Presbyterianism


Got an email this morning from the Office of Public Witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that let me know they are foursquare behind suppressing free speech. I have to wonder how many PCUSAers are aware that their denomination is in favor of Harry Reid’s cockamamie re-writing of the First Amendment to give control over political speech to Congress:

Next week – on September 8 – the United States Senate will vote on a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and return the power of political voice to the people. As of right now, 50 out of 100 Senators are on board. With just one more, the balance will at last tilt away from Citizens United, back toward democracy.

You’ve got to love this. Here are these people advocating changing the Constitution, and they don’t even know what’s in it! Anyone who was awake during social studies in public school (I assume) will know that it takes 67 votes in the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment, not 51. That’s so that idiocy like this can’t pass on a bare majority founded on political expediency.

And the form of “democracy”  they are advocating for is, to put it politely, bizarre. Apparently having Congress restrict free speech (by preventing individuals and groups from spending the money that it necessarily takes to get a message out these days) is “democratic.” Allowing people to use their resources to get that message out is “undemocratic.” Instead, the instruments of free speech should be in the hands of the state and its politicians. Then again, when you learn your political science from cereal boxes, bumper stickers, and Marxist textbooks, I guess that’s what you come up with.

Call on Monday, September 8th, call (866) 937-7983 to reach the Capitol Switchboard and express support for the Democracy for All Amendment. This amendment will ensure that all Americans, regardless of their wealth, can have their voices heard in our elections and our government. The amendment will give the power back to Congress to regulate special interest spending in elections.

What kind of mind writes this pap? How exactly will restricting or prohibiting the expenditure of funds in support of a preferred message or candidate “ensure that all Americans…can have their voices heard”? What they really mean is that under such a regime, the only voices that will be heard are 1) those approved by the politicians, and 2) the mainstream media, which offers virtually nothing but a message vetted and approved by liberals. (Citizens United, you may remember, is a conservative advocacy organization that had to sue for its right to show a movie critical of Hillary Clinton. That’s the kind of voice that will be shut down by this amendment.)

I also suspect that the writer of this email hasn’t actually read the amendment in question. It doesn’t just return to the post-Watergate campaign finance regime.bundy-11

•First, it expands authority to regulate campaign and issue spending to the states, as well as Congress, meaning that every election or referendum in the country will have limits on speech, rather than just federal elections. (The amendment uses the word “elections,” but that is usually taken to mean anything that is put to public ballot, not just to fill public office.)

•Second, It doesn’t just permit regulation, but prohibition, of speech. (The proposed Article 2 says, “Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.” [Emphasis added.]

•Third, because it has been advertised as being a repeal of the Citizens United decision, I have to assume that the writers mean to bring back the ability of politicians to prohibit criticism of their job performance within 30 days of an election–in other words, when voters are most tuned into what’s happening.

•Fourth, it will allow regulators to pick and choose between favored entities, for instance, by prohibiting corporate contributions and allowing union contributions. The relevant word in Article 2 is “or,” which clearly indicates that regulators–politicians–can pick and choose between “entities” such as corporations, unions, or groups that come together for the purpose of achieving a shared goal such as electing a candidate or advocating a policy.

•Fifth, it will mean that “speech” will be institutionalized as a function of the mainstream media, as if it speaks for the citizenry. Article 3 says, “Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.” So the corporations that run ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. will retain their full freedom to influence elections in any way they want, while many others will not be able to spend money to speak for themselves. In other words, liberal propagandists journalists will have their place as the primary molders of political opinion encased in amber, while large swaths of the American people, acting in concert or as individuals, will be frozen out.

To sum up: if this amendment were to pass–the chances of which are absolutely zero, the Senate debate being nothing more than kabuki theater to give Democrats a chance to bash the Koch Brothers–the winners would be incumbent politicians and mainstream media. The losers would be freedom of speech and anyone who dissents from liberal orthodoxy who doesn’t have tens of millions available to start another conservative media company.

An email like this wouldn’t be complete without a set of talking points:

As a person of faith, I believe that democracy belongs in the hands of the people because we are each a special creation of God.

THEOCRATS! They are obviously trying to write their religious beliefs into the Constitution.

I therefore urge you to support S.J.Res. 19, a constitutional amendment to establish that Congress and the states have the power to regulate and limit election spending.

Speech, folks. This is about speech.

Each person has the right to raise his or her voice in public discourse, but our system today is broken and dominated by big money special interests, whose spending drowns out people’s voices and floods the media with ideological propaganda.

You know what’s amusing? They aren’t talking about the mainstream media such as the corporations mentioned above. They are talking about the private expenditures of private citizens and businesses offering a viewpoint never heard in the coastal newspapers or on the alphabet networks. The latter are apparently pure as the driven snow.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, now bolstered by the recentMcCutcheon decision, has unleashed a flood of spending on our elections that threatens the very foundation of our democracy.

Apparently talking points are to be fact-free, logic-free, argument-free, and dominated by TEOTWAWKI.

We know that corruption can take many forms, not just the quid pro quo of bribery.

Politicians turning the First Amendment into an incumbent-protection racket, for instance.

Our country faces great and serious challenges – from putting people back to work to averting catastrophic climate change to building a culture for peace and shalom around the world. But we will fall short unless we repair our democracy.

Translation: The progressive agenda will never triumph as long as dissenters are allowed to speak their minds.

