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COMMUNITY VOICE

This is not a 'Christian country,' and you cannot write me off

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 8:34 am

Douglas Wellman’s Sept. 26 guest column brings to mind something I wrote 33 years ago, and it reads as follows:

“Frankly, I’m concerned. It was not my fault that I was born a Jew — and by the time that I was aware that I could alter that condition, I was hooked! I was proud of my Jewish religion and Jewish culture. I had learned what Jews had contributed to humankind for thousands of years — religion, ethics, law, science, medicine, art, music, literature, humor and, certainly, compassion. I was and am very comfortable with my heritage, and by the time I became a young adult, the choice, if there ever was one, had been made.

“Can you imagine then, how I felt when it was suddenly discovered that God does not hear the prayers of Jews? At last there was an explanation for the Holocaust! Maybe God was listening to Hitler’s prayers and now we can understand the Spanish inquisition, the pogroms of Poland and Russia and centuries of Western European anti-Semitism. How could we possibly receive God’s blessings if we don’t even have a direct line to God?

“I was just getting off the floor and pulling myself together, preparing to face the rest of my life with this awful circumstance, when, POW! I got it again, right between the eyes! Fort Wayne’s own ‘moral majority,’ led by those who know what’s best for us, had spoken.

“Now, in addition to being denied God’s ear, I am stunned by the revelation that I am immoral! They have decided that it is immoral to want ERA. It is immoral to think of homosexuals as human beings, worthy of the same protection under the law as those of us who are ‘normal.’ It is immoral to support sex education.

“Humanism is a four-letter word, and abortion is a subject that cannot be discussed. If one opposes prayer in the schools that is immoral, too. I wonder how moral it would be to those moralists if the school prayer were written by a Moslem or Buddhist? Of course a Jewish prayer would fall on deaf ears.

“Almost everyone agrees that segregation is bad and desegregation is at least, desirable. But if one happened to believe that to achieve this state, pupil transportation is necessary, that, too, is somehow immoral.

“If you think that guns are dangerous and ought to be controlled at least to the extent we do bicycles and automobiles, this qualifies us as ‘godless social humanists.’

“Well, I am bruised and bloodied, but I can still stand. I know that all I have to do to become ‘moral’ is to pass over and join the ‘majority’ but I am too old and too stubborn to give up what I have believed in all my life. Though I do not consider those who disagree with me as immoral, there is a remarkable amount of rancor, hostility and hate coming from the ‘moral majority,’ and it makes me wonder what kind of religion they subscribe to that fosters those kinds of feelings.

“Oh, Lord, if there is any way you can caught a whisper of my plea, please spare me from those who know better than I, what is right for me please save me from those who wish to save me!”

Well, that was a long time ago, and some things have changed. What hasn’t changed is Wellman’s attempt to write me off, as well as Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus and atheists.

I was born in the United States 93 years ago and have lived in Fort Wayne for the last 68. I have contributed to our community in many ways, and I am a Jew, not a Christian, and you cannot write me off. I consider your arrogant, smug, condescending dismissal of all others to be offensive.

The United States is not a “Christian country.” It is a country with a large, understanding, tolerant Christian majority.

Leonard M. Goldstein is a resident of Fort Wayne.