About this time every year the so-called “Jews for Jesus” (JFJ), an evangelical Christian missionary organization that targets Jews for conversion, sends out its traveling road show called “Christ in the Passover,” as reported by the Clovis News Journal.

These programs that are typically staged within evangelical and fundamentalist churches, seek to superimpose Christian beliefs over the historic understanding of the Jewish Passover observance, as reported by the Pittsburgh Daily Courier.

The fact that this holiday, its symbols and their established meaning predate Jesus and Christianity doesn’t seem to concern JFJ or its supporters.

The missionary group’s version of “Passover” is at best misleading, but also can be seen as an expression of ethnocentric religious arrogance and it wilfully disregards both the history and the intrinsic significance of the Jewish holiday.

As anyone acquainted with the Book of Exodus or the movie classic the “Ten Commandments” knows Passover is not about Jesus or Christianity, it is a holiday specifically observed to commemorate the deliverance of Jews from bondage in ancient Egypt.

But the purpose of Passover to JFJ appears to be a fund raising gimmick. And the organization, which has had its share of money problems lately, is all the more anxious to pump up this annual program that has become a proven moneymaker.

JFJ sends out its traveling teams to put on these shows and at the end of each performance comes the pitch, or as it is most often described the call for “an offering.”

This also affords an opportunity for the controversial group to collect names for its mailing list.

JFJ is the brainchild of Pastor Martin Rosen, an ordained Baptist minister who not so long ago retired from his long-running position as head of the missionary organization.

But Pastor Martin has recently hit the road again, in an apparent effort to rally the faithful to the somewhat fading ministry.

Pastor Martin likes to be called “Moishe,” which makes him seem Jewish. And Jewish surnames suffuse the list of front line JFJ staff, which again gives the group an appearance of “Jewishness.”

However, all of JFJ’s funding comes from fundamentalist and evangelical Christians.

It is presumptuous and a demonstration of hubris to say the least, for a missionary organization founded by a Baptist minister to define the meaning of a Jewish holiday and its symbols.

JFJ has also ardently aligned itself with other evangelical Christians by strongly supporting Mel Gibson’s much-criticized movie “The Passion” reported Agape Press.

Financial support of groups like JFJ and overwhelming enthusiasm for the Gibson film, despite allegations of “anti-Semitic” content, raises the question of whether meaningful ecumenical dialog is possible between the organized Jewish community and fundamentalist or evangelical Christians.

Certainly such dialog exists between more moderate or “Mainline” Protestants and Jewish denominations. And there have been historic ecumenical breakthroughs in recent years between Jews and the Roman Catholic Church.

But what meaningful interreligious communication exists between evangelical Christians and the organized Jewish community?

These Christians frequently say they “love” Jews and Israel.

But judged by their behavior rather than words, evangelical and fundamentalist Christian support for Jews and Israel seems specious.

If these Christians truly “love” Jews why would they continue to support insulting and confrontational groups such as JFJ?

Doesn’t this generally demonstrate disregard and/or insensitivity to the concerns of the Jewish community?

In fairness it should be noted that some evanelical leaders have spoken out critically against groups like JFJ, notably evangelist Billy Graham.

Jesus once offered the analogy that you could know a tree by its fruit.

And apparently the rather telling “fruit” growing on quite a few fundamentalist and evangelical Christian trees is their support for groups like “Jews for Jesus.”


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