Thursday, September 15, 2016

15-Sep-16: Justice, peace, terror, truth - and the World Council of Churches

Like the WCC, these German activists , in their own distinctive way, stood
"democratic, non-violent actions for justice 
and peace" in the'Thirties [Image Source]
We pay more attention in our blog to what the World Council of Churches says and does than many other bloggers. (Click for our earlier WCC posts.)

This is absolutely not because we subscribe to their dogma. By dogma, of course, we don't mean theology. Actually, theology appears to be one of the least distinctive aspects of the WCC. We mean their political viewpoints as espoused for decades by the WCC's leadership. (From experience, we know those viewpoints are rarely shared by their church-going members.) Politics far more than religion in the conventional sense is what serves as the raison d'etre of the World Council of Churches

We pay them attention because of our annoyance at the mild halo effect that unjustifiably accompanies a religious-sounding global alliance's frequent pronouncements. As we have noted here in the past, the WCC (with annual income in 2014 of 29.4 million Swiss Francs, about USD $30 million) is not just any religious-sounding alliance but 
a roof body that purports to speak for the world's major protestant churches. Here's where they list their members. In Australia, they include the Anglican, Churches of Christ and Uniting Church in Australia. In the UK, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church in Wales, the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church of Wales and others. In the United States, they include the Quakers, the United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and many others. That's a lot of worshipers. Do they know how their religious faith is being exploited by a small coterie of self-perpetuating, Geneva-based bureaucrats? ["17-Apr-14: Christian solidarity with unrepentant murderers: where's the outrage?"]
the broadest and most inclusive among the many organized expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, a movement whose goal is Christian unity... breaking down barriers between people, seeking justice and peace ["About us: What is the World Council of Churches?", on the WCC website]
The WCC's Geneva-based secretary-general [Image Source]
(If you're not sure whether they presume to speak on behalf of your house of worship, we posted the names and websites of all the WCC member churches at the time in this blog post: "23-May-14: On the dignity of murderers and their victims: An appeal to Christian friends".)    

In a public call datelined September 15, 2016 (today), the WCC bureaucracy has just launched once more into a full-throated assault on Israel and Israelis, calling in the name of Christianity for more terror, more "Kauft-nicht-bei-Juden"-style boycotts of Jewish businesses and more disregard for justice and the rights of Jews and Israelis. 

