two grounds: first, separation of churchrnand state precludes praying in schools;rnand second, statements that Americarn”had been founded b” Christians alone”rnarc inaccurate and offensive. A local rabbirnargued that the mmistries “arc promotingrn. . . principles such as exclusionrnand a narrow definition of moralitv.”rn”I’he newspaper further reported, “Arnlarge contingent of the protest camernfrom the ga and lesjjian community, asrnwell as ACLIJ nrembers and Muslim activists.”rnSo the organized Jewish communit-,rnled b’ rabbis and synagogue members,rnnow assumes leadership of far-left causesrn—in the name of Judaism. A conferencernmember responded, “Much ofrnwhat we arc discussing at the conferencerndeals with the values stated in the OldrnTestament as well as the New Testament.rnThe Christian religion is based on thernJewish religion.”rnPresenting themselves not as an ethnicrnbut a religious group, engaged not inrnpolitical but in religious action, thesernJew s made history. So far as I know, Jews,rnin the name of Judaism, picketing Christiansrnassembled in the name of Christianity’rnrepresents an authentic innovationrn—a true first in the history of thernJewish people for the last 2,000 years!rnNeer before, nowhere else in the woridrntoda’, has such a thing happened orrncould such a thing take place. What arntribute to the freedom that Americansrnaccord to one another and to the profoundrntoleration that Americans have forrnone another.rnBut to whose credit? Since over 95rnpercent of those Americans who professrna religion describe themselves as Christians,rnthe answer is clear. Left, center,rnand right—Christians affirm the traditionrnof completely free public debate,rneven on sensitive religious questions, andrnJews (among others), bv their actions, acknowledgernthat fact. No better evidencernof American exceptionalism, now and inrnthe past, presents itself. In no otherrncountry- have Jews conducted themselvesrnin such a wav, and it would be hard forrnthe Christian right to refute its enemiesrnmore eloc[uentlv than the Coral RidgernPresbvterians did: going about their businessrnwith respect for those who, outsidernthe door, chose to protest, saving simply,rn”The Christian religion is based on thernJewish religion.”rnSo if it is a Christian countrv, thenrnChristians have much in which to takernpride. That makes all the more puzzlingrnthe controversy over the statement,rn”America is a Christian country.” Whatrnshould offend anvonc in the claim thatrnthe vast majority of Americans are Christian,rnand that the history of this countryrnis the story of how serious Christiansrnconducted themselves in peace and inrnwar? If not Christian, than wliat?rnWell, is America a Christian countrvrntoday? Yes, but not only Christian.rnSome people think America is basically arnChristian country, because differentrnforms of Christianity have predominatedrnthroughout this country’s history andrnha e defined much of its culture and society.rnThe vast majority of Americansrnwho are religiou.s—and that means mostrnof us—are Christian by religion. But tornbe a true American, one can hold anotherrnreligion or no religion at all. The firstrnreligions of America were those of thernNative Americans, and while Protestantismrnand Roman Catholicism laid thernfoundations of American society, Americarnhad a Jewish community from nearlyrnthe beginning, the hrst synagogues datingrnback to the mid-17th century.rnToday this country has become thernmeeting place for neadv all the living religionsrnof the world, with the Zoroastrian,rnShinto, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindurnreligions well represented. Variousrnreligious groups from the Caribbean andrnfrom Africa and Latin America likewisernflourish. Pretty much every religion inrnthe world is practiced by some Americans.rnWhen Christians call it “a Christianrncountry,” some ccrtainlv mean tornexclude non-Christians. But many simplyrnmean that the majority of Americansrnstand for something, and something ofrnworth. The news from Fort Lauderdalernunderscores this simple fact.rnIf you doubt it, find me some Bahai inrnIran to picket the mosques, or somernChristians in Egypt to do the same, orrnlet’s go to the Western Wall in Jerusalemrnand worship in the manner of Reform Judaism.rnTo cut closer to home still, tryrngetting a Jewish group to sa- that Americarnis the best place in the wodd, and inrnall of Jewish history, to practice Judaism.rnI did, in the Washington Post around arndecade ago, and I can report from yearsrnof experience that the American Jewishrncommunity demands for itself what itrnwill not accord to others, that is, the rightrnto speak freely. The organized Jewishrncommunity prefers to marginalize andrndrie out difference of opinion, not torndebate it, and that accounts for its chronicrnseetariani.sm.rnIn Islam and in Judaism, religious expressionrnoutside of the enforced consensusrnis dangerous. In Iran and in Egypt,rnyou can lose your life for less. If you’re arnReform Jew at the Wall without a skullrncap and reciting a prayer, vou might wellrnget your head bashed in. When Orthodoxrnwomen said their prayers at the Wallrna few years back, thev were pelted withrnrotten tomatoes and bridge chairs. Andrnin the liberal American Jewish community,rnto contradict either the radical leftrnor the ethnic dogma is to get yourselfrnmarginalized.rnBut Christianitv, for its part, gave uprnon the Inquisition in the 18th century,rnand neither does it burn witches anymore.rnSo much for the “threat” from thernChri.stian right.rn]acoh Neusner is Distinguished ResearchrnProfessor of Religious Studies at thernUniversity of South Florida in Tampa.rnHis latest book, with his son,rnNodm -VIM. Neusner, is The Pricernof Excellence: Universities inrnConflict During the Cold War Erarn(Continuum).rnALL I]rnHarrv Smith of CBS News arncount of an incident in BosirnWalking over Vrbanja bridgrnteed safe passage by Vluslinrnshot [in the back] b [Musirntended to move to Serbia.]rnMuslim firej. The bodiesrnburied in the Lion Ccnictrnmarkers. Bosko was a ChrisirnLIBERAL ARTSrn4E NEWS 1 HATS FIT TOrnid Peter Jennings of ABC New,rnlia. Brackets indicate the factrne [from the Muslim to tlie Scrnis], Bosko and Admira, Bosniarnni] snipers, and left [to rot] frrnTheir bodies were recovered brnwere exhumed from tlie Serbrnjr. [Admira and Bosko lie arnian.]rnSPIKErns delivered the following actheyrnomitted.rnrb side, after being guaran-rn’s “Romeo and Juliet,” werernr eight davs. [They had inyrnthe Serbs [crawling underrnsoldiers’ cemetery and retrnthe foot of Muslim gravern—J. Peter MaherrnSEPTEMBER 1996/37rnrnrn