Record to Yudin: No apology coming

The editor of The Record has told Bergen County Republican Organization Chairman Bob Yudin the paper  will not apologize for what Yudin said was an anti-Semitic remark published in a recent column.

In a letter to the paper Yudin took issue with columnist Alfred Doblin’s use of the term “come to Jesus moment” in a recent piece on the BCRO, claiming it was insulting and “conjures up notions of pogroms against Jewish people in 20th Century Europe, and in the 15th Century — the expulsion and torture of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, when many Jews were forced to denounce their faith and ‘come to Jesus’ in order to escape death and persecution.”

Doblin’s column concerned what he termed “civil war” in Bergen County between the pro-Kathe Donovan faction and the Yudin faction.  The column advocated that Donovan take charge of the party as its rightful leader.

 Yudin took the “come to Jesus” comment to mean Doblin believed he and the BCRO had sinned and should seek to atone. In addition to seeking an apology, Yudin demanded the paper print his letter verbatim.

In response Record Editor Martin Gottlieb told Yudin the phrase “come to Jesus moment” has many connotations, but is mainly used as a secular term.

“The phrase has been used at evangelical Christian revivals (not in an anti-Semitic way), but its well-established common usage in the U.S. is secular and devoid of any of the inferences you ascribe to it,” Gottlieb wrote in a letter to Yudin.

Doblin did not intend the phrase to be anti-Semitic, Gottlieb said, nor does he intend to apologize.

“I don’t believe Alfred’s use of the phrase “come to Jesus” is anywhere close to being anti-Semitic. Alfred is one of the most philo-Semitic people I know,” Gottlieb wrote. “Given this background, and my belief that Alfred in no way was inferring that you had committed religious sins that needed absolution from Jesus, I don’t believe an apology or publication of your letter/op-ed piece is in order.”

Gottlieb’s letter is reprinted below:

Alfred Doblin has forwarded this e-mail sent on your behalf.

Both he and I are always mindful of biased and pejorative wordings and phrasings and we work hard to make sure they don’t appear in The Record. I don’t believe Alfred’s use of the phrase “come to Jesus” is anywhere close to being anti-Semitic. Alfred is one of the most philo-Semitic people I know.

The most common definitions I’ve found for the phrase are these, which have nothing to do with religion or ethnicity:

“Getting called on the carpet, dressed down, or otherwise chewed out in a severe manner. Usually used in conjunction with ‘meetin’ (meeting), as in ‘He was late one too many times, so the old man dragged him in the office for a ‘come to Jesus meetin’.”

According to another definition, it is a polite ultimatum, generally followed by a less polite ultimatum, then a threat. “Drug and alcohol ‘interventions’ are often referred to as ‘come to Jesus meetings,’ according to this reference.

The phrase has been used at evangelical Christian revivals (not in an anti-Semitic way), but its well-established common usage in the U.S. is secular and devoid of any of the inferences you ascribe to it.

Given this background, and my belief that Alfred in no way was inferring that you had committed religious sins that needed absolution from Jesus, I don’t believe an apology or publication of your letter/op-ed piece is in order. In any event, as a matter of policy, we never agree to publish any submission on the condition that it not be edited.

Best wishes,

Martin Gottlieb

Editor

The Record

Record to Yudin: No apology coming