One of the great urban legends among Jews is that we, as a minority, will benefit from the civil rights of others and therefore Jews should be trusting of a liberal government with expanded powers, punishing disrimination with a merciless vigor. But what if those rights only protect the racial and sexual and not the religious?
Some say that Zionists and religious Christians may have support for Israel in common but we must part ways on domestic issues within the United States.
That’s not always the case. Sometimes the highest liberal values against discrimination are used to hound and proscute religious Jews or religious Christians who prefer to, say, advertise for a roommate who will keep kosher in a shared kitchen, or who would keep Shabbos, or who would conduct themselves with a sense of religious-social propriety, or sharing whatever Christian values and practices that might make a religious Christian more comfortable.
News Item: A 31-year-old nursing student in Michigan named Tricia, a religious Christian woman, placed a notice within her local church for a Christian roommate. Someone filed an anonymous complaint with the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan. Tricia was then charged by Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights with violating the Fair Housing Act.
By advertising for a Christian roommate, said the complaint, the advertiser was discriminating against people of other religions.
The young Christian woman was defended by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, who claimed that the Fair Housing Act can’t intrude on the private choices of an individual within her own living space.
A spokesmen for the state told World News Daily, a conservative and pro-Christian news site, that according to a regulation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Tricia of violating the legal provision against creating "any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference," including religious practice.
The defendant, added the WND, was forced to "provide information about her agent, the names and addresses of her management personnel, a copy of her anti-discrimination policy, addresses of her properties, tenants, witnesses and a copy of the advertisement."
The Grand Rapids Press reported a statement from the Alliance, "Christians shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government for being Christians. It is completely absurd to try to penalize a single Christian woman for privately seeking a Christian roommate at church — an obviously legal and constitutionally protected activity. Not content to just lock Christians and their beliefs into the four walls of their church or home, some groups also want to invade those walls and force their own ideas upon them by force of law."
In November, the government dropped the case, despite punishing the young woman with weeks of anguish and legal worries, let alone the legal costs, whoever picked up the bill.
Here’s a question for Jews. Why was defending the Ground Zero mosque a national issue, a Jewish priority for more professional Jews than we’d care to count, with liberal rabbis lining up with imams and posing for the news cameras? Why is defending the rights of illegal aliens from Mexico a specifically Jewish concern for certain organizations? And yet the rights of a quiet innocent Christian student to advertise for a roommate, which directly impacts on thousands of young Jews seeking kosher and Shomer Shabbat roommates, seemingly of no concern to rabbis and other Jewish leaders at all?
What saved the day for young Jews sharing apartments, and what saves us from our own legal expenses of fighting this through the courts, was only the fact that the government first went after this Christian woman. The religious Christians, aside from Israel, are also our firewall against government intrusions against religion here in the United States.
We are safer and better protected by the Christians who want to put up a creche in the village square than by the secularists who want government to have power over religion, denying religious symbols even a public showing. The anti-religious forces in America aren’t content to stop with harassing a creche or a public menorah. As in other countries, PETA-types will agitate to come after kosher meat butchers, and there’ll be laws regarding circumcisions, and young religious people wanting like-minded roommates. Of course, we’re a long way from the end-game in any of those cases, but it’s fair time to figure out who’s on our side and who isn’t.
Would a gay person not be allowed to advertise for a gay roommate? Wouldn’t that be discrimating against a straight person? If liberals understand the idea that government should not intrude into your bedroom, why is it so hard to understand why government should not intrude into your choice of a roommate?
Instead our government, which wants to legislate against children drinking soda and legislate dozens of other nanny state intrusions, is too comfortable with the idea of being a wise and kindly Big Brother, with informers snitching on what we put on our church or synagogue walls.
All in the name of civil rights, of course.
As George Carlin said, when Big Brother comes to the United States, he won’t come with jackboots, he’ll come with a smiley face. Hey, Tricia, we’re here from Civil Rights! :)