The Challenge of Missionaries and Cults

What is the Challenge of Missionaries and Cults? Let's find out in this post.

Jews for Judaism is the only international, full-time counter-missionary, counter-cult, educational, outreach and counseling organization dedicated to countering the multi-million-dollar efforts of deceptive missionary and cult groups that target the Jewish community for conversion.

Here, from the Jews for Judaism counter-missionary Handbook, The Response to Jewish Missionaries, is a look at the challenge facing the Jewish Community.

According to recent Gallup and Harris polls, there are over 70 million "born again" Christians in North America, many of whom are convinced that in order for Jesus to return, the Jewish people must first be converted to Christianity. Christian denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention -- which passed a resolution in 1996 targeting Jews for conversion -- and the Assemblies of G-d, as well as countless other Christian groups worldwide, contribute more than $250 million annually to aggressively evangelize Jews. These evangelical Christians have established special "Hebrew Christian synagogues" to attract Jews. Such "synagogues" have grown in number from 20 to over 400 in the last twenty years.

Missionaries convince their recruits that they are not complete as Jews until they accept Jesus as the Messiah, and that a Jew retains his or her Jewish identity after converting to Christianity. According to a 1990 Council of Jewish Federations population study, over 600,000 Jews in North America alone identify with some type of Christianity. Over the past 25 years, more than 275,000 Jews worldwide have been converted specifically by missionaries who use deceptive tactics that masquerade Christian beliefs in the guise of Judaism. The Gospel is preached by "Messianic rabbis" wearing yarmulkas (skullcaps) and talleisim (prayer shawls) at "Shabbat" and "High Holiday" services. These "Hebrew Christians" promote their Christian faith by using a new name: "Messianic Judaism."

These groups have influenced evangelical churches to adopt the same deceptive techniques. For the first time in history, Jews are welcomed into the church and told that they can retain their Jewish identity. Church members then introduce the Jew to "someone Jewish who has accepted the Lord." This method of proselytizing increases the number of contact people, who serve as conduits to the "Hebrew Christian" missionaries, to include Christian associates at work, at school and in social settings.In addition, new programs such as the $16-million theme park in Orlando, Florida, called The Holy Land Experience, and traveling conferences like "To the Jew First in the New Millennium" are virtual training grounds to teach Christians how to effectively evangelize their Jewish acquaintances.

Contrary to popular perception, it is not only emotionally unstable Jews who fall prey to the missionaries' efforts; in fact, all Jews are susceptible. Missionaries often target college campuses, hospitals, drug rehabilitation programs, seniors' residences, and shopping malls in Jewish neighborhoods, as well as the Israeli community, Soviet immigrants and intermarried couples. They deliberately misquote, mistranslate and misinterpret Jewish scriptures and rabbinical texts in an attempt to "prove" that Jesus was both the Jewish Messiah and G-d. Their delegitimization of Judaism, in concert with their misleading exploitation of Jewish symbols, religious artifacts and even traditional music, serve to confuse the potential convert, making him or her more vulnerable.

These missionary groups -- over 900 in North America alone -- are active worldwide, and can be found in almost every Jewish population center. Several governing bodies in this movement have considerable political clout; one has even been granted "observer" status at the United Nations. Several groups have founded "Messianic Jewish" day schools for children and "yeshivot" where they produce ordained "Messianic rabbis." There are over 100 "Messianic congregations" in Israel, and over 38 in the former Soviet Union. These groups prey almost exclusively upon uneducated, unaffiliated and alienated Jews.