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March 21, 2016 7:24 am

It’s Getting Ugly: Anti-Israel Hate at the United Church of Christ

avatar by Dexter Van Zile

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An invitation to a United Church of Christ event. Photo: Facebook.

An invitation to a United Church of Christ event. Photo: Facebook.

The passage of a BDS resolution at the United Church of Christ (UCC)’s 2015 General Synod highlighted the presence of anti-Israel hate within the denomination. Not everyone who belongs to or works for the UCC — a liberal Protestant denomination with 900,000 members — hates Israel or Jews. Still, there is a contingent of activists and clergy within the denomination who specialize in combining religious piety with contempt for the Jewish homeland and its supporters.

It’s getting ugly.

These Israel-haters started coming out of the woodwork in early February, with the publication of two Lenten Meditations produced by UCC pastors. Lent, the 40 days before Easter, is a time when Christians are supposed to engage in introspection, fasting and prayer; but in 2016, two UCC clergy members used Lent as an opportunity to bash Israel in some pretty ugly ways.

Rev. Loren McGrail, a UCC pastor, produced a Lenten meditation that relied on dishonest articles from Palestinian news outlets to inform her readers about the conflict. One of the articles falsely claimed that Israel did not arrest or punish any of the people responsible for a 2015 arson attack in Duma that killed an 11-month-old Arab baby and his parents.

The article, published by Palestine National News in January 2016, stated explicitly that Israel did not hold anyone accountable for the Duma attack, because “the evidence against the Jewish suspects was ‘not enough’ to try them.”

Wrong. Israeli officials did arrest and indict a 21-year-old Israeli Jew and an unnamed minor for setting the fire — weeks before the PNN published its story.

The same article also falsely suggested that Israel did not punish anyone for the murder of Mohammad Abu Khdeir in July 2014. In fact, Israel arrested the perpetrators soon after the attack, and they are currently in jail.

Fortunately, the UCC removed the article after CAMERA exposed its propagandistic nature.

The UCC did the right thing in response to McGrail’s screed, but she was not the only UCC pastor who tried to pass off anti-Israel propaganda as a Lenten meditation. Rev. Diane Dulin, a retired UCC pastor from Oregon who now works for the anti-Israel Kairos USA produced a text even uglier than McGrail’s.

Her text, which was promoted by the Episcopal Church, declared that the Zionist interpretation of scripture proffers a “word of death and not of life.”

To demonize modern-day Israeli Jews, Dulin characterizes them as perpetrating the same evils done by first century Jews as recounted in the New Testament book of Luke. Citing the gospel, she reports that Jesus “laments the headstrong rush to ruin which seems to be in Jerusalem’s DNA,” which includes “killing the prophets” and “stoning those sent by God.”

She then provides a litany of alleged misdeeds by Israel that makes it appear as if the Israelis are the only people who have done bad things in Jerusalem.

Nowhere does she offer any mention of the stabbings, murders, kidnappings and car attacks that Palestinians have perpetrated against Israelis in recent months. There is no mention of the stabbings that have cost dozens of Israeli Jews their lives since last fall. There is no mercy or expression of concern for Jewish life in Dulin’s text. There is no attempt whatsoever to acknowledge the humanity of Jews who have been murdered and terrorized. The apparent goal of the meditation is to portray modern-day Israeli Jews in the light of New Testament anti-Judaism.

There is yet a third UCC pastor, Rev. Graylan Hagler from Washington, DC, who has combined activist lingo with contempt for the Jewish homeland and its supporters. At a talk at a community center in Ithaca in early March, Hagler assailed the Jewish notion of chosenness, asserting that “if there is a chosen people, then that means God is a racist.”

He also alleged that the Zionist lobby controlled both American leaders, and the entire international community. Hagler even downplayed the horror of the Holocaust. “I’m not denying there was a Holocaust,” he said, “but it was a Holocaust.”

Speaking at Cornell that same week, Hagler said, “We got to challenge racism and discrimination and hatred where it is and Zionism is racism.”

The United Church of Christ has a problem. Last summer, its General Synod singled out the Jewish State for condemnation while remaining silent about the ongoing genocide of Christians and Yezidis in Iraq and Syria. And while the rest of the country is starting to finally come around to acknowledging the horror of this genocide, UCC pastors and peace activists still continue to singularly assail the Jewish State with hateful rhetoric and propaganda.

Like I said, it’s getting ugly.

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  • Bruce Webber

    I am a lifetime member of the UCC and I can attest that it has always supported the Israeli people. Articles like this are insulting to the members of our congregation. Does it offend you that much that somebody wants the killing to stop in the Middle East?

    • Sorry I didn’t respond to this sooner. If your congregation is insulted by this article, maybe it should prevail upon the leaders of the denomination to stop insulting Israel and its supporters in the U.S. with ugly lies and misinformation.

