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Posts Tagged ‘church’

Report: Western Governments Fund Anti-Israel Church Activism

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

A report published on Monday by NGO Monitor reveals that several European governments, as well as the United States and Canada, have been providing funds for church-based efforts to delegitimize Israel, starting at the 2001 UN Durban Conference, and continuing with boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) over the past decade.

These tax-payer funds are disbursed as grants to church-based humanitarian NGOs, which then transfer these funds to highly politicized pro-Palestinian NGOs.

The report mentions Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, located in Jerusalem, founded in 1989 and led by Anglican Canon Naim Ateek. Sabeel seeks to build a critical mass of influential church leaders who will amplify its message that Israel is solely culpable for the origin and continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Through its international “Friends of Sabeel” network Sabeel hosts numerous church-based conferences in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia each year where it promotes its agenda to large audiences of Christians.

Sabeel works with pro-Palestinian activists within different denominations, such as the U.S. Presbyterian Church’s Israel-Palestine Mission Network, the Episcopal Church’s Palestine Israel Network, the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries, and World Council of Churches.

The report accuses Sabeel of using anti-Semitic deicide imagery against Israel, and of disparaging Judaism as “tribal,” “primitive,” and “exclusionary,” in contrast to Christianity’s “universalism” and “inclusiveness.”

The report says the Dutch government grants hundreds of millions of euros annually to Dutch church-based aid organizations such as Kerk in Aktie (KIA), the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), and Cordaid. These groups disburse these funds to NGOs around the world, including Sabeel.

The report points out that Sabeel lists Kerk in Aktie among its donors. KIA claims to support Sabeel in order to promote the voice of Palestinian Christians within the church.

The Swedish government’s International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has been providing substantial aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since 2000. Much of this aid is funneled through Diakonia, Sweden’s largest humanitarian NGO.

Sabeel’s website states, “Diakonia is closely associated with Sabeel” and credits this relationship for changing the direction of Swedish foreign policy toward Israel.

The Canadian government’s Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provided $44.6 million to the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (Development et paix) for the five year period 2006 to 2011, some of which has been donated to Sabeel. For the period 2011-2016, CIDA granted Development and Peace $14.5 million.

In its 2011 annual report, Sabeel listed Development et paix as a donor without specifying the amount.

According to its 2010-2011 Annual Report, Development and Peace granted $180,000 to the “Palestinian Territories” without specifying the recipients.

The National Endowment for Democracy, mostly funded by the U.S. Congress, granted the Holy Land Trust (HLT) $124,300 (2009, 2010, 2012).

The Holy Land Trust (HLT) is a signatory to the 2005 “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS” and supports the Kairos Palestine document. Similar to Sabeel, HLT conducts highly politicized tours to the region targeting church leaders and the international community, claiming to provide “cross cultural and experimental learning opportunities in both Palestine and Israel.”  HLT’s influence is felt in churches across the globe.

For the complete report go to: BDS IN THE PEWS: European, U.S. and Canadian Government Funding Behind Anti-Israel Activism in Mainline Churches.

Fearing Anti-Mormon Prejudice, Romney Plays Down His Religion

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney’s Lacrosse moment awaits him.

The Democratic convention in Los Angeles was where Joe Lieberman made history as the first Jewish candidate on a major ticket on Aug. 17, 2000. But two days later, history came to life in Lacrosse, Wis., the little college town where Lieberman walked – and pointedly did not drive – to the local synagogue on his first post-nomination Shabbat.

Townspeople came out of their homes to shake the vice presidential candidate’s hand, congratulate him and express their admiration for his adherence to the traditional tenets of Sabbath observance. The Middle American scene affirmed for Lieberman the country’s openness to different faiths.

By contrast Romney, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, seems to prefer silence in handling his Mormonism in public. It’s a stark contrast to both Lieberman and Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic who in 1960 famously said he would not take political guidance from the Vatican.

“It’s clear his campaign made a decision that it is not interested in talking about his Mormonism, not its doctrines or theology, his experiences as a church leader, how it shaped his family,” said Patrick Mason, the chair of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif. “He’s always said ‘I’m not running to be pastor in chief.’ ”

In fact, Romney on the trail has even cut off questioners when they ask about his religious beliefs.

There was nary a hint of Mormonism during his one term governing Massachusetts, from 2003 to 2007, said Nancy Kaufman, then the director of the Boston-area Jewish Community Relations Council and now the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women.

“It was never an issue – it never even came up during the campaign,” Kaufman recalled of her many meetings with Romney and his staff on issues such as faith-based initiatives, health care, Israel and Iran divestment. “The only thing I ever heard about it was when we went to receptions and there was no wine.” Mormons abjure alcohol.

That lack of conversation about Romney’s religion is clearly no longer the case. In an e-mail complaint last year to the Washington Post about a story that detailed Romney’s leadership in the Boston-area Mormon community, his Jewish spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, substituted “Jew” and “Jewish” for Mormon in an attempt to underscore what she depicted as the complaint’s intrusiveness and offense. The New York Times has reported that the Romney campaign challenges reporters, “Would you have written this about a Jewish candidate?”

Some experts on Mormonism say the answer should be yes and add that Romney should welcome the scrutiny, especially because of his deep involvement in his church, as a young missionary in France and then as a bishop in Boston.

“His experience as a church leader provides some humanizing narrative of working with people who are unemployed, poor, immigrants,” Mason said. “People in America respect faith.”

Romney should be prepared to accept even greater scrutiny because Mormonism is less well known and much younger than Judaism, said Ryan Cragun, an expert in the sociology of religion at the University of Tampa and a former Mormon.

