Friday, July 16, 2004

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), an ethical church

I recently wondered why moderate American churches weren't taking the obvious steps of acting ethically in opposing the actions of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people. The fruitcake Christian Zionists completely dominate the debate, and through their peculiar hold on George Bush, bear much of the moral responsibility for the insane American policy towards the Middle East. I know that most American religious people aren't fruitcakes, so why aren't their voices being heard? Maybe the tide is starting to turn. Delegates to the recent General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a church with nearly three million members, voted 431 to 62 to begin to join the divestment campaign against Israel, and voted 471 to 34 to call on Israel to end construction of the walls it is building to encage the Palestinians. The Rev. Victor Makari, the Church's liaison to the Middle East, said (or here):

"I think the issue of divestment is a very sensitive one with Israel. . . . If nothing else seems to have changed the policy of Israel toward Palestinians, we need to send a clear and strong message."

The divestment action also called on the U. S. to be an "honest, even-handed broker for peace" (ouch!). Sister Patricia Wolfe, executive director of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a coalition of 275 Christian denominations, said that the Church's decision raises the issue of divestment, allowing it to be discussed in the ICCR. Are the Presbyterians going to lead the way to the beginnings of a truly ethical approach against human rights abuses in the Middle East? Other moderate American church leaders might want to consider that it will look rather embarrassing if they are late to join the parade to justice. The Presbyterians will always have the honor of being first; no one should want the dishonor of being last.