Wednesday, September 06, 2006
NEW DOCUMENTARY ATTRIBUTES HITLER TO DARWIN
The following is taken from Media Transparency and is by my old pal Billy Berkowitz.
Coral Ridge Ministries new "documentary" featuring Ann Coulter attributes Hitler to Charles Darwin
ADL calls it "an outrageous and shoddy attempt by D. James Kennedy to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust"
The buzz before and after the broadcast of "Darwin's Deadly Legacy" -- on Christian cable networks and about 200 television stations around the country -- centered just as much on the film's assertion that Adolph Hitler grounded his genocidal actions on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, as it did on whether a prestigious scientist was duped into participating in the documentary, the ventures of D. James Kennedy, the powerful pastor of the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM) which produced the film. Also in the spotlight is the growing split in the Jewish community over relations with conservative Christian evangelicals.
The documentary aired August 26-27 during Coral Ridge Ministries' "Coral Ridge Hour," accompanied by a book titled "Evolution's Fatal Fruit: How Darwin's Tree of Life Brought Death to Millions." The film "connects the dots between Charles Darwin and Adolph Hitler," a pre-broadcast CRM statement claimed. The statement boasted that "the program features 14 scholars, scientists and authors who outline the grim consequences of Darwin's theory of evolution and show how his theory fueled Hitler's ovens."
In a statement, Kennedy said: "To put it simply, no Darwin, no Hitler. Hitler tried to speed up evolution, to help it along, and millions suffered and died in unspeakable ways because of it."
CRM spokesman John Aman contended that "Darwinism is a philosophy, it's a worldview, and one of the key things in it is that evolution advances by death, so death is a good thing. Hitler thought he was doing civilization a favor by eliminating lives that were not worth living. We of course think that is an egregious moral tragedy and a consequence of the worldview that was initiated by Darwin and popularized by his followers."
Hosted by Kennedy, "Darwin's Deadly Legacy" (website) features Ann Coulter, author of "Godless"; Richard Weikart, author of "From Darwin to Hitler"; Lee Strobel, author of "The Case for a Creator"; Jonathan Wells, author of "Icons of Evolution"; Phillip Johnson, author of "Darwin on Trial"; Michael Behe, author of "Darwin's Black Box"; and Ian Taylor, author of "In the Minds of Men."
According to the CRM website, the accompanying book was written by Tom DeRosa, Executive Director of the Creation Studies Institute -- "Reaching the World with the Truths of creation" (website) -- (an outreach of Coral Ridge Ministries), and it "explains how Hitler tried to use genocide to speed up evolution and reveals how the American eugenics movement is likewise indebted to Darwin."
CRM sandbags scientist
One scientist, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute for the NIH, was "absolutely appalled" at how his comments were used in the film. "I had no knowledge that Coral Ridge Ministries was planning a TV special on Darwin and Hitler, and I find the thesis of Dr. Kennedy's program utterly misguided and inflammatory," Collins told the Anti-Defamation League.
"I would not have agreed to participate if I had understood that the program would promote the concept of a direct connection between Darwin's theory of evolution and the evils of the Holocaust and the massacre at Columbine High School.
"My own views on evolution and faith are...strongly discordant with the perspective put forward by the producers of this documentary."
A CRM statement disputed Collins' version of events: "A producer told Dr. Collins in person before the interview began that he was being interviewed for a program that would address the adverse social consequences of Darwin, the August 24 statement read. "In addition, he was asked specifically, during the interview, about the Darwin-Hitler connection and responded on tape that he did not agree with that view. Dr. Collins also signed a Talent Release, which gives Coral Ridge Ministries the right to use his interview ‘without limitation in all perpetuity.'"
In an article in the Baptist Press dated the August 24, Jerry Newcombe, a co-producer of the program, said that CRM "interviewed a number of scientists for the science section [of the program]." He pointed out that "We didn't interview Dr. Collins ... about Hitler. In hindsight, we would not have put Dr. Collins in the program. But he understood it was Coral Ridge Ministries. He understood we were doing a special about Darwinism.... We're sorry we had this misunderstanding and we wish him well."
According to the Washington Post, CRM agreed to pull the Collins segment from "any future airings of the documentary and would stop using his name to promote it."
"We consider him a fellow Christian and have reached a friendly understanding with him about this matter," Kennedy's organization said.
