I’m sure many Patrol readers can commiserate with me about the sinking feeling I get anytime I hear about some religious person, and particularly a Christian, doing or saying something crazy and/or offensive. As much as I try to not be cynical, a lifetime of disappointment and embarrassment has made me wary.

All that to say, this morning when I was listening to BBC’s Newshour and heard that they would be interviewing an American Tea Partier and religious leader who had been invited to England to speak at a rally for the English Defense League – Britain’s Tea Party – I braced for the worse. Imagine my surprise, then, when rather than hearing from Pastor So-and-so, I was introduced to Rabbi Nachum Shifren, self-proclaimed Tea Party member and candidate for California’s senate who is also known as “The Surfing Rabbi.” (Seriously, if you stop reading here, at least do yourself a favor and click that link.)

This guy is as Tea Party as it gets. The hate-filled, anti-Muslim speech that spewed from his mouth on the radio this morning was grating. Like this gem, for example:

I’m seeing mosques pop up like McDonald’s hamburgers [sic] all over the place. You’re being circled and choked off. If you don’t feel it, it’s because you don’t have the sensitivity to it. My message is, we don’t want multi-culturalism, we don’t want diverstity. We want America, we want our Constitution, we want our language. And if people can’t pledge to be faithful to our constitution we want them the hell out of our country.

Fingers-on-a-chalkboard-grating. And though, for a brief moment I was slightly relieved that he’s not a Christian, good sense kicked in and I felt just as much ire as I might have if he was; he’s still a religious person who is publicly, flagrantly espousing hatred at the expense of another religion. This hurts, no matter what his or my religious association.

If you’re curious, the segment is available online, and, should you be so inclined, you can listen to it here.

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Jonathan D. Fitzgerald

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