American Jews Who Worked for a Secular America Made a Fatal Error

Since World War II, most American Jews have believed that the more secular American society is, the more secure their status. This has been, as I have argued all of my life, a colossal error. Indeed, it may turn out to be a fatal error. With the outburst of unprecedented levels of antisemitism, American Jews are living the famous warning: “Beware what you wish for; you just may get it.”

The primary reason American Jews have lived in the most Jew-friendly, even Jew-honoring, country in history is that most Americans have been Christian. But we must make a key distinction here. American Christians have been not just Christian, as Europe was, but Judeo-Christian. Nearly all the American Founders were either traditional Christians (i.e., believers in the Christian Trinity) or believers in God but not in the Christian Trinity. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin fall into this latter category. But almost to a man the Founders were Judeophiles. Indeed, Jefferson and Franklin wanted the seal of the new United States to depict the Jews leaving Egypt.

In an 1808 letter, John Adams wrote about the Jews: “They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a Bauble in comparison of the Jews. They have given religion to three quarters of the Globe and have influenced the affairs of Mankind more, and more happily, than any other Nation ancient or modern.

“I will insist the Hebrews have (contributed) more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations…”

It wasn’t just the Founders who appreciated the Jews’ contribution to the formation of the great concepts of Western civilization.

Mark Twain who, though not a religious man, was raised in a religious Protestant home, wrote in 1899, in an essay in Harper’s magazine, “Concerning the Jews:”

“The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

The only inscription on the Liberty Bell is from the Hebrew Bible, specifically the Book of Leviticus, the third book of the Torah: “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.”

Until 1800, you could not graduate from Harvard University without knowing Hebrew. The insignia of Yale University is in Hebrew, depicting the breastplate of the Jewish High Priest.

In a famous study published in the American Political Science Review, Donald Lutz, a professor of political science at the University of Houston, surveyed the political literature of the American founding. He found that the Bible was cited more frequently than any other work or any other author. The Bible accounted for approximately one-third of the Founder’s citations. The single most frequently cited work was Deuteronomy, the fifth of the five books of the Torah.

The late great Catholic theologian Michael Novak wrote that the roots of the doctrine that “all men are created equal lie in Judaism, carried around the world by Christians.”

As American society and Americans individually become less religious, i.e., less Christian, the Jews become less significant.

Yet, many, perhaps most, American Jews, have bought — and promulgated — the idea that Jewish security in America lies in secularizing, i.e., de-Christianizing, America.

As noted above, I have warned against this dangerous foolishness all of my life. As I said to John Anderson, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, on his podcast: “I say this as a Jew… I don’t romanticize Christianity when I say its death is the death of the West. I am rooting for Christianity’s survival as much as you, the Christian, are.”

Look around, my fellow Jews. Are you happy with the results of the secularization of America? Do you feel more secure? Or less?

I ask you: Is it not obvious that when more Americans attended church every Sunday, America’s Jews were far more secure?

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Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His commentary on Deuteronomy, the third volume of The Rational Bible, his five-volume commentary on the first five books of the Bible, will be published in October. His latest books, published by Regnery. He is the co-founder of Prager University and may be contacted at

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