Sunday, June 29, 2014

Some of my thoughts about the PC (U.S.A.)'s General Assembly and Western culture in general

Sitting in the Middle East Committee watching all of the manipulation by staff and resource people and hearing all of the misunderstandings and lies offered by the same, I found my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) slipping away from me. Sitting in plenary as an illegitimate Authoritative Interpretation was passed because various leaders and committee members would not admit that it was not interpretive but redefining the constitutional definition of marriage, I once again found my denomination slipping away from me.
 It was like a movie screen fading to a blur. There was and is nothing left between us. If there is a silver cord of life that holds all members in connection with one another mine was destroyed during General Assembly.

Except, there are those who love Jesus and in that loving, are faithful, honest and truthful. It is the faithful loving commitment to the Lord of the Church and submission to his word, the Bible, that hold the orthodox together. Those inside the PC (U.S.A.) and those outside.

And they are held together in the universal Church, not just in the PC (U.S.A.). While the denomination is constantly seeking ecumenical partners, the orthodox are already a part of the huge universal body of Christ. They do not need to dialogue, their connections are in Christ; they find joy in the fellowship of the saints.

So some will stay in the denomination, a few, and some will go. But either way we are in the world, and as the world invades the denomination both those in the PC (U.S.A) and those who have left will experience the same trauma. In either case the orthodox need to be in churches that uphold the word of God and the Lordship of Christ. There are times when one is alone in their faith. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes about that in his book, Life Together. But as he also points out, Christian fellowship is a gracious gift of God.

The trauma in the PC (U.S.A,) is knowing that God’s word is being broken. Christology is shattered as the denomination ignores or refuses the redemptive and transformative work of Jesus on the cross.  The many symptoms of our sinful nature come at once. Lack of pity for the baby aborted live, failure to uphold the holiness of Christ in our lives, calling sin no sin, greed. And in the world? Darker days while the tolerant become intolerant.
In the last several days I have listened to a City Council meeting in Nanaimo British Colombia where a conference on leadership was rejected at the last moment because it was partly sponsored by Chick-Fil-A and because one of the speakers was Dr. Henry Cloud, a Christian psychiatrist, who believes homosexuality can be cured through therapy. (He has also written many books including Boundaries which I found very helpful.) It didn’t seem to matter that Laura Bush and Desmond Tutu were also speakers.

The words coming from these city council members display the world Western Christians are beginning to face. I care little anymore for a denomination that has opened the door to worldly lifestyles and that in a deceitful manner. But I do care for the people left in the bondage of sin, and those who want to be faithful to Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the body of Christ.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Israel/Palestine Mission Network: they are against the purposes of God

The Presbyterian Layman in their article, “Report asserts antisemitism references on IPMN’s Facebook page,” written by Nathan Key, noted that “The NGO Monitor issued a 69-page report entitled ‘The Role of Antisemitism in the Presbyterian Church (USA’s) Decision to Support Divestment.’”
In Key’s report and the original article the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church was highlighted for its antisemitism. Having once removed its Facebook page, which was constantly being used to promote antisemitism, IPMN evidently opened a new Facebook which was closed to all but its members but according to The NGO Monitor not secret. [1]

In the report several instances of antisemitism were highlighted. Some examples are:

“a. a “Zionist controlled America [has a] desperate lust” for war with Iran

b. “Jewish interests” are “corrupting” the US government, and the media is “owned” and “operated” by these same “Jewish interests.”

c. the “Christian Holy Land” is “occupied” by the “zionist (sic) instigator”

d. Racial theories of Jewish origins claiming Ashkenazi Jews are not racially “Semitic,” are actually “Khazars,” and therefore should not be in the Middle East.

 e. Israeli Jews should be ethnically cleansed: “Helen Thomas was right, ‘Go back to Russia, Germany…’ Just leave.”

 f.  “IRAN! Thank God for them! The only Zionist-free land left on earth.” 

I looked for the site, which seemed to be under the name “Friends of IPMN-PC (USA) Israel/Palestine Mission Network,” but I did not find it. And then I found out that after the NGO Monitor report, IPMN made their site secret. And the question remains, “Should an organization of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) be allowed to have a secret Facebook?
Of course the bigger question is, “Should the PC (U.S.A.) be allowed to have an organization that constantly spews out anti-Semitic rhetoric?

IPMN, as though to more thoroughly reveal their character, on Twitter, tweeted:

NGO Monitor hacks into IPMN's private facebook group, accuses us of anti-Semitism after losing divestment vote.”

I must say, after having written, for many years, on the anti-Semitism of both the left and right, there is no question about IPMN’s anti-Semitism. Look at the statements the MGO Monitor reported. David Duke, Christian Identity, the KKK, they would all agree with the points that IPMN are trying to make.
And as for the NGO Monitor hacking into their Facebook page, if it wasn’t secret they didn’t need to hack, they could just read. And if it was secret IPMN was trying, as they are now, to deceive the PC (USA)’s membership about who they really are.

