News Articles

Lieberman’s Judaism, SBC doctrine akin on women’s roles, biblical authority

WASHINGTON (BP)–Parallels between the Orthodox Jewish faith of Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman and of Southern Baptists are emerging in news reports.

In an Aug. 9 Religion News Service story, various characteristics of Orthodox Judaism are listed, including: “Orthodox synagogues do not ordain women or allow women to serve as rabbis.”

Additionally noted in the RNS story is an Orthodox Jewish practice not found in Southern Baptist churches: “Worshiping separately from the opposite sex, often divided by a wall or screen, to keep each sex from being distracted by the other.”

RNS also quotes the rabbi of Lieberman’s home congregation in Stamford, Conn., as saying, “The Orthodox Jews believe in the authenticity of the Bible, and if it’s authentic, then it is what God demands of man.” The rabbi, Joseph Ehrenkranz, at Stamford’s Congregation Agudath Shalom, reiterates, “If you believe in the authenticity, then you cannot deviate from it.”

The story describes Lieberman’s style of “modern Orthodoxy” — in which the U.S. senator from Connecticut does not wear a yarmulke, or skull cap, for example — as being far removed from ultra-Orthodox “images of somber men in black hats and long beards,” RNS stated.

A media outcry swirled around Southern Baptists in June as they revised their Baptist Faith and Message statement of faith to include a sentence stating a biblical conviction and tradition within historic Christianity that men only should be pastors.

Baptists had acted to “ban” or “nix” women, many media outlets reported, while choosing to overlook the revised statement of faith’s affirmation of women as found in Scripture.

“Backward Southern Baptists,” blared a headline in the St. Petersburg Times in Florida over an editorial writer’s critique of the SBC action. “Southern Baptists deserve eye rolling,” a headline espoused over a column carried by The New York Times news service and printed in Sarasota, Fla., among numerous media outlets.

The parallels between Lieberman’s Jewish Orthodoxy and Southern Baptist beliefs end, however, at least at the issue of abortion, with Lieberman having voted against bills to ban partial-birth abortion while the Southern Baptist Convention has been among the religious groups at the forefront of opposing the gruesome abortion procedure.

Yehuda Levin, a rabbi and founder of the New York-based Jews for Morality, contended in one media account that every Jewish child knows that abortion is “akin to murder.”

“There’s no way in the world that any Orthodox Jew could possibly support something so horrific.”