Some direct-quote World Council of Churches excerpts:
  1. They... called for the US to end what they described as a "wave of legislative efforts" to penalise the use of non-violent economic measures to influence policy in Israel, noting that churches have used such strategies to "advance the rights of people and further the cause of justice both domestically and internationally for many years"...
  2. [They] noted that the unresolved conflict in Israel and Palestine is "primarily about justice, and until the requirement of justice is met, peace cannot be established"...
  3. "Too often the structural and permanent violence against a whole people is ignored. But keeping an entire population under occupation and even in a closed area, such as Gaza, in prison-like conditions is a grave and unsustainable situation. 
  4. We are also well aware that Israel is the occupying force and has commanding power over the people of Palestine and, thus, bears special responsibility for taking the initiative."
  5. They called for an end to the "occupation and to settlements on occupied land, with all its grave and deteriorating dimensions for the Palestinian people, but also for Israel and the whole region beyond".
  6. "We ask for full respect and protection of human rights defenders, for the rights to tell the truth, to express concern, and to take democratic, non-violent actions for justice and peace... 
  7. "We are deeply concerned by Israeli legislative and other measures to curtail the work of Palestinian and Israeli development and human rights organisations, as well as the lack of transparency concerning investigations into international humanitarian (including faith-based) organisations in the Gaza Strip and the possible negative consequences to delivering critically needed aid to this besieged area."
That's a lot of euphemisms and irresponsible double-talk.
  1. When they advocate "non-violent economic measures", they mean the bigotry-rich program of boycotts, divestment and sanctions or BDS, in which the World Council of Churches takes a lead advocacy role. It's an aggressive campaign initiated by a cluster of Palestinian Arab groups 11 years ago that "disincentivizes the Palestinian leadership from negotiating with Israel at present, is antisemitic [and] promotes the delegitimization of Israel" [Wikipedia]
  2. Don't expect the conflict "in Israel and Palestine" (a narrow way of looking at the state of war declared by the Arab states in 1948 and in large measure still continuing) to get resolved or the terrorism conducted by the two Palestinian "states" to end so long as "the requirement of justice" for the Arabs, not for the Israelis, not for the Roths, continues to be unmet. In other words, the Arabs alone are the side to whom injustice is being served. Resolving this doesn't depend on them.
  3. Gaza is prison-like, suffering "structural and permanent violence". Those tens of thousands of Hamas rockets fired at Israeli homes? The enforcement of Arab poverty by an Islamist leadership residing luxuriously in Qatar and Dubai? The ongoing misappropriation of foreign aid to ensure endless Gazan misery? All totally absent - as if they never existed. If there is a wicked person in this Bible lesson, the WCC leaders know he's not an Arab.
  4. Only the Israelis as "the occupying force", the "commanding power", have the responsibility to do something peaceful. In the pseudo-redemptive theology of the WCC's preachers, the Palestinian Arabs get a permanent free pass. Though not Christians, the insiders in the two Palestinian Arab regimes understand this parable to mean: "Don't change, don't cease fire, don't consider being flexible. Just keep going while we provide protection". 
  5. This exceedingly strange thing - "occupation" - is said to be not only at the heart of the Arab/Israel conflict but also the "grave and deteriorating" state of "the region beyond". Serious-minded Christians might be thinking of today's Iraq, Libya, Syria and Lebanon. Like us, are they wondering what the Christian leadership in its Geneva office complex, witness to the rapid and violent end of two thousand years of Christian life at the hands of Islamists, along with savagery on a scale that challenges the worst nightmares, are smoking?
  6. Rights, justice, peace. Are both sides entitled to these? The answer is obvious.
  7. This refers to Israel's recently-announced arrest and prosecution of a Hamas agent inside World Vision, and reports that additional charities active in the Palestinian Arab domains have been similarly penetrated and pillaged. The WCC has said not one word about the allegations of massive abuse of Christian charity by the bigoted, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish Islamist forces. Nor about the Gazan housing construction budgets misappropriated to the construction of attack tunnels and rockets and mortars.
We believe in dialogue. We know a person cannot be completely well-informed without hearing the opposing side's case. In April 2014, when the World Council of Churches came out with an earlier public call that involved actual praying for the freedom and dignity of Palestinian Arab prisoners, almost all of them were and are behind bars because of the anti-Jewish terrorism in which they engaged, we blogged these two posts: "17-Apr-14: Christian solidarity with unrepentant murderers: where's the outrage?and "22-Apr-14: Attention World Council of Churches: Will you now follow your own advice and speak up for the Arabs tortured and imprisoned by the PA?"

Right after that, we sent a letter to the then (and still) WCC secretary general, Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, on April 24, 2014. We were ignored. So we sent the same again, along with copies to a number of WCC insiders, a few days later. Still ignored. Then we had a tiny flurry of exchanges with the WCC's Director of Communications. He seemed willing to engage, but then changed tacks complete. Here's the full text of his letter to us dated June 5, 2014:
Dear Mr. Roth, Yes, I believe we would have nothing further to say.  Best wishes to you and your family. Mark Beach, WCC Director of Communication
The context and additional detail are in our post: "6-Jun-14: Fear and loathing at the World Council of Churches". Here's how we summed it up: 
So take it from this non-Christian, non-Moslem couple: there's something seriously wrong with a major global-facing church roof-body that wishes freedom, justice and dignity for convicted murderers but rolls down the shutters when a family devastated by the actions of those very murderers engages them in serious, albeit critical, discussion.
We are in the midst of the Jewish season for thinking hard about sin and about the truly redemptive value of forgiveness and repentance. In that spirit, here'a a repeat of a World Council of Churches thought we expressed here in the past
We'll sign off with a word to the WCC management team sitting there in Geneva: it's never too late to do sincere repentance and to come back and openly discuss these very serious life-and-death issues - even with people as marginal as we are to your mission. ["11-Jun-14: Where does this strategic deafness and moral blindness at World Council of Churches lead?"]
And this epilogue:
We know from experience that the world has many, many Christian believers whose abhorrence of terrorism, rejection of cries for the murder of innocent children, and belief in the central role of justice and morality in 21st century life differ hugely from the messages being advanced by the WCC. We don't share their theological outlook but we feel we have a great deal of common ground with their humanity. But finding common ground with church leaders for whom calls to prayer and "acts of solidarity" that "restore" to the convicted, unrepentant murderers of innocent children "their freedom with justice and dignity” - that truly feels like mission impossible. ["6-Jun-14: Fear and loathing at the World Council of Churches"] 
UPDATE Sunday September 18, 2016: Please check out "Five Things You Need to Know About World Council of Churches" by Dexter Van Zile. Brief and highly recommended.

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