After Mark Galli published a controversial editorial at Christianity Today a large number of Evangelical Christians responded by claiming that the flagship evangelical magazine was owned by George Soros. There is no such truth in that claim, and in the process a number of evangelicals engaged in anti-Semitism by pushing that conspiracy theory. This is not the first time that has happened as this post looks at other examples. This article looks at the George Soros conspiracy theory and is asking evangelicals to take a stand against anti-Semitism. In the process you will learn about my family’s history with Buchenwald in Germany during World War II.
“Anti-Semitism is a noxious weed that should be cut out. It has no place in America.”
William Howard Taft
“Where anti-Semitism persists, the well being of all our people is at risk.”
“Anti-Semitism has no historical, political and certainly no philosophical origins. Anti-Semitism is a disease.”
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
I John 1:6 ESV
The theme for Schindler’s list
On December 19, 2019 Mark Galli, the editor of Christianity Today wrote an editorial that called for President Donald Trump to be removed from office. In both the evangelical world and parts of American culture it was as if a bomb had gone off. It led to a lot of contention, debate and the “court evangelicals” pushed back hard. You can read about what transpired in, “A Pivotal Week in Evangelical Christianity. A Christianity Today Editorial Calling for Trump’s Removal. A President Responds in Rage While the “Court Evangelicals” Double Down and Other Moderate Evangelicals Begin to Push Back.” As critics pounced on the Christianity Today editorial a number of evangelicals began to explain that Christianity Today was being funded by George Soros. The well known evangelical magazine is just fake news. These are some of the tweets that I saw at the time.
After many Evangelical Christians proclaimed that Christianity Today is funded by George Soros in time the President and CEO of Christianity Today, Tim Dalrymple, put out a statement. Dalrymple then denied that the flagship evangelical publication was owned by George Soros and encouraged people to check their sources. You can see that tweet below.
Other Evangelical Christians Pushing the George Soros Conspiracy Theory
It used to be that many Evangelical Christians rejected the George Soros conspiracy theory. On Fox News in 2006 Dr. James Dobson, who years prior founded Focus on the Family, called out Bill O’Reilley when he referenced George Soros which you can read here. But as evangelicalism decided to become more political it actually started to circulate more conspiracy theories about George Soros. Lance Wallnou who is known for dominionism theology has pushed the George Soros conspiracy theory. Eric Metaxas, who is known for his biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, has also made outrageous claims about George Soros in the past few years in his Facebook group. While Metexas has also pushed the Soros conspiracy theory on Twitter but I am blocked from accessing his account to see how frequently he states it.
Janet Mefford known for pointing out Mark Driscoll’s plagiarism also has pushed the George Soros conspiracy theory. Please see the tweets down below.
What is the Soros Conspiracy Theory?
The George Soros conspiracy theory I would suggest is a modern take on the Rothschild conspiracy theory. The Rothschild theory began in the middle of the nineteenth century and has been around for over two hundred years. The Rothschild conspiracy theory believes that the Jewish Rothschilds controlled the banking system, financial systems, profiting off wars and arranging for political assassinations of their opponents. In France far right candidate Marine Le Pen stated that French Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron worked for the Rothschilds. The theory itself is very much anti-Semitic. If you would like to read more about it you can do so in the following Jewish Chronicle called, “The Rothschilds, the banks and antisemitism – the truth and the myths.”
The George Soros conspiracy theory is in the same league as the Rothschild claim. The conspiracy theory claims that George Soros, a man who is Jewish once worked with the Nazis or that he was one. The facts are quite different. When World War II broke out George Soros was nine years old and when the war ended in May of 1945 he was 14. You can read the debunking of that theory here at Snopes. George Soros was never a Nazi. For the far right George Soros became controversial because his philanthropic organization Open Society Foundations supports politically liberal or democratic causes. That money that has been used both in Europe and the United States. In some ways autocrats who are opposed to democracy in Europe have attacked George Soros and used conspiracy theories to debase him. The conspiracy theory against George Soros originally started as a disinformation campaign that came out of Russia in the late 90’s to early 2000’s in Europe. The Soviet Union and later Russia are quite professional with their disinformation campaigns. For example it was the Soviets who invented the claim that the United States created the AIDS virus. But it is Hungary today which has demonized George Soros the most and taken it to new heights.