That anti-Semitism has penetrated the mainline churches in general, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) in particular, is no secret. (I’ve written about it many time, for instance here.) While some of it is open to public view, much of it is not. Now, NGO Monitor, an Israel-based organization that seeks to both expose anti-Semitism in so-called “human rights” and “humanitarian” organizations and hold them accountable for ignoring their own principles, has ripped the mask off of the lead agitator against Israel within the PCUSA. In a devastatingreport, it gives us a picture of the non-public face of the Israel Palestine Mission Network and its allies in the PCUSA and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

After Viola Larson of Naming His Grace, Ethan Felson of the Jewish Public Affairs Council, and I exposed the Facebook page of the IPMN and its habit of linking to anti-Semitic web sites such as Veterans Today, the page was taken down. Not long after, a new Facebook page was established as a “closed but not secret” page. That meant that only those who are approved by the moderators, including Noushin Framke, the prime public face of IPMN, may post or read what’s on the page. According to NGO Monitor, the page has 289 members, including:

Paid staff of the Presbyterian Church (USA):

•Bill Somplatsky-Jarman, Coordinator, Social Witness Ministries at the Presbyterian Church
•Greg Allen Pickett, General Manager, World Mission at Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
•Rev. Kate Taber, Facilitator for Peacemaking and Mission Partnerships at Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Mission Co-Worker in Israel and Palestine

Presbyterian and Protestant academics:

•Jeri Parris Perkins, Dean of Religious Life at Presbyterian College
•Joshua Ralston, Instructor of Theology at Union Presbyterian Seminary
•Laura Brekke, Director of Religious Diversity at Santa Clara University

Jewish Voice for Peace:

•Rabbi Alissa Shira Wise, JVP’s Co-Director of Organizing
•Rabbi Brant Rosen, Co-Chair, JVP Rabbinic Council
•Rabbi Lynne Gottlieb, Co-founder of Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence, Berkeley, CA, Member of JVP Advisory Board and Rabbinic Council
•Sydney Levy, JVP’s Director of Advocacy

Others:

•Rick Ufford-Chase, for mer PCUSA Moderator and Executive Director, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (an independent body).
•Walt Davis, a key author of Zionism Unsettled and education co-chair of IPMN
•Anna Baltzer, National Organizer at US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
•Jeff Halper, Director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
•Dalit Baum (“Dov Baum” on the IPMN page), Israel-Palestine Program Director in San Francisco of the American Friends Service Committee

In other words, this page is not made up of anonymous crackpots from the sewers of the Internet. It has a lot of members whose names are well-known in the PCUSA, in mainline circles generally, among anti-Israel activists, and in academia. Obviously the moderators have enough control over the page that, where discussion gets out of the bounds of civilized conversation, and veers off into bigotry, hate, or anti-Semitism, they would be able to delete posts and expel the offenders.

Though they have that control, it would seem that the bounds of civilized discussion at “Friends of IPMN-PC(USA) Israel Palestine Mission Network” are extremely elastic. I can’t get on to the page, but NGO Monitor did, and here’s some of what has appeared without any approbation from the moderators:

 

Not content with declaring that Zionists aren’t Jews, things get down to the Stormfront level when IPMN members decide that Jews aren’t Jews:

And now we’re into Louis Farrakhan “Judaism is a gutter religion” territory. Of course, that “tribal god” line is also used in the “Zionism Unsettled” document, so that’s nothing new for these people.

There’s more, and you’re welcome to take a look at the link to the NGO Monitor report, but I think you get the idea.

As I said above, the moderators from IPMN have more than enough control over this to toss bigots and delete anti-Semitic postings. Why don’t they? Has to be one of two things: either they don’t see, e.g., questioning the Jewishness of millions of Jews as anti-Semitism, or they agree enough so that they have no problem letting it stay there. It’s also interesting that none of the PCUSA leadership, academics, BDS leaders, or Jewish (!) activists have protested any of this. (They can say they have, but that’s meaningless until the page is opened up for public scrutiny.)

So now that these cockroaches have been flushed into the public square, Gradye Parsons and his band of merry pranksters have a choice. They can denounce the IPMN for the anti-Semites and anti-Semite enablers that they are. They can sever all ties between the denomination and the group. (Despite protests to the contrary, PCUSA and IPMN are linked–IPMN gets space on the denominational web site, donations are run through the denomination in order to be tax exempt, the group calls itself the “Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA),” etc.) They can apologize for enabling this hate group to flourish under their wing for so long. They can demand that all material suggesting a connection between PCUSA and IPMN be removed from the latter’s web site and propaganda.

They can do all of this. And I predict that they will do none of it. Because deep down in their black little bureaucrat hearts, Gradye Parsons and the Louisville Mafia agree with the IPMN.

I dare them to prove me wrong.

(Hat tip on NGO Monitor: Viola Larson.)

The Presbyterian Church (USA), having just taken a series of actions to demonize Israel as the source of all evil in the world, now wants American Jews who support Israel to turn the other cheek. The leadership has published “An Open Letter of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to our American Jewish Interfaith Partners” in which they patronize, obfuscate, and desperately seek cover for the tolerance of anti-Semitism in the denomination’s ranks:

We are reaching out to you after our General Assembly’s action, by a 310-303 vote, to recommend to the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions to divest from three North American corporations following extensive corporate engagement. The assembly concluded that further engagement would not bring an end to their pursuits that further the Israeli occupation in Palestine. Many of you were with us in Detroit, and your presence and voices were significant. From your presence with us, it was clear that if the assembly acted on divestment, it would deeply affect your communities as well as impact some of our most longstanding interfaith relationships. The assembly’s action came about through much prayer and discernment.