  • Michael Fox

    Episcopalians….God’s frozen people.
    Frozen in ignorance and rigid intolerance they are the Christian version of radical Islam.

  • Jan Mel Poller

    We need to remember that President Obama belonged to this church in Chicago where he listened to Rev. Wright’s anti=Israel rants time after time.

    It is amazing to me how these ultra-pious people don’t mind spreading lies and hatred.

  • Mark

    There are two issues here:

    The real issue for many Christians is that unless the Jews are guilty of *something* then Christian persecution of Jews for the last twenty centuries must be recognized as a sin. If there are no real sins, then they feel to make them up. It’s better than having to consider that their behavior has violated their own beliefs for 75 generations.

    The second problem, especially in those denominations that have been hemorrhaging members, is cognitive dissonance. We live in a world where various ideological notions can be subjected to empirical verification and many of those belief systems have been found wanting. When your own ideology has been discredited, the choice is to face up to it or attack another ideology that is succeeding. Leftists and other Marxist are still mourning the collapse of the Soviet Union which proved their beliefs were wrong. Supersessionary Christians are in denial about the success of Israel because that demonstrates that one of their central concepts is wrong. Failures flock together, so we get attacks on Israel and support for BDS from Leftists, Marxists, and supersessionary Christian groups.

  • Tom Sleeter

    The UCC has been infected by hard left leadership for many years. One result is they have lost about half the membership they had fifty years ago.

    As a Christian and strong supporter of Israel, I am appalled at what some main line Protestant churches say.

  • Gerry Myers

    Genesis 12:3

  • Myron Slater

    It’s the Church’s usual anti-Semitic stance throughout history!

  • brenrod

    Hopefully, the families of those anti semites will suffer the same fates of the victims of muslim terror. Europe did the same and now it is suffering the reward for its lies.

  • Linda golden

    How absurd that they claim racism, when they are doing the same. The church has never been a friend of Jews, but great strides have been made in recent history. It is appalling that these so called Christians, care nothing about what is being done to “their” people in the Middle East.

  • It’s been ugly for some years, a Christian church hijacked by hateful anty-Semitic clergy.
    They forgot that Jesus Christ was a practising Jew ,a citizen of Judah and loved Israel

  • tiki

    If Christ, the Jew were alive today he would have lived in one of the “settlements” in Samaria.

    I wonder if he would have survived the anti Zionist movement, organized by this United Church carrying his name!

  • there’s a long protestant tradition of jewhatred embedded in its supersessionalism, and it has nothing to do with christian kairos or love for other christians (notice the silence about muslim success in making the ME christian-rein). [if this is how they love their fellow christians, why expect any concern for pagan Yazidis?] If it werent for Israel and some parts of Lebanon (the parts with militias), and of course Egypt’s recently tolerated Copts, christianity would have vanished from the area it began in. their only concern is destroying jews and israel as best they can. not supporting christians in dire trouble. and certainly not caring about actual palestinians in moslem ‘camps’. all of whom wish they lived as well as the palestinians in Judea and Samaria. //The Methodists and the Anglicans seem to be acting like the United Church institutionally. Basically pandering to liars and terrorists.

  • Ephraim

    What do you expect? They are Christian, and have always hated Jews. This is merely a means for them to prove it.

    • James

      What an ignorant statement.

  • len

    You say that not everyone in UCC hates Jews or Israel, well isn’t it time for there to be a vocal opposition group within this denomination to challenge the leadership. If nobody does than it’s as bad or worse than the Anti-Israel element which runs the denomination. Silence is also a sin! Are there no Righteous Gentiles among this group?

  • Lia

    Are they finding the Bible very difficult to read? Or is the concept of not being chosen, of not being called to be a light unto the nations, too humiliating to grasp?

  • Rachel Cohen

    It should be realized to all those who care about Israel–that the United Church of Christ–is not a Christian organization–they are anti Christian.

  • Carolyn Hart

    I agree 100% with the opinions stated in this article. As a longtime member of the UCC, I am ashamed and angered by the church’s anti-Israel position. The UCC as it stands today is now little more than an unapologetic mouthpiece for the dangerous radical left, Marxist movement in America. I think it is disgraceful, and it is getting ugly. It is a sad time in our country when American Christians refuse to stand with our ally, Israel.

  • Simon Chapman

    All who touch Israel touch our Elohim
    Hearts so deceived and actions of sin
    Our love must be strong at this point in time
    To hold our light for Israel and let the truth shine.
    Blessing your people with love and deeds
    Doing our best and planting good seeds
    Knowing you see every thought from the heart
    To stand in your truth and the love of your heart.

    • Simon Chapman

      All who touch Israel touch our Elohim
      Hearts so deceived and actions of sin
      Our love must be strong at this point in time
      To hold our light for Israel and let the truth shine.
      Blessing your people with love and deeds
      Doing our best and planting good seeds
      Knowing you see every thought from the heart
      To stand in your truth and the love of your heart.