Posted by: gmscan | February 24, 2012

Easter is a Fine Time for New Beginnings

I love my church. The members of the congregation are warm and welcoming, the pastor is a fine spiritual leader, the elders are sincere and dedicated. They are all really nice people – and that may be the problem.

Like nice people everywhere they look for the best in others and try to avoid rancor. So they continue to be in the denomination they have always been in — the PCUSA. It is far less stressful to continue than to confront the heresies of the denomination.

Me? I’m not so nice. Not that I’m mean or go out of my way to pick a fight, but neither will I avoid it if I think my integrity is on the line. In this case, every week I come across more information that the PCUSA has abandoned proclaiming the Word of God in favor of advancing a radical leftist political agenda. That is not what called me back to the church.

I came back to learn as much as I can about Jesus and salvation and to serve the Lord as well as I am able.  When I enter the sanctuary I leave my politics outside. This is a blessed time for worship and prayer.

So it is jarring when the leadership of the PCUSA claims to be speaking for me as it lobbies for its agenda. To whit –

A few days ago Commentary Magazine published an article with the headline, “Presbyterians Take Another Step Toward Hate for Israel.”  The first paragraph reads –

“As we wrote last week, the Presbyterian Church USA is faced with a choice about the future of its relations with the Jewish community and, indeed, the vast majority of Americans who ardently support the state of Israel. Unfortunately, rather than listen to voices of reason, church leaders have today taken another step toward approval of measures that place the denomination in favor of economic war against the Jewish state when their General Assembly Mission Council voted to recommend a report that calls for “selective divestment” from Israel.”

The Jewish news service JTA put it  –

“The executive committee of the 2.4 million member church voted Friday to pass a resolution endorsing a recommendation of divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard. The action followed a report released Sept. 9 by the church’s committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment that recommended divestment of companies it believes supports the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.”

They speak for 2.4 million members, and I am one of those. They will continue to claim to speak for me as long as I continue to be a member.

This is just the latest of a string of calumnies against Israel by the PCUSA. A few weeks ago Commentary published this

“Institutions connected with the Presbyterians have become a font of anti-Israel invective that has crossed the line into outright anti-Semitism. In the course of promoting their anti-Israel policies, church leaders have engaged in rhetoric that seeks not only to delegitimize the state of Israel but also the Jewish community. The actions and statements of the church’s Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN-PCUSA) have been so egregious that the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella network of Jewish community relations groups, has been forced to go public with their complaints in hopes that ordinary Presbyterians will do something about the epidemic of hate speech springing from church activists.”

“…outright anti-Semitism.” Wow.

In my last post I described how the PCUSA betrayed the Roman Catholic Church by supporting an even more extreme mandate on free contraceptives than the Obama Administration had proposed. Think what you will about the merits of contraceptives, the faith community should be united in support of the freedom of all churches and church-based institutions to follow the dictates of their faith.

This principle transcends any one church or any one issue.  Earlier this year there was an effort in San Francisco to outlaw infant circumcision. This was a rabidly anti-Jewish campaign with literature featuring evil-looking hook-nosed Rabbis with big knives standing over tiny babies. Hatred of Jews (and Catholics, for that matter) is not rare in the United States. We don’t need the PCUSA adding to it.

Add to this the abomination of the PCUSA’s support for abortion. This is not a “pro-choice” position but a pro-abortion position. If it were pro-choice the PCUSA would be putting as many resources into adoption counseling and services as it does into abortion advocacy, but I can find very little if anything the denomination is doing to encourage pregnant women to consider adoption. The Board of Pensions has an “adoption assistance” program, but that is aimed solely at people who are covered by BOP benefits and aimed solely at families that want to adopt, not at prospective mothers who might consider adoption as an alternative to abortion.

Doing a Google search for “Presbyterian Adoption Services” or “Presbyterian Adoption Counseling” turns up a scant number of actual services, and the few that seem to be active, such as the Park Slope Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, New York, are affiliated with the PCA, not the PCUSA.

But more than that, the PCUSA advocates for taxpayer funding of abortion. That means even Catholic nuns would be forced to pay for abortions through their taxes.

I could add a very long list of other offenses committed by the PCUSA, but hatred of Jews, betrayal of Catholics, and complicity in the murder of tens of millions of God’s most innocent and helpless humans, is enough to convince me I can no longer be associated with this denomination.

Easter is a fine time for new beginnings.

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Responses

  1. Dear Greg,

    Thank you again for your research into the dictates of PCUSA’s policies.

    I would hate to see you leave the church but that must be your decision.

    As for myself, I do not know what I will do.

    Eunice

  2. Greg, it is a sad fact that many churches are too lazy to do the community functions of helping the poor and elderly with volunteer services. Big church has gotten together with big government to the deferment of it’s theology and purpose. Forcing others to pay through taxes is easier than fund raising. Once in the web of using big Govt to provide funds for “worthy” projects they get beholden to Govt policies to support political actions. Big Govt, big business, big banks, big religion create centralized power and control that is contrary to freedom and liberty. Our founders ran from Govt for freedom of religion. It’s taken 200 years for those Govt controls to infiltrate once again. Where do we run to now?

