America has never been comprised of only Jews and Christians, and certainly not today in the 21st Century, thus rendering the phrase exclusionary. Moreover, it is inaccurate. Jewish values have never been solely derived from the “source text” of the Hebrew Bible, from which Christian fundamentalists selectively quote.
For example, the Jewish tradition has led the overwhelming majority of American Jews to support reproductive rights (83%) and LGBTQ equality (81%). Yet in his 2017 speech to the evangelical Values Voter Summit, Donald Trump claimed he was “stopping the attacks on Judeo-Christian values” by allowing business owners to deny their employees access to birth control because of their own religious views. The same phrase was used by Congress in 1996 to justify passage of the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage at the federal level as between one man and one woman.
Jews resoundingly back science-based policy, and reject the notion that the United States was founded on “Judeo-Christian” principles to the exclusion of other faiths or no faith.
We’ve compiled a list of resources on the history of the phrase “Judeo-Christian values,” to help the Jewish community understand why it’s so problematic.
***Download our two-page PDF explainer, with background information and sources, “What’s Wrong with ‘Judeo-Christian’?“***
JFASD Community Organizer Lincoln Dow’s article on Medium.com, “The Problem with Judeo-Christian Values.”
Imagining Judeo-Christian America, a comprehensive book exploring the history of the phrase by Harvard Divinity School lecturer K. Healon Gaston. You can also read Professor Gene Zubovich’s review of the book for Religion & Politics.
“What are ‘Judeo-Christian values’? Analyzing a divisive term,” by George Altshuler for the Washington Jewish Week, quoting Rabbi Jack Moline of Interfaith Alliance.
“Once, the ‘Judeo-Christian tradition’ united Americans. Now it divides them.” by Professor Anna Grzymala-Busse in The Washington Post.
Professor James Loeffler’s article in The Atlantic explaining, “The Problem with the ‘Judeo-Christian Tradition.’“
Examples of Misuse:
Here are just a few examples of harmful policies that Christian nationalists have recently pursued while falsely claiming they are inclusive of Jewish values:
Allowing publicly-funded child welfare organizations to prohibit certain families from adopting based on differing religious beliefs or for being a part of the LGBTQ community; in 2019, a Jewish couple was prohibited from adopting a child in South Carolina because of their religion.
Authorizing religious hospitals and healthcare providers to withhold medical care, including reproductive care, from patients based on the organization’s or provider’s religious views.
Requiring that public schools teach the Bible and display “In God We Trust” as first steps toward further Christian hegemony, part of a coordinated state-level legislative effort to erode religious freedoms known as “Project Blitz.”
Laying the groundwork for future state-level attacks on the separation of religion and government by establishing a National Association of Christian Lawmakers to “formulate [laws] based upon a Biblical worldview,” and “rebuilding the foundation of our Judeo-Christian heritage.”