The Presbyterian Church (USA) is no longer a main-stream denomination. During the last several decades, it has become a side-line church with a decreasing membership. In addition, other Presbyterian groups have split off because of the extreme and liberal positions the church has taken. However, it currently still has 1.9 million in its flock with many aging members. Recently, the group released an attack on Israel called “Zionist Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide. Regardless of what the denominations claims, the book is an attempt to de-legitimize Israel.
My blog exists to present a balanced picture of what is happening in the Middle East without being side-tracked by political bias, prophetic crazies, or media manipulation. Because the Israeli story is often the target of misinterpretation or eschewed information, I attempt to clarify the facts as well as reflect on Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, etc.. This recent assault by the Presbyterians needs such clarification.
If the Presbyterians wanted to take on political chaos there’s the Russian land grab in Crimea worth considering. Of course, Syria with Assad’s starvation assaults would seem to be a decent target. Egypt’s excess of abuse and human rights violations makes a good study. Iran’s shooting of protesters seems more to the point.
So, why hit Israel for issues that are currently under negotiation with Palestine? Sound a little on the extreme side? Maybe a tad bit prejudiced? By the way the term Zionism has been used many ways – but from the Jewish perspective it implies the right of self-protection and the promise to have a land they can live in without fear of attack. Where in the world did an American church get off the tracks? On must return to seminaries in the ‘60s and the ‘70s to get a clear read. The big debate was evangelism versus social action. At that point, a significant group went for social protest as a more valid expression of the Christian faith than old fashioned sharing the Christian story. The radicalized have spent decades rising to the top of Presbyterian (USA) leadership. Their efforts in “Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide” are so far to the left that praise came from David Duke, leader of the White Supremacist movement and Iran’s government-controlled TV. When you’ve got that peanut gallery applauding you, it’s time to drop the curtain and shut-down the show.
At this point, it appears these Presbyterians (USA) used words like peace and reconciliation as double-speak (to quote George Orwell) while promoting materials that would make an ant-Semite proud.
In the mid-eighties, I traveled with some of these folk through what was then the Soviet Union. Many in the group were shocked at the positions those Presbyterians took, but they were expressions of the same inclinations exhibited in their new study guide.
Excuse me, but don’t churches operate primarily in the theological realm? No matter what they espouse, when churches wander into the political world, they usually end up in trouble or sounding like misinformed do-gooders. Sorry. Americans no longer listen to or care about their pronouncements no matter who the denomination is or what their history has been.
The struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians (not to mention Hamas and Hezbollah) is so complex even the American State Department cannot decipher which way to jump most of the time. Are the Presbyterians better informed? I don’t think so.