David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

Ann Coulter and "Perfect" Faith

It’s a lovely, blustery October day here in Washington, DC, and I am peering into my magic crystal ball which shows me the future. What are you discussing next week? What is every newspaper and TV news show talking about 24/7? The crystal ball says we will all be discussing Ann Coulter telling Donny Deutsch that Jews need to be “perfected” into Christians. (Watch it on YouTube.)

You realize, of course, that this is the end of Ann Coulter’s career. She is probably realizing that right about now too. There’s no mea culpa that covers something like this. Even Sean Hannity will be wrapping his defense of Ann Coulter in statements like, “Now, of course what she said about the Jewish people is shameful and anti-Semitic and horrible and wrong, but [insert hapless attempt to change the subject to a criticism of Hillary Clinton].”

I’m going to admit something that you will find shocking: I kinda like Ann Coulter. I agree with very little that she says, but she generally is funny. Left-wingers (and centrists) don’t get that she’s a humorist, just like right-wingers take everything that Al Franken and Bill Maher say as straight-faced screeds of liberal intolerance. Dude, they’re jokes. Sure, Coulter goes too far — sometimes quite a bit too far — but she’s entertaining and she provokes political debate. I thought her calling John Edwards a “faggot” was priceless, even if it’s a somewhat peculiar slur considering the fact that he’s one of the nation’s preeminent devoted husbands (and opposed to gay marriage too). As for using a nasty slur against homosexuals, I’ve made my feelings about such epithets known before.

Coulter’s biggest crime with the thing about “perfecting Jews into Christians” is that it wasn’t funny. There were a couple of amusing quips — asking Donny Deutsch if he wanted to go to church with her made me chuckle — but she quickly fell into the trap of trying to say these things with a straight face.

The funniest thing of all? She’s absolutely right.

Not about Jews needing to be perfected into Christians, of course. That’s silly and absurd. But she’s right that this is what Christians believe essentially what the New Testament says. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John didn’t agree about everything that Jesus did while he was alive, but I think they were all pretty clear about a few key points. There’s nothing that I’m aware of in the New Testament that says Jesus is your Lord and Savior, unless you choose to ignore everything he had to say and continue practicing the Old Testament the way you’re used to practicing it, in which case no problem! No, according to the book, God sent his kid down here to tell the whole world that humanity has messed up pretty seriously and we need a reboot, so pay attention. (Of course, Jesus also had a lot to say about being tolerant of others — something about casting stones, I think? — but never mind that.)

(There’s also a lot of modern debate about whether Jesus actually said anything about being the son of God. If I’m correct about this — and someone will need to point me to the right place to back this up — there are only one or two passages in the New Testament where Jesus directly claims he’s the One True Savior, and some scholars believe those passages were misinterpreted or inserted later. Take out a couple of sentences, and the things Jesus was saying become quite different.)

I find it amusing to see public religious figures in the media soft-pedaling the differences between their faiths. As if none of those differences matter as long as we all believe in one all-powerful, omnipotent God. Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, we’re all essentially heading in the same direction, aren’t we? So let’s all get along! What’s that? What about the Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans, Confucians, Wiccans, and whomever else that don’t believe in one God and aren’t headed in the same direction? No problem! Just agree with our basic precepts of morality, and everything’s hunky-dorey. Wait, some people out there don’t respect those either? Fine, then just don’t hurt anybody. Please.

Someone’s got to explain this to me. Does everybody go to Heaven, provided that they’re following their deeply held faith? Who goes to Hell then? Just the vicious, unrepentant murderers? That’s a pretty low bar to set.

The pundits and scholars on TV dance circles and try to convince us (and themselves) that all the bad, hateful, spiteful, ridiculous things in the holy books were put there by ignorant monks or biased priests back in the Dark Ages. When the Bible says that homosexuality is an “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22), God didn’t really mean it. Either that, or we’re misinterpreting his words. He never actually said those words. He said them to a primitive audience, and so he had to phrase things differently. It’s an artifact of the translation.

