The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last week aimed at addressing antisemitism on college campuses, and it angered some prominent Christian Republicans in the process.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene argued that the bipartisan bill will harm Christians who interpret the Bible to mean that Jews put Jesus to death. She was among the small group of Republicans who voted against it.

“The gospel says Jesus, a Jewish man — son of God — messiah, was handed over to be crucified (killed) by the chief priest, the elders, and the Jewish crowd,” she wrote on X. “It is not antisemitic to say this and believe it. Convicting me and any Christian of antisemitism, who believes or says this, is actually an attack on Christians.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, Tucker Carlson and Charlie Kirk have shared similar critiques of the Antisemitism Awareness Act, according to The New York Times.

Other Christians, including some of the bill’s co-sponsors, have spoken out in support of the bill, which aims to define antisemitism and then reduce antisemitic speech at colleges across the country.

Rep. Mike Lawler, a Republican from New York who introduced the Antisemitism Awareness Act in the House, directly criticized Greene on X, arguing that the bill “does not ban the Bible or limit free speech.”

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What is the Antisemitism Awareness Act?

The Antisemitism Awareness Act comes in response to nationwide campus protests over the Israel-Hamas war, although much of its content was circulating before the recent unrest.

If passed as written, it would add a definition of antisemitism to federal law and instruct the Department of Education to use that definition when determining whether Jewish college students have been discriminated against.

“What is happening at Columbia, at Yale, at UCLA, and so many other schools, is reprehensible and alarming,” Lawler said in a May 1 statement. “When people engage in harassment or bullying of Jewish individuals where they justify the killing of Jews or use blood libel or hold Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the Israeli government — that is antisemitic. It’s unfortunate that needs to be clarified, but that’s why this bill is necessary.”

The Antisemitism Awareness Act builds on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, which was also used by the Trump administration in an executive order on antisemitism from 2019, per The New York Times.

Here are some of the examples of antisemitism highlighted in the alliance’s definition. More are available in a May 1 statement from Sen. Tim Scott, who is one of the bill’s sponsors.

  • Calling for, aiding or justifying attacks on the Jewish community.
  • Denying the Holocaust.
  • Claiming that the formation of the country of Israel was a racist project.
  • Using claims of Jews killing Jesus to characterize Israel or people from Israel.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for the acts of a single Jewish person or the acts of the state of Israel.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism took shape through conversations with Jews around the world, according to the organization’s website.

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Will the antisemitism bill become law?

The Antisemitism Awareness Act passed the House on May 1 on a 320-91 bipartisan vote. It’s now in front of the Senate, where it’s facing some pushback from both sides of the aisle.

“We’re going to look for the best way to move forward,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat who is the Senate majority leader, according to The New York Times.

Democrats have raised concerns about the bill discouraging free speech and being weaponized against college protesters.

Republicans have also raised questions about what the bill would mean for free speech, as well as about how the bill would affect Christians who believe — and preach — that ancient Jewish leaders were responsible for Jesus’ death.

On his podcast Monday, Al Mohler, a prominent Southern Baptist leader, spoke about that latter concern. He encouraged Christian politicians and others to make it clear that antisemitism is wrong, but to also make it clear that the Antisemitism Awareness Act could have unintended consequences for Christians.

“Where legislation could do some good, we need to understand that, but we need to understand where it brings peril as well,” Mohler said.

In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that Catholics should not take the biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion to mean that Jews need to be held collectively responsible for his death. Like other Christian leaders before him, he argued against the impulse to use the Bible to justify modern attacks on Jews, according to The New York Times.