By Vatican decree, Jews get special vouchers to Heaven

For about 2000 years, Christianity has held as one of its central tenets that there is one and only one way to salvation: acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior. Without that belief, it doesn’t matter how good of a person you are in this life: your spot in Heaven is completely dependent on how you feel about one particular messiah the moment you die.

Not anymore.

According to a document released by the Vatican last Thursday, Jews no longer need to be converted to Christianity in order to be saved from damnation. As the Holy See wrote in a press release, “Although Jews cannot believe in Jesus Christ as the universal redeemer, they have a part in salvation, because the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

In the document, the Vatican highlights the 1966 declaration that repudiated the Jews’ responsibility for the death of Jesus. As Vice points out, the timing of this declaration likely has something to do with the fiftieth anniversary of that announcement.

Still, there are two big problems with this announcement. First, the Jewish faith doesn’t provide a clear distinction between Heaven and Hell in the afterlife, so the Vatican is offering Jews a special ticket to a members-only party they didn’t ask to be invited to and don’t even think exists. Remember when the Mormons retroactively baptized Anne Frank? From a purely metaphysical standpoint, this isn’t a whole lot different than that.

Second, the Vatican’s announcement makes a glaring omission in implying that Jews’ path to heaven is secured by “the calling of God,” a likely reference to the two religions’ shared monotheism. Namely, they left out the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims. According to the Vatican, Jews, by nature of their relationship with God, get a special voucher to Heaven that they didn’t ask for and don’t know how to use. Muslims, who do believe in Heaven and who count Jesus as a prophet of Islam, get nothing.

To be clear, the Vatican document does outline why they feel Jews are especially special, noting Christianity’s roots in Judaism and describing Jews as Christians’ “elder brothers.” As it continues:

Nevertheless, from the theological perspective the dialogue with Judaism has a completely different character and is on a different level in comparison with the other world religions. The faith of the Jews testified to in the Bible, found in the Old Testament, is not for Christians another religion but the foundation of their own faith, although clearly the figure of Jesus is the sole key for the Christian interpretation of the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

So despite the fact that Jesus remains central to Christian theology, Jews get grandfathered in. Like it or not, we’re tethered to Christianity, more or less because they said so.

All this is to say that the Vatican’s olive branch to the world’s Jewish community is a political forced marriage — one that comes off as ham-handed and patronizing. It completely negates the primary principle of Christianity to carve out a special consideration for one faith with a positive policy image in the West.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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