But the Ann Coulters of the world blow this lovey-dovey mushiness right out of the (holy) water. They tell us in strident words that the Jews are going to Hell (Jerry Falwell) or that Muslims are justified in taking the lives of innocent infidels (Osama bin Laden) or that the Palestinians should be forcibly ejected from the land of Israel (Meir Kehane). They tell us that these books pretty much say what we think they say, and that there’s no rationalizing your way around it.

Fundamentalists have a right to be worried about the secularization of their traditions and institutions. Once you stop believing in the infallible truth of your holy documents, once you start applying reason to the whole process, you come to realize that there are big incompatibilities between the things we believe to be true today and the things our religions tell us. Once you start questioning the fundamental precepts of a religion, you come to realize that it’s only a matter of faith. And once you start wondering why it is you believe in this particular faith rather than some other completely incompatible faith, you start wondering if there’s any truth to any of them.

I’ve heard Bill Clinton say that whenever you can get people to focus on serious issues, the Democrats win. I’m not sure I agree with that statement, but I think it works when applied to religion. Whenever Ann Coulter shoots her mouth off, she forces people to confront the logical contradictions in their religious beliefs; and whenever you can get the people to focus on logic and reason, those of us who believe in secular morality without religion win.

That’s what I believe, anyway.

Comments RSS Feed

  1. Brian on October 12, 2007 at 2:23 pm  Chain link

    But she’s right that this is what Christians believe.

    I’m not very good Christian then. But then I’m Anglican so of course I’m not; I’m more a ‘live and let live’ guy. Is everyone going to Hell except murderers? Don’t ask me – I just work here.

    all the bad, hateful, spiteful, ridiculous things in the holy books were put there by ignorant monks or biased priests back in the Dark Ages

    The Word is good but ignorance knows no bounds – King James employed some scholars who were not quite as hip Greek as they should have been.

  2. David Louis Edelman on October 12, 2007 at 2:27 pm  Chain link

    Hmm… Looking over that sentence again, I think I should have phrased it “But she’s right that this is essentially what the Bible says.” Subtle difference, but important. I’m going to amend the article.

  3. christopher on October 12, 2007 at 3:35 pm  Chain link

    ann coulter is a humorist?

  4. christopher on October 12, 2007 at 3:54 pm  Chain link

    o.k. you’re right – did a quick search and found this page – the wisdom of ann coulter (washington monthly). she’s obviously a humorist.

  5. Kate Elliott on October 12, 2007 at 3:56 pm  Chain link

    I seriously doubt that this will end Coulter’s career. The only thing that would end her career is if she started belittling the hand(s) that feeds her. Otherwise, this whole line of commentary on her part is just more gravy for the faithful.

  6. David Louis Edelman on October 12, 2007 at 4:00 pm  Chain link

    Whether she’s actually funny or not is a different story. The things she says off-the-cuff are generally pretty awful; her columns can be funny though.

  7. Chris Gardner on October 12, 2007 at 7:49 pm  Chain link

    You might find this interesting and maybe helpful. http://www.bpnews.net/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=26607

  8. Steve Thorn on October 12, 2007 at 9:33 pm  Chain link

    Coulter writes in a new book, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism,” that a group of New Jersey widows whose husbands perished in the World Trade Center act “as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them.”

    She also wrote, “I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”

    ___________________________
    I never found her to be very funny.
    I always found it a waste of airwaves whenever she is on the television.

  9. tommyspoon on October 12, 2007 at 11:21 pm  Chain link

    I’m convinced that it’s all an act. She’s actually a pro-choice, equal rights, gun-control, vegan, environmentalist, politically correct, ACLU member liberal who realized that banging on her fellow liberals would make her a whole shit-load of money. That, and showing off her legs whenever possible.

    I just hate the sound of her voice. Dude, nails on a fucking blackboard. But I don’t take anything she says seriously.

    It’s an act. Period. Just wait until her big tell-all book comes out.

  10. George Pedrosa on October 14, 2007 at 4:24 pm  Chain link

    This has to be the only big disapointment I’ve had reading this blog… Ann Coulter, funny? My God… that narcissistic rascist creep wouldn’t know funny even if she was hit in the head by a Monty Python DVD box-set…

    And the really scary thing is… every single person who likes Bill Maher and Al Franken KNOW when they are just being funny and making an act… but the people who like Coulter take her opinions very seriously… and I’m sure this is the kind of response she wants… unless she is a liberal in disguise trying to destroy American conservatism’s reputation (as if it needed to…). She has never refered to herself as a humorist, in fact, she gets very angry when someone asks her about that…

    This monster has been formenting hatred and bigotry against muslims for years… and now it takes a single shot against Jewish people to bring her down… THAT’S America!

