'Widespread parts of the United Methodist Church bureaucracy are claiming one primary solution to Middle East violence: punish Israel.' -- Mark Tooley, Executive Director UMAction
Contact: Loralei Coyle, 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@TheIRD.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, jwalton@TheIRD.org; both with The Institute on Religion and Democracy
WASHINGTON, March 4 /Christian Newswire/ -- Several groups within the 7.9 million member United Methodist Church are targeting Israel with divestment proposals and hostile publications.
· The United Methodist Board of Church and Society (GBCS), the church's official Washington-based lobbying office, is urging church members and church agencies to divest from Caterpillar, Inc. Their resolution, which will go before the United Methodist General Conference in April 2008, accuses Peoria-based Caterpillar of facilitating Israel's destruction of Palestinian property. Five regional annual conferences within United Methodism have passed similar resolutions.
· The New York-based United Methodist Women's Division has published a children's book containing anti-Israel themes, "From Palestine to Seattle; Becoming Neighbors and Friends." The booklet portrays Israel as an oppressor of Palestinians while omitting nearly all mention of terrorism.
· The Washington-based Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), a liberal caucus group within United Methodism, has outdone the church's official lobby office by calling for divestment against ALL "companies supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and other violations of human rights in Israel/Palestine."
· The United Methodist Women's Division also has released a mission study for 2007-2008 that portrays Israel as virtually the sole aggressor in the Middle East. The study is for use by nearly 700,000 United Methodist Women's members across the nation.
IRD Director of UMAction Mark Tooley commented:
"Israel is unremittingly portrayed as the chief obstacle to Middle East peace by these radicalized United Methodist groups, and by extension, the United States is viewed as directly complicit through its support of Israel.
"Widespread parts of the United Methodist Church bureaucracy are claiming one primary solution to Middle East violence: punish Israel.
"Church agencies should strive towards fairness and factuality. Targeting Israel as the Middle-East's unique villain, while virtually ignoring terrorism and radical Islam, is a gross disservice to members of The United Methodist Church and to the wider public."
The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches' social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.