Minnesota Methodists, having decided that slamming Israel is central to their mission, have released a new special curriculum called “Palestine/Israel: Advocating for a Just & Lasting Peace.”
The 7.8 million member United Methodist Church’s Minnesota Annual Conference is one of the denomination’s most left-leaning and consequently fastest declining regions. It’s lost over 20 percent of membership just in the last decade and is now down to about 70,000 United Methodists in Minnesota. Evangelizing and reversing this membership decline might have been a logical response. But instead, the elites of Minnesota Methodism evidently believe that targeting Israel for ongoing condemnation is more urgent. Generously, they are disseminating their anti-Israel study guide across the denomination nationwide.
“We invite you to join us in a lifetime of learning, of experiencing spiritual vitality, and of an exhilarating way of life as you find yourself making a difference for peace,” chirpily chimes the new website of Minnesota Methodism’s “Palestine Israel Justice Project” (PIJP). The endeavor evidently traces back to 2001, when Methodist missionaries in “Palestine” challenged their Midwestern brothers and sisters to a “peace for Palestine” movement in Minnesota
PIJP’s September “prayer” alert for Minnesota Methodism encapsulated the project’s anti-Israel flavor. “We pray that we might be able to put ourselves in the place of Palestinians who cannot report to their work place because of 30 foot walls, permanent and temporary check-points,” the Minnesota Methodists plead, without also praying they might understand Israelis who still struggle for their nation’s survival after over 60 years. But the Minnesota Methodists did pray that “Israeli Jews will heed the warning of the Hebrew prophets that ‘Zion’ will be wrested away from them in the wake of perpetual injustice.” Is there any possibility that Palestinians don’t fully have their own nation because of their own “injustice” in not wanting to live besides Israel? If so, it’s unmentioned in this prayer. At least the “prayer” did cite the “negative persistence of Hamas,” in the context of praying for the “integrity of Palestinian peace efforts.”
Predictably, PIJP justifies its anti-Israel animosity by citing the voices of Palestinian Christians, who comprise a tiny minority of Palestinian Christians and whose public voices, whether from conviction or self-survival, are habitually anti-Israel and uncritical of the Palestinian Authority. “The curriculum raises the voices and concerns of Palestinian Christians,” explains Minnesota United Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck in her introduction to the PIJP study guide. “Why wouldn’t we listen to the voices of our own Christian brothers and sisters, even if their perspectives might be different from ours or challenge us to see this part of the world from their eyes?” Convenient primarily as a talking point against Israel, Palestinian Christians are virtually the only struggling Christian community in the world of persistent interest to the Religious Left.
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