Evangelicals back away from unquestioning support for Israel!
The New Evolutionary Movement (The N.E.M.) is on the march today. You will notice in the mailing pasted below that there has been another historical development in the universal Christian Church. You will also notice that David Brog (who’s Jewish) is quoted in the article for balance. Brog is CUFI’s Executive Director, and he works closely with Pastor John Hagee (7:24). Brog and Hagee work so closely together that no light can be seen between them.
Please read this article very, very carefully (full of care). Those of us who are familiar with Ann’s Blog can see Ann Hafften‘s hand in this development. Ann’s husband is a Lutheran Pastor in Texas. Texas is Brother Hagee’s home state. We can also see the hand of the Reverend Dr. Stephen Sizer (26:15) who’s an Anglican Priest in the UK. Stephen was one of the presenters at Sabeel’s Fifth International Conference in Jerusalem in April of 2004. It was at that conference that Sabeel offered the Church a viable, intelligent, comprehensive, deeply satisfying Christian alternative to Christian Zionism. We can also see the hands of Richard Toll, Doug Willbanks and Don Wagner in this development. These men are among the leaders of the Friends of Sabeel in North America. Richard is a retired Episcopal Priest. Doug is active as a layman. If I remember right, Doug is non-denominational. Don is an ordained Minister in the Presbyterian Church. Notice how robust the Presbyterians are becoming: Presbyterian network opens new dialogue on Zionism.
Everybody on the ML has been informed that Secretary of State Kerry had an usually productive Meeting at the Vatican yesterday. Peers, we now have sufficient reasons to be enthusiastic in our optimism about the eventual outcome of the HLPP (the Holy Land Peace Process). “Naysayers” and “Gatekeepers” would do well to take cover. For peace … like war … is in the process of being waged. Please read on.
(nb. highlights by Father Roy)
New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line
Dissent within the fold. “This message is resonating with the rising generation,” says Brog.
WASHINGTON — Figures with deep roots in America’s religious right have launched a quiet effort aimed at pushing evangelical Christians away from decades of growing loyalty to Israel and toward increased solidarity with the Palestinians.
The campaign by a coalition of religious leaders, international nonprofits, and activists has taken place in recent years largely behind the scenes and away from the prying eyes of the political press — and it’s being driven by a generation of Evangelicals alienated by the way their faith was yoked to Republican foreign policy during the Bush years. Now, organizations like the Telos Group and the large Christian nonprofit World Vision have joined a small army of ministers and Christian opinion-makers working to reorient Evangelicals’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — producing documentaries about the plight of Palestinian Christians, providing theological rationale for a more “balanced” view of the issue, and taking Evangelicals on trips to the Middle East.
The goal is to soften the bulletproof political alliance between American Evangelicals and Israel — forged over decades of successful courtship by Israeli governments and pro-Israel forces in the U.S. — and to make room on the religious right for Palestinian sympathies. If the movement is successful, it would represent a move toward mainline, politically liberal Christian denominations that have long been aligned with the Palestinian cause. The Presbyterian Church USA, for instance, briefly adopted a policy of divesting from some companies doing business in Israel.
The campaign has alarmed America’s most committed Christian supporters of Israel, who acknowledge their rivals’ message is gaining momentum within the church.
“This effort is being led by Palestinian Christians who, while not always Evangelicals, are quite adept at using evangelical language and imagery in their effort to blame Israel and Israel alone for Palestinian suffering,” said David Brog, executive director of Christians United For Israel, a key group in rallying American Christians to the Jewish state. “The movement has gotten louder because they have more money to spend. So we’re seeing more anti-Israel Christian films, speakers, and conferences. It’s very much grasstops, not grassroots.
Brog said his rivals’ fledgling success should push Zionists to engage more actively in the evangelical debate over Israel.
“We’re also seeing some signs that this message is resonating with the rising generation of Evangelicals — the millennial Evangelicals,” Brog added. “So we can’t afford to wait. We must speak out and correct the record before more of our young people are led astray.”
One of the evangelical leaders calling for a more “nuanced” view of the conflict is Todd Deatherage, who spent five years in the Bush State Department before co-founding the Telos Group to expose Evangelicals to the complexities of the issue. He said their purpose is not to persuade Christians to turn against Israel, but rather “to affirm and support the dignity of all the people of the Holy Land, to be truly pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian at the same time.”
To achieve this, his group organizes about 15 trips to Israel every year, where American participants — mostly Evangelicals determined to be open-minded and influential in their respective communities — meet with peace activists, victims of violence on both sides of the conflict, and members of the Bethlehem Bible College, which trains Arab Christian pastors. The objective, Deatherage says, is to “change the conversation” among conservative Christians in the U.S.
“We want people to go on these trips and then go back and change others’ minds by talking about their own experience, taking the things they’ve learned and using them to help others understand what it means to be global citizens,” he said.
Lynne Hybels, an evangelical writer and minister heavily engaged in what she calls the “pro-peace” movement in Israel, was even more blunt about their intentions. She said they hope to “build a political constituency that supports peace and supports policymakers with the courage and commitment to work for peace.” As Hybels sees it, that means occasionally standing up for Palestinians — and not allowing Christian critics to get away with accusing them of “abandoning God’s chosen people.”
There has always been a small vocal minority of American evangelical provocateurs who rail against modern-day Israel at progressive political rallies and in the pages of Sojourners magazine. But the current campaign is attracting attention in large part because its leaders boast the kind of conservative Christian credentials even Mike Huckabee could appreciate.
For example, a 2010 documentary questioning the wisdom of Evangelicals’ unwavering commitment to Israel was endorsed by a top official at World Vision, one of the largest Christian humanitarian organizations in the world. The film has since been screened several times at World Vision events, and it received a favorable review in America’s leading evangelical magazine,Christianity Today, which declared, “Christian Zionism is officially on notice.”
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