“Judaism has been around for thousands of years, many people have been familiar with it,” he said. “The same cannot be said of Mormonism. It’s a young religion, it has a number of quirks and oddities, and people want to know more of that.”

Mason agreed, but added that Romney should avoid the particulars of Mormon theology while focusing on broad principles of shared faith with other religious communities. Romney seemed to be doing that last month when he delivered the commencement speech at Liberty University, the evangelical school in Lynchburg, Va., founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Making common Christian cause against secular encroachment served Romney well, Mason said.

“It showed this common language of faith,” he said. “When he leaves [specific] theology out of it, he does well with the evangelicals.”

The approach could be critical for Romney with the GOP’s evangelical base, whose distaste for Mormonism may have been evidenced in Romney’s difficulties in winning primary states in the South this year.

The Anti-Defamation League in tracking anti-Mormon prejudice has found negative attitudes among about a quarter of the population, according to its national director, Abraham Foxman.

Methodist Conference Could Vote on Israel Divestment Motion

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Close to 1,000 delegates from around the world, representing 11-million members, are gathered at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference being held in the Tampa, Florida.

Throughout the 11-day session, delegates will debate the future of the Methodist church, which has experienced a significant participation decline in the United States. Over the last 40 years, US membership has dropped to 8 million, according to church officials.

Four years ago, the conference rejected a divestment motion. But the issue is being pushed again by anti-Israel members, objecting to “illegal settlements, segregated roads, checkpoints, a separation wall, home demolitions and other realities of occupation.”

Methodist Church Unanimously Rejects Divestment Resolution

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The United Methodist General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) voted unanimously against divestment from three companies which do business in Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights, according to a report by the Israel Action Network, a project of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard came under attack by several bodies within the United Methodist Church, which recommended the religious organization sell all their shares in the companies.

GBPHB commended the companies for their human rights policies and codes of conduct.  The Caterpillar Company was acknowledged for providing equipment which “improves the lives of the Palestinian people,” according to the Israel Action Network report.  It was also noted that Caterpillar does not sell construction equipment to Israel, but rather to the US Foreign Military Sales Program.  Hewlett-Packard was complimented on its record of environmental friendliness, and Motorola Solutions was praised for its work in conflict areas such as Eastern Congo.

The Methodist vote took an opposite approach from that of the Presbyterian Church, which voted in 2004 to divest from Israeli companies.  In June of that year, the Presbyterian Church General Assembly issued one resolution stating that “the occupation… has proven to be at the root of evil acts”, and another calling on the US government to prevent Israel from building a separation barrier.  The assembly also adopted policies rejecting Christian Zionism.  In 2006, the Presbyterian Church backtracked, stating that it would only invest in companies involved in peaceful work in Israel and Arab occupied territories.

The World Council of Churches and United Church of Christ have also adopted divestment policies.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rejected a pro-divestment resolution in 2005.

ADL Praises Mormon Church Prohibition of Holocaust Victims’ Posthumous Baptism

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

The Anti-Defamation League on Friday welcomed a letter from Mormon Church leaders, to be read during services this Sunday, in which they remind LDS members that Jewish Holocaust victims should not be submitted to the church’s online genealogical registry for proxy baptisms.

“Without exception,” reads the letter from LDS President Thomas S. Monson and other church leaders, “church members must not submit for proxy temple ordinances any names from unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims.  If members do so, they may forfeit their new family-search privileges.  Other corrective action may also be taken.”

The church directive comes in the wake of attempts by some members to submit the names of famous Jews – including diarist Anne Frank, slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, and relatives of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel – for proxy baptism in violation of Mormon Church policy.

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, himself a Holocaust survivor, lauded LDS for their move and added: “As two minority religions who share histories as the target of intolerance and discrimination, we will continue to work with each other to bring greater understanding and respect to both of our faith communities.”

As Woody Allen once put it, ” The lion and the lamb shall lie down together but the lamb won’t get much sleep.”

Mormons Posthumously Baptized Anne Frank: New Claim

Friday, February 24th, 2012

The Toronto Star reported that researcher Helen Radkey, a former Mormon who revealed the Wiesenthal baptisms, said this week she found Anne Frank’s name in proxy baptism records dated Feb. 18, showing the ritual was performed in the Dominican Republic.

The new allegation came just a week after the LDS apologized for posthumously baptizing the parents of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in temples in Arizona and Utah last January.

The Mormon church immediately issued a statement which did not mention Frank by name.

“The church keeps its word and is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism,” the Salt Lake City-based church said. “It is distressing when an individual willfully violates the church’s policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention.”

Elie Wiesel Wants Romney to Denounce Mormon Posthumous Baptisms

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

The Boston Globe wrote Saturday that Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel wants Mitt Romney to speak out against the Mormon practice of posthumously baptizing Jews.

“He is a Mormon, and since he’s running for president – the highest office in the world, not only in America – he should know what is happening, and he should have said simply, ‘It is wrong,”’ Wiesel, a professor at Boston University, said in an interview.

Wiesel’s comments could put Romney in the uncomfortable position of defending one of his church’s rituals that is little understood outside the world of Mormonism and has been the source of controversy with Jews in the past.

Romney’s campaign said yesterday that any questions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be directed to the church.

The church acknowledged earlier this week that Wiesel’s name and the names of his late father and grandfather had been entered into a genealogical database as candidates ready for posthumous rites.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/wiesel-wants-romney-to-denounce-mormon-posthumous-baptisms/2012/02/19/

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