In the two months following the October 7 Hamas massacre of more than 1,200 people in Israel, Hamas supporters and progressive sympathizers have threatened and targeted Jews worldwide. In the United States, the situation is no better. The Anti-Defamation League reports 2,031 antisemitic incidents since October 7, which is 337% more than last year’s reported incidents during the same two-month period. These incidents include physical assault, vandalism, verbal harassment, and antisemitic rallies.
Lest readers think these incidents occur only among the more uneducated of our society, take note that our “greatest” institutions—Ivy League universities such as Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania—are nerve centers of antisemitic activism. In fact, the rise in antisemitic incidents on these campuses caused Congress to call a hearing last week where the presidents of these august institutions were grilled.
At the hearing, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., repeatedly asked each president how their university’s code of conduct treats calls for the genocide of Jews. During the hearing, Stefanik asked University of Pennsylvania’s President, Liz Magill, “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s rules or code of conduct? Yes or no?” In response, Magill repeatedly declined to give a yes or no answer. Similarly, Harvard’s president Claudine Gay declined to give a straightforward answer, replying that it depends on context.
Unsurprising, Ivy League institutions have steadily drifted from their founders’ intentions, eschewing their Christian heritage and becoming four-year indoctrination camps that produce progressive robots. The drift is clear when we consider the founding Rules and Precepts of Harvard University (1646): “Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life.” This commitment to Christian principles is what set the table for America’s generosity toward people of other faiths and cultures. Yet, if a Harvard professor made such a declaration today, he’d be tarred and feathered.
Indeed, the Ivy League’s radical secular progressivism is a serious problem, and not only for American Jews, for it represents the gravity of society’s departure from the principled pluralism that made it great. In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead puts it well:
That is a problem, and not only for American Jews. The beliefs that have made the U.S. a uniquely hospitable home for Jewish citizens are essential to national cohesion and strength. If we lose faith in what was once proudly called the American Way, there is little chance that society can summon the energy and unity to withstand attacks from our enemies abroad.
Indeed. Our Founding Fathers understood that in order for America to be great, she must be (morally) good, and our goodness must include the embrace of many different religious, ethnic, and cultural identities.
For the past two hundred and fifty years, America’s defining center has been the conviction that people of different religious, ethnic, and cultural affiliation can treat one another with dignity. And where we have been gravely inconsistent, we have eventually learned to bring our actions in line with our convictions. That is why we have been able to build a remarkably peaceful and prosperous common life.
With the shift in recent decades to a tribal mentality and identity politics, our goodness as a society is dissolving. Many Americans seem to have given up on the principled pluralism that made us great.
However, I believe an even deeper problem is currently being exposed. Underlying the antisemitism is the calculated agenda to systematically erase the Judeo-Christian worldview from our society. It was this worldview upon which our nation was founded and through which it prospered for so many years. Gone is any embrace of the imago Dei by which all human beings are ascribed dignity and worth. Lacking is any comprehension of the fact that God is the Creator of, and King over, the peoples of the world. In addition, we are witnessing the wholesale rejection of the traditional view of manhood, womanhood, marriage, and family. The reality of an Absolute Being who defines Absolute Truth is dismissed in the public square. In the place of these convictions is a tribal free-for-all under which partisans seek to diminish and finally destroy people who differ from them religiously, ethnically, or culturally.
Our nation’s history offers hope. It’s imperfect, but it’s good. When confronted with the grave injustice posed by the institution of slavery, for example, a critical mass of Americans brought it tumbling to the ground. When faced with the responsibility of saving the world from Hitler’s despotic grip, our forebears bravely met the challenge. This is the fruit of a nation’s founding that is rooted in a worldview informed by God’s Word. This has offered unprecedented human flourishing for nearly 250 years.
With hope thus in hand, let us meet the challenges of our own day. Surrounded by secularism on every side, including not only street-level activists but Ivy League presidents, let us strengthen our resolve. As ambassadors of Christ—the King of the nations—we have been silent too often about our calling to be culture-shaping Christians. If we leave education, science, the media, the government, the arts, and literature to secular cultural influencers, they will continue to advance chaos and darkness throughout our society.
We must take another hard look at God’s vision for his people and his church in this critical moment in history. It is true that the challenges ahead are enormous, but the promises of God are greater than the schemes of mankind. The road forward is clear. Engaging our culture with the gospel and the truth of God’s Word is the only answer for a nation in chaos.