No they are not servants of God, or even of the Church, and they are not peace makers. They are PC (USA) members who hate all of those Jews who seek to have a safe haven in a world that has through the centuries poured out their blood without mercy. They are unrelenting anti-Semites who will stoop to any act in order to have their own way. They are against the purposes of God who called Abraham out of Ur that a people might be a blessing to the world.
[1] It should be noted with some joy that the PC (USA) will no longer be publishing IPMN's publication, Zionism Unsettled
The Vision of the Lord Directing Abram to Count the Stars (woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld from the 1860 Bible in Pictures) Woodcut for "Die Bibel in Bildern", 1860.

A different perspective on the 1001 PC (USA) Worshiping Communities

After having written about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 1001 worshiping communities’ site, and finding they were offensive hoaxes, surely planted by jokesters and scalawags, I, in most cases, am happy with what I now find. I should add that it is good that I found veterans and families because rather than a hoax it was a serious attempt at planting a very bad anti-Semitic site in the middle of the 1001 worshiping communities. I say ‘was’ because the administrators took down the offending offerings which probably never existed except in name as well as the one which was meant to do harm. [1]
I should not blame the administrators for missing the bad link to the anti-Semitic site because those connected to both Veterans News Now and Veterans Today hide behind legitimate links using helpful web spots for veterans.

But what I did find, as I was looking last night, are many new immigrant worshiping communities, including one close to me in Yuba City, California. Hosanna Punjabi Christian Church which is “Evangelizing … immigrants from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan.” There are also communities which are actually new churches, and there are communities which consist of Bible studies and/or action groups in service to others.
Of course I have sorrow at such communities as New Queer Faith Forum which is not so much a community as just a place to communicate ideas and ideals. I find it has a connection to the GLBTQ metropolitan Community churches and includes those of any faith.

 Founder Brian Symonds is quoted in Frontiers LA.Com:

“Faith was never meant to be a destructive force, but somewhere along the line a few hijacked it and used it to really tear down a vulnerable community. They used it to tear us down,” says Symonds who has a seminary background and is a candidate for ministry in the Presbyterian Church.

Symonds has already experienced success with a similar forum in West Los Angeles that meets on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. He wanted to expand into Orange County because he is a resident of Fullerton.

Symonds’ husband serves on the board of The Center's Young Professionals Council, and he connected with Executive Director Kevin O'Grady, whom he talked with about bringing “this new faith movement” to Orange County.

While the West L.A. group has turned out to be Christian-centered, Symonds says “I never say this is Christian or Muslim or Buddhist. This is for anybody struggling with spirituality or faith. Let's explore it together. We are saying come talk to us and let's find out how we can better respond to the faith needs.”

 What I really see in all of these communities is such a diverse gathering of communities, some emerging communities, some very orthodox with even their essentials listed, some open to all faiths and all lifestyles, that eventually they, like the rest of society, will splinter away from each other which is perhaps how it must be. Whatever the direction I am grateful for those communities which are upholding the orthodox faith of the Church.
[1] See 1001 Worshiping Communities: dancing with balloons, a bisexual Jesus and Veterans News Now!! Update

Thursday, June 26, 2014

1001 Worshiping Communities: dancing with balloons, a bisexual Jesus and Veterans News Now!! Update

Please read the update at the bottom; two of these are undoubtedly hoaxes. But the last one is not. I now have assurances that these three are all coming down and being investigated. I will do a rewrite when this is finished.

Now see: A different perspective on the 1001 PC (USA) Worshiping Communities

At first I thought it was a joke. I saw it in a comment under a blog posting.  Remember the red balloons and dancing in celebration at the Presbyterian General Assembly less than a week ago. They were celebrating the supposed 1001 new worshiping communities. This was the shameful link I saw:   Bi-Cycling for All. And this is the description:

A place to find and know God for the bi-sexual community while emphasizing the unitarian concepts embodied in the primary geometric symbol of bicycles, round wheels, round gears, and a chain connecting the unity of the drivetrain. We will work diligently to advocate for full inclusion of bisexual individuals into the life of the church, including ordination, bisexual marriage equality, and recognition that Jesus was bisexual [1]

So now we are embracing a group whose only reference to Jesus is that he is supposedly bisexual!

 And then there is the Fellowship of all Species with a description:

The Fellowship of All Species gathers to worship the Creator of All--- not just the human species. We will work for full inclusion of all animal species into the life and witness of the PC(USA). Our desire is to recognize that every living, breathing creature upon this earth is welcome in the church and can serve the church in varied and unique ways, giving witness to the Creator. [2]

 And as though in judgment on our attempts to shape our denomination to secular culture, there is a 1001 worshiping community titled veterans and families. On the communities’ site it is described this way:

I am a disabled veteran setting this up as a virtual community for outreach to veterans and their families.  

The person who has set it up is Chuck (Craig) Northacker.  He writes for Veterans News Now the anti-Semitic site connected to the vile site Veterans Today. The latter is the site which the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Watch states has now entered the neo-Nazi movement after blaming the shooting of children at Sandy Hook on Israeli death squads.

Veterans News Now is posted on the news section of

 While there are many good and faithful worshiping communities being added to the 1001 worshiping page there are many disgraceful entries. When a Church opens the door to darkness expect the demons of hell to enter. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church, but it must truly be the church, not some outlandish configuration of church. Rather than dancing in the aisles and playing with red balloons we all need to enter a time of prayer, repentance and discernment.   

