Presbyterianism Unsettled

February 14, 2014 1:46 pm 11 comments

Presbyterian Church. Photo: Jhowey.

The bureaucrats in Louisville who run the day-to-day operations of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are looking more and more dishonest and stupid with each passing day. For non-Presbyterians, they are a cause for disdain. For the dwindling number of people who actually belong to this church, they are becoming a source of embarrassment.

They are supposed to be religious leaders who tell the truth, but in fact, they behave like politicians offering unbelievable denials and evasions. Oddly enough, it’s the “peacemakers” within the denomination who have gotten them into trouble. (That happens a lot, doesn’t it?)

The source of their trouble is Zionism Unsettled, a nasty little text produced by the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA). (Remember the name of that organization because it’s important.) This booklet attacks Israel, Jews, Judaism and Zionism in a pretty ugly way.

It’s so bad that David Duke, a neo-Nazi who has cavorted with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a pretty nasty anti-Semite himself, rejoiced when he got his hands on it. (No, I didn’t send it to him!) PressTV even rejoiced. (No, I didn’t send it to them either!)

The fact that David Duke endorsed a document produced by the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (again, remember that name!) was apparently a source of embarrassment for the folks in Louisville.

On Feb. 13, the folks in Louisville tweeted a number of times that they didn’t have anything to do with the document, which was produced by Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA). (I keep repeating that name, don’t I?).

But people weren’t having any of it. People (such as Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin) kept referring to the document as either a “Presbyterian” or “PC(USA)” document.

That rankled the folks in Louisville who finally issued a press release that described the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (that name again!) as an “independent group — which speaks to the church and not for the church.”

The assertion that the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is “independent” of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is patently false.

First, the organization was created by a 2004 resolution of the denomination’s General Assembly.

Then there’s the organization’s name, which includes the words “Presbyterian Church (USA).”

How can anyone honestly believe that the IPMN is independent the PC(USA) when it’s very name includes the entire name of the denomination that created it?

If the IPMN is not part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), then it is infringing on the denomination’s trademark!

There are a number of organizations associated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) – such as The Layman and Presbyterians for Middle East Peace that are independent from the denomination, but IPMN is not one of them. These organizations do not fundraise or distribute their materials through the PC(USA).

By way of comparison, the IPMN raises money through the PC(USA)’s website. And the PC(USA)’s online store is apparently the sole place on the Internet where people can get a copy of Zionism Unsettled, (at least until the IPMN and the folks and Louisville can work out a distribution deal with the people who run David Duke’s website. Maybe James M. Wall, former editor of Christian Century, can broker a deal.)

The point is that IPMN is not “independent” from the PC(USA). It is dependent on the PC(USA).

The authors of the press release invoke that old mainline canard that the IPMN “speaks to and not for” the PC(USA).

I have been hearing this phrase for years. Officials from the United Church of Christ’s headquarters in Cleveland have said this in reference to votes taken at its General Synod.

When people like what the General Synod does, the UCC folks in Cleveland issue press releases saying the UCC declared or approved this or that. But whenever there is any pushback, then the folks in Cleveland will tell you that the General Synod was “speaking to, but not for” the denomination as a whole.

The message is “Oh, that resolution? The one everyone is clobbering us for? We didn’t have anything to do with it. You need to talk to somebody else.”

When you point out that the folks in Cleveland orchestrated the passage of the resolution in question from start to finish (because that’s how they view their jobs), the next gambit is, “You don’t understand our polity.” This is mainline speak for “Good luck trying to find anyone to hold accountable in our church!”

What the Presbyterian mandarins in Louisville are trying to do is portray their lack of oversight over IPMN’s anti-Semitic propaganda as operational independence. This is evident in that part of the press release that reads “The IPMN booklet was neither paid for nor published by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).”

This raises a number of questions, the most obvious being, “Who did pay for the booklet? The Saudi Royal Family?”

I’m only half joking. There is precedent for this sort of thing. If you look at the tax documents for Americans for Middle East Understanding, the people who publish The Link, an anti-Israel publication cited by Rev. Dr. Gary Burge in his book Whose Land? Whose Promise? (another, um, problematic text), you’ll see that it is funded in part by Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company. According to AMEU’s tax documents (990s), Saudi Aramco gave $70,000 to the group in 2012.

If such donations were being given to IPMN, there is no way to know because the organization operates under the aegis of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which does not have to disclose its financial information with the IRS.

And try as I might, I have been unable to find any 990s for the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which confirms what I have been saying all along – it’s part of the denomination itself – no matter how many times the folks in Louisville say otherwise. Either that or if the IPMN is independent of the PC(USA) it has violated the law by not submitting its 990s to the IRS.

Which is it?

And what the folks in Louisville don’t seem to understand is that any donations given to the IPMN – even if they go into the organization’s separate bank account – are ultimately donations to the PC(USA) itself – because the IPMN is part of the denomination.

The fact that no adult within the PC(USA) exerts any oversight over the organization does not mean that money given to the IPMN is not ultimately donated to the PC(USA), because it is. No matter how you slice it, the PC(USA) is responsible for the publication of Zionism Unsettled.

PC(USA) officials have tried to hide behind some sort of plausible deniability about the IPMN’s actions for a long time. In 2009, I corresponded with officials in Louisville about the crazy, anti-Semitic stuff published by the IPMN.

