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Unveiling the double standard: Why Christians and Jews are told to ‘toughen up’

Activists disrupt Holy Saturday service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on March 30, 2024.
Activists disrupt Holy Saturday service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on March 30, 2024. | XR NYC Palestine Solidarity

This past weekend, as millions of Christians throughout the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, anti-Israel protestors disrupted an Easter Vigil at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, and the White House declared Easter Sunday “Trans Day of Visibility.” But many of these same people, who seem to have no regard for Christian or Jewish High Holy Days, have been agitating for a Ramadan Ceasefire — exhibiting a clear double standard for religious considerations. 

During the highest mass of the liturgical year, wherein traditional services begin in darkness and slowly come into light to commemorate Jesus’ victory over death and Hell, some zealous anti-Israel protestors marched through the nave of the church to cover the altar with signs and disrupt the liturgy. 

On Good Friday, as Christians memorialize Christ's crucifixion, President Biden, “by virtue of the authority vested in [him] by the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” proclaimed an official Trans Day of Visibility — with celebrations on Easter Sunday. This, of course, turns the holiest day in the Christian calendar into another celebration of an anthropology that conflicts with orthodox Christianity. 

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As a rule, it is wise to attribute blunders like this to stupidity first and malice last — but it is hard to imagine that President Biden, himself a cradle Catholic, missed this double coopting of two days of Triduum.  

Some defenders of the day have attempted to cover these bad optics with a fig leaf — reminding everyone that the holiday will be on March 31st and that Easter is a moveable feast. But still — why the announcement on Good Friday? If one insists on adding such a day to the national calendar, why not move it to June — in the already ubiquitous pride month without the risk of coopting Easter? 

These two fiascos are just the latest and most blatant installments in a long-brewing dissonance in the way the ideological left treats religion, wherein deference for customs and holidays is filtered through the intersectional hierarchy. Recently, this means that Ramadan and Muslim iconoclasm are sacred lines in the sand while Christians and Jews are, at best, told to grow thicker skin and, at worst, openly harassed. 

One of the canonical examples of this happened a few years ago when the famously irreverent South Park was censored by Comedy Central for making a joke about how they couldn’t depict Muhammad.

Before the episode’s release, the creators received threats from Revolution Muslim that they would “probably wind up like Theo van Gogh” — the film creator who was murdered by a Muslim extremist for his documentary about women in Islamic societies — if they proceeded with the episode. Instead of condemning the threat of terrorism, the network censored the jokes that would be offensive to some Muslims. Still, it maintained irreverent references to Jesus, Moses, and Buddha — Including a scene wherein Buddha snorts cocaine and Jesus watches pornography. 

One can argue against blasphemous content about religious figures in general, but the principle has to be applied evenly. When people and institutions create a special standard of care that applies only to one religion, it is obvious that they are doing so out of cowardice or for political ends, not for any consistent philosophical principle. 

This same double standard has manifested in recent weeks amid the Israel-Hamas war, with Liberal politicians and pundits alike demanding a ceasefire for Ramadan and ignoring the fact that Hamas strategically started its most recent Jihad against Israel on Simchat Torah, a high holiday in the Jewish calendar. They conveniently gloss over the statements from Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas calling for Ramadan to be a “month of terror.” Never mind that, throughout the Muslim world, terrorist attacks and wars are regularly launched during Ramadan — including the Yom Kippur War against Israel. These same activists did not call for a Christmas Armistice in Ukraine or for Iran and its proxies to leave Israel alone during Passover. 

A clear double standard has emerged that has nothing to do with universal principles of religious toleration and respect for all. “An enemy of my enemy is my friend” seems to be the pathos of our age. It explains strange phenomena like the existence of “Queers for Palestine,” despite the fact that homosexuality is punishable by death under Sharia Law. It explains the strange memorializing by people like Bernie Sanders and Cornel West of an airman who set himself on fire outside an Israeli embassy. It explains the demand that Israel go easy on Hamas and PIJ, despite their repeated assertions that they will repeat October 7th until Israel and all of its Jews are erased from the map. 

It is no coincidence that those agitating against Israel’s attempt to dismantle Hamas thought the Easter Vigil at one of the most historic cathedrals in the country would be the apt place to take their stand, and it has nothing to do with the Pope and his milquetoast views on the Israel/Hamas war. 

The Church Triumphant, unfettered by the spirit of the age and beholden to a different King — a Church that worships a Jewish Jesus who rose from the dead — this represents all that is untouchable today, and it doesn’t fit into the intersectional hierarchy.

Liza Ashley is Director of the Charles Malik Institute, an initiative of The Philos Project. She regularly writes on topics relating to religion, culture, and geopolitics.

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