[1] [2]Update- The first one is, as I originally thought, a joke, because their address is 666. And someone pointed out to me that the Fellowship of all Species is certainly a hoax because its originator is Chuck Darwin.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The PC (U.S.A.) and divestment, it will be a part of the global BDS movement ...

Friday the 20th the 221st Presbyterian General Assembly passed 04-04 to divest from three companies doing business with Israel. While the document passed by the GA contains a section that states that the PCUSA has no connections to the wider Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, they allowed both in committee and on the day of the plenary vote, Rifat Odeh Kassis to speak. Kassis is co-author of the Kairos Document which calls for a complete boycott of Israel.
Kassis in an article 0n the Electronic Intifada writing of the Kairos Document states:

“The document calls for a complete system of sanctions of Israel. Not simply a boycott of products generated by settlements or of products in general, or of institutions and organizations that are unabashedly complicit in the occupation, but a total boycott. Our occupation is not selective, and so our opposition must not be.”

The Kairos document also calls for a return of the Palestinian refugees to Israel which would destroy the Jewish state. There would be no need for a two state solution then, only a need to once again find a safe homeland for the Jewish people.
The push by the BDS movement has been so aggressive that one commissioner was handed a piece of propaganda as she sat participating in the consensus part of the assembly’s deliberations. Because of the timing, it rendered mute the two questions the commissioners were supposed to answer in their small group gatherings. That is:

“What did you hear that might lead someone to support the committee’s recommendation? [And the reverse] What did you hear that might keep someone from supporting the committee’s recommendation?

Presbyterians are so careful with order and government that they often forget that there are always those trying in various ways to undermine the polity in order to have their own way. And too often those seeking their own way are being led by those whose self-interest has nothing at all to do with the PC (U.S.A.) and their mission.

Thankfully, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the P C (U.S.A.) was removed from an item Friday night because of their anti-Semitic booklet Zionism Unsettled and their unhealthy opposition to most things Jewish. Also their publication Zionism Unsettled is to carry information that it is not a publication of the PC (U.S.A.). Still they are the organization leading the denomination into the global BDS movement. A movement in which they are heavily involved.

Until the Israel/Palestine Mission Network is dissolved their aggressive actions and their continuing advocacy will push the PC (U.S.A.) deeper and deeper into the BDS movement whose very goal is to destroy Israel as a Jewish State. And until the PC (U.S.A.) puts away their vision of peace in the Middle East via divestment and boycott, there will be no deepening of their relationships with most Jewish people in the United States.

I do not remember if it was Kassis or a different speaker, but one remark was that the Palestinian Christians are ancestors of the ancient church of the Holy Land, but the original biblical churches in that land were Jewish. While the Palestinian Christians are ancient and treasures to the world of Christianity; it is wrong to use the faith to undermine the reality of the biblical church which from its Jewish roots spread to the nations of the world. The Jewish peoples, alongside the Palestinians and other peoples of the region need peace and the Presbyterians need peace. In neither case will divestment help.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Official immorality enters the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

This afternoon the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted yes to an authoritative interpretation of the constitution that allows teaching elders to marry same gender couples in those states where it is allowed. They also voted to change the wording in the Directory of Worship from man and woman to two persons so as to allow same gender marriage. The latter item will still have to go to the presbyteries for a vote.
I will leave it to others to say that the authoritative interpretation is dishonest since it does not really interpret but redefines. It allows what is unbiblical, same gender sex, to stand alongside of marriage between a man and a woman. It puts our constitution in crisis. And others may write of how the change in the Directory of Worship does the same since the Confessions of the PC (U.S.A.) speak only of a man and woman united in marriage. And the Holy Scriptures call same gender sex sin while defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Although unbiblical and unfaithful to the Lord of the church, these two actions are not so unusual to church history. The early church experienced Gnostics who held that immoral sex was allowed because the body was unimportant. Some of the Ranters of the 17th century advocated free love. Although not official, the Catholic Church of the years leading up to the Reformation, was filled with both laity and clergy who lived immoral lives.

In the 1930s the Confessing Church martyr, Paul Schneider, was angered by the loose and official sexual immorality of the Nazi government. His speaking out about such sin was one of the reasons he was arrested and later beaten and poisoned. At the same time Dietrich Bonhoeffer, another pastor in the confessing church, confessed the sin of the church which did not stand against the flood of sexual immorality.   

The Scripture is filled with admonitions against sexual immorality which afflicted the biblical church. The book of Jude gives warning, using Sodom and Gomorrah as examples stating that those who were pushing licentiousness so hard in the church “indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh.” In the book of Revelation, in the letter to the church of Thyatira, the church is warned about Jezebel, she calls herself a prophetess, and she leads Christians astray, causing them to commit sexual sin and idolatry.
And the Old Testament? We all should shudder as we read of the Israelites who were apostate. They held their unconfessed sin in bundles; everything intertwined. Greed, idolatry, oppression, child murder were all interlaced with their sexual immorality. God, often, after holding out his hands to them, pleading with them to repent, sent them into judgment and exile.

