Moral lapses in the church

Both the Methodist Church of Britain and the Presbyterian Church (USA) have issued slanted reports on the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The Presbyterians’ 172-page report, entitled “Breaking Down Walls” – apparently referring to the security barrier – will be discussed at that denomination’s 219th General Assembly in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 3-10.

Divestment is not on the agenda, as it was in 2004 when Presbyterians were the first Protestant church to brandish such economic pressure against Israel. In 2006, after a bitter struggle, the motion was rescinded. But at July’s assembly, Presbyterians will consider putting pressure on the Obama administration to stop US aid to Israel until the Israeli government “ends the expansion of settlements in Palestinian territories,” ceases its “occupation” of Gaza, and relocates “Israel’s separation barrier” outside of Palestinian territories.

British Methodists, meanwhile, will be considering divestment. This after America’s Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) of the United Methodist Church (UMC) voted on June 15 to divest all holdings in three international corporations – General Electric, Caterpillar and Terex – that “profit from the occupation of Palestine.”

ALTHOUGH METHODISTS and Presbyterians are the most aggressively anti-Israel among liberal Protestant denominations, all five of the mainline denominations in the US – Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Evangelical Lutheran and United Church of Christ – have debated and in some cases adopted policies intended to bring direct or indirect economic pressure on Israel to compromise with the Palestinians.

These mainline denominations stand in stark contrast to the adamantly pro-Israel position adopted by evangelical Protestant sects.

Unlike American evangelical theology, liberal Christian denominations do not believe the Jewish people have a continuing role in God’s plan. Nor do they see the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel as an inevitable step in the redemption process. As a result, liberal Christians supported Zionism in the same way that they have supported the national movements of other oppressed groups. Read more.


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