At its convention, the Presbyterian Church USA not only approved same-sex unions (and marriages where they are legal), but also voted to divest its portfolio of stock in three companies whose business, it says, helps Israel occupy Palestinian land. For the record, even though I am a supporter of Israel and its right to exist, I am against Israel’s settlements policies. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, like everything else in the Middle East, defies simple explanation, and is by no means a Good vs. Evil thing. Yet selective moral outrage of this sort irritates me.
How many other companies who do business with countries whose governments violate Presbyterian values — China, for example, or Iran, or any number of Arab and African nations — are the Presbyterians planning to withdraw their money from? How does Israel’s overall record compare with those countries? The United States government is complicit in the destruction of the ancient Christian communities of Iraq. Are the Presbyterians going to divest themselves of companies that sell military equipment to the US government? Where does it stop?
In the end, though, I’m not at all sure that Israelis and Israel supporters have much to worry about. The PCUSA, like all liberal Mainline denominations, is dying. In 2002, it voted to approve partial-birth abortion. Now it’s all for gay marriage and divesting from Israel. Whatever progressive cause there is, the PCUSA seems bound and determined to embrace it. One PCUSA pastor celebrated the gay marriage vote like this:
The PC(USA) has lost a number of churches in the last few years since clearing the way for LGBT persons to be ordained as pastors, elders and deacons. More will undoubtedly leave, not pacified by six words in a subordinate clause. But we hope the language will give some conservative-minded folks a place to stand. The Presbyterian Church is rarely the first one to the table on matters of justice, but when we do get there, we try to bring as many people as possible with us. Whether we’re successful this time remains to be seen.
Actually, if history is any guide, the handwriting is on the wall. All Christian churches are facing decline now — let no conservative/orthodox churchmen gloat — but none faster than Mainline Protestantism, which has been the quickest Christian tradition to embrace progressivist causes. A Protestant friend of mine, reflecting on the PCUSA’s General Convention, interprets its actions in a broader context:
It’s part and parcel of a larger reorganization among Christians — the ones who are giving themselves permission to go extinct, basically, and the ones who are preparing for the coming darkness.
I agree with this.
UPDATE: Let’s not debate the Israel-Palestine conflict. I’m not going to approve any more comments on that issue. I’m happy to talk about the wisdom, or unwisdom, of church divestments and boycotts, and to talk about Mainline Protestantism, and Christianity on the whole. Just no Israel-Palestine. About the only way to get more endless arguing would be to debate whether interreligious Jewish-Muslim gay marriages are both kosher and halal.