But there is mercy extended. There is grace and forgiveness. Jesus loves the sinner. He loves all of us in sin, but calls us out to his forgiveness.  In the midst of immorality, Jude tells the church:

But you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

And then there is God’s promise. He keeps us from stumbling, he doesn’t just allow us, he ‘makes’ us stand in the presence of his glory. We are there blameless and have great joy. Through all of this tragedy we will stand in the presence of Jesus and the fellowship of each other. And may we bring the broken hurting members of our denomination with us, out of their bondage to stand before his glory. To dwell in love in God’s kingdom.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Using Jesus as a talking point in a GA debate about divestment

Right in the middle of morning devotions, given by Virginia Sheets,  vice moderator of the Middle East issues committee, she suggested that Jesus wasn’t afraid to tell the Jews when they were wrong. The rest of her devotions gave the listener, at least this listener, the understanding that she was implying to the commissioners ‘go thou and do likewise.’ And then she, not the moderator, facilitated the commissioners in voting to divest from businesses doing business with Israel. [1] [2]
First of all using a devotion to advocate for your preference in voting is immoral. It is misusing the word of God.

But from a Christian point of view there are two greater problems: Jesus was also a Jew and he was God incarnate. He was the long promised messiah. Because he was a Jew he had the prophetic right to speak to his own people. By reason of fulfilling the promise given to the people of God he had the right to open the door to his kingdom and scold those who because of the hardness of their heart prevented others from entering into the kingdom.
But the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is neither Jewish nor God. And they are, in fact, the ones shutting the door to the kingdom. With their constant politicalizing they are driving many away from the foot of the cross, and many away from the denomination. Jesus is often and only used as a formal expression such as we must do this because Jesus wants us to do so. And because of the hardness of hearts they do not listen to the tears and concerns of God’s people. Their hearts are hard against the real message of the gospel which has to do with redemption and reconciliation.

Whether Sheets understands it or not, in the midst of a debate about divestment, her comment about Jesus not being afraid to tell the Jews when they were wrong is anti-Semitic. It wasn’t even categorized as the Jews of Israel—no it could just as well have been the Jews of New York City, or Palo Alto, or even the Jews living in Germany in 1938.
How shameful that our denomination has sunk to such lows.

Surely, Jesus has some strong words for us as a people.
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)

[1] It may be that many commissioners did not catch the implications of Sheets remarks but I believe many did.
[2] The committee did vote to divest. This however can change in plenary.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Commissioners in the lions' den?

A friend suggested that I write about Israel in the lion’s den, as in Daniel in the lion’s den. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt it should be commissioners in the lion’s den. Today forty chairs were set up for resource people such as Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment and the Presbyterian Foundation.  The back side of the room was filled with people from Jewish Voices for Peace, the people who made personal calls to commissioners. And everywhere one looked were resource people moving about the room.
The committee voted to put aside 04-08 and to take up 04-04, an item which reinforces the Presbyterian policy of a two state solution for Israel and Palestine, and speaks of positive investment, disallowing divestment. Immediately after voting to do this a commissioner made a motion that number two in item 04-04 be changed from saying, “Reject any proposed divestment and economic sanctions against the state of Israel or any application of the PC(USA)’s corporate engagement policies toward such end”  to a call for divestment.

And just after this happened, which of course moved the committee toward the coming big debate on divestment, past moderator Rick Ufford-Chase entered the room and with a few nods and conversations with various people controlling the committee, as well as using the rights of a moderator, spoke at length about the  importance of divestment. And then again the various organizations which are controlling this committee asked a pastor from South Africa to speak; it was almost a sermon on divestment. Since there was some protest about the speaker from South Africa, the committee voted for him after he was announced.
In a sense the commissioners are not debating this at all, instead an army of resource people are giving a monologue to the committee.

However one commissioner complained that they were not hearing the other side. And after a break another commissioner asked if John Wimberly of Presbyterians For Middle East Peace could speak. Again the committee voted and it was allowed. But he was only given three minutes.
The committee’s business for the day ended and they will vote on divestment tomorrow morning, the 17th. Hopefully their debate will not be interrupted again by more resource people. So the commissioners are in the midst of lions, only these lions are not like Daniel’s lions whose mouths God shut. And they are not like the lions of Africa who roar with their might. No these are cunning lions who under the pretense of helping are controlling the situation.

On another item in the Middle East Committee the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns writes this advice: “Presbyterians have a time-honored tradition of study and dialogue and we value looking at difficult issues of our times from all sides and through different lenses. We have a longstanding tradition of not running away from difficult conversations, accepting that there are people of faith on both sides of any issue who deserve to be heard.”

Perhaps those overpowering the Middle East Committee should take the ACREC’s advice.

It has already begun: control of the Middle East Committee (Update) (New Update)

The Middle East Committee, which like all committees, must finish their work by Tuesday night is already under control of those who will frustrate every attempt the committee takes towards fairness. Last night when the agenda for the committee was voted on a member made a motion to allow Presbyterians For Middle East Peace  thirty minutes to speak from a different perspective than the three Presbyterian entities, which includes Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI).
In the midst of debate the resource person for that committee was asked by the committee’s moderator to explain how the open hearings work. And although only ninety persons will be allowed, (There was almost double that amount signed up)  each having 90 seconds to speak, some having the same anti-Israel perspective as the three Presbyterian entities, the resource person made it seem as though this was a sufficient way of allowing different perspectives. She failed to note that the committee will not be allowed to ask any of them questions. There can be no dialogue with them.

