I'm getting really sick of people hustling off this term 'Judaeo-Christian values' in order to somehow inject a little theocracy into the basis of our secular republic.
I'd like to take the time to set this madness straight and call this term out for the 'misnomer' it is. I warn you however, this is a rant, not an essay.
I am logically an Agnostic, but spiritually a Deist (I separate my logic from my beliefs) and find myself quite opposed to most modern organized religions. Despite this, I will willingly acknowledge, that the teachings of Jesus Christ were the most significant seeds of humanism to affect the Western world in the past millenium.
It is no random happening, that the rise of Christianity as an ideology and religion in the Roman Empire fomented the end of state-sponsored killing in the Coliseums. The Christian Byzantines took no pleasure in the suffering of the poor or enslaved, whereas their Roman precursors did - I will acknowledge that. Give credit where credit is due.
Unfortunately, the teachings of Jesus Christ have now been bastardized and hastily gerrymandered to inflate a dubiously defined term known as 'Judaeo-Christian.' This hamfisted construction has been given credit for just about every freedom, liberty and accolade Western civilization has achieved in the past millenium all the way to those born of our own unique American revolution.
I understand this a semantic issue, and even using the term 'Christian' irks me a bit. The word 'Christian' is so loaded with the various errant dogmas of certain organized religions that all seem to claim exclusive ownership and understanding of Jesus Christ that to me it seems to have nearly lost its meaning entirely. However, I do believe that words have meaning, and thus stick to the core meaning of 'Christian ' (a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ) and thus will accept this term.
So when speaking of 'Humanism' in Western Civilization, it would be valid to credit Christianity for it's growth in prevalence. Aside from this however, the rise of Christianity made few other readily discernible benefits, and indeed, it's rise directly coincided with the arruination of Western world; ie the end of the Roman Empire and the descent into the Dark Ages subsequently. While correlation does not equal causation, there is a strong argument to be made that Christianity has been the greatest obstacle the West has faced to proceed to the point we have come to. This is especially true when examining the policies of organized Christianity during that period; which seemed to do everything BUT encourage liberty and scientific/social development. Remember, these are the same people who put Galileo in prison for blasphemy when he said that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
So when closeted theocrats use 'Judaeo-Christian' to explain the nature or origin of our civilization, and more specifically the great system we have in the USA particularly. I not only scoff, but am actually quite offended by their ignorance.
Primarily because, so much of our national ideology and character derived as a rebellion against the policies supported by conventional Christian thought at that time. The 'Divine Right of Kings', and hierarchy of men were ideologies supported by the Catholic Church as much as the Church of England. These are ideals our system is entirely opposed to. They are also ideals that many of these churches formally or partiall maintain to this day.
Many would say that Protestantism was a rebellion against the entrenched dogmas of the time, in order to restore man to the 'true' Christianity. My problem with that, is you cannot typify an ideology as an all-encompassing influence if you claim lineage from a mere schism within it. Especially when even when that schism many of those groups maintained the same injusticies, you just claimed they oppossed. Further, the exacerbents for the Protestant Reformation were derived from the cultural enlightenment of the Renaissance Period, which was not founded on Christianity but rather a rediscovery of Greek ideals and philosophy; resulting in the personal and cultural introspection necessary to question the dogma of the time. Thus, call America's system of liberty, greatly 'Protestant' in origin if you care to kitbash religion into it somehow due to your own poverty of perception, but it would never be accurate to call it Christian and less so 'Judaeo'.
If we use the definition of Christian at it's most core level, as a belief in Jesus Christ and the teaching of him. The man did not emphasize personal freedom nor liberties, instead he advocated removal of one's ego from this Earthly world. He advocated to be meek and abide by Kings alongside other tyrants, because the kingdom of God is in heaven, and not here in this place of human suffering. His message was one of self-sacrifice for the compassion towards your fellow man. That is far more consistent with Marxism than anything that could be found in the US constitution or other revolutionary writings.
To put a final nail in the coffin of this 'Judaeo-Christian' term is that fact that 'Judaeo' is haphazardly pasted on to the front of it. With all that has been stated prior to this, the one element of our society that could be attributed to Christianity is the 'Humanism' derived from Christ's compassion. This Christly 'Humanism' is presented in the New Testament and never in the Old, as Christ obviously is not present. Judaism does not share the New Testament with Christianity, and thus cannot take credit for said Ã¢??Humanism.Ã¢??
The Old Testament is largely a mythological and often absurd text that depicts God as seemingly petty, vindictive, and brutal. It advocates the stoning to death of sinners, some of those being women who have sex before wedlock and another being adulterers. It is no doubt that the modern Christians distance themselves from it as much as possible, and base their philosophy on the teaching of Christ in the New Testament. Thus the basis of Judaism and Christianity are far diverged.
The primary redeeming quality of the Old Testament would be the 10 Commandments which are a good set of rules to live by, but by no means exceptional. Codes of ethics have existed far longer, and closer to the cradles of Western civilization than to the comparatively recent expansion of the Old Testament into our cultural realm. Murder, rape, and adultery did not magically become impermissible with the expansion of Christianity into Europe...they had been considered taboo long before through the various communities of Europe. They have also existed long after the turn from Christianity and into instead Secularism.
It is no wonder then that that term 'Judaeo-Christian' was coined at the time of the emergence of Zionism. Jewish apologists tried to fabricate a link between Judaism and Western civilization in order to gain support for their own Zionist territorial aims. They hoped to garner Western imperial intervention much in the same way the Greeks had, in order to build their own 'Nation' during the wave of nationalist sentiments worldwide. As you can see, in the end, they achieved their aim.
The term Judaeo-Christian is not only inaccurate, but politically defamatory as well as unnecessarily culturally divisive. It is inaccurate for all the reasons stated above in the previous paragraphs, that our society is only as Christian as our humanism. It is politically defamatory as it degrades the Revolutionary American project into something common and unexceptional, disregarding the fact that the ideals of the revolution were groundbreaking and far more relevant to the development of man than the a bundle of cryptic Hebrew fairy tales. It is unnecessarily culturally divisive, as it by default tries to invalidate non-Christians in government and society as if they are ignorant participants, despite the fact that a grand plurality if not a majority of the Founding Fathers were not Christian and instead comprised of Agnostics and Deists who openly ridiculed the Bible. Finally, it erroneously alienates 'our values' from those of Muslims, and all other Abrahamic religions and thus only widens the cultural gap, and agitates the enmity between the Near East and cultural West.
In the end, there is far less similarity between Judaism and Christianity theologically than there is within Islam and Christianity. Any modern similarities between the Jewish people in the state of Israel for instance, and the Christian population of Western Europe is due to the fact that the Jews are recent immigrants from Europe into the region. Claiming said similarity as a basis for some sort of figurative ubiquitious cultural consanguinit, is as misguided as saying Western culture is Hindu because second generation Indian-Americans are extremely well-integrated.
If the cultural West shares any 'special tradition' with another geo-cultural group due to religion, then it would be far more likely to be with the fellow believers of Christ such as the Muslims and Sikhs rather than the Jewish nation.
My .02 cents. Let's retire this Judaeo-Christian misnomer as it is as inaccurate as it is harmful. No good will come from this word.