Actually, PCUSA divestment will not end the corporate activities of those companies, either. But it does make the self-righteous Israel-haters feel very good about themselves. As for their “prayer and discernment,” what they actually meant was “political lobbying, one-sided debate, and open demonization of the Middle East’s only democracy.” Whatever.

Of central importance in our deliberations was our continued concern for Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace. How selective divestment may affect the many significant Jewish and Christian relationships at the congregational and national level was also part of the discussion. The close nature of the vote revealed how deeply Presbyterians care about both Jewish and Palestinian neighbors and the assembly’s struggle to make this decision. The assembly explicitly stated that our action to selectively divest was not in support of the global BDS movement. Instead it is one of many examples of our commitment to ethical investing.

What a load of crap. It doesn’t matter how “explicitly” they said they weren’t supporting the BDS movement. That, in fact, is what they did. Words don’t matter, actions do. Their actions, celebrated by BDSers far and wide, were predicated on support for that movement.

As far as their “commitment to ethical investing” goes, here are a few questions for them: do they invest in companies doing business in China? Beijing has occupied Tibet for over 60 years, and done so with far more brutality than Israel would ever hope to muster. Do they invest in companies that do business in Turkey? What do they say about Cyprus? Did they even notice that in the weeks leading up to their recently concluded General Assembly, Russia occupied and then annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine? Did they say a word about it (answer: no)? What about Morocco? It has occupied Western Sahara for forty years, and the PCUSA has just gotten around to thinking about whether they’ll say anything about it. But to PCUSA, none of that matters, because the only real evil that must be confronted world-wide is that of Israel.

The assembly was explicit: our selective divestment of American companies engaged in non-peaceful pursuits that furthers the occupation does not constitute divestment from Israel itself.

Nor does this indicate any desire for the PC(USA) to walk away from our deeply held, multilateral Jewish-Christian relationships. The action included an affirmation of continued interfaith engagement with the Jewish community. We are committed more than ever to sitting at the table and living in community with you.

Yes, they want to continue to talk to Jews, so that they can continue to spit in their faces. At the same time, they continue to harbor in their midst the Israel Palestine Mission Network, a noisy collection of some of the most vicious Israel-haters and, yes, anti-Semites in all of mainline Protestantism. (More on them Monday.) Sure, I can see why Jews should take their protestations of filial feeling seriously.

We believe that being in relationship with the American Jewish communities in authentic ways are central to our Christian values and our shared religious history.

And Jews should care why?

We recognize the hurt that these decisions have caused. We ask that you remain open to us as we participate with you in all our shared spheres of interfaith relationship: our houses of worship, our shared neighborhoods, our workplaces, and even our interfaith families.

They “recognize the hurt.” Big deal. They were warned ahead of time, and they did it anyway, and from all accounts stacked the deck to make sure it happened. The Jewish community should tell them to pound salt.

They then conclude by quoting the full text of resolution 04-04, “On Supporting Middle East Peacemaking.” They did not quote, or refer in any way, to either 04-01 (which calls for PCUSA to ponder the possibility of dropping the mask and calling for a single, Palestinian-dominated state) or 04-09 (which calls for “equal rights” in Israel and the West Bank, without uttering a syllable regarding Palestinian human rights violations or the latter’s desire for a Judenreinstate), both of which passed with large majorities.

With regard to its relationship with American Jews, the PCUSA has made its bed, and then soiled it. It should be made to lie in it until the smell gets overwhelming.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has been slandering Israel and beatifying the Palestinians for years now, but when the General Assembly effectively decided to join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement late last week, it finally got noticed in high places. The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, gave them both barrels on “Meet the Press” Sunday, as reported by Agence France Press:

“It’s so disgraceful,” Netanyahu said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” news program. “Most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation.”

He said that while much of the Middle East was “riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions,” Israel is “the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians.”

Netanyahu advised the Presbyterians to “fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference.”

“I would give them two pieces of advice—one is make sure it’s an armor-plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christian.”

The prime minister may be too polite to say so, but that last is why so many outside the PCUSA bubble consider this move anti-Semitic. The denomination’s tunnel-visioned focus on Israel to the exclusion of virtually all other injustice in the world and especially the Middle East says it all. The terrorism that Israel faces is barely mentioned in General Assembly documents (one even put it in scare quotes when referring to the actions of Hamas, Hezbollah, and comrades). That every other state in the region is a guilty of some form of human rights violations, many on a massive scale, is beneath notice. That other minority groups (Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, Baha’is in Iran, Christians everywhere) are subjected to discrimination, persecution, and sometimes outright murder is cause for mild rebuke at best. (The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns wanted to strike the word “persecution” from the linked overture, contending “The suffering of the church in Egypt and other parts of the world is not only ‘due to sectarian violence and persecution.’ There are many factors involved, including geopolitical and economic factors. The General Assembly should consider all the factors that result in and contribute to sectarian violence. For example, our mission partners in the Middle East have clearly pointed out that U.S. government policies (and Western attempts to dominate in general) affect them adversely by fueling sectarian tension. Therefore, the role of the U.S. government (often seeking national or special interests rather than principles the U.S. purports to support) should be addressed by the overture….Use of the word “persecution” mischaracterizes the nature of the maltreatment of Christians in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, and in many cases would be an unhelpful exaggeration.”)