The resource person should not have been asked in the middle of the debate. She gave more than information, she gave advice. That is just one way of controlling the committee.

The motion lost 25 to 33. If you want to know more about the PFMEP they have just posted the videos of their General Assembly breakfast speakers on their web site. It begins with Rev. John Wimberly speaking and introducing the main speakers, Ghaith Ai-Omari, a Palestinian, R. Gustav Niebuhr a professor and journalist and Rachel Lerner of J. Street.
Pray that the dark forces (and here I am referring to the spiritual powers of wickedness) that seek to separate the Jewish community from the Presbyterian community will themselves be thwarted and banished. Pray that sensibleness and fairness will invade the hearts of those who have the power to destroy relationships, and the Presbyterian Church itself, with their actions. Pray that the truth will prevail.

Update: There is now more control happening in the committee. These people listed have been chosen to speak against Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions when they are for BDS: (See second update below)

04-03 - Sydney Levy -  chosen to oppose Apartheid overture
Author of Op-Ed calling for "divestment from Israeli Apartheid": 
Director of Campaigns for Jewish Voice for PEace - supports divestment by PCUSA: 

04-05 Susannah Nachenberg - chosen to OPPOSE Boycotting HP
Listed as a Jewish Voice for Peace "Resource:

Part of a JVP crowdfunding campaign

Giving an interview highly critical of Israel  

04-06 - Seth Morrison - chosen to OPPOSE occupation free investment
Pro-BDS activist, Described on pro-BDS website MondoWeiss as an activist with 

Here visiting congressman with JVP Jewish Voice for PEace 

Mondoweiss: Seth Morrison is a longtime activist for Israeli Palestinian peace. An active member of Jewish Voice for Peace and volunteers for a variety of Jewish and secular non-profit organizations. Professionally he is a consultant in marketing and strategic planning for nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

04-07 - Michael Davis - chosen to OPPOSE MRTI report overture
Member JVP Rabbinic Cabinet
Here he writes in Tikkun that he is coming to Detroit in support of divestment

04-08  MARILYN BORST -chosen to OPPOSE MRTI report overture
signed onto pro BDS petition
longtime member of Sabeel (Sabeel annual report 2006):

Second update: The Scheduling people have stated that there was a clerical misunderstanding of the sign up sheet. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

This and that about General Assembly

The worship service this morning, the 14th, was moving and biblical. Moderator Neal Presa proclaimed Jesus Christ as the answer to many variations of humanity including people of other faiths. The music and liturgy was excellent including “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus.
The interesting part for me was later in the day seeing one of the ladies, a teaching elder, who comments a lot on a Facebook page, called Happy to be a Presbyterian. I greeted her and when she asked me about the sermon I told her I really liked it. She then proceeded to say it meant all kinds of people with their various beliefs could be Presbyterians. And that is certainly true about Presbyterians, but not about the sermon.

I’m afraid I shocked her when I expressed the view that probably any belief is found acceptable in the PC (U.S.A.) but I believed that those Presbyterians who believed that Christ and Jesus are separate entities are not Christians. (Some on the Facebook site are prone to believe such teachings which reach back to gnostic tenets,)
How could you be a Christian and not believe that Jesus is the Christ? John the apostle had something to say about that, in fact, he called that an anti-Christ belief.

The Presbyterians for Middle East Peace had there breakfast this Saturday morning and the speakers were excellent. They were Ghaith Ai-Omari, a Palestinian, R. Gustav Niebuhr a professor and journalist and Rachel Lerner of J. Street.  I heard Lerner speak once before. She is a very concise speaker whose words are almost poetic. She stated that she had spoken at Presbyterian General Assemblies before and had not intended to speak again. She came because of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network’s very anti-Semitic booklet Zionism Unsettled. It troubled her enough that she felt she should come.
I will write more on the speakers if their speeches are published or are on video. So I will be looking for them.

Tonight Heath Rada, a southern ruling elder was elected Moderator. All three candidates are advocates for same gender marriage but Rada seemed to be more conciliatory toward everyone. The big problem was technology. In the end the voting had to be done by paper ballot.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Going to General Assembly

I’m leaving very early in the morning for Detroit, a bit late though, most are already there. There really isn’t anything joyous to write about except the love of Jesus and the fellowship of brothers and sisters. I know that is a wonderful lot. I felt left out of their fellowship just reading e-mails and seeing pictures of booths going up.

 But, except for the grace and surprises of God, the denomination may be stripped bare of goodness, purity and truth, and with that stripping unity will die, because those are gifts given by the Father, through the Holy Spirit. The unity Jesus prayed for is in those gifts, in the 17th chapter of John, Jesus not only prays for unity, he prays for sanctifying truth. The two are intertwined in Scripture.