  11. Matt Jarpe on October 14, 2007 at 7:43 pm  Chain link

    Al Franken has a phrase he uses, “kidding on the square.” Meaning what he says is a joke, but not really. He says what all liberals would like to say but are too polite. And Ann Coulter does the same thing for the right. If you can’t laugh at Ann Coulter’s schtick it’s just going to make you angry. You’ll live longer if you laugh her off, and she’ll shut up quicker if no one takes her seriously.

  12. David Louis Edelman on October 14, 2007 at 10:14 pm  Chain link

    Chris: Very interesting article. For those not interested in following the link, it’s basically an article in a Baptist press saying (reluctantly) that Ann Coulter probably has a point.

    George: Hey, we’ve got to disagree on some things just to keep it interesting. :-) But I’m not sure many right-wingers do realize Al Franken is a comedian. Just like Coulter on the right, Fox News and the Washington Times et al tear apart every statement he makes with very little acknowledgment that they’re supposed to be, you know, funny. There’s a site called Franken Lies that takes the time to “debunk” Franken’s joke about a senior Bush advisor breaking Helen Thomas’s hip and jaw. What a hateful liar, insinuating that Bush advisors are prone to physically attacking reporters!

    Matt: Exactly right.

  13. George Pedrosa on October 15, 2007 at 3:53 pm  Chain link

    Yeah, but the thing is, Coulter WANTS to be taken seriously. Much of the humor comes from the absurdity of her allegations, but she is not trying to be funny – she wants to be taken seriously. Every time someone asks her if she is doing satire or if she is just being funny, she gets very angry and mentions how many books she sells, trying to show that people agree with her. And her fans also take her opinions literally… She REALLY wants a religious segregation against muslims in the US. She REALLY wants women not to be able to vote. I’m pretty sure that the New York Times being bombed is one of her greatest dreams… she spreads hatred and bigotry for the sole purpose of selling books. And she is a best-seller author. Personally, I don’t find that funny – it’s tragic…

  14. Ken Preston on October 16, 2007 at 3:57 pm  Chain link

    Hi David, I live in the Uk and I’d never heard of Ann Coulter before. Reading your post my first thought is she is a comedienne. Then I watched the youtube video. Changed my mind. Then changed it back again. She’s got to be a comedienne.
    I loved the following bit of logic defying argument when discussing mixed race couples and whether or not they have a chip on their shoulders, which was a completely ridiculous argument anyway!

    “In fact there was an entire Seinfeld episode about…(mixed race couples)…so you’re lying!”

    Great stuff, had me laughing out loud.
    But just who the heck is Ann Coulter?

    Cheers,
    Ken

  15. David Louis Edelman on October 16, 2007 at 4:07 pm  Chain link

    Ken: We here in the United States do our best to shelter the rest of the world from her.

  16. Michael on October 16, 2007 at 5:45 pm  Chain link

    David,
    Great article. You hit some interesting points. I won’t discuss all that Ann says or even discuss Ann, but simple discuss the comment she made about Jews being “perfected” (that IS what the article is about, right?). You said, “I find it amusing to see public religious figures in the media soft-pedaling the differences between their faiths.” I too find it amusing…which poses the real question: “If the Bible indeed states that believing in Jesus is the only way for one to be delivered from hell, is there any way for one who believes this, to convey this message in a loving way? And if yes, please state how?” You see, answering this question will reveal how people start with the presupposition that the Bible simply can’t be true, or, if it is, it simply can’t be saying that Jesus is the only way. For if it is true, then the only way for any Gentile or Jew to be perfected is to believe in Him. And, if that’s true, believing in Him would be the most logical and reasonable thing for any of us rebels to do. – Michael

  17. Michael on October 16, 2007 at 6:13 pm  Chain link

    Also, I find amusing the insincerity of those that those who don’t believe that there is a literal hell, yet get all up in arms when Christians say, “If you don’t believe in Jesus you will end up in hell.” How insincere to get all upset over a place that (in one’s mind) doesn’t even exist! That person should say, “Big deal – there’s no hell anyway…” and pity the poor soul for believing such a crazy idea. Or, if one does believe in hell, he should at least be appreciative of his fellow rebel who is at least offering his “take” on the way to avoid going to this horrible place of eternal torment.