A few days before the film aired, Abraham H. Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), issued a statement calling the film "an outrageous and shoddy attempt by D. James Kennedy to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust. Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people. Trivializing the Holocaust comes from either ignorance at best or, at worst, a mendacious attempt to score political points in the culture war on the backs of six million Jewish victims and others who died at the hands of the Nazis.
"It must be remembered that D. James Kennedy is a leader among the distinct group of 'Christian Supremacists' who seek to 'reclaim America for Christ' and turn the U.S. into a Christian nation guided by their strange notions of biblical law."
Lapin leaps in
On August 24, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, the head of the conservative Jewish organization Toward Tradition (website), a close friend of the indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the go-to-rabbi for conservative Christian evangelicals, stepped into the fray. In a statement called "Help or Harm - Which Jews Does the ADL Really Represent?" and published both at the CRM and Toward Tradition websites, Lapin called the ADL's statement on the film an "intemperate and hysterical attack" against Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries, and apologized for Foxman's behavior: "On behalf of all those American Jews who feel misrepresented by the ADL, I apologize to Dr. D. James Kennedy for Foxman's ad hominem attack. Dr. Kennedy has always been friendly and supportive towards Jews and has courageously defended the Biblical values shared by both Judaism and Christianity."
In addition to criticizing Foxman, Lapin also stated his backing for the film: "I believe it appropriate for thoughtful Jews to support the Coral Ridge documentary and perhaps even for it to be shown in Jewish schools because there really are only two ways to account for human presence on our planet. One is that God created us in His image. The other is that by a lengthy and random process of totally unaided materialistic evolution, primitive protoplasm evolved into Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven. This approach, ruling out any role for God, is simply incompatible with Jewish values."
"Serious people are asking these three questions," Lapin's statement read:
"Why is a movie that shows how Darwinian thought helped shape Hitler's murderous mind, dangerous to Jews?
Why is it necessary to insult so harshly one of America's most prominent Christian leaders? Or to put it more bluntly, how exactly does it help Jews when the ADL humiliates an Evangelical leader whom as many as forty million Americans revere? Especially since Christian conservatives are virtually alone in acting benevolently towards Jews and standing with Jews in support of Israel.
"Finally, had some Protestant pastor said in 2000, ‘Vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman is a leader among a distinct group of Jewish supremacists who seek to eradicate Christianity from America and turn the U.S. into a secular society based upon their strange notions of Jewish socialism,' would Mr. Foxman not have decried it as anti-Semitic? Intellectual honesty, if not a sense of decency, surely compels us to acknowledge that if anti-Semitism is an evil, so is anti-Christianism -- bigotry is, after all, bigotry."
Stop ‘bashing Christians' say conservative Jews
Distress that critical comments by Jews about conservative Christian evangelicals will threaten their support for Israel is not just Lapin's concern. In a late-May interview with Ed Lasky of the American Thinker, David Brog, the newly appointed Jewish executive director of Christians United for Israel pointed out that Christians, while supporters of Israel "do not expect any kind of quid pro quo from the Jewish community" and "it [their support] comes with no strings attached," nevertheless it is important to keep in mind "that Christians are human beings with normal human emotions."
"When they spend a great deal of time supporting Israel and fighting anti-Semitism, they are disappointed when these efforts are ignored by the Jewish community, and when the only time they hear from representatives of the Jewish community is to attack them because of their positions on social issues," Brog said.
"This cold reception doesn't sway evangelicals from their course of support for Israel. But it does cause a certain disappointment, a certain feeling of rejection, that I think is unfortunate. We in the Jewish community should try to express greater appreciation for what our Christian friends are doing on our behalf."
In a recent commentary, David Klinghoffer suggested that the reason the ADL's Foxman "stoke[s] our fears?" about evangelicals wanting to Christianize America is to mobilize his followers and raise money. Headlined "Why tout ‘menace' of evangelicals? To raise money" and posted by the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, Klinghoffer, a columnist for the Forward, a senior fellow at the anti-evolution Discovery Institute and the author most recently of "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History," argued that the reason the ADL "wildly exaggerate]s the] menace of Christian evangelicals ... [is] a financial one."
Klinghoffer added that "For whatever reason, hyperventilating about Christians makes Jews open their wallets."
Klinghoffer has criticized the ADL in other venues. In a June 2002 piece for National Review Online he wrote that Christians should be able to "ask" groups like the ADL, the American Jewish Congress, and Wiesenthal Center to "lay off a bit." Since Christians provide significant support for Israel, "at least until the Mideast crisis has subsided," Abe Foxman should stop "bashing Christians."