Backlash to the Antisemitism Awareness Act ‘exemplifies the need for this legislation,’ Christian conservative leaders say

CUFI’s John Hagee and the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed issued a joint statement defending the bill amid growing opposition on the right

Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), speaking at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Washington Summit in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Two prominent Christian conservative leaders pushed back publicly on Friday against a growing narrative on the right that the House-passed Antisemitism Awareness Act contradicts Christian scripture or would limit freedom of speech.

The bill, which codifies the Department of Education’s use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism in evaluating accusations of unlawful antisemitic harassment and discrimination on campuses, passed the House with strong bipartisan support but conservative outrage has been building in the subsequent days.

In particular, some right-wing lawmakers and influencers have claimed that Christian scripture declares that Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, something the IHRA definition’s examples label as an antisemitic trope.

Pastor John Hagee, the national chairman of Christians United for Israel who is also a well-known televangelist, and Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, said in a joint statement first obtained by Jewish Insider, “To the Biblically literate, claims that the Antisemitism Awareness Act is anti-Christian are as insulting as they are injurious.”

They said that the debate over this bill reflects that “the world’s oldest hatred is alive and well on both fringes of the partisan divide” and “exemplifies the need for this legislation,” alongside the ongoing anti-Israel protests on college campuses with “genocidal ambitions.”

Hagee and Reed added that the legislation would not, as some have claimed, limit free speech on college campuses.

“For the law to apply, a student would have to have an unlawful act committed against them first, and only thereafter would the definition of antisemitism be considered in order to determine whether or not the underlying unlawful act was motivated by antisemitism,” they said. “This definition and its examples are only used for guidance, because as we have recently seen across American college campuses, you cannot defeat what you are unwilling to define.”

The two leaders said that CUFI and the Faith and Freedom Coalition have long been supportive of the policy, first implemented as an executive order under the Biden administration, and celebrated that it had passed the House.

“This law is sound. The Biblical and moral mandate is clear,” their statement reads. “We thank Speaker [Mike] Johnson for moving this measure forward and urge the Senate to advance this legislation without delay.”

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.