Recent Actions of the PC (USA) General Assembly 2014
Grace and love to you all as I share my thoughts and feelings regarding the recent decisions of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Detroit.
Christians should have something different to offer – something life giving and affirming. Yes, something better than the culture. Jesus was certainly counter cultural.
In case other important recent decisions by the GA have loomed too large on the horizon to see beyond them, I give you another problem to ponder. This one hasn’t received enough attention or response. On June 21st, during the GA meeting in Detroit, commissioners voted by a margin of 310-303 to divest from three North American corporations, Hewlett Packard, Caterpillar, Inc., and Motorola Solutions as a means of fighting the “oppression of our Palestinian brothers and sisters.” (Ruling Elder Rick Ufford-Chase). These three companies some say are “engaged in non-peaceful pursuits in the region”. (Bethany Daily, General Assembly News) It begs several questions:
Does the fact that Israel does business with these three companies mean that Israel is guilty of oppression? Are these companies also pronounced “guilty” because they do business with Israel? Are the Jewish peoples oppressing the Palestinians? So this an anti-Semitic stand? Presbyterian leaders have chosen sides? Is the PC (USA) divesting from any other businesses in other countries or just from the only democracy in the Middle East?
Here is what matters: Some in the Jewish community believe that this is indeed an anti-Semitic stand. This action on the heels of a PC (USA) publication “Zionism Unsettled” intended as a resource for educational purposes led to this reaction by Rabbi Jacobs. “Zionism Unsettled is “a painful warning…biased, one-sided and (an) ahistoric document”. Has the Jewish cause in Israel been tried, judged and condemned by the GA’s actions? In spite of protestations to the contrary by Moderator Rada of the General Assembly and others, the perception in the Jewish world is that Presbyterians are no longer standing with Israel.
Rada addressed the press at the General Assembly in this way: “…please don’t report that this action is anything other than an expression of love for both our Jewish and Palestinian brothers and sisters.” But the perception was this: Rabbi Rick Jacobs quoted on the Religion News Service: “I don’t want the commissioners to think they can vote for divestment and …think that they can still stand with us.” The promise of love from the Presbyterian Church rings hollowly in the ears of Jewish leadership.
Consider this from “Zionism Unsettled” which states among other things that “Jews were treated well in Muslim countries until the 19th century; Israel alone is responsible for the suffering of Palestinians; and the nation of Israel has been shielded from debate and criticism among mainline U.S. denominations”. Israel alone is responsible?! Please read your history books! It is easy to understand the remarks of Rabbi Jacobs and the feelings of our Jewish friends and neighbors who are intimately acquainted with both their own history and with what it means to live in Israel today. Would you care to travel to the Holy Land without the presence of defensive technology?
Reader’s comments to the article published on the PC (USA) website on June 21st, “Divestment decision immediately becomes target in and outside Cobo Center” are thought provoking, here are some examples:
The divestiture action by the GA does not shake my confidence in God, but it does shake my confidence in the Presbyterian Church USA. Robert Lande
Islamist extremists pose the fundamental threat to the peace and security not only of the region but the world. The divestment vote, unless reversed, will be to your eternal shame. Zachary Narrett
Does “any of the above further the mission of the church to bring the Gospel of Christ to anyone anywhere, or just incite division within a body of believers and distract them from the mission”. Steve Stimpson.
(AMEN!! Have our leaders become so lost as to become entangled in political matters such that the church is distracted from our true calling and purpose in this world?)
Where was the love in this action? Mark Anonymous
“…for some reason PC (USA) Presbyterians never seem able to muster the same fervor for introducing people to Jesus”. Jim Caraher
(Ouch, right between the eyes Mr. Caraher.)
Please remember that these comments are just a sample of the comments taken from the PC (USA)’s website in response to the article written by PC (USA) writer Jerry L. Van Marter.
To see what Motorola Solutions, Hewlett-Packard and Caterpillar provide please see the article By Roberta P. Seid and Roz Rothstein, “The corrosive self-delusion of the Presbyterian Church’s Israel divestment vote”. Jewish and Israel news. © 2013, JNS.org. http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2014/7/2/the-corrosive-self-delusion-of-the-presbyterian-churchs-israel-divestment-vote#.U7v8cfldVWU=
Sometimes the truth is not what people want to hear, because it does not further an agenda or bend to the will of those who “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand”. Matthew 13:13 NIV
Sources for this post are as follows – please feel free to check them:
1) Divestment Decision Immediately Becomes Target in and Outside Cobo Center. General Assembly News, Jerry L. Van Marter, June 21, 2014www.pcusa.org/news/2014/6/21/divestment
2) By Slim Margin, Assembly Approves Divestment From Three companies Doing Business in Israel/Palestine. General Assembly News, Bethany Daily, June 21, 2014. www.pcusa.org/news/2014/6/21/slim-margin
3) An Open Letter of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to our American Jewish Interfaith Partners, Moderator of the General Assembly Heath Rada, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly The Reverend Gradye Parsons, Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency Elder Linda Bryant Valentine. June 26, 2014, www.pcusa.org/news/2014/6/26/open-letter
4) Divestment Vote Undermines Presbyterian-Jewish Relations. Union for Reform Judaism. Jo-Ann Mort, June 20,2014. http://urj.org/about/union/pr
5) Presbyterians narrowly vote to divest from 3 companies involved in Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Lauren Markoe, www.religionnews.com/2014/06/20/presbyteriansdivestent/ June 20,2014
6) The Direction of PCUSA’s Divestment Dilemma, Mitch Glasser, The Christian Post. www.christianpost.com/news/the-direction-of-pcusa-divestment-dilemma June 25,2014
7) PCUSA’s Israel Decision ‘Tragic’ David Roach, Baptist Press, www.bpnews.net June 23, 2014