The Baptist Center for Ethics today announced pre-release orders for “Good Will for the Common Good: Nurturing Baptists’ Relationships with Jews,” a DVD documenting past anti-Semitism and proposing a way forward for constructive partnerships between Baptists and Jews.
“With all due respect to those dear people, my friend, God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew,” Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith said Aug. 22, 1980.
While the most famous, Smith’s comment wasn’t the first or last public statement by spokesmen for the nation’s largest Protestant faith group to be criticized as anti-Semitic.
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in 2003 compared the Jewish religion to a “deadly tumor” in an analogy illustrating a Christian mandate to evangelize Jews.
A 1996 SBC resolution urged Southern Baptists to “direct our energies and resources toward the proclamation of the gospel to the Jewish people.” The same year Southern Baptists appointed their first home missionary in a generation assigned solely to convert Jews.
The new 31-minute DVD includes footage from a Baptist-Jewish goodwill luncheon sponsored by the Baptist Center for Ethics in 2004.
“During the past quarter century, the relationship between Southern Baptists and Jews has hit rock bottom,” said Robert Parham, BCE’s founder and executive director. “Of course, goodwill Baptists have sought to advance the common good with their Jewish neighbors.”
“In an era of rising religious conflict, goodwill Baptists would do well to remember the best of our tradition, advocating the separation of church and state, articulating the need for democracy over theocracy, asserting civility over ideology and acting for the poor,” Parham said. “We would also do well to reclaim the centrality of Jesus, who taught us to love our neighbors, not as a means toward conversion, but because it’s the right thing to do.”
“Good Will for the Common Good” features the stories of:
–Immanuel Baptist Church and Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville, Tenn. Each year these congregations, with St. George’s Episcopal Church, sponsor a Thanksgiving morning race that has raised $1 million for homeless ministries.
–Southside Baptist Church and Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, Ala. When the temple underwent renovation in 2001-02, it worshiped at nearby Southside. Their shared experience continues to motivate positive action.
–Pastor Mike Smith and Rabbi Rami Shapiro in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Smith and Shapiro co-wrote Let Us Break Bread Together: A Haggadah for Christians in 2005.
The DVD sells for $40 to individuals and churches, and $150 to libraries and academic institutions. The purchase price comes with a license for public viewings.
Interviewees include: Steve Jones, pastor, Southside Baptist Church, Birmingham, Ala.; Debbie Maxwell, member, Immanuel Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn.; Jonathan Miller, rabbi, Temple Emanu-El, Birmingham, Ala.; Suzii Paynter, director, Christian Life Commission, Baptist General Convention of Texas; Phil Russ, member, The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom, Nashville, Tenn.; Rabbi Rami Shapiro, director, One River Foundation, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Mike Smith, pastor, First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; and Carol Ann Vaughn, director, Christian Women’s Leadership Center, Birmingham, Ala.
The video also includes clips of Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss, director of adult Jewish educational outreach at Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, Ala., and Jonathan Levine, director of community services at the American Jewish Committee in New York. Hausman-Weiss and Levine spoke at a 2004 Baptist-Jewish goodwill luncheon sponsored by the Baptist Center for Ethics.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.