of an ancient culture that didn't marginalize women. You have to consider the time period that it comes from before you condemn it. It would be more just for me to say you, as an American, are a terrible person for leeching off the resources of the rest of the world, and for typing in pointless discussion boards while thousands of people die in the outside global world. You are a product of your time. Join the PeaceCORP.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Taking that into consideration, Judaism and Christianity made VAST improvements over contemporary religions of the time. The flaw that you see in Judaism is actually its greatest innovation. Monotheism is an accurate, rational explanation of the phenomenon of existence. The basic concept, that there is one single, infinite being that everything stems from, is something that Aristotle could agree on. Polytheism, on the other hand, is shallow and irrational.

    Christianity made another vast improvement in religion. Can you guess what it is? Christianity is rooted in the basic moral standard that postmodern Western nations live by: selflessness and egalitarian love. It rejects nationalism, self-interest, and material greed(much like Buddhism). The case against women in it is relatively weak - it actually rather benefits women by condemning divorce(which, back then, could've lead to abandoned mothers). Many women feel a strong (biological) urge to bear children, and they have to make some concessions for it. Now we(or liberals) say that child-rearing can be done by men and women equally, but it goes against the grain of what a man's purpose is sociologically and biologically. Can men, uh, feed infants? Do men get the hormones that women get with childbirth?

    I beg to differ. The basic structure of civilization came from them, but the foundations of what makes our culture distinctly Western comes from the Greeks. Every civilization develops laws and writing; the Greeks developed a relatively unique rational philosophy and system of democracy. The Greeks and Romans had a much more profound direct impact on Western Civilization than the Sumerians, whose influence was indirect.

    The Sumerian creation myth... I've read Gilgamesh a couple times, and there are a couple important differences. Mainly, Judaism is monotheistic. That is a big difference. Secondly, Judaism has a much more profound insight into humanity, sentience, and morality. Is there more to the creation myth that I'm missing? The only real similarity I could glean from it was the flood, but I don't know too much about the subject. The Old Testament is very brief when it describes the actual creation. Where many religions use rather nonsensical metaphorical language, Genesis describes simple creation from nothingness.

    Quite a bold statement, there: poised to destroy the planet? I personally think that since the US had very little direct Muslim influence in its creation and subsequent development, it should remain Judeo-Christian. It flows better. Fraggle Rocker is probably right about when the term actually arose.
  14. Roman Banned Banned

    The Cretens are believed to not have marginalized women.
    "Judaism and Christianity made VAST improvements over contemporary religions of the time." I'd agree that Christianity made VAST improvements of Judaism, but most Judaists were uptight pricks. I don't think stoning a whore is any kind of improvement over Egyptian or Babylonian religion.

    Spartans did not marginalize women, compared to other "cultures of the time." The Vikings allowed women to own land and have their own wealth, and the Aztecs allowed women to enter their civil service program.
    Which is far more in rights than Judaism ever granted.
  15. justiceusa Registered Senior Member

    There is one big factor that the Christian religion believes that separates, yet untites them with the Jews. That factor is the Christian belief that there will be a second coming of Christ.

    Before that second coming may occur the original temple in Jeruselem must be rebuilt at it's exact original location. The problem lies in the fact that the Islamic "Dome Of The Rock Mosque" sits on that exact same small piece of real estate.

    For many years and especially since the turn of the century the Christian right has been obsessing on the second coming, the Anti Christ, and the "rapture". Note the series of " Left Behind Books".

    Don't under estimate how this has become totally ingrained into their lives. If George W is a true born again believer as he claims, then he is obligated to do anything he can to bring about the conditions necessary for the second comming to happen.

    And that my friends is dam scarry.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2004
  16. DwayneD.L.Rabon Registered Senior Member

    Last edited: Oct 12, 2005
  17. justiceusa Registered Senior Member


    An historic Christian doctrine states that "the second coming of Christ will not occur until the temple is rebuilt at the site. Jews refer to the site as "The Temple Mount". There are no specifics given as to the type of architecture.

    Again the problem lies in the fact that the "Dome of The rock Mosque" is the site where Muhammad supposedly ascended into heaven according to Islamic faith. And it is one of their most holy places.

    It seems like it would be a simple problem to solve from a logical point of view. Both Jews and Islamics, however, are approaching the situation with a fanatical point of view.

    The Christians of course are siding with Israel so that their own prophesy may occur.
  18. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    "An historic Christian doctrine states that "the second coming of Christ will not occur until the temple is rebuilt at the site. Jews refer to the site as "The Temple Mount". There are no specifics given as to the type of architecture."

    JusticeUSA, would you mind telling me which historic christian doctrine?
    (I speak as an agnostic who knows one or two people who've read the left behind series, and yet as far as I can see the whole thing is built on a 19th century slective reading of the new testament that ignores any sensible reading of scripture. [In fact having glanced through the books, they are the most badly written potboiling tripe ever, as well.])
  19. justiceusa Registered Senior Member


    You are exactly right that historic "DOCTRINE" has evolved over the last several hundred years due to selective reading. There are over 100 million evangelicals in the USA who believe it to be true. Come to think of it most religious groups, Jewish, Islam, ect have had splinter groups develop over the years. All of them find some scripture in their holy books to support their views.
  20. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    Its the selective reading that I dont understand. The 70 weeks of Daniel thing makes no sense whatsoever, especially when you look at the historic jewish calendar adn how it fits with that, yet they split off the last week and put it forwards an indeterminate number of years? Let alone there being no real scriptural basis for the rapture, which I suppose would give a catholic raptures of a sort, given the accretions ot the basic Christian scripture over the years.
  21. drumass666 Registered Member

    How about those Fools on the Capitol Hill get off their collective criminal asses and pass the Energy Bill. Then, we as a "judeo-Christian-Islamic...whatever the fuck Pat Robertson wants to call us" state can convert to renewable nuclear fuels for power and ween ourselves off of rare and high priced oil (which a bunch of "anti-semitic" "terrorists" have control of now anyway). That way, we can withdraw our "judeo-Christian-Islamic...whatever the fuck Pat Robertson wants to call us" state's penis from the anal cavity that is known as the Middle East and let the U.N. sanction the whole place in to a parking lot for a riverboat casino. We can turn the Temple Mount in to a strip club. If that doesn't bring Jesus swan-diving back down to this wretched planet, nothing will.

    There's more than one way to fulfill a prophecy.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2004
  22. Muhlenberg Registered Senior Member

    "Judeo-Christian" was a combined invention of two groups:

    1.19th and early 20th century "progressives" who sought to water down both faiths and create a civic religion.

    2.Followers of Scofield: i.e. Dispensationalists

    The term makes no sense.
  23. FreeMason Registered Senior Member


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