We’ve talked a lot in previous years about some mainline Protestant churches – most notably the Presbyterian Church USA – that have sharply criticized Israel and passed anti-Israel resolutions at their denominational meetings. Though the PCUSA’s 2012 General Assembly meeting isn’t until June, they’re not waiting until then to issue troubling statements about Israel.
In a recent article in Commentary, Jonathan S. Tobin points to the growing divide between the views of church leadership and rank-and-file members:
In the course of promoting their anti-Israel policies, church leaders have engaged in rhetoric that seeks not only to delegitimize the state of Israel but also the Jewish community. The actions and statements of the church’s Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN-PCUSA) have been so egregious that the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella network of Jewish community relations groups, has been forced to go public with their complaints in hopes that ordinary Presbyterians will do something about the epidemic of hate speech springing from church activists.
Even a partial list of offensive statements made by Presbyterian activists on Israel and the Jews ought to send a chill down the spines of church members who may be unaware of what is going on:
At an opening program of the IPMN-PCUSA annual conference, the Rev. Craig Hunter said “greed and injustice is a cancer at the very core of Zionism.” In a 2010 letter to church delegates, the IPMN-PCUSA falsely accused the Jewish community of intimidating Presbyterians by sending a letter-bomb to the church’s headquarters and setting fire to a church. IPMN-PCUSA tweeted an article proclaiming “Jewish power + Jewish hubris = moral catastrophe of epic proportions.” IPMN-PCUSA also has supported virulently anti-Israel resolutions including those equating Israel with apartheid and has been a vocal supporter of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanction movement. …
If you attend a PCUSA church, we hope you will heed Tobin’s advice: “It is up to the rank-and-file to speak out against this behavior and see that it ends.”