May God’s mercy and grace fall on all of us unexpectedly and may our very beings be shaken with a sense of our own unworthiness and His transcendent glory. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

E-mails sent to the Presbyterian Historical Society, e-mails answered

On June the third, I wrote about David Staniunas of The Presbyterian Historical Society interviewing Jeffery DeYoe of the Israel Palestine Mission Network. The subject was  Divestment and Presbyterian Policy. You can find that posting here, “The Presbyterian Historical Society and a historical lie: divestment again.”  I was bothered by the fact that only one side of a PC (U.S.A.) controversy was being added to the archives of the Society.  After posting the article I sent an e-mail with a link to my posting to the PHS.

“Dear staff of the Presbyterian Historical Society,
I am a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with a Masters in History and a Presbyterian blogger. I am sending you, in all fairness, a link to my latest blog posting: The Presbyterian Historical Society and a historical lie: divestment again As someone very interested in history and also very interested in Middle East Issues, I am concerned about your latest blog posting. I am hoping that you will in the spirit of historical accuracy also do an interview with Presbyterians for Middle East Peace. Perhaps with Rev. Dr. John Wimberly.

 Sincerely in Christ,
Viola Larson

The Presbyterian Historical Society replied:

Dear Ms. Larson:
 Thank you for your email. David Staniunas, our Director of Communications Samantha Piccolo, and I have all read your blog post, and we appreciate your desire to have all historical perspectives represented and preserved for the future. While that one blog post featured an interview with IPMN, it does not represent the sum total of our collection. For example, on GA-related issues, we collect official minutes, press releases and newsletters, periodicals such as the Presbyterian Outlook that feature GA coverage, and the records of many Presbyterian offices, agencies, and affinity groups that weigh in on what happens at a General Assembly. This year, we are attempting to take into our archive websites, blogs, and other social media that feature information on GA issues and have commentary on those issues. We know we cannot do a perfect job in preserving records that represent all viewpoints. But, we strive to be as neutral as possible in building our collection for the use of all interested people in the future. Your blog post has reminded us of the importance of that mission.

Nancy J. Taylor
Director of Programs and Services
Presbyterian Historical Society

 I sent another e-mail:

 Dear MS Taylor,
Thank you for responding to my e-mail. I am happy you are attempting to give a diverse view of the historical viewpoints occurring at the moment. May I ask if you have added information from the Presbyterian For Middle East Peace site? Also I am aware that Katharine Henderson head of Auburn Seminary has written several pieces on the debate about divestment and Zionism Unsettled. Hopefully you will also include her opinions.
Viola Larson

And was answered:

We plan to crawl the Presbyterians For Middle East Peace website for our collection of websites.  We are also collecting the wide spectrum of reactions to the Zionism Unsettled study guide.
Nancy J. Taylor
Director of Programs and Services
Presbyterian Historical Society"

 I still believe an interview of members of Presbyterians For Middle East Piece by PHS would be a great way to even out a rather one sided interview. But I do thank the PHS for responding to my concerns. And of course they did not say they were adding Henderson's article.   

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rising among us: anti-Semitism

This week my husband and I watched a very poignant movie, "The Book Thief." The story is set in a small town in Germany during the rise of Hitler and World War II. The story gives insights into the lives of normal, common people as they became engulfed in the rising evil of the Nazis. Some held on to their humanity, even growing in goodness. Others succumbed to the evil surrounding them.  I did not tell my husband and he did not see that I started crying during a scene of the event called the kristallnacht: the night of broken glass. The night when over two-hundred synagogues in Germany were destroyed, shops and homes were also destroyed and over one-hundred Jews were killed. That was the beginning of the Holocaust.

My emotions were drawn rather tight, particularly  with an e-mail from one of the Rabbis from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He was expressing his regrets that he would not be at the coming General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He was sorry that he would not see friends that he usually only sees at the GA. But because of the horrendous book Zionism Unsettled compiled and published by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network and sold by the PC (U.S.A.), members of SWC will not attend the GA. I agree with them, sitting this out is an important action, but I feel tremendous sorrow that  my denomination has arrived at such a time that some Jewish people, important people, feel they must absent themselves from being in the presence of our policy making.

Over the several years that I have been writing about Presbyterian issues, I have shuddered at the total lack of grace toward others shown by the IPMN. And this applies to those who surround and help them. The list of their ethnic slander is endless. My first real notice of them was when reading their publication Steadfast Hope, I discovered they were dismissing the genetic link between modern European Jews and ancient Israelites. They were pushing the idea that the European Jewish immigrants to Israel were merely converts and not real Jews. And they were insisting that the United States Media was controlled by Jewish and Israeli organizations.

The next problem that the IPMN presented had to do with the videos they at that time placed on their web site. They managed to post a video made by a radical Muslim. The video called "I am Israel" dripped with vileness. It too insisted that the media in the United States was owned by Jewish and Israeli organizations but the maker went further.  The words at the end are:

 "I am Israel ... I have the power to control American policy  All the forces of the world are powerless against me including the UN as I have the American Veto to block any condemnation of my war crimes ...  I am Israel I influence America mainstream media too."

And then there was the Facebook page with constant linkings to vile anti-Semitic web sites. The page was closed when several of us started commenting there letting the people reading know what kinds of sites were being linked to by IPMN. There are places on the web where some of the worst of the material was archived after the IPMN closed their account. Camera Snapshots has a helpful article with several pictures.