Like the UN Human Rights Council whose help is sought by one of the approved resolutions, PCUSA is so obsessed with the sins of Israel that those of the rest of the world simply disappear from view, and action all out of proportion to the offense is taken in the name of “justice.” The anti-Semitism of the PCUSA is not the Mein Kampf or “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” type. Rather, it is the type that see the Jewish state as uniquely evil, uniquely responsible, and therefore uniquely deserving of denunciation and punishment among all the peoples of the world. And it is worthy of the anathema of Christians of good will everywhere.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has wrapped up its work of spitting in the face of Israel and its supporters and placing a halo on the heads of Palestinians dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state. In my previous post, PCUSA: Considering the Demands of the Israel-Haters,” I detailed some of the resolutions the GA was considering. Turns out they not only considered, but approved of those demands:

Resolution 04-01: “On Reviewing General Assembly Policy Regarding the Two-State Solution in Israel Palestine”

Passed 482-88. PCUSA is now on its way to declaring in 2016 that it now has no opinion about whether Jews have a right to a national homeland free of persecution. One thing I failed to mention in the last post is that a report on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is supposed to be made to the next General Assembly that should draw its information from “United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council, the World Council of Churches, other corresponding ecumenical partners, and reliable human rights organizations.” Which is to say, from sources that have pre-determined that Israel is the source of all evil in the Middle East, if not in the world.

•04-02: “On Divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions”

Instead of passing this, they substituted

04-04: “On Supporting Middle East Peacemaking”

Passed 310-303. This is the one that was changed from a prohibition of divestment to a mandate for it when the Middle East Issues committee resorted to Harry Reid tactics. It doesn’t matter that a change of four minds would have defeated this; majority rules, and PCUSA is now a part of the BDS movement, its protests to the contrary notwithstanding. That aligns it with a variety of far left and anti-Semitic organizations and media outlets. I hope they enjoy the company they are now keeping.

At some point, as a sop to opponents, the following item was added:

“[1.  Reaffirm Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation within secure and internationally recognized borders in accordance with the United Nations resolutions.]”

Not as a Jewish state, of course; only non-Jews (especially Muslims) are permitted states that reflect their character without qualm or protest.

04-09: “Resolution on Equal Rights for All Inhabitants of Israel and Palestine and on Conversations with Prophetic Voices”

Equal rights in the Holy Land are now officially supported, as long as the rights are those of Palestinians. Israelis–particularly those under daily rocket fire, those who live in fear of terrorism, those who have seen a political party dedicated to the destruction of their state and the driving of all Jews from their historic homeland join the Palestinian government, and those who have lost loved ones to the war crimes of those who deliberately target civilians–need not apply.

These actions will likely lead to the end of meaningful conversation between Jews and Presbyterians. Indeed, the Simon Weisenthal Center has already done so:

“We are severing all dialogue with PCUSA, because of a pattern of malicious behavior on the part of church administration,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Center, pointing to Zionism Unsettled, a 74-page document released in December and sold on PCUSA’s website. “This demonization of an entire nation and its supporters around the world is an outrage that makes further conversation with this church impossible. Zionism Unsettled does not merely attack Israeli policies, but calls the quest for a Jewish State racist and illegal. This invokes memories of the UN’s notorious ‘Zionism is racism’ resolution of 1974—which was repealed in 1991 – but this time PCUSA has substituted theological language to dismiss the Jewish people’s 3,500 year presence in and association with the Holy Land,” Cooper added. “The long-standing protocols of interfaith dialogue have always demanded that no partner attack the core beliefs of the other. This document, and the cynical response of church leaders to criticism of it from other Presbyterians, is a frontal assault on the central place of the Jewish State in Jewish life and thought,” the rabbi said.

In 2004, PCUSA became the first mainline denomination to vote for divestment from Israel. Strong opposition by church rank and file led to an overturning of that resolution in 2006. “While Israel enjoyed strong support from the ordinary worshipers and pastors of this church – including a large cadre of tireless workers for balance and fairness to all peoples of the Middle East – their wishes were frustrated by church leadership bent on taking the church in a different direction,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Center’s Director of Interfaith Affairs.

“After every defeat at a biennial General Assembly, the church administration raised the ante, building partnerships with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that abandoned the very two-state solution that was the historic policy of the church. It gerrymandered key committee appointments, and tolerated overt anti-Semitism on church websites,” he added.

“We stayed in an abusive relationship too long. We will continue to love Presbyterians, but we will inform our community that PCUSA is a group that disrespects the Jewish People,” Rabbi Adlerstein concluded.

But then, I don’t imagine that will bother the PCUSA much.