Hungary today is a dying democracy with the gains made from the 1989 revolution being lost and destroyed. The freedom that was gained when the Eastern bloc was liberated from Soviet tyranny is slowly reverting back to totalitarian rule. Viktor Orban has been the Prime Minister of Hungary since 2010. Orban is affiliated with the Fidesz party which is center right and populist. After the 2010 election he used his power to lower the number of people serving in the parliament and write marriage rules into the constitution. In 2011 Orban’s government restricted freedom of speech, curbed civil liberties and worked at dismantling the judicial branch of the Hungarian government. That campaign against freedom of the press is shutting down newspapers and independent journalism inside Hungary. Meanwhile Orban and his party have frequently targeted George Soros repeatedly. In addition Hungary has worked at trying to close his university, Central European University, which is in Budapest. Central European University was established when Hungary threw off the chains of Soviet communism and has been a beacon in Hungary in educating the people of this Eastern European state. To an autocrat an independent thinking university is a threat to their control. If Central European University is closed it will be the first time in Europe since World War II that a university has been closed. In September of 2019 most of the university’s operations were re-located to Vienna, Austria due to the Hungarian opposition to the well known school. This story is still playing out.
Here in the United States George Soros is attacked for anything and everything that is possible by the far and fringe right. Below is a brief list of what people attribute to George Soros or attacked him for.
- Rosanne Barr attacked Chelsea Clinton by calling her “Chelsea Soros Clinton,” and then proceeded to attack George Soros as being a Nazi.
- Soros has been attacked and blamed for Colin Kaepernick’s protesting during the national anthem at NFL football games. You can read how Kaepernick in response donated to Soros here.
- Donald Trump claimed during the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings that George Soros funded the protestors.
- The Republican Nation Committee pushed anti-Semitic ads that attack George Soros which you can read here.
- George Soros was also credited for driving the caravan in Mexico towards the United States. This claim tragically resulted in an attack on a Jewish Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- A while back Glenn Beck attacked George Soros on Fox News in 2010. That led to a swift rebuke by the Jewish community.
- The Vice President of Campbells Soup was let go after he was pushing the George Soros conspiracy theory on Twitter
I could go on and fill up a page with examples. When you are dealing with conspiracy theorists they always crank out garbage.
In late October of 2018 the frenzied conspiracy theories led a person who I believe is mentally ill to send bombs, and explosive devices through the mail. In the process this person was engaging in terrorism. George Soros was one of many people that Cesar Sayoc had sent an alleged explosive device. In the terror campaign 14 people were mailed bombs. But that is how far the act of terror went.
If you want to read more about George Soros and the conspiracy theories around him which are false, please read the following.
- CNN, “The smears against George Soros are dangerous.”
- Huff Post, “George Soros Has Been The Right’s Bogeyman For Decades.”
- The Atlantic, “Why the Right Loves to Hate George Soros.”
- Politico, “Why does the right hate Soros?“
- Forbes, “Why Populists Hate George Soros And How It Started.”
- Daily Beast, “There’s Been a George Soros for Every Era of Anti-Semitic Panic.“
- Washington Post, “American anti-Semitism: It’s getting worse.”
Germany Didn’t Execute 6 Million Jews Overnight, and Why Anti-Semitism is Wrong
Anti-Semitism is the hatred of Jews. It can happen in a number of ways from religious, to cultural, to economic to political. The Jews are blamed for the source of the problems of a nation. Anti-Semitism has raised its dark head in Europe before, for example you had the well known Dreyfus Affair in France in the 1890’s. The most notorious example of anti-Semitism happened in Germany and Europe during the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Germans believed that the Jews were inferior and that they were a danger to their race. The Germans were racist in their beliefs. The way anti-Semitism works is that is denigrates and de-humanizes people. People cease to be individuals and they are classified something less then human in the course of time. Its a process and an effort that eventually resulted in the death of six million Jews in the Holocaust. It was a process that built gradually over time. In Germany in 1935 it was the Nuremberg Laws that legalized persecution of the Jews. Then in 1942 in a suburb of Berlin there was the Wansee Conference. Its purpose was to find a “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” Out of this conference Germany decided that mass murder of the Jews had to take place. To get from a simple slur to then declaring that the Jews could be persecuted and then ultimately to mass murder and putting Jews in ovens was a process. It didn’t happen overnight. It took place in a gradual fashion, and over the course of time it moves to the next level. This is why anti-Semitism is so dangerous. Who could have imagined in 1935 that eight years later Jews would be exterminated in mass inside concentration camps?