Probably the vilest action by the IPNM outside of writing "Zionism Unsettled" was writing lies about Jewish Americans into a recommendation on an item for business at the 2010 GA. The lie is still there. The item was "On referring Christians and Jews: People of God" and "Understanding Christian Muslim Relationships." IPMN was attempting to have the Jewish part disapproved; in their recommendation they wrote in a note:
"1 The package (a bomb?) sent to 100 Witherspoon St in 2004, the fire in a Rochester church, the picketing of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship event at GA when Professor Norman Finkelstein was a featured speaker, and the many visits of teams of Jewish neighbors to local Presbyterian churches are examples of these tactics.   This type of censorship and intimidation is so frequent that Jewish Voice for Peace has created a special website to document it." (111 Refer Papers Attachment.pdf)
The fire in a Church and a bomb sent to Louiville was pure fabrication.  They lied about the Jewish people in the United States.
The final stab at all Jews was IPMN's  publication Zionism Unsettled which is filled with half truths and lies about Zionism. This was the straw that broke the camel's back for many Jews. The booklet states such things as "Zionism is by nature a system of discrimination and exclusion” (50) and:

"What is quite clear from a Palestinian Christian point of view … is that the emergence of the Zionist movement in the twentieth century is a retrogression of the Jewish community into the history of its very distant past, with its most elementary and primitive forms of the concept of God. Zionism has succeeded in reanimating the nationalist tradition within Judaism. Its inspiration has been drawn not from the profound thoughts of the Hebrew Scriptures, but from those portions that betray a narrow and exclusive concept of a tribal god."

All of this and other hateful actions by the PC (U.S.A.) broke over my pleasure in watching the movie "The Book Thief." This is the reality of what is happening in the PC (U.S.A.). The plot is just too real. It began very slowly, the movement to destroy the Jews of Europe. The actions  of a few hate filled individuals ballooned into  a movement that would destroy 6 million Jews and many other people groups, including gypsies, Jehovah Witnesses, homosexuals and Christians who were members of the confessing churches.

It started with the idea that Jews controlled everything including governments and media. It blended with the fascist groups of Eastern Europe which still exist today. It bled into some of the governing bodies and individuals of the Middle East and, seemingly, forever planted myths and horror stories about the Jews in the minds of Middle Eastern people. Individuals paid no attention to those who were lying about the Jews. They shrugged and failed to stop the monster that was coming. 

 It is surely time to grow in goodness rather than pulling a coat of indifference about ourselves. Hopefully my friend will be able to return to a later GA within an atmosphere of fairness and kindness. Hopefully the Jewish people will find sincere reconciliation within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Hopefully we will remove from our midst all anti-Semitism.

Friday, June 6, 2014

PC (U.S.A.) General Assembly commissioners receiving personal calls on overtures

If you are a commissioner to the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), you may receive mail-outs and brochures from various organizations. But you should not be getting calls to your personal/home phones. And if you get a call and they argue with you about how you are going to vote that is truly unacceptable. It could be classified as harassment. This is what has been happening to at least some commissioners and they should feel free to report it to GA officials. 

Several commissioners have received personal phone calls from Jewish Voices for Peace about the Presbyterian vote on divestment. Some callers have engaged commissioners in an argument making them defend their views. They are a small Jewish group who are part of the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions movement. They wish for commissioners to vote yes on divestment. But it does not matter, for or against, no organization or person has the right to engage commissioners in their home or personal life.

One commissioner received first a voice mail and then an e-mail leading him to believe that his name had been googled. The e-mail came via Trude Bennett, of the Department of Maternal and Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (The information was at the end of the e-mail.)

The voice mail stated:

"My name is Trude Bennett and I'm calling from Durham, I'm a member of Jewish voice for peace and we support divestment from companies that are involved in the Israeli occupation. And we know that you are going to be participating in the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Detroit And. I'd like to speak to you and and to let you know that there are many Jews who are very grateful for the discussions and concern in the Presbyterian Church, and we're really hoping that the vote might really call for divestment at this General Assembly and I would be happy to speak to you more about this, refer you to more information, and I will send you an email message to follow up on this and then give you more info, perhaps over the weekend. Thanks so much bye bye."

 There are possibly two ways individual telephone numbers may have been obtained, by a search on the internet or through the Office of the General Assembly. The last way, via the OGA, is bounded by some rules. This is what the GA Manual states:

"List of Participants Upon request, the Stated Clerk shall make available the list of participants registered for a session of the General Assembly to entities of the General Assembly, councils of the denomination, educational institutions, teaching elders, ruling elders, and independent organizations composed primarily of members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). A fee will be charged for lists or mailing labels to cover the costs incurred for printing, postage, and handling."

One important point to see in these instructions. The lists are for Presbyterians, and although it does not say so, it is very doubtful that phone numbers would be included. It is rude to make personal calls about GA issues, but to argue, as I have stated, is harassment.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Extreme anti-Semites and their connections to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (Correction)

I have made some corrections about Jerusalem in the body of this posting please reread if you have already read.

