Leaders become More anti-Israel,
Methodists Members Become more Apathetic
The United Methodists official lobby office demonstrates one reason why their denomination continues to decline in membership.
The 7.9 million member United Methodist Church's official lobby office is urging church agencies and members to divest their holdings in Caterpillar, Inc for doing business with Israel. The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society will unveil its proposal this Friday in Fort Worth, Texas before leading delegates of the church's governing General Conference in April 2008.
Several United Methodist regional conferences have endorsed anti-Israel divestment. The only major U.S. denomination actively to endorse anti-Israel divestment was the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which, after enormous controversy over two years, revoked its divestment policy in 2006.
Many Methodist members do not know, nor would they approve of their collection money being used to further divestment in companies doing business in Israel.
United Methodist Communications is sponsoring the quadrennial Pre-General Conference News Briefing for first-elected delegates and communicators this week. The event is for participants who wish to prepare for the 2008 General Conference.
IRD Director of UMAction Mark Tooley commented:
"Like other Religious Left agencies, the United Methodist lobby office thinks that U.S. pressure against Israel is the magic key for a peace settlement. The reality is more complicated, and Israel is not the exclusive obstacle to Middle East peace.
"The United Methodist church is discussing anti-Israel divestment when other church groups have moved in the opposite direction. Even if anti-Israel divestment were constructive, which it's not, why jump on a stalled band wagon?
"Delegates to the United Methodist General Conference should examine a 2006 resolution approved by United Methodism's Pacific Northwest Conference. It noted that 'some church groups have selectively advocated divestment of firms doing business with Israel while ignoring severe human rights abuses by the governments of Israel's neighbors,' affirmed the Jewish state as 'nearly the only long-standing democracy among its neighbors in the Middle East,' and declared that 'selective attention to Israel's mistakes will not create peace in the Middle East.'"
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.
Methodist leadership continues to seek divestment in Israel; the Methodist membership continues to seek divestment in Methodist congregations.
While churches which pay attention to the spiritual needs of their congregations continue to grow, the United Methodists--who want to play "let's make a deal" with stocks who do business with Israel--slips further into spiritual irrelevancy.
One would think that the precipitous decline in United Methodist fortunes over the years (at one time, they were one of the largest Christian denominations in America), would have Methodist leaders busy doing something besides offering investment advice based on what their take on Israeli issues.
But the hemorrhage of membership seems certain to continue.
As the denomination becomes more stridently anti-Israel, their members become more stridently anti-Methodist; or, more apathetically Methodist is perhaps more accurate.
When your church lectures you on your portfolio, you're better off to go to Merrill Lynch on Sundays. It's just as spiritually fulfilling.
And Merrill Lynch gives better stock advice.
Source: Methodist Lobby Office Unveiling Anti-Israel Divestment Proposal This Week in Fort Worth
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