Next week, the world-wide United Methodist Church will begin its quadrennial meeting in Tampa. When the delegates, bishops, denominational staff, and other support personnel gather, they will not be alone.
In June, the Presbyterian Church (USA) will hold its biennial meeting in Pittsburgh. When the commissioners and other Presbyterians gather, they will not be alone.
In both instances, they will be met by political activists with an agenda: the delegitimization, and ultimately destruction, of Israel as a national homeland for the Jewish people. Their immediate goal: to get these two mainline denominations to put their stamp of approval on that agenda.
Over the last three days, I have offered internal documents, links, analysis, and other evidence to demonstrate that this is what is about to happen in Tampa and soon to happen in Pittsburgh. In the process, I hope I have made clear that this is about the efforts of secular, political activists who otherwise have no interest in the beliefs, practices, or positions of either of these denominations to manipulate them for their own purposes. They are being helped by a small coterie of like-minded activists within the denominations, but make no mistake: this show is being orchestrated by, informed by, led by, directed by, organized by, and resourced by organizations of the political far left.
I want to make clear at this point two things that these articles have not been about:
1) They have not been about Israel. There is much about Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories that is debatable, and a legitimate case can be made against its settlement policy, for instance, or the route of the security fence. But those who want to make this about Israel have missed the point, which is that if Methodists or Presbyterians want to criticize Israel, they should make that decision without outside interference by people who don’t have either the witness or the good of the denominations at heart.
2) This has not been about divestment. It is an article of faith on the left that divestment from South Africa led to the fall of apartheid, and that divestment from Israel can bring about an end to the occupation. In fact, I think the effect of divestment on South Africa is vastly overstated, and that divestment will have no effect on Israel at all. The only part of the “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” (BDS) movement that is likely to effect Israel in any way is sanctions, and then only if they are undertaken by most or all of the world’s nations, which is never going to happen. The actions of a couple of mainline Protestant denominations selling their pension fund stock in three companies is almost more of a joke than a serious effort. It is, in truth, a leftist form of ritual cleansing, rather than a genuine effort to have an impact on the conflict.
What this is about, as the title of the posts has said, is the infiltration of the churches by outside forces that seek to use them for their own ends. Leftists have been doing this since at least the 1960s, the result being that the churches have been dragged into lending their names to an ever-increasing number of causes and positions that have no basis in either church teaching or ethics, but solely in political views that the left views as Holy Writ, but which are actually just prudential judgments about which the churches ought to be agnostic. What special expertise does the church have, for instance, that makes it proper for a General Conference to express itself on the various forms of health insurance reform? Why should anyone listen to a General Assembly when it opines about what constitutes “fair” tax rates? And why should either be deciding whether Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza constitute “apartheid,” a political judgment that has nothing to do with whether any particular actions of Israel are right or wrong?
None of this is to say that the churches should not speak out loudly and in accordance with their convictions on matters that touch the gospel and its moral implications. Rather, it is to suggest that the churches have no special competence (in fact, usually none at all) to weigh in on policy specifics. But that is just what the activists are after, and it is clear that they will do everything in their power–including interfering in the work of institutions to which they have no personal connection–in order to make it happen. Here’s praying that the delegates to General Conference, and the commissioners to General Assembly, are not swayed by the political noise that they hear directed their way.