HuffPost: Justus Baird’s advice to Rick Santorum draws on American Grace

March 22, 2012
By tomsander


Here’s Rabbi Justus Baird’s unsolicited advice to Rick Santorum (kibbutzing) on his campaign strategy in the Huffington Post. Bolded items drawn from American Grace:

Excerpt: I know you’re crazy-campaign-busy…..News about your recent campaign event in Greenwell Springs, La., inspired me to send you this note. …I know you were there, but just to remind you of what [Pastor Dennis Terry] said so passionately on Monday:

“This nation was founded as a Christian nation, the God of Abraham, the God Isaac, and the God of Jacob. There’s only one God — there’s only one God and his name is Jesus. I’m tired of people telling me that I can’t say those words. I’m tired of people telling us as Christians that we can’t voice our beliefs, or we can no longer pray in public. Listen to me: if you don’t love America and you don’t like the way we do things, I’ve got one thing to say: Get out! We don’t worship Buddha. I said we don’t worship Buddha. We don’t worship Muhammad. We don’t worship Allah. We worship God. We worship God’s son Jesus Christ.”
Mr, Santorum, here’s the thing: it’s kind-of true that America is a Christian nation. Snobby sociologists tell us that a little more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christian…. You and I both know that leaves around 65 million Americans who don’t identify as Christian, but let’s keep things simple and leave them out of the equation for the moment.

The free, unrequested rabbinic advice I wanted to give to you is this:…Since you’re trying to get elected president and all, I thought it might be useful for you to have this holy data [about Americans’ beliefs] at your fingertips:

Eighty-seven percent of American Christians under age 35 believe that non-Christians can go to heaven, and the same is true about 70 percent of those 65 and older. I know. The first time I read that polling data, I was like, no way! Bad Christians! Haven’t you read John 3:16 and 14:6? I mean, come on, you call yourself Christians and yet you think people who don’t believe in Jesus can get into heaven?

I’ve been wrong before, but my kishkes (Jewish guts) tell me that if most American Christians think non-Christians will go to heaven, it probably means they don’t want to kick all non-Christians out of America.  In fact, if you hang with too many Christians-who-hate-non-Christians, you might actually alienate Christian voters themselves! That would be so ironic, I know, but I really think it’s true — because most Christians actually hang out with non-Christians. American Christians know someone from work or the neighborhood or their family who is Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, atheist or agnostic and they know they’re good American folk too. In fact, two out of three Americans have an extended family member of a different religion. Americans even have more close friends of a different religion than we have kids (2.4 friends vs. 2.1 kids)!

If I could offer you a free soundbite, it would be this: America is both a great Christian nation AND the most religiously diverse nation in the world! That’s why we’re so great! Disclaimer: I haven’t done the message testing on that one with focus groups of voters.

Read full post by Rabbi Justus N. Baird here:


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