  18. Ken Preston on October 17, 2007 at 4:57 pm  Chain link

    Those are interesting comments about hell, Michael.
    I was once a keen member of my local church, and believed fervently the bible is the literal word of God. I believed in Hell, a six day creation, the flood, everything.
    I was at a very low point in my life when I joined, and if not for the love of certain members of that church I’m not sure I would be here today, things were that bad.
    I haven’t been to church in years, but I still have many friends from my christian days.
    Why did I leave? I lost my faith because, after many years of highly prescriptive reading I began reading around the subject of christianity, and looking at other points of view. In other words, I thunk my way out of faith!
    To get back to hell (!) this is my big sticking point with the idea of a God who loves us unconditionally. I just cannot believe he would send anybody to hell for an eternity of punishment! This is just unthinkable to me.
    There are lots of other reasons why I don’t believe, and yet…I still feel a nagging doubt deep down there in the depths of my…soul?
    Ken

  19. Michael on October 17, 2007 at 8:46 pm  Chain link

    Ken,
    Thanks for your honest comments. Believe me, if I were God, this hell thing is so complicated I would just find some other way to deal with those who refuse my free gift of eternal life…but, I didn’t get the job (of God, that is)…so, I just accept hell as a strange reality, am thankful for His gracioius and simple way He spared me from this strange and horrible place (simple way: believing in Jesus for the free gift of eternal life) and try to reason with people to at least do a serious study (yes, with their brains on) about what the Bible actually says about hell before they dismiss it, twist the truth or just flat out call it a lie. The fact that hell seems irreconcilable with God’s love may just be because we are in this limited and fallen minds. That said, and getting back to my question, can you help me find a way to convey this message with love and without compromising what I believe in – or is that just impossible? Honestly, I’d really like to know.
    – Michael

  20. David Louis Edelman on October 17, 2007 at 8:53 pm  Chain link

    Ah, crap. Now we’re caught up in one of those conversations. You two have fun.

  21. Ken Preston on October 18, 2007 at 4:05 pm  Chain link

    Hey David, feel free to join! LOL!
    Michael, as I said in my previous comment, the members of the church I joined showed my complete and unconditional love, despite the utter waste of space I was at the time. (Depressed, self-centred, self-loathing, near suicidal, etc).
    I needed that love to get through the next few years, because although I thought I was going through a pretty bad time, much worse was to come. (My father died of cancer and a girl I was convinced I was going to marry dumped me.)
    I’m still friends with many of those people, and I socialise with them.
    But I don’t go to church anymore, and I don’t believe anymore, (I think I don’t believe, anyway.)
    In answer to your question I would say forget about hell, and just concentrate on what Christians do best when they put their mind to it: and love others unconditionally. I think, if there is a God, that’s all he wants any of us to do, Christian or not.
    Never going to happen though.
    BTW for an interesting take on the search for God and the meaning of life I recommend reading a novel called ‘The Razor’s Edge’ by W Somerset Maugham. In fact I just recommend reading it anyway, it’s too good too ignore.
    Ken