Sorry I haven’t been posting. In part it’s from being on vacation for two weeks, partly catching up from doing so, and partly getting ready to go to the EPC General Assembly in Knoxville. I’ll have more about the EPC soon, but there’s another Presbyterian denomination meeting this week, and that means there’s evil afoot.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is meeting this week in Detroit–a brilliant metaphor for the state of the denomination, which is also being depopulated–and there are two primary issues that have captured the attention of liberal activists. One is the attempt to commit institutional, theological, and intellectual suicide by finishing the capitulation to the gay lobby. (More on that to come.) The other is the attempt by misguided liberals, Palestinian sympathizers, and organized anti-Semites in the Israel Palestine Mission Network (along with their outside allies in the political far left) to further demonize Israel. This latter move will have no effect in the real world–it’s hard to believe that Benjamin Netanyahu is laying awake at night wonderingwhat will the Presbyterians do?–but it does have an undoubted impact on relations between Jews and Christians.

So far, the General Assembly has not taken up the resolutions sent to them by the Middle East Issues committee, but that committee has completed its work. Among its products soon to be voted on:

•Resolution 04-01: “On Reviewing General Assembly Policy Regarding the Two-State Solution in Israel Palestine”

Anti-Israel activists have been fighting hard for this one. One of their fondest wishes is to reverse PCUSA support for the two-state solution, because they know that a unitary state in the Holy Land will mean Palestinian control and the mass expulsion of Jews. Passage of this one will be an indication that PCUSA has been essentially captured by the anti-Jew wing of Protestant liberalism.

•04-02: “On Divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions”

These three companies (along with SodaStream, an Israeli company that has built facilities in the West Bank and seeks to bring Jews and Arabs together rather than driving them apart) have long been the bête noires of the anti-Israel left. Because no one on the left has any idea how real-world economics works, they think that the PCUSA selling its holdings will actually have some kind of effect on company policies. It won’t. But it will make activists feel like they’ve struck a mighty blow against Zionism.

•04-04: “On Supporting Middle East Peacemaking”

This one is straight out of the Harry Reid School of Legislative Sausage-Making. A resolution from the Presbytery of New Covenant that originally overtured the GA to

Reject any proposed divestment and economic sanctions against the state of Israel or any application of the PC(USA)’s corporate engagement policies toward such ends

now reads

Instruct the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions of the PC(U.S.A.), to divest from Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, in accord with our church’s decades-long socially responsible investment (SRI) history, and not to reinvest in these companies until the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee of the PC(USA) is fully satisfied that product sales and services by these companies are no longer in conflict with our church investment policy. This action on divestment does not mean an alignment with the overall strategy of the global BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement.

So much for authorial intent. That last sentence is pure boilerplate meant to fool the rubes. Divestment by PCUSA does indeed align it firmly with the BDS (also known as IDS, for Israel Derangement Syndrome) movement, with all the anti-Semitic baggage carried around by that particular entity.

One other interesting thing about this overture. It also contradicts 04-01 by stating that General Assembly:

Declare its commitment to a [negotiated] two-state solution [(two states for two peoples)] in which a secure and universally recognized State of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people.

•04-09: “Resolution on Equal Rights for All Inhabitants of Israel and Palestine and on Conversations with Prophetic Voices”

This one demonstrates just how one-sided and dishonest the whole discussion has become in the PCUSA. It reads in part:

Despite decades of General Assembly and other international support for the freedom and self-determination of the Palestinian people, yet recognizing that the right to vote and personal freedoms have been denied or limited for most Palestinians under occupation and within Israel, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy recommends that the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approve the following measures (a) to support equal rights and unblocked economic development for all inhabitants of Israel and the occupied territories including Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, and (b) to support the open and faithful discussion of this need for equal rights and legal standing within congregational and other forums:

A. Regarding the provision of equal rights, the General Assembly supports:
•1. The establishment and protection of equal human rights for all inhabitants of Israel including:
•the establishment and protection of equal human rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, giving them parity with “Jewish Nationals;”
•freedom of travel and worship, including legal protection for non-Jewish sites;
•full protection of property rights without penalty for absence from Israel for business, education, family, or personal reasons;
•unhindered opportunities for economic development; and
•benefit from U.S. of financial aid without identity-based discrimination or exclusion.
2. The establishment and protection of equal human rights for all inhabitants of the occupied territories including Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza including:
•fair due process for all Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories who are arrested, convicted, and imprisoned either by the Israeli Defense Force or the Palestinian Authority;
•the ability to marry residents of other Palestinian areas without losing residency;
•special care in protecting the human rights of children;
•freedom of travel and worship;
•full protection of property rights, including freedom from arbitrary or unjust home demolitions;
•unhindered opportunities for economic development, including full access to international economic aid without identity-based discrimination; and
•access to tax revenues illegally sequestered.

Claiming that “Palestinians” (also known as “Israeli citizens”) have been denied the “right to vote and personal freedoms” in Israel proper is simply a lie (if they are talking about non-Israeli Palestinians, then they obviously have no concept of what citizenship is about). Regarding the rest of these demands–many of which are essentially demands that Israel give up any leverage it might have with the Palestinian Authority in any negotiations–do you notice what is missing? In this call for “equal rights,” there is nothing said about the right of Israelis, including Israeli Arabs, to any kind of security. That Israelis live under the daily threat of rocket and mortar attacks is of no concern to these prophets of equal rights. That Israel has a right to self-defense, including the raising of barriers to terrorism, is of no account. The protection of Jewish holy sites, subject to regular desecration in the West Bank, never occurs to them. In the minds of the Israel-haters, there is only one aggrieved party in this conflict, only one aggressor, only one scapegoat to be scourged. To claim they are interested in “equal rights” is as plausible coming from them as it would have been coming from U.S. senator and Klansman Theodore Bilbo (D-Mississippi) in the 1930s.

