Monday, May 30, 2011

As a denomination we hate the Jews? Or will we correct the IPMN?

Sometimes one hopes that if they leave truth beside a stony path someone might trip over it instead of the stones. There would be healing in the tripping rather than bruises. Evil is in the world and we are afraid to acknowledge that it is connected to our own denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

We have returned to the beginnings of the early twentieth century and its bent towards Jew hating, which in the end is a bent towards hating Jesus who came as a blessing from the Jews. God chose them as a people who would bless the world with a redeemer. But we have chosen as a denomination to side with those who want to demean and hurt the Jewish people.

And yes, once again I am writing about the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PC (U.S.A.), and James Wall, former editor of Christian Century and a leading anti-Semite of this present century. The FaceBook page of the IPMN has linked to one of Wall’s articles and he in his typical fashion has used writers who belong to the anti-Semitic Veterans Today to make his points.

In his article, Congress Becomes a Mob of Mindless, Cheering Sycophants, Wall uses writer Franklin Lamb’s analysis posted at My Catbird Seat. Both Lamb and My Catbird Seat’s owner, Debbie Menon are on staff for Veterans Today. Lamb as an International Correspondent, Menon as Middle East Issues editor.

On just this issue of VT one of their more vile anti-Semites has an article CIA Treachery in Texas »., While Campbell spews all kinds of nonsense, this article is nothing compared to earlier articles where he named Nazi Germany the good guys and in another article wanted to hang Rabbis.

The Southern Poverty Law blog “Hate Watch” has an article about Veterans Today. It is entitled Buyer Beware: Veterans Today and its Anti-Israel Agenda. Are we as a denomination so incompetent at peace making that using radical Jew hating organizations like Veterans Today, and its sister groups and people, James Wall, My Catbird Seat, Intifada Voice of Palestine (linked to by the IPMN several days ago, and is considered an acceptable way of addressing Middle East Issues?

I have to say the truth. If we keep allowing this kind of rhetoric to spew from the pages of the PC (U.S.A) we can no longer claim the Theological Declaration of Barmen as one of our Confessions. As a matter of fact we can no longer claim the text of any of our documents including the Holy Scripture, God’s word.


will spotts said...

Viola -
There have been so many examples of PC(USA) related anti-Israel bias that this is not news. There have also been enough examples of crossing that line into PC(USA) related anti-Judaic and anti-Jewish bias that that is not news either.

Unfortunately, there is also a large and growing list of instances of PC(USA) related outright classical antisemitism. From endorsing / providing speakers who cite the protocols as an accurate history of Jewish action, to embracing Khazar rhetoric, to false accusations of arson and bombing attributed to American Jewish groups, to blood libels.

Presbyterians have been given NUMEROUS opportunities to correct this. They have not done so. Even those who find these offensive have held back from any action.

It would be an easy matter to correct - if Presbyterians simply adopted a zero-tolerance policy for antisemitism on the part of Presbyterian employees and organizations. This would not be accepted in the case of any other ethnic or religious group.

Until and unless the PC(USA) actually does this, one can only conclude that Presbyterians approve. (Don't care, maybe - but don't mind enough to stop it.)

Will Spotts
North East, MD

Pastor Bob said...


I would observe that the PCUSA does not correct related organizations that receive money from the denomination. You may remember the attempt to correct and remove funds from the NNPCW back in 1998. While the GA originally voted to remove funding and correct their theology it reversed its decision the next day. You yourself rightly criticize the materials turned out by Presbyterian Women. Why should the IPMN be any different?

Sorry to write such a depressing response

Boob Campbell
Sharon Hill, PA

Anonymous said...

I guess it depends on who you think the PC(USA) really is.

Quite frankly, I don't know why you are giving alleged anti-semitism a platform. I would have no idea about any alleged anti-semitic groups who function within the walls of our church if not for your posts.

And I still have never met any antisemitic pastors or elders or members in our church.

Consider Oprah Winfrey's breakthrough on her show when she realized that beating up neo-Nazis on her show (to create controversy and ratings) was just giving them a platform to preach their views.

"Why am I doing that?" she asked.

And from then on her show became the most successful and influential talk show TV has ever produced.

Play what you want to hear.

will spotts said...

There's nothing - absolutely nothing- alleged about it.

More importantly, these actions have varying degrees of PC(USA) imprimatur.

The argument here appears to be something along the lines of ... don't criticize the antisemitic statements and actions of PC(USA) groups and individuals because you're giving them a platform ... while speaking officially for the PC(USA) does not. Hmmm. Something doesn't quite add up here.

Nonetheless, I do have to admit that the old idea that exposing evil ... excuse me, alleged evil, would make people do something about it ... doesn't seem to pan out.

will spotts said...

I apologize for the somewhat snarky response. But the logic doesn't work for me at all.

We would not be having this discussion about other forms of institutionally supported bigotry and racism.

The issue is that there are certain statements and actions that are, in themselves, antisemitic. It doesn't matter what the motivation of the speaker or actor. It is possible (though improbable) that the speaker or actor lacks malice or malintent. Nonetheless, the discourse and actions are not acceptable.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with a person's right to speak. Everyone has that. It has more to do with being part of an institution that supports speech that is inescapably antisemitic.

There is no allegation here - the items are facts. They cross the line into unacceptable discourse. At that point, Presbyterians don't have a lot of options. They can either ignore it, pretend it isn't happening, close their ears to it, or they can argue some form of mitigation, or they can embrace it. But it has been publicly exposed - actual ignorance is no longer a viable option.