  22. Michael on October 20, 2007 at 2:08 am  Chain link

    Ken,

    I agree with you to love is the most important thing – and I intend to continue to practice loving all people, and I’m glad that you did experience that love from sincere Christians. But, getting back to that original question – what I’m hearing as your answer to me is: “You CAN’T share your message in a loving way unless you compromise your belief in one element of that message – hell.” Does that sum up your answer? And why do I keep bringing this up – even though people are saying, “Hey – just get rid of that ‘hell’ thing from your message and maybe we’ll accpet you, respect you – let you in our club”? How about – it’s a conviction.. it’s what I clearly see as a reality to be reckoned with, not to be poo-pooed or taken lightly. You see, if it is true, then Jesus’ love is even more magnificant, because He gave His life to save us from an eternal separation from Him – not just to give us a little better life – here and now, or a shot in the arm. What love! What insight into our eternal souls. We were not (and, if we’re honest, ARE not) thinking of our eternal souls – but He WAS. The reason He did accept the torment of the cross was because it was the only way we could be saved from an eternity lost without Him, and, it would have been totally unnecessary for Him to go through such torment just to give us a little better life here and now. I’m getting more and more convinced that I must just accept being accused of being “unloving” to proclaim this message of God’s great love for us – because I believe this IS the message – Jesus is the only One who can save a soul from hell. I would not accept being mocked and persecuted if my message was, “Jesus can give you a little better life.” No way. Hey, self-help books can give you a better life. I mean, even David Lewis Edelman understands what the Book is saying and doesn’t twist it. He correctly states (I quote his paraphrase of the Gospel message) ‘she’s [Ann Coulter] right that this is what the New Testament says [that Jews, along with all people, need to be ‘perfected’ by believing in Jesus]…(he continues), “…according to the book, God sent his kid down here to tell the whole world that humanity has messed up pretty seriously and we need a reboot, so pay attention…” David knows what the Book actually says. The reboot, according to the Book, is to believe in Him, and it IS that serious, according to the Book, that we will be eternally separated from Him if we don’t receive Him. God doesn’t send anyone to hell. We choose hell because we will not bow to Him and His way of escaping. And if this is true, or at least, if one BELIEVES this is true, then the most UNLOVING thing that one could do is to NOT present this loving Gospel and to warn people of the risk of an eternity without God. – Michael

    P.S. David, it was because of your keen insight into what the Book is actually saying – even though you don’t believe it – that I was engaged in this conversation in the first place. And I do respect that you at least state what the Book says – which is better than most people (including more and more compromising Christians) who twist it to make nice with everybody. I only disagree with your comment that applying reason cancels out faith. If we’re not putting faith in the truth, then faith is quite unreasonable. But, if the Book is true, then the most reasonable thing to do is to believe in the truth rather than to reject it, or to believe in a lie. And many reasonable and intellectual people who set thier minds at first against the Bible and Christianity, even to prove it wrong, became believers in that process (see SURPRISED BY JOY, C.S. Lewis, EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT Josh McDowell, THE CASE FOR CHRIST Lee Strobel. I don’t see how any one could read any one of these books and at least stop foolishly thinking that those who have faith have divorced reason from their lives).

  23. Ken Preston on October 20, 2007 at 6:20 pm  Chain link

    Michael, I think it’s time to agree that we disagree. I can’t really think of any way I can take this discussion forward, and besides we would only clog up David’s blog space.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Ken

  24. Michael on October 20, 2007 at 9:00 pm  Chain link

    Ken,
    Gotcha. Don’t want to be rude and clog the blog.
    – Michael

  25. Dan on October 24, 2007 at 4:01 pm  Chain link

    It’s all David’s fault. He’s the one who decided to give up on things literary and start a religion blog.

    Michael: The hell of hell is the utter separation from God. Even in this fallen world, God’s hand is present. People who do not realize or cannot comprehend what this would mean (typically those who deny God), fail to understand the significance of a statement like, ‘separation from God’–so many evangelicals choose to spout hell-fire and brimstone. I believe we’re all pre-wired spiritually to connect to God; hell will be like thirst without quench, itch without scratch, and pain without succor. Take the strongest emotion need or drive you have–it will never be satiated. For the media inclined, take the Barbosa scene from Pirates and multiply it by 10.

  26. brad on December 4, 2007 at 1:28 pm  Chain link

    if i had a nickel for every time some self righteous lib writer declared ann coulter’s career over i’d be too rich to care.

  27. David Louis Edelman on December 4, 2007 at 1:34 pm  Chain link

    Brad: If I had a nickel every time someone called me a “self righteous lib writer,” I’d have 5 cents.

    If I had a nickel every time someone called me that after reading through the entire article in question, I’d still be penniless.

Add a Comment

I don't censor comments; please don't make me have to start. You can use common HTML tags, such as <b>, <i>, <a>, and <blockquote>. Comments with more than one hyperlink automatically go into the moderation queue. Your information will not be rented or sold, ever.