One other thing about this resolution, which passed the committee 61-4. It originally included this laughable piece of tripe:

Recommends the inclusion of a full range of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian viewpoints in conversations, including the increasing number of prophetic voices committed to nonviolence and equal rights such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, Kairos Palestine U. S., Friends of Sabeel North America, Muslims for Progressive Values, and coalitions like the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation;

The list of organizations–a laundry list of far left and Israel-hating groups–was later removed. There’s good reason for that: these groups not only are not excluded from the “conversation,” but in fact completely dominate it. Viola Larson of Naming His Grace offers this eyewitness account of the travesty that this committee–whose original chairman was removed because the leadership worried that he’d be even-handed–embodies:

Today forty chairs were set up for resource people such as Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment and the Presbyterian Foundation. The back side of the room was filled with people from Jewish Voices for Peace, the people who made personal calls to commissioners [in violation of established practice–DF]. And everywhere one looked were resource people [i.e., denominational bureaucrats-DF] moving about the room.

The committee voted to put aside 04-08 and to take up 04-04, an item which reinforces the Presbyterian policy of a two state solution for Israel and Palestine, and speaks of positive investment, disallowing divestment. Immediately after voting to do this a commissioner made a motion that number two in item 04-04 be changed from saying, “Reject any proposed divestment and economic sanctions against the state of Israel or any application of the PC(USA)’s corporate engagement policies toward such end”  to a call for divestment.

And just after this happened, which of course moved the committee toward the coming big debate on divestment, past moderator Rick Ufford-Chase entered the room and with a few nods and conversations with various people controlling the committee, as well as using the rights of a moderator, spoke at length about the importance of divestment. And then again the various organizations which are controlling this committee asked a pastor from South Africa to speak; it was almost a sermon on divestment. Since there was some protest about the speaker from South Africa, the committee voted for him after he was announced.

In a sense the commissioners are not debating this at all, instead an army of resource people are giving a monologue to the committee.

However one commissioner complained that they were not hearing the other side. And after a break another commissioner asked if John Wimberly of Presbyterians For Middle East Peace could speak. Again the committee voted and it was allowed. But he was only given three minutes.

Jim Berkley, formerly of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and also in attendance, estimated in the comments that the ration of anti- to pro-Israel discussion was on the order of 10:1.

Now the General Assembly is in the hot seat. Will it ratify the agenda of the Israel-haters? I’ll let you know.


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Occasionally, something comes out of the mainline churches that is so wrong, so delusional, so bizarre, so incomprehensible, that it makes one wonder whether hallucinogenic drugs are involved. Such is the statement that the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PCUSA), which had this response to a resolution submitted for this summer’s General Assembly that would address the growing persecution of Christians:

The Church is called to prayer for those who suffer due to their faith. The Presbyterian Mission Agency reminds commissioners and advisory delegates the suffering of the church in the world is not only due to “persecution”, but there are many factors involved. These include geopolitical and economic factors. The General Assembly should consider all the factors that result in and contribute to sectarian violence. Use of the word “persecuted” mischaracterizes the nature of the maltreatment of Christians in the world, and in many cases would be an unhelpful exaggeration. [Emphasis added.]

There are no words for how loathsome that statement is. Anathema!

I got an email today from the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Office of Public Witness. It was about one of the most important foreign policy issues facing the United States today. That means it had to be about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or the ongoing protests against the authoritarian government of Venezuela, or the continuing civil war in Syria, or the threat of Iran to build nuclear weapons, right? Nope:

With just a few months remaining until Presbyterians gather in Detroit for the 221st General Assembly, the economic conditions for Palestinians living under occupation remain bleak. As Presbyterians we believe strongly in the right of safety, security, and economic opportunity for both Palestinians and Israelis and see the current economic conditions inhibiting a future peace agreement.

Click here to send a message to your members of Congress today!

One of the clearest examples of the continued depressed economy can be seen in the closure of Shuhada Street in the Palestinian city of Hebron. Once the bustling economic center of life in Hebron, a major Palestinian city, Shuhada Street is now effectively inaccessible to Palestinians. What was only supposed to be a temporary closure, following the 1994 massacre of 29 Muslims worshippers by Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein, has now become a nearly decades long reality. The closure of Shuhada Street to Palestinians, while Israeli settlers are free to use the road, continues despite an agreement between the PLO and Israeli government, brokered by the US in 1997, which called for the immediate reopening of the street.

The closure represents a grave hindrance to the right of access for Palestinians as well as a threat to peace and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians. The condition of Shuhada street represents a microcosm of the overall Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Please consider contacting your elected officials to encourage them to ensure that the U.S. brokered deal concerning Shuhada Street is implemented.

Yes, this is definitely what I’m writing my congressman about. I’m sure that with all the other inconsequential stuff going on in the world, he’s overlooked this world-shattering injustice that needs to be addressed by the U.S. Congress NOW!

For the record, I think the Israeli settlement policy incredibly misguided, and the settlement in Hebron–500 Jews, many of them hotheads with a propensity for violence, living amid 125,000 Arabs–especially stupid, and have said so for years. That being said, to elevate this item, one that the email admits is of almost 20 years standing, to one that deserves an “alert” to OPW subscribers is so inane as to provide yet another piece of evidence that PCUSA doesn’t care much about injustice anywhere in the rest of the world unless it’s committed by Jews.