Viola Larson said...

hi Will, Robert and Anonymous, I was on a plane most of yesterday and so could not respond. Will and Robert the only thing left to do besides pray is just keep reporting. I know there has been times when the IPMN has had to remove things from their site eventually, but now they have found a way of not responding using Facebook. Their has to be a way! And Wall's articles find their way to IPMN's main page to often so I think writing more about his anti-Semitism may help.

Anonymous you cannot comment here without leaving your name and city and state.

I have alot of peas to pick in my garden, I have books to read and grandchildren to play with. I would gladly not deal with IPMN or any over PCUSA related issue again. But I would rather please and obey the Lord above all else.

Doug Hagler said...

@ Will: Name a large organization and I can find some corner of it that propagates distasteful and even, yes, evil views. It think it is both absurd and a bit disingenuous to assume that because a tiny corner of the PCUSA sometimes links to what appear to be anti-Semitic writings, that the whole PCUSA is anti-Semitic. Anonymous has a point - if the *entire* PCUSA is somehow anti-Semitic because of links on a website, I somehow missed the memo. Let's try to retain some sense of proportion here, and maybe refrain from calling 2 million people anti-Semitic, or at best tolerant of anti-Semitism please.

@ Pastor Bob: Specifically speaking of the PCUSA, it will never, ever, be free of things you or anyone else feels require "correction". The PCUSA has never been univocal; this isn't something to bemoan, it is just a fact of human beings in community together. Unless we become the Borg, we will disagree.

@ Viola: I don't know, or don't recall, who the audience of these posts is exactly. You continually call for action, and then ask (mis)leading questions about whether the whole denomination hates the Jews. It is beyond tiresome in it's hyperbole.

My question: who are you talking to? What do you want these people to do? Who is it who can swoop in and could you mention them specifically?

Can you please stop implicating the entire denomination because of links posted on a website I had never seen nor heard of until you began blogging about it? The fact that because of your blogging I have heard of them is I suppose a good thing - but trying to dig through the hyperbole about 'the denomination' to find something one could actually do is frustrating.

I'm kind of sick of being lumped together with anti-Semites because I fail to stop something I am powerless to stop.

Viola Larson said...

all good questions that I will attempt to answer.

There have been several times in the past when Hunter Farrell and others have intervened in the problems. The IPMN is the only mission organization we have for Palestine. We are a connectional denomination what one part of the denomination does affect the whole. Everything IPMN does they do in your and my name because their full name is IPMN of the Presbyterian Church USA. Just a couple of years ago I sat down beside another Christian on a plane. When I said I was Presbyterian the first words out of her mouth was a question. "Why do the Presbyterians hate Israel so much?"

For the time being my posts are addressed to the members of the Presbyterian Church USA. I am simply standing as a witness- If we do not hate the Jews we will repudiate the actions of the IPMN.

If enough letters and e-mails about the carelessness of the actions of IPMN are sent to officials of the GAMC they will pay attention. They have before. And it is helpful when others blog about the problems.
I am very glad you are sick of being lumped with anti-Semites-that is a great statement.

will spotts said...

Doug - There is a large difference between a statement with which you disagree and a disingenuous statement.

The fact is the tendencies toward antisemitism in various sections of the PC(USA) have official support of the PC(USA).

Were the GA to be regarded as a small corner of the PC(USA) - the equivalent of some PC(USA) congregation in Iowa who linked a couple of questionable things on its website, you might have a point.

As is, this problem has been present in GA actions, has been present in various organs of the national denomination, has been present in materials offered by the national denomination.

That you choose to be unaware of it does not change this fact. That that choice is widespread doesn't mitigate it - as you imply. And the gist of your argument appears to be that one should not try to rein in antisemitism in official PC(USA) communications because that would somehow indicate that one thought that two million Presbyterians were tolerating antisemitism. Right ...

To say you or anyone else is powerless to do something about it is bullcrap. All you need do - if you are unwilling to tolerate it - is speak out against it. As you would without thought were it bigotry and racism directed at any other group. You have yourself spoken out about issues in the PC(USA) - so it's not an alien concept to you.

Having said that - you do have a point. Large majorities of Presbyterians remain unaware of the actions and statements of various official Presbyterian officials and groups. But the information is there and at some point that excuse stops being morally valid.

will spotts said...

It needs to be understood that what we're talking about is not political activism.

A person can be pro-Palestinian, or pro-Israeli, or anti-Israeli -- and make arguments that support his or her case. These are valid and not inherently problematic. They don't trade on odious bigotry.

There are, at the same time, statements, assertions, arguments whose entire function is bigoted. These are not the same thing. Yet the PC(USA) is remarkably tolerant of both. The first category is necessary - to have any meaningful policy on the Middle East, one needs to hear all sides. The second category is evil and dangerous.

And the thing is, we would not be having this discussion at all were we talking about a mission network or office of the church that targeted any other ethnic or religious group.

It would not need saying.

BTW, links to other sites - were that the extent of the problem, would be relatively minor - though still "distasteful and even 'yes', evil". Though I find it illuminating that the phrase "what *appear* to be antisemitic writings" is employed. More importantly, the statements actually made by these Presbyterian organizations are more directly problematic.

Dexter Van Zile said...

A few facts about the IPMN:

1. It was created by the PC(USA)'s General Assembly in 2004.

2. It was charged with educating Presbyterians about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

3. It recieves financial and logistical support from the PC(USA).

4. The IPMN, like other mission networks is subject to oversight from staffers in Louisville, most notably Hunter Farrell.