Are Presbyterians anti-Semitic?
Published on: November 14, 2012
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  • These comments are generally fair, but an additional irony should be pointed out: the decline in the numbers of Palestinian Christians is caused by widespread Muslim intolerance, which these letter writers seem utterly blind to.

  • Joe Garbanos

    Are Presbyterians pro-Semitic? Are they actually pro-Anything? I wonder why the Presbytarians are so obsessed with Israel’s human rights violations.(The Israelis are in an enormously unpleasant situation, and I think they keep strangely cool. Any other nation would just kick out all Arabs from the West bank. But the Jews still act like there’s a chance for a lasting peace to emerge from this mess. Ben Gurion reached out his hand, offering peace. The Israelis got their hand many times, yet they still reach it out…) To me, the Presbyterians just seem like a bunch of people that don’t enjoy life. And they don’t like it when others enjoy life.

  • Joe Garbanos

    * got their hand BURNED many times..

  • Dubi Yarden

    “Are the signatories to the letter anti-Semites? I don’t think so.”

    The European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) Working Definition of Anti-Semitism includes the following: Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

    By a standard written by a European organization where assertions of anti-Semitism “have some plausibility,” as the author admits, a mainline Protestant letter that calls out Israel but no other country is prima facie evidence of anti-Semitism.

    Furthermore, the fact that the mainline Protestantleadership “has been strongly influenced by every progressive ideology,” itself usually a product of anti-Semitic Soviet-era propaganda, is no excuse for the leaders adopting anti-Zionism.

    Fortunately, rank-and-file mainline Christians, diminishing in number though they are, generally pay no attention to the politics of their leadership.

  • It’s about time and late in coming. Anti Semitic my ass. Israel has been hiding its crimes and fascist apartheid policies behind that victim charge for far to long. As for the first comment, that’s a valid argument, but a different topic.

  • MarkB

    I think it’s fair to assume that there has been no vote in the membership of these Protestant denominations regarding Israel. The people who seek power in these churches are ideologically driven activists who see the denominations as useful pulpits to carry out their political actions – and nothing more. I think it would also be fair to say that most are atheists in all but name. They have taken over these old, mainline churches to use as propaganda tools, and corrupted the life out of them.Most members from a generation or two ago would be horrified by what they’ve become. In the community I grew up in, the Congregational church of my mother now flies a ‘welcoming’ rainbow flag, and seems to have little or no interest in Jesus. The church has become a talk-shop for anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, gay rights activists, and everything but Christians.

  • John Barker

    “Christians, diminishing in number though they are, generally pay no attention to the politics of their leadership.”

    I have observed, neither do they pay much attention to their sermons.

  • ari

    The bishops of the ELCA held at least one retreat in the Holy Land, preferring Palestinian accomodations. Their hosts gave them embroidered stoles. They wear these stoles to preside over communion.

  • R.C.

    This is quite straightforward:

    The mainline leadership of the Protestant denominations are left-progressives;

    Left-progressivism as a movement is functionally (though not racially) antisemitic;

    Therefore the mainline leadership of the Protestant denominations are functionally (though not racially) antisemitic.

    Pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?

    They are functionally (though not racially) antisemitic. And this is revealed in the ongoing wild double-standards for behavior.

    The persons are not racially antisemitic; that is, they do not hate Jews as a matter of birth.

    But they are functionally antisemitic: They consistently impose ideological double-standards which put Jews in peril. (Indeed, I suspect it’s a form of oikophobia: The Jews are more like they are, so the left-progressives hate them more easily.)

    While feeling no animus towards Jews they may happen to know, they observe the prosperity of most Jews they know and of Israel relative to the region and contrast this with the poverty and dysfunction of the Muslim enclaves of Dearborn and of the Muslim Middle East. Then their left-progressive instincts take over and they identify the prosperous and high-functioning society as oppressor and the dysfunctional and poor societies as the oppressed.

    And that identification is all it takes to cause left-progressives to weep for every Hamas supporter who takes shrapnel — or pretends to do so in a Pallywood farce — while shrugging at every score of Israeli citizens incinerated in an exploding bus.

    I tell you the truth: Left-progressives will show no sympathy for Israel; when it is no more they’ll say “good riddance.” And they will show no pity for the Jews slaughtered to bring about this event; they’ll say, “payback.” Only when the remaining Jews live in a crushing dhimmitude will left-progressives suddenly say, “Ah, how terrible and unjust it is! How evil is the Islamist genocidal quest against the Jews in the Middle East!”

    But when this belated attitude emerges, it won’t be because left-progressives suddenly became aware of reality. It’ll only be because the Jews won’t be wealthy and prosperous any more, and will finally begin to tickle their left-progressive instincts the right way.

    To put it more briefly: To a left-progressive, the only good Jew is a poor and endangered Jew.