Naming His Grace has pointed out something I didn’t know (yeah, what are the odds, right?). It seems that the comments on Presbyterian News Service articles are moderated. That means that no comments get on their site unless someone at PNS approves them for publication, meaning not that they approve of the content, but consider them fair contributions to discussion.

She then points to the article published January 21, in which the Israel Palestine Mission Network trumpeted their completely unofficial, wholly unconnected to PCUSA congregational study entitled Zionism Unsettled, a pernicious collection of half-truths, significant omissions, and outright lying slanders against Israel, Jews, and Judaism.

Now, for a sample of the fair-minded, unhateful, and reasonable contributions to the debate over the book:

Finally, a major Christian denomination that has the courage to stand up and address the major problem facing our generation and our world. I was raised Lutheran, but you now have a new convert! I’ll be looking for a local church to join in my area that supports your open discussion on the topic. (Peter Jalajas)

Russians invading Ukraine? Iranians developing nuclear weapons? Civil war in Syria? North Korean mass murder? Economic instability? Overwhelming debt around the world? Inconsequential next to the evil that is the existence of a Jewish state.

I applaud The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church for addressing this issue. Zionism is not just bad for the Palestinians, but also, for the rest of the world as well. The Christian Zionist on here who blindly supports the Jews and Israel, does so out of emotion through their religious devotion, not the truth. The Jews can do no wrong in their eyes, and anytime someone points out the fact that the Jews are mere humans, who are capable of having flaws, they call them anti-Semitic. The Talmud is Judaism’s holiest book (actually a collection of books). Its authority takes precedence over the Old Testament in Judaism, and it’s hatred against Gentiles, Christ, and Christians, knows no bounds. Wake up, all of you Christian Zionist! Learn the truth, and stop blindly supporting the evil known as Zionism! (Robert Bowling)

Kudos to PCUSA for standing up to the political correctness that so often stymies open discussion of Jewish supremacism. For too long Christian Zionists have gotten away with enforcing a taboo against any examination of Jewish wrongdoing, claiming instead a bogus requirement that Christians must always bless Jews and their actions, however awful those actions are. (Harry H)

This is good news. Finally a traditional Christian org in America stands up to the uber hypocritical “Jewish” Zionist power structure. Its about time. Fact is, Jewish Zionism is based in Judaism/Talmudism as an all encompassing outward expression of other Jewish controlled movements such as Marxism-Communism. Its end goal is a world Gov seated by the main Anti Christ. Zionism is Judaism and it is the so called “Jews” common law where as true Israelites (European/white/Christians) common law is Christian/Natural law. Both of these common laws show the difference between the DNA/spirit of Esau “Jews” and European/whites-Christians (Jacob-Israel/Judah). The so called Jews, “Israelis” bid for World Gov will happen but it is destined to be replaced by God’s people (Authentic Christians) when the true lord returns, exposing the false and planting HIS kingdom on their apostasy. (By the way- don’t even try and calling me “anti semitic”. I will post “Jewish” admissions to all I have said above, all day long”. 95% of the so called “Jews” don’t have natural links to the tribes of Israel. They are impostors (Rev 2 and 3) coming from Maternal links to Esau and Ashkenaz who are from Japeth, not Shem (Genesis 10:3). (Tyrone Parsons)

Bravo PCUSA: I can not wait to get my copy of Zionism Unsettled. Based on all reviews, including desperately distorted ones from some who share in the guilt. This is a vital need fulfilled. And PCUSA will not be the last. For too long Christian Zionist in American evangelical churches, including, Richard L. Land of the Southern Baptist convention, have blame the victim for every act of brutality against them, and getting away with it. But the movement to discover and expose what Occupation is, is rooted and growing in the traditional churches like the PCUSA, who know abut missions. Scripture is on their side. “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” Restated: Who would Jesus Bomb, or imprison for sixty years? (Charles Carlson, a peddler of Holocaust denial books.)

Zionism is anti-Christ. Ask the Jewish-Zionists. They aren’t interested in God’s and Jesus’s message of loving their neighbors. They stomp on their neighbors trying to get them to submit under Jewish supremacy. They steal their land by force of arms. Have you heard the racism and ethnic bigotry coming out of Jewish-Zionist leaders? It’s wicked. How can the Church not stand opposed to twisted, worldly Zionism? (Tom Usher)

Thank God PCUSA is restoring the church and seriously addressing the Jewish supremacism that drives hatred of others and a corrupt American foreign policy. They have no love for us or Christ. (A.H. Lindbergh)

The Jewish supremacists should take this report seriously. It shows that the church will not shill for their lies any more. (George Duke)

So in the land of Presbyterian journalism, this is the kind of stuff that is admissible as part of the debate over Middle East issues. Is it any wonder that people are fleeing the PCUSA in droves?

UPDATE: My friend Viola Larson, the writer of Naming His Grace, has updated her post on this subject, and it’s pertinent to the question of who’s responsible for this slop:

A friend sent me this information: “For several years now, all kinds of entities of the PCUSA have published stuff on the same web address that PNS uses. However, PNS has no responsibility for anything that is not clearly published by PNS itself. The article about Zionism Unsettled says it was published by The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). They are free to do what they want, including opening up the possibility for responses, without PNS doing the same thing for their articles, and they don’t need PNS permission for it.”

