Pence chose to erase Jews from their own tragedy.

In a move that is widely being interpreted as an intentional nod to white supremacists, Mike Pence opened a campaign rally Monday with a prayer from a “Christian rabbi” who does not practice Judaism.

The rally, which took place near Grand Rapids, Michigan, came just two days after a gunman murdered 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in what is believed to be the deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in American history, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Pence was there to campaign for Republican Senate candidate John James, GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette, and several other Republicans running for election in Michigan.

Upon taking the stage, Pence invited Messianic Christian Loren Jacobs, who uses the title “Rabbi,” to join him to open the event with a prayer, which he did — by invoking “Jesus the Messiah” as he condemned the previous weekend’s shooting.

For those who aren’t familiar with the major religions of the world, Jews don’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah, and Jewish rabbis don’t pray to Jesus the Messiah.

But that’s the thing: He isn’t a Jewish rabbi. He’s a Messianic “Jew,” which means he accepts Christian theology.

That’s also why Pence’s decision to tap a Messianic “rabbi” to lead a prayer for 11 murdered Jews who were gunned down in their neighborhood synagogue was so widely condemned Monday night.

People saw the move as a deliberate attempt to “erase the Jewishness of the massacre,” and more broadly, “to eliminate [Jews] … Even when we’re mourning.

Others commented on the undercurrents of white supremacy, saying the decision not to invite a Jewish rabbi for such a significant moment was symbolic of an effort “to keep this nation white and Christian,” and a message that Trump, Pence, and the Republican Party “want America to be a White, Christian fascist theocracy.”

Pence’s move is part of a larger trend of anti-Semitism in the Trump administration. Last year, the White House failed to mention the Holocaust on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and then engaged in some disturbing Holocaust denial during a White House press conference. In the Republican Party more broadly, Holocaust deniers have been welcomed into the fold, and anti-Semitism runs rampant.

Even after 11 people were gunned down in a synagogue, Trump had to be persuaded to condemn anti-Semitism, just like he had to be forced to condemn the violent neo-Nazis who killed Heather Heyer. And still, he couldn’t stop himself from blaming the Jews for not being armed and stopping the gunman.

Then, to add insult to injury, Pence refused to have a Jewish rabbi at his rally to pray for the victims — and instead, he chose to invite a member of a group that is widely perceived as a movement aimed at destroying Judaism from within.

Published with permission of The American Independent.