My Great-Uncle’s grace at Arlington National Cemetery
My Family’s History with Buchenwald and Fighting Anti-Semitism and Who Will Tell Your Story?
On April 12, 1945 General Eisenhower who was the Supreme Allied Commander visited Ohrdurf-Nord. Ohrdruf is a subcamp of Buchenwald which is a Nazi death camp. Ohrdurg is also the first concentration camp to be liberated by American troops. When Eisenhower saw the camp he remarked that it was, “beyond the American mind to comprehend.” He arranged for other soldiers, journalists, and individuals to tour the camp. Eisenhower did so because he knew one day there would be propaganda that would state that the Holocaust never occurred. And Ike’s concern was that the crimes be documented and be remembered by history. One of the people who played a role in documenting what occurred at Buchenwald was my great-Uncle – John W. Bonner.
John W. Bonner was elected as Montana’s Attorney General in 1940. John was a reserve officer and he was called up to active duty in the United States Army in 1942. John then resigned as Montana’s Attorney General on May 1, 1942. He served as the Judge Advocate General under General Omar Bradley and then under General Courtney Hodges. John headed the war crimes investigations at Nordhausen, Buchenwald, Hadamer and Tekla, Germany. At Buchenwald John collected evidence and helped prepare cases that were prosecuted at Nuremberg. The time he spent in Buchenwald was difficult from what I heard, and the pictures and evidence he collected was troubling. My family has spoken about it for years.
John served in five campaigns during World War II, and was awarded five battle stars. He also received the Legion of Merit Bronze Star and was presented the Croiz de Garre by General Charles de Gaulle. After World War II ended John W. Bonner ran for Governor of Montana and won. He was both in public and private service until his death in 1970. In my family what I heard about deeply was the time John spent documenting war crimes. John saw first hand where anti-Semitism can go and it remained with him for the rest of his life. Today some of John’s evidence of the Holocaust that he collected is preserved and documented in the Imperial War Museum in London. After his death John W. Bonner was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with many other World War II veterans. You can see his grave, which I visit from time to time up above.
Anti-Semitism is something that I believe is below the human race. Its below those who call themselves Christians, if they are going to be serious about what they believe. The George Soros conspiracy theory is anti-Semitic and to feed such a false theory is uncalled for. Jesus said that he we are to worship him in spirit and in truth. Can you worship him in that context when you are supporting an anti-Semitic theory that tears down what he has created? This blog would like to ask those who read this post how do you want to be remembered? How do you want to be remembered by your family, friends, co-workers and more. History remembers and the long dark stain of anti-Semitism sadly exists on the historical record. This is a personal post for me if I can share because of my family’s history with this topic. My family has long rejected anti-Semitism. And I, very much reject anti-Semitism as well. This blog post is asking for Evangelical Christians to suspend their push of the George Soros conspiracy theory. In addition I also have a proposal. If any of the Evangelical Christians out there in the United States who read this want to walk through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and learn about anti-Semitism then this blogger would be happy to spend an afternoon visiting it with you and discussing anti-Semitism. If you want to take that action I would be happy to do that with you.
This post contained a lot of history, and as I close this out I want to appeal to history once more. In the musical Hamilton the final number asks who lives, who dies and who tells your story? In this personal post I spent part of it in describing my great-uncle. He lived and died and today I am telling his story. John Bonner is a story of taking a stand against injustice. He saw where anti-Semitism can go and he dedicated his life to combating it. Today he rests and is known for his efforts in taking a stand against anti-Semitism in his service. Every person who reads this post on Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media or through a Google search has a choice to make. How do you want to be remembered? And in a difficult time in world events do you want to be remembered for being on the right side of history? I was deeply bothered when I saw the George Soros conspiracy theory grow and tweeted after the Christianity Today editorial and I decided that this issue needed to be addressed. How do you want your story to be told? How do you want to be remembered? For me its being opposed to anti-Semitism and taking a strong stand against this issue. I hope you will join me in that effort.