It has been called the most tasteless video ever, and with some justification. News agencies, religious groups and individuals have stared with some shock at the images polluting their screen.
When I see a video entitled “That Jew Died For You”, I assume it will contain the entreaties of dim but well-meaning Jews telling me to accept Christ as the messiah, lest my soul burn immortally. In other words a good laugh. I find it difficult to take seriously those who view the Spanish Inquisition as a legitimate and ongoing endeavour.
Normally, the entreaties of the “messianic Jews” (read Christians) usually inspire at most annoyance, if not bemused pity, but this video is the exception. Immediately, the Shoah clichés leap out, in a display of what has been starkly termed “Holocaust Kitsch.”
The poorly photoshopped Auschwitz gates, the bizarrely effeminate man seemingly playing the role of Mengele, all these provoke a grimace rather than a laugh. But the glowing Jesus Christ who presents himself at the death camp is where the revulsion really sets in.
We are told that “That Jew Died For You”. Ordinarily, I find this message a tad bizarre but profoundly unthreatening. Aside from the fact that Jews have been blamed for a millennium for the death of Christ, his demise (or three day nap, as the case may be) does not feature heavily on my mind. It will now, though not for the reasons that Jews for Jesus thought.
The reclamation of the holocaust for Christianity’s evangelising purposes makes me think about Christianity’s real role in the Holocaust. Although nowadays the Nazis have been denounced as atheists, this is not really accurate. In an excellent post on this site, the acceptability of ex post facto excommunicating Nazi leaders and either ignoring or reclaiming their collaborators has been categorically demolished.
Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.
To put it simply, it is very hard to argue that most Nazis were anything other than Christians. Further, it was the Pope and the Catholic Church who shepherded many Nazis to safety in South America after the Shoah. It was the writing’s of Martin Luther that called for something similar to the Final Solution centuries before it happened.
I am not suggesting that current Christians, or indeed all Christians at the time were culpable in the Holocaust, in many cases the opposite was true. Nor am I saying that Jesus would have endorsed the holocaust or anything so mindlessly stupid. Of course not. Nonetheless, to deny there was any Christian religious motivation behind the persecution of Jews at any point in the last two millennia including the Shoah is to be either unbearably apologist or hopelessly naive. It was not Christ who put Jews in concentration camps and gas chambers, but often enough it was in his name.
Whether it was Christianity that brought anti-Semitism to the table, or whether it was merely used to justify the genocide of Europe’s Jews, Christianity will need to go further to expunge the stain of the blood of six million Jews on its hands. From the Auschwitz camp commandant to Catholic hierarchs of Germany, the cult of Christ was heralded as the reason that the Final Solution was justified.
Ultimately, that’s exactly what is so chilling about this video – when six million Jews died in the gas chambers, it was not Jesus who died for them. Those Jews were killed for him.