Concerned Women For Israel

WaPo Blogger Welcomes Evangelical Islamophobes to the Pro-Israel Tent

Sarah Posner on how a conservative evangelical group moving into pro-Israel activism has a history of Islamophobia.

The Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin is elated that Concerned Women for America, long a fixture of the Christian right’s social issues activism, has decided to “include concern about the ‘threat of global terrorism and the movement in the Middle East to squelch the nation of Israel’ and ‘increased anti-Israel sentiment within our government’ among its core priorities.”

There’s quite a subtext in the words, “increased anti-Israel sentiment within our government.” Get it? It’s not just that CWA is opposed to the Obama administration’s recently stepped-up efforts to revitalize the push for a two-state solution. The Obama administration itself, CWA ominously implies, must be working for the enemy.

Frequently, criticism of Jewish alliances with evangelicals on the basis of Christian Zionism focuses on the groups’ apocalyptic fervor, or their reactionary social agenda in the U.S. But the incendiary ramifications of Islamophobia are too often given lower priority, or even overlooked.CWA, which was founded in 1979 by Beverly LaHaye, wife of the Left Behind series co-author Tim LaHaye, has long focused on opposing abortion and LGBT rights and mobilizing its activists to respond to what it has called “the steady erosion of our nation’s historic Judeo-Christian values and moral standards.” But more recently it has taken on another perceived threat to those “Judeo-Christian values.” As Matt Duss also noted today, through its publications, mailing list, and seminars across the country, CWA warns its activists around the country of the “threat” of Islam and sharia law.

CWA has eagerly read straight from the Islamophobia playbook, relying on the work of Andrew McCarthy, Frank Gaffney, Nonie Darwish, Robert Spencer, and others. But its focus on a biblical mandate leads it to even more alarming levels of Islamophobia, portraying Islam as being in a cosmic conflict with Christianity.

Even before the recent announcement of its new foray into Israel advocacy, CWA took an interest in questioning President Obama’s pro-Israel bona fides, and in suggesting that by not being sufficiently pro-Israel, Obama might be “pro-Islam.” In an email to supporters just prior to Obama’s trip to Israel in March, CWA reminded them, “Genesis 12:3 and Psalm 122:6 confirm God's blessing upon those who stand with His Chosen People.” Stoking fear that perhaps America might not be so blessed, CWA asked, “Where does America - where does our President - stand on this pivotal issue? Are we pro-Israel ... or pro-Islam? Heads up, President Obama, you can't be both.”

In an article, “America’s Most Biblically-Hostile U.S. President,” which CWA republished from the anti-church-state-separation group WallBuilders, Obama is accused of “acts of preferentialism for Islam.” The list of supposed offenses includes the charge that the White House “avoids traditional Biblical holidays and events, but regularly recognizes major Muslim holidays” and that “Obama speaks with great praise of Islam and condescendingly of Christianity.” (Never mind that Obama, for example, hosts an Easter prayer breakfast, and speaks frequently of his own Christian faith.)

In a 2009 issue of its magazine, Family Voice, CWA activists recounted how the group’s Capitol Hill prayer meeting happened to take place on the same day as a Muslim prayer meeting, which brought CWA’s claimed superiority of Christianity into stark relief:

[W]e saw the theistic worldview of Islam come face-to-face with the Biblical worldview of Christianity. A worldview that teaches a doctrine of force and violent submission to an unpredictable god faced a worldview that teaches a doctrine centered on a holy and just God who brings us into relationship with Himself. In one sphere, you die to prove your faithfulness; in another, God’s Son dies on your behalf to share His faithfulness. Will you pray that all followers of Islam will come to know the One True God of the Bible through His Son Jesus Christ who came to die for us sinners and bring us in relationship with Himself?

Often we ask, about right-wing evangelical support for Israel. “Is it good for the Jews?” We should be asking, “Is it good for humanity?”