Burt Prelutsky

Many people, knowing that I’m Jewish, have asked me if I was deeply offended by Ann Coulter’s observation that Jews are unperfected Christians. I could tell that I disappointed them when I said that I wasn’t even slightly upset.

For one thing, I am not religious. What people do or don’t believe, theologically speaking, is none of my business, except in the case of Islamics who want the rest of us dead or at least kneeling to Mecca.

But how is it my concern what people believe if it gets them through the bad times or it helps them to lead decent lives? I think the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule make a lot of sense, but I don’t feel the need to believe that Noah set sail with the world’s largest zoo or that Jonah set up housekeeping in the belly of a whale. In the immortal words of Ira Gershwin, I’m of the opinion that it ain’t necessarily so. But, heck, I’ve been wrong before and I have two divorces to prove it.

Although I’ve never met Ms. Coulter, I’m a fan of hers. Not only do I nearly always agree with the woman, but I think she’s an awfully good writer. She’s got a nice style -- straightforward and extremely sprightly. Occasionally, she even makes me laugh, which is something that the other pundits quite wisely never even attempt.

Unlike most of the non-religious people I know, I am not opposed to religion. In fact, I tend to prefer believers to agnostics and atheists. They don’t seem to be nearly as self-righteous and self-important. Perhaps it’s unavoidable that if a man doesn’t believe in a superior power, it tends to make him view himself as the center of the universe.

Some time ago, I wrote a piece in which I contended that there were large numbers of Muslims who thought that blowing up innocent women and children was a sure path to paradise, whereas Christians believed that a lifetime of good deeds was a better way. I realized that I was using shorthand to get my message across, but I was hardly prepared for all the e-mail I received from disgruntled Christians, all of whom wanted to remind me that good deeds meant nothing, and that the only way to get past the Pearly Gates was to accept Jesus Christ as one’s savior.

I didn’t object to their setting me straight, but I must confess I found the notion that if, on their death beds, Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden accepted Jesus into their hearts, they would get to Heaven, but my grandparents wouldn’t, rather unsavory. But, as I said, what other folks believe is their business.