On Thursday, the conference of Reform Judaism embraced transgenderism wholesale. In a comprehensive resolution, the second-to-least-knowledgeable-and-faithful branch of Judaism (clocking in just behind Reconstructionism) called for all staff at Reform Jewish synagogues and schools, including preschools, to be trained on transgender issues and called for rabbis to preach sermons on transgenderism.
After the near-unanimous vote, the 5,000 attendees stood and cheered themselves, with the chairman of the board, Stephen Sacks, blabbering, “Your reaction in this room shows what this movement is about. It makes me very proud.”
What will Reform Jewish institutions and their declining constituency do differently? Children in such schools will be divided by birth month rather than gender, and no nametags or emails will include “Mr.” and “Mrs.” Congregants who show up once a year for Yom Kippur before breaking for brunch will be asked by which pronouns they prefer to be addressed.
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, a senior vice president with the organization, explained that all of those working at Reform Jewish institutions would be supplied “with materials on how do you deal with bathrooms? How do you deal with language? How do you deal with prayer?”
At no point was it asked how those who purport to care about Judaism deal with God or the Torah.
As it turns out, that’s not a concern in the Reform Jewish community, and it hasn’t been for several decades. If it were, they might care about Genesis 5:1-2: “In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them…” Or Deuteronomy 22:5: “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” The Talmud references various types of intersex people, and deals with them under the strictures of the Torah. But no opinion in the long line of observant Judaism has ever suggested the fluidity of biological male to biological female or vice versa.
All of this is irrelevant to the Reform Jewish community, comprised of leftists who pass for Jews by dint of ethnicity – although more and more often, Reform Jews aren’t ethnically Jewish under Jewish law. Reform Judaism has become a convenient way for upper class, highly-educated urban white leftists to claim minority status – since, after all, it’s uncomfortable in leftist circles to be an upper class, highly-educated urban white person. Allegiance to a minority religious status without commitment to any aspect of that minority religion provides convenient cover to escape accusations of white supremacy and class superiority.
Nonetheless, ignoring the fact that Reform Jews are not religious, the media treat this declaration by Reform Judaism as somehow indicative of a surprising move to overthrow traditional sexual values among the religious more broadly. The Associated Press cites similarly irreligious religious groups making similarly leftward moves: the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association.
For religious Jews and Christians, of course, the notion of taking an ethical lead from these organizations remains laughable. But the media seek to build a groundswell of focus on such organizations in order to chip away at the generalized American perception that religion opposes the leftist social order. By attaching organizations that sound religious to policies that are directly opposed to traditional religious thinking, leftists hope to undermine the monopoly on religious Americans by the political right.
Evidence shows that it’s working, at least in the short term. The challenge of organized religion has always been the question of interpretation: how literally should texts be interpreted? When should certain texts outweigh others? The left has used such questions to deconstruct religion itself, and now seeks to hijack religious institutions in the same way. Their impact has been felt inside more traditional religious organizations, who are bewildered by members’ sudden interest in rewriting hallowed values in favor of transitory popularity.
In the end, leftist religious groups won’t succeed – not because their commitment-free ideology isn’t seductive, but because they offer no promise of eternal truth or life mission. Religious organizations without the religion are social clubs without the fun and games. They’re boring and stodgy. If Americans are going to embrace the meaninglessness of traditional values, they may as well just go to the ballgame.
But in the short term, traditional religion has a battle on its hands, from within and without. They must recognize that battle, or they’re likely to undergo a rough patch before leftist religious groups collapse under their own emptiness.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, Editor-in-Chief of DailyWire.com, and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.