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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The idiocy and irrelevance of a dying United Church of Canada

The best thing I can think of to say about the United Church of Canada is that, since the average UCC churchgoer is 68 years old and a full 82% of its membership is over the age of 50, it isn't likely to be around for very much longer.

There are still a few decent members of the United Church who, with a combination of tradition and good intent, have clung to the organization. But those are the few.

Once described as "the NDP at prayer," as the NDP membership turned almost uniformly secular, the prayer became redundant. For the UCC, it means that what was once a vibrant church which played an integral part in the lives of many Canadians, is now mainly reduced to a collection of pathetic, geriatric leftists less interested in practicing the principles of Christianity than in being perceived as "social justice" activists.

As if to demonstrate their irrelevance and the idiotic need to be viewed to take a "progressive stand" on an issue in which they only have a dilettante's comprehension, the Moderator of the UCC has called for economic action against Israeli companies. The new directive comes from Rev. Gary Paterson, whom at 63 is a youngster in the United Church and whom they proudly describe as "the first openly gay leader of a major Christian denomination." Paterson has called for conflicting "economic action focused on settlement goods; and support for trust-building programs between Palestinians and Israelis."

The United Church has a weird history involving its anti-Israel activism. The Church helped to set up an anti-Israel group, founded by a 9-11 conspiracy theory crackpot, that in significant part consists of United Church members pretending to be Jews in order to deflect charges of anti-Semitism. 

I was at a meeting a couple of years ago with the then-Moderator of the United Church, Mardi Tindal and Reverend Bruce Gregersen, who headed its Israel/Palestine file.  The meeting was between the top people of the UCC and a Jewish organization for which I consulted and was looking to do more interfaith outreach. But the meeting quickly became a discussion about the pending anti-Israel stance that the Church was about to make official. While the discussion achieved nothing, the meeting was extremely informative about the mindset within the UCC.

Gergerson did virtually all the talking for the United Church side. Their stance was based on the call for action of the so-called Kairos-Palestine document, which was written by a handful of Palestinian Christian anti-Israel activists.

What was glossed over, or perhaps not fully understood by Gergerson and the UCC Moderator, is that the document in which they invested their intellectual allegiance, such as it is, is filled with explicit support for violence, terrorism, and is inherently anti-Semitic.

The document talks about Israeli Jews in terms of "the evil that is in them." As to the complex and myriad reasons for the ongoing occupation of the West Bank, where the Palestinian leadership still proclaims that it will not recognize a Jewish state and celebrates terrorists and mass-murderers of children, the Kairos document places all of the blame on Israel with support for violence against it and with hyperbolic Jew-hatred: "The aggression against the Palestinian people which is the Israeli occupation, is an evil that must be resisted. It is an evil and a sin that must be resisted and removed."

To make it clear that when Palestinians blow up Jewish children on public buses, it's the Jews' own fault, the document in which the United Church places so much stock proclaims the "roots of "terrorism" are in the human injustice committed and in the evil of the occupation."

As happens so often among the not-very-bright activists who think they have mastered an issue that has eluded the best efforts of brilliant political leaders and diplomats like George Mitchell, Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton for over six decades, the UCC leaders removed all context from their mental framework of the Israel/Arab/Palestinian issue. They seem to do this so it can be framed in simplistic terms that fit their very limited comprehension of the quagmire. But those limitations become obvious when they are challenged.

One of the "issues" the UCC leaders have with Israel is that it purports to be a western democracy, but still engages in "oppressive" behavior.

But that argument makes no sense to anyone who understands history or has any knowledge of the context and actions involved. Israel is not neighbors with Luxembourg or Canada. I asked Gergerson to name a country, democratic or otherwise, in the entire history of the world, that faced with contiguous enemies who launch attacks against it, have declared their intent to destroy it, and while remaining in a formal state of hostilities with those enemies, has behaved as benevolently as Israel has with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Holding a single, index finger in the air to emphasize the point, I asked him to "just name one."

His response was nothing more than a vacant look, and then he continued to speak as if the question had never been asked.

Whether he was embarrassed to admit the answer was that there are none, or that he didn't know enough of the history of the conflict or of global conflict in general to be able to answer amounts to the same thing. In either case, it points to an intellectual dearth at the top of the United Church of Canada. These are people who evidently are more interested in image than in integrity.

Which is the very sort of thing that Jesus spoke against. But then again, the way the United Church of Canada is going these days, Jesus' teachings are something they may not know much about either.

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