  • As for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) which I am a member of, they do have an organization influencing much of the leadership which is antisemitic. That is the Israel/Palestine Mission Network. They did have a Facebook page that linked to various antisemitic sites until enough concerned people spoke out. Still they are on Twitter and link to all bad news about Israel including Jews who break the law in the United States and they link to all the good news about the Palestinians without ever chastising Hamas.

    Also just recently the executive of the United Church of Christ & the Disciples of Christ gave an interview o an organization founded by the man who founded the Institute for Historical Review which denied the Holocaust, that is the American Free Press. If it is okay you can find that information here: http://www.naminghisgrace.blogspot.com/2012/11/dr-peter-makari-denominational-leader.html

    So what I am saying is that your article is basically right (excellent in fact) and at some point I think I will link to it on my blog. But there is also a small but very vocal undercurrent of antisemitic voices pushing on the top levels of mainline leadership.

  • Asher Eliezer

    I might agree that the other mainline Christian denominations aren’t anti-Semitic. Not so the Presbyterian church. In addition to this, the Presbyterian church continues to run messianic Jewish “congregations”, most notably in suburban Philadelphia. A link to its current website – http://www.chaim.org/.

  • Wolf Terner

    When church leaders participate in immoral undertakings it is no surprise then their respective congregations are disappearing and dissipating.

    Nothing of the ideologies these churches entertained these past 40 years served to increase their congregants; rather they are in the process of withering away. They have left God in search of new idols and idol worshippers have no need of churches.

    To turn a phrase from the Book of Ruth about the future of these churches,

    “Whither thou goest…” and soon.

  • Darryl Boyd

    The shells of these once great Christian institutions are little more than clubs whos members long ago abandoned any pretense of being Christian. The WCC and its member churches took a Left turn in the early ’70’s and failed to see that few were following. The fact that their memberships have declined by over half during this time and currently continue a straight line fall to oblivion around 2020 offers stark testimony to the apostacy that has destroyed them.

  • DK

    Gestapo: “Where are the Jews hiding?”

    Liberal protestant (speaking Truth to Power): “In the attic.”

  • anon

    … but … but … but …

    Those mainline Protestant denominations recognize the holocaust that was committed,
    mostly, by Catholics. So, of course they
    are (not were) against that.

    To put it most briefly:

    To a left-progressive, the only good Jew is a Dead Jew.

  • Mac

    The author’s stated intention is to ask the NCC to STFU. This might have worked if not for the disastrous interventionist foreign policy that the evangelicals and neo-cons (which is dog-whistle for Jewish Americans now apparently) espoused under Bush II. You don’t get to tell other people how their foreign policy ideas are bad when yours are proven failures. Criticism of Israeli policy, particularly settlements, should not be off the table.

    As for the various commentors railing against the left and progressives, maybe they should think back to their kibbutz days and ponder the socialized Israeli healthcare system.

  • No mention has been made of whether Presbyterians have always been anti-semitic, or at least “supercessionists” who saw the Jews as a rejected people who need to embrace the New Covenant of Jesus.

    If Wikipedia is a reliable source (?), Calvin called Jews “deicides” and “profane dogs” who were untruthful and lacked common sense. In Calvin’s work “Response to Questions and Objections of a Certain Jew” he wrote that Jews missed the unity of the Old and New Testaments and he believed Jews deserved to be oppressed without pity.

    To what degree, if any, Calvinistic theology carried over to modern day American Presbyterians I can’t say. The current American Presbyterian Church policies toward Israel seem mostly a reflection of New Class cultural politics poisoning Christianity. Many mainline protestant churches seem to have a perverted theology of the victim that is also found in the New Knowledge Class.

    Sociologist James Davison Hunter’s book “To Change the World: Irony, Tragedy and the Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World” write about the cultural trend toward identifying with “victims.” Hunter warns about mainline and Anabaptist churches who embrace the “will to power” and seek political solutions to everything. As Hunter writes:

    “The state is the sole legitimate source of coercion and violence. When Christians turn to law, public policy, and politics as the last resort, they have essentially given up on a desire to persuade their opponents. They want the patronage of the state and its coercive power to rule the day.”

  • Tom

    Calvin also worked in medieval Europe, where anti-Semitism was, as near as I can tell, all the rage.
    In other words, Calvinism has virtually nothing to do with this–the Presbyterian Church (USA), the organization being discussed here, is a hotbed of theological liberalism.

  • The mainline denominational leaders Berger cites (including Presbyterians) may or may not be anti-Semitic themselves, but they have no problem trafficking with anti-Semites:

    http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/29704

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  • jean

    From an ex-Presbyterian. Yes,the Presbyterian Church USA, located in Louisville, KY is anti-semetic.My large Presbyterian Church located in Cincinnati was liberal progressive. I left the denomination because my husband is Jewish, and their anti-Israel bias infuriated me. The Presbyterian Church is more like a political action group for doing good works. It is not very spiritual.

  • jean

    R.C’s comments above are accurately. The ruling body of the Presbyterian Church USA has enacted anti-semitic policies. The people in the pews may not be anti-semitic, but the governing body and many ministers surely are.

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