  3. Greg,

    You say it so well! There are others in our church that feel the same way and we need to make our feelings, beliefs, and convictions known. Our Session has some big decisions to make with a lot on the line! Thank you for your honest blog and for taking the “narrow path” boldly.

    Sarah

  4. Hi Greg,

    I always look forward to your well thought out posts. I feel like a witness to a sacred journey. But your missive illustrates well some of the confusions that exist within and about the PCUSA.

    Keeping in mind your opening remarks, our life in the Church is only through the community of faith with whom we have a relationship. That is the only part of our church life that is real, and therefore the only part that really matters. Discipleship under Jesus is all about relationship (John 13:34-35).

    The institutions and committee’s you complain about do not speak FOR you, your congregation, or even our denomination. They speak only TO the denomination, in an advisory capacity ONLY (Perhaps they should be disbanded, given their horrible lack of judgment – and there is a process for that). But the folks who have taken upon themselves the mission of destroying the denomination have been exploiting the confusion and lack of clarity on this point, IMHO.

    The PCUSA is not organized in a top down fashion like, say, the Roman Catholic Church. We have no Pope. There is no leadership that is empowered to speak for you. Our only doctrinal vehicle, and the only official position we take on anything as a denomination, is our Constitution. Do you find it to be heretical?

    The biggest problem as I see it, is that a number of our pastors and elders don’t get along with each other and want us all to fight. They manipulate their congregations against each other like parents manipulate their kids in a divorce. Plus, ever since the Powell Manifesto, there has also been a well-funded radical right wing secular movement dedicated to the demise of the PCUSA. It takes full advantage of our temptation to engage in religious warfare.

    If there is to be a new beginning, let it be to set down our swords and spears, find ways to lay our grievances at the foot of the cross, and worship the Prince of Peace. That really would be a new beginning. Respectfully, could it be your congregation deserves more credit than you are giving it? (1 Cor 12:31b; 1 Cor 13:5)

    • Jodie, you wrote —
      “The institutions and committee’s you complain about do not speak FOR you, your congregation, or even our denomination. They speak only TO the denomination, in an advisory capacity ONLY (Perhaps they should be disbanded, given their horrible lack of judgment – and there is a process for that).”

      I wish that were true. But they do (claim to) speak FOR us in Congress and in the media. They take our money and spend it on political causes. I would find your words more comforting until you started ranting about “a well-funded radical right wing secular movement dedicated to the demise of the PCUSA.”

      Perhaps it is a “well-funded radical right wing secular movement” that was formed to counter the “well-funded radical left-wing secular movement” within the PCUSA.

      In either case, I don’t need it. I need only Jesus.

      • Greg,

        Why is it that if you say “the PCUSA has abandoned proclaiming the Word of God in favor of advancing a radical leftist political agenda” that is OK, but if I counter by observing the relentless rhetorical attacks on the church by the radical right, you call that a “rant”?

        While your own claim is a fallacious generalization and demonstrably false, did you even try to verify if mine was true? It is.

        “formed to counter the “well-funded radical left-wing secular movement” within the PCUSA.” That was indeed the assumption made by the Nixon administration in presenting the Powell Manifesto to the US Chamber of Commerce.

        “I need only Jesus.”

        This, on the other hand, IS true. If you pay attention or get distracted by the flaming rhetoric that is trying to steal your soul, it will tear you apart.

        Just as it tears at the Body of Christ.

        After baptism comes temptation. (Mat 3:13 – Mat 4:8). But if you set your eyes on Jesus, He will guide you out of this brier patch you seem to have walked into.

        It’s all part of the Sacred Journey.

  5. Greg,
    I think Jodie has made some very good points.
    Unfortunately, I think it is far too easy for some folks to effectively spread untruths concerning the linkage between the PCUSA and the IPMN in an attempt to discredit the PCUSA. These untruths are evident in the Commentary articles.
    The PCUSA, in an attempt to provide a much needed vehicle for the dissemination of pro-Palestinian rhetoric, as a means of leveling the rhetorical playing field in the Israeli/Palestinian debate, has fallen victim to the false criticism that it prefers the side of the Palestinians to that of the Israelis. The IPMN has tried, repeatedly, to make it clear that they speak to the church, not for it.

    • Kattie, two points —

      1. It is a cop-out to disclaim responsibility for what the IPMN is doing when the PCUSA organized, funded it, and identifies it as an official body within the denomination.

      2. I can’t find any record that the IPMN was formed “for the dissemination of pro-Palestinian rhetoric” rather than as a neutral observer of the situation on the ground. But I appreciate your candor in admitting that is what it is doing.

      • Greg,
        Would you vote to silence the voices with which you disagree?
        The voice of the State of Israel has been loud, clear, unimpeded, well funded, and readily available in our culture for many decades and doesn’t need the IPMN to reiterate it, but none of the same is true of the voices coming from the Palestinian territories. We might not like what some of the Palestinians and Palestinian sympathizers are saying, but we ought to defend their right to say it in the Town Square. There are also many Israelis as well as Jews in this country who find the prevailing Israeli lobby position distasteful, and we don’t hear much of their voice either. Let’s not shoot the messenger.


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