So it’s actually the IPMN, using the free space they get whenever they want it from PNS, that is actually responsible.

Apparently stung by all the criticism of its new Israel bash-fest Zionism Unsettled, the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the PCUSA has struck by with a self-congratulatory response to the critics:

“I am proud that the PC(USA) does not shy from controversial issues,” says Rev. Katherine Cunningham, moderator of IPMN and member of Presbytery of the Palisades in New Jersey. “The church confronts all the divisive issues of our wider society – including, for instance, attitudes toward homosexuality and same-sex marriage.”

Yes, and hasn’t that gone well?

“Zionism Unsettled takes a new approach to one of the most hotly-debated and intractable issues of our day – the historical and contemporary relationship between Israel and the Palestinians – by examining the ideology and theology that have shaped the conflict.”

The approach is isn’t new, of course–IPMN has been putting out bilge like this for years. It’s all the same stuff, over and over: Zionism is uniquely evil, Israel is uniquely evil, there’s no instance worth mentioning of Arab nations or terrorist group ever being beastly to Israel, all the blame resides on one side, and, oh, if you think others, RACIST!

In its new publication exploring the effects of Zionism on Israelis and Palestinians, IPMN draws inspiration from the PC(USA)’s stated commitment to justice issues. In 2012, the 220th General Assembly in Pittsburgh overwhelmingly passed a resolution to “recognize with joy and thanks to God the historic stance of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in pursuit of justice as a central mandate of our church, a mandate that calls us to uphold the need to be faithfully partisan in situations of injustice and to speak truth to power, wherever necessary as we pursue justice, without fear of retribution or the delay of deflection.”

To paraphrase the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, they keep using that word “justice.” I don’t think it means what they think it means.

Pauline Coffman, resident of Chicago Presbytery and one of several content editors of the book, explains the framework of the study guide. “On the one hand, Zionism Unsettled lifts up the tragic history of Jewish persecution that led many Jews to embrace Zionism as a necessity for Jewish self-preservation. At the same time, the book relates the less-well-known and also traumatic history of Palestinian displacement and loss that has occurred as a consequence of the establishment of a Jewish state in their midst.” Coffman continues, “An understanding of both people’s narratives is absolutely essential to understanding the contemporary struggle for rights and land.”

The book does indeed mention the history of Jewish persecution–not by Muslims, but whatever. That history is only mentioned in order to be denigrated as inadequate reason for Jews to have the temerity to seek a national homeland. The rest of Coffman’s statement is boilerplate that bears no resemblance to the actual tract, which offers no understanding of the Israeli or Jewish “narrative” at all, instead preferring to criticize the founding of Israel and the Zionist ideology on which it is based as “tribal,” “primitive,” and “dangerous,” even as it contends that Palestinians, unlike Jews, have a right to self-determination.

“We understand there are those who hold strong opinions that diverge from the multiplicity of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim perspectives presented in Zionism Unsettled,” says IPMN member Don Maclay, a resident of Philadelphia Presbytery. “We respect their right to disagree. We are also heartened by thoughtful, supportive reviews by Rabbi Brant Rosen and Mark Braverman.”

Yes, well, no far left Gentile critique of Israel would be complete without its Jewish fig leaves. Somehow, though, I think a review has a little less validity when its of a book in which your story is extensively, affirmatively quoted (Brant) or your writings are used extensively as source material (Braverman).

As for the “multiplicity of…perspectives” supposedly embodied in the tract, this is the kind of “diversity” that college campuses are increasingly fond of. There is only one perspective in this tract, which is why it is not a “study” but propaganda. It just happens to be that that perspective is shared by all of the Christians, Jews, and Muslims used as sources or quoted.

“Talking about emotionally-charged issues is difficult, but necessary,” observes Rev. Craig Hunter, a member of Grace Presbytery in Texas. “We hope that even as our interfaith relations with some Jews are challenged by disagreements over Israeli policy, all parties will be able to maintain a civil and respectful approach to those disagreements.”

Translation: Screw the Jews. We’ve got a political, ideological, and theological axe to grind, and they better not try to stand in the way!

Rev. Katherine Cunningham says, “In publishing Zionism Unsettled, we are upholding deeply-felt convictions and principles rooted in our faith. Our vision for interfaith relations is not based on self-censorship or avoidance of controversy, but a mutual capacity to recognize and transcend disagreement based on shared values. We invite civil and respectful dialogue among Christians, Jews, and Muslims.”

That may be what they invite, but it is not what they engage in.

Can’t end this without indulging a bit of that guilt-by-association stuff that we conservatives are so fond of. Check out the endorsements page, and who do we find in amongst the usual suspects? Why it’s James Wall, who is listed as a Contributing Editor for Christian Century, rather than identified by his latest gig, as Associate Editor and Featured Columnist for the anti-Semitic cesspool Veterans News Now, a sister publication of Veterans Today. Among the fifty “most read articles” this week on a web site that uses the good name of American veterans to hide its hate:

James Wall is the associate editor of a web site that puts out anti-Semitic stuff like this, and IPMN is proud to have his endorsement for Zionism Unsettled? Tells me all I need to know.

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