This little item was part of the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society newsletter this week. I can’t help but wonder why:
Teri Nilson Baird of Rocky Mountain Conference attended the “Holy Land, Holy People Pilgrimage” sponsored by the General Board of Church & Society this year to Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Baird said she did not realize the Western (Wailing) Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem, where people from all over the world come to pray, is segregated.
“As women, we were limited to a small area on the south side,” Baird said. “They use moveable barriers to separate the men and women. I suspect that the women’s area gets smaller each week.”
Baird attempted to put a prayer in one of the few cracks on the women’s end of the wall. It promptly fell out, though. She tried again, but decided “women’s prayers don’t seem welcome there.”
Ms. Baird is no doubt an apostle of tolerance of multiculturalism, but she apparently didn’t bother to take the time to understand either the people or the place she was visiting. The separation of men and women at prayer in Judaism (a Muslim practice as well, though I don’t recall ever hearing that bewailed by the GBCS) is a practice that goes back thousands of years. The movable barriers are moved to accommodate crowds depending upon makeup, so that her suspicion that “the women’s area gets smaller each week” is simply ignorant nonsense. As for the idea that “women’s prayer don’t seem welcome here”–what do you say to such stupidity?
The GBCS really should be ashamed for putting up a piece of drivel like this. What exactly are they trying to say to the world with this? They would never dream up posting such an ethnocentric and religiously ill-informed piece about Islam (Ms. Baird would not even be allowed into Mecca, if she took it into her head to go there). So why about the holiest place in Judaism?
And they wonder why some of us see anti-Semitism at work in the mainline left.