The denomination’s Stated Clerk, Gradye Parsons responded to my concerns about IPMN’s website by reporting in an email “The Network operates as an independent organization with full control over their website. You should make direct contact with it if think (sic) changes should be made.” Translation: “You don’t understand our polity.”

Jay Rock the person in charge of the PC(USA)’s interfaith programs responded to my concerns in a similar manner, telling me I got it wrong in asserting that the IPMN was part of the denomination’s “organizational structure.” He continued, “Like our 35 other country and area networks, it is not accountable to any office, nor does it report to any staff person in the PCUSA structure; it also, like the other networks, receives no funding from the church. Please take up your concerns directly with the network.” So there it is again. “You don’t understand our polity.”

In 2010, I corresponded with the now-deceased Cynthia Bolbach soon after she was elected moderator of the PC(USA). She said she wasn’t “the appropriate person to respond” to my concerns about the IPMN, which “should properly be addressed to the Reverend Dr. B. Hunter Farrell, Director of World Mission, of our General Assembly Mission Council.” When I spoke with Farrell, he said that at some point, the denomination was going to issue a set of rules that groups like the IPMN would have to follow if they wanted to maintain their affiliation with the PC(USA). Apparently, nothing ever came of these rules. If they were issued, they do not seem to have any impact.

The PC(USA)’s General Assembly scheduled to take place this summer in Detroit, could quickly bring an end to the problems presented by the IPMN’s behavior, (and the failure of the folks in Louisville to constrain the organization) with a simple vote that disbands the IPMN and distances the denomination from the hateful materials it has produced over the course of its existence.

All of this talk about the General Assembly, and the failure of the folks in Louisville is the height of banality, for there are larger issues at stake.

Religious and ethnic minorities are being ethnically cleansed in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East with hardly a word of protest from the PC(USA). It’s an evil, violent campaign that threatens to destroy Christianity in the region of its birth. And the way things are going, it will likely be ignored by the PC(USA)’s upcoming General Assembly.

For sure, the GA will spend a lot of time talking about Israel and Jews, though.

Dexter Van Zile (@dextervanzile) is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (@CAMERAorg).

11 Comments

  • Looks like someone at the PCUSA leaked the book before it’s available to the public. http://Tinyurl.com/ZionismUnsettled

  • “The PC(USA)’s General Assembly scheduled to take place this summer in Detroit, could quickly bring an end to the problems presented by the IPMN’s behavior, (and the failure of the folks in Louisville to constrain the organization) with a simple vote that disbands the IPMN…”

    Ah, yes, the inevitable demand for censorship. Free speech is so, you know, passé. Stop whining just because others express views that you don’t like!

      • 1 Cor 1:23–”But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness”

        Well, yes, quite. But I fear your patrons may not agree.

        Oh, wait, you didn’t say 1:23, you said 10:23! “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”

        So what was it that was said by any element of the PC-USA that “edified not?”

  • DEXTER YOU STATE;Presbyterian Church (USA) are looking more and more dishonest .
    YOU ARE JUST SEEING WHAT JEWS HAVE EXPERIENCE LONG AGO FROM DAY ONE OF JEUSX.
    We even have graves and stories handed down of the dishonesty lies deceptions murders and killings …
    ALL FOR JEUSX….
    What you now see is normal everyday stuff.

    JEWS ARE LOOKING FOR THE DAY WHEN THE XTIANS, WILL BE
    “looking more and more to be honest”

    DEXTER. I AM NOT AFRAID.

    any drop of your insane relgion even knows
    measure for measure.
    I only pray to see the ‘measure’ THE CREATOR OF ALL BRINGS DOWN TO YOU JESUX CHILDREN OF ESAUV PEOPLE.

    It will great mind you.every xtian no matter what denomination should be wetting their pants

    except for the
    FEW WHO REPENT AS THE ‘ONE G-D DEFINED THE PATH TO REPENT
    who will be called ‘rightous goyim’

    ALL THE CHILDREN OF ESAUV OWES ETERNALLY TO ISRAEL…
    but instead they look to destroy JUDAISM…
    every single one of the jesux people….every one….

    IF YOU ARE CONCERNED THEN SEEK OUT A TORAH ORTHODOX RABBI AND ASK HOW YOU SHOULD LEARN WHAT ONE G-D IS ASKING FROM YOU.

    side note: jesux is dead, he aint gonna come with all the viagra in the world…..he is a violation of the SECOND COMMANDMENT NO MATTER HOW YOU WANT TO TWIST IT THAT he fulfills the second commandment.

    DEXTER, YOU BETTER START….MASHIACH IS ‘NOT’ WAITING..
    FOR YOU…RUN ……

  • In an absurd effort to try to show that it is fair in its approach to Israel, the Presbyterian Church invoked the name of the so-called “Jewish Voice for Peace.” I guess it is unaware of the fact that the ADL just listed that group of kapos as among the most ardent of the Israel-bashers.

  • If this is the position of the PC(USA) then they should immediately institute a complete boycott. I suggest that they begin by excising the entire “Old” Testament from their bibles.

  • The oldest hatred will never die. it seems to over ride the doing of good and the saving of fellow brethren and so the evil lives on.

  • Presbyterian, Philistines? Same difference!

  • Maybe PC(USA) should BDS the IPMN.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.