Reform Jewish Leader Condemns Reverend Jimmy Swaggart’s Comments Concerning Gay Americans
Contact: Alexis Rice or Dena Wigder
Saperstein: Using the pulpit to incite hate and violence is an insult to all people of faith.
WASHINGTON, September 23, 2004 - In response to Reverend Jimmy Swaggart's recent statements that under certain circumstances he would "kill" a gay man, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We vehemently condemn the hateful language of Reverend Jimmy Swaggart, which was spoken before worshipers in church and broadcast internationally. Rev. Swaggart's statement that "if any man came onto me, I'd kill him and tell God he died" is deplorable and should be condemned by all people of decency. It goes beyond homophobia to actually condoning violence against homosexuals. To make such hate-filled statements anywhere is reprehensible, to make them from the pulpit is blasphemous. Using the pulpit to express hate and espouse violence is an insult to all people of faith.
Swaggart's subsequent "apology" saying that "it's a humorous statement that doesn't mean anything" reflects an utter lack of understanding of the gravity of his remarks. Legitimacy to murder is indefensible, never humorous, and wholly intolerable.
As Jews, we know all too well the implications of hateful incitement. Empty apologies do nothing to correct the corrosive and destructive implications of Rev. Swaggart's statements. We hope that others, especially America's religious leaders, will condemn Swaggart's barbaric "sermon."
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.