It cannot be stated with any more forceful terms than Presbyterians For Middle East Peace have stated it. Until now the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has not been known for its ideological purges, but when the Stated Clerk, Gradye Parsons, and the Moderator of the General Assembly ousted Rev. Al Butzer from his week old position as Moderator of the 221 General Assembly committee on the Middle East, because of pressure from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, denominational leadership slipped into a new and dangerous arena.
Much of the Jewish community and many Presbyterians have questioned the bias of the leadership of the PC (U.S.A.) when it comes to Israel and the Jewish people, they can be certain now that, yes, many in leadership are prejudiced.
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace have put out a press release today titled “After Pressure from BDS leaders, GA Middle East Committee Moderator Is Removed.” Go there to read about the inane reasons for ousting Butzer from his position.
One of the disgusting contrasts in this issue is that just a few months ago the PC (U.S.A,) leadership during a controversy over a horrific publication, Zionism Unsettled, by the Presbyterian Israel/Palestine Mission Network, refused to speak against the booklet because, they wrote, the denomination is a diverse denomination with many different views. But apparently not diverse enough to allow a well respected Presbyterian pastor the right to moderate a GA committee because he manages to have friendships with both Jews and Palestinians. Horrors, what if he doesn't agree with the BDS movement or the Presbyterian leadership!
And will this rebuild trust within those Presbyterians who have begun to believe they simply can’t trust their own denomination? Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the midst of a church struggle wrote, “Trust will always be one of the greatest, rarest and happiest blessings of our life in community, though it can emerge only on the dark background of a necessary mistrust. We have learned never to trust a scoundrel an inch, but to give ourselves to the trustworthy without reserve.”
In the midst of some dark times I believe we have some lessons to learn—at this point I no longer believe we can trust Presbyterian polity on any issue—power has become too important to too many in leadership. But at the same time we know the strength and trustworthiness of God and the trustworthiness of friends. A friend once wrote to me, “We had a first light snow last night, spring is coming.” And so it is.