Many in the Presbyterian community as well as the Jewish community are concerned about the extreme positions on Middle East issues taken by some leaders and organizations in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Why do ideas like, Zionism is innately evil, or American Jews are in control of the United States' media and government, keep popping up in publications provided by such Presbyterian entities as the Israel/Palestine Mission Network?

What is not widely understood is the loose connection some of these groups have to fringe extremist organizations and persons. The PC (U.S.A.) is constantly being peppered by anti-Semitic ideas via these loose connections. I am going to give two examples. 

On May the 25th I wrote about the Middle East Committee and an unfair and divisive movement that too often tends to take over that committee at General Assembly. I pointed to a link: 'End the Occupation's U.S. Campaign,' which was linked to by IPMN. The movement was trying to raise money to add one of their own as a resource person to the Middle East Committee for General Assembly. There was some extra information I did not add.

If the reader goes to the link, there is a picture and it is of those connected to that group who came to the 220th (2012) GA, including Anna Baltzer who was used as a resource person. I first saw the picture right after the 220 GA, it was posted on the vile web site, Veterans Today. A site whose writers blame Israel for the 9-11 tragedy and the Sandy Hook School shooting.

The article, containing the picture, is "Dear Presbyterians Why it is Apartheid," it was written by Eileen Fleming who at the time wrote for Veterans Today. She was able to use the picture because two of the people in the picture sent it to her. At the end of the comment section Fleming writes:

"I did not shoot the photo-it came in an email from Rae Abileah [bottom right keeling] and Anna Baltzer [standing second from right] and I also see Hedy Epstein in second row-3rd from left, but I do not know anybody else."

That means that these two people, Rae Abileah a member of Code Pink and Anna Baltzer, who is one of the founders of End the Occupation, have this connection to a person who is horribly anti-Semite and has been engaged as a writer for Veterans Today.[1] And these two people have influenced and will undoubtedly again influence the Middle East Committee, if allowed. 

However, the more stunning "loose" connection comes via a mission worker for the PC (U.S.A), Rev. Kate Taber.  And the connection is to "If Americans Knew." It isn't that Taber necessarily knows anyone who is a part of the organization. (I don't know if she does or not.) But it is the fact that she points to it as a place to gain good information about the Palestinians and Israel.  

In a link on IPMN twitter page one is led to Taber's newsletters. In the April. 2014 newsletter at the end is a link with the words, "Need a little more background on this conflict. Try this brief summary from If Americans knew."  

If Americans Knew was founded by Alison Weir, a sometimes writer for Veterans News Now, an organization connected to VT, and also for My Catbird Seat, a sister site to Veterans Today. Her summary is "A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict." and under Zionism Weir begins:
"In the late 1800s a group in Europe decided to colonize this land. Known as Zionists, they represented an extremist minority of the Jewish population. Their goal was to create a Jewish homeland, and they considered locations in Africa and the Americas, before settling on Palestine." (Italics mine.)

Weir goes on to explain the reason for so many refugees coming to the holyland during Hitler's ethnic cleansing of the Jews. " Hitler's rise to power, combined with Zionist activities to sabotage efforts to place Jewish refugees in western countries, led to increased Jewish immigration to Palestine, and conflict grew." (Italics mine).

Note so far in her summary the early Zionists were extremist and they sabotaged efforts to place Jewish refugees in western countries during the Holocaust. That is in the first few paragraphs. Weir goes on filling her page with many untruths and exaggerations.

One untruth is that the five Arab armies that entered Palestine, to fight against the new state of Israel, only fought on the land meant to be a part of the new Palestinian state.

Truthfully, they fought in Jerusalem which was at the time not  a divided city. It was a city where both Jews and Arabs lived, The Jewish eastern section, which had existed for centuries, was emptied of its Jewish population, and it was not to contain Jewish people again until the six day war.* Egypt entered the Negev which had been allotted in the mandate to Israel. Thirteen Jewish settlements in areas assigned to the Arabs were taken and destroyed.[2]

 Of course there was destruction of Arab villages too, but the point is Weir's history is deceitful. Her summary useless.

And Weir has other problems. In CounterPunch in 2009, Weir published an article insisting that the Israel Defense Force was selling organs from Palestinian prisoners and she went on to suggest that the blood libel slanders of the Middle ages were based in fact.

There are others, James Wall who is an editor and writer for Veterans News Now, whose articles are often linked to by the Israel Palestine Mission Network. Every so often the IPMN links to the Intifada Palestine; the writers are the same as those at Veterans Today. It publishes the same articles. These are the extremist whose views have here and there seeped into the PC (U.S.A.).

The only way to shake off the anti-Semitism is to recover a sense of fairness toward both sides in the Middle East, to apply Christian concern and love to  both sides. One must see the complexities of the situation: Israel needs secure borders, the Palestinians need a homeland. Peace will not come from extreme connections.

*For further information see: The Jerusalem refugees of 1948

Picture by Stephen Larson

[1]To read more on this go to: The Middle East and Peacemaking Committee and the shadows of Veterans Today-Correction
[2]Anita Shapira, Israel: A History, translated, Anthony Berris, (Waltham, Massachusetts: Brandeis University 2012 ) "Part III:1948-1967 Nation Building."