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My Encounter with the PCUSA

I wanted to add a personal word to Jonathan’s post regarding the Presbyterian Church USA’s anti-Israel bias.

Years ago my wife, children, and I attended a PCUSA church, where we enjoyed a very good relationship with the senior pastor, who baptized two of our children. Our church was fairly orthodox theologically and certainly more conservative theologically than the official positions of the PCUSA. But in a relatively short period of time, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, my wife and I heard a guest speaker from the pulpit and a guest Sunday school teacher make wholly inappropriate statements against Israel. I raised the matter with the minister, who put me in touch with an associate pastor who oversaw such matters. And in the course of my discussions with her, I eventually learned our church was serving as host to a group with deep and troubling biases against Israel.

It is one thing, and a commendable thing, to show concern for the plight of Palestinian Christians. But it is quite another to use that issue as a pre-text to excoriate Israel. And so I raised my objections, including in e-mails which went into excruciating detail to refute the claims that were being made against the Jewish state and to underscore how unwise and offensive it was to allow our church to become a tool in the propaganda war against Israel. I also made personal appeals to leaders in our church to pull back from its stance. It never really did, and eventually, we left the church. We had established close friendships over the years, but I didn’t feel like we could be a part of a church that was not simply political (which as a general matter I find quite troublesome), but which in this case was promoting pernicious falsehoods.

I relay this episode simply to underscore how prevalent the anti-Israeli bias is within certain liberal religious institutions. Those who represent them often speak about “social justice” — and yet they implicitly side with the forces of injustice, of hate, and of violence. One is reminded of the words of Isaiah, who prophesied, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

 



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