America's mainline Protestant churches are in trouble. One sign is shrinking membership. Another is turning their political policymaking over to fringe leftists whose deepest instinct is to blame America and pummel Israel whenever possible. The latest disgrace is the Presbyterian Church's plan for selective divestment in Israel--ending the church's investment in multinational companies that the church believes bear particular responsibility for the sufferings of the Palestinian people. For example, the Presbyterians say they may divest themselves of Caterpillar stock, because bulldozers made by that company are used to level Palestinian homes in Israel's antiterrorism campaign. Of course, these bulldozers can also be used to move debris after Palestinian suicide bombers have finished blowing up another round of women, children, and other civilian bystanders in Israel.
How do the Presbyterians go about adopting stances like this? Apparently they cast a stern moral glance around the world, look for possible abuses in China, North Korea, and Iran, and seeing nothing disturbing there, decide to focus once again on Israel. The conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) released a measured and devastating report on the human-rights efforts of mainline churches and groups--the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), plus the reliably leftist National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches. The report, covering the years 2000 to 2003, found that of 197 human-rights criticisms by mainline churches and groups, 37 percent were aimed at Israel and 32 percent at the United States. Only 19 percent of these criticisms were directed at nations listed as "unfree" in Freedom House's respected annual listing of free, partly free, and unfree nations.
Human-rights groups are normally accorded great respect for the work they do. But the rights work of the mainline churches is basically a one-sided expression of ideology--America is essentially viewed as a malignant force in the world, while Israel is seen as nothing more than a dangerous colonial implant of the West. The IRD report says the mainliners' "pervasive anti-Americanism is demonstrated time and again in their public-policy advocacy, and one need not investigate far to find it." Later, the report says, "When U.S. policy cannot be blamed, the mainline denominations seem less interested in speaking up for the victims."
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