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Presbyterian Church rejects Christian Zionism, divests from Israel Bonds

The denomination had 8,704 churches and 1.14 million members as of May 2023.

Presbyterian church. Credit: klawson/Pixabay.
Presbyterian church. Credit: klawson/Pixabay.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted on Monday at its biennial meeting, which is ongoing in Salt Lake City, Utah, to divest from financial bonds in Israel and to denounce Christian Zionism, Religion News Service reported.

The denomination, which had 8,704 churches and 1.14 million members as of May 2023, voted to “reject Christian Zionism in all its forms” and to issue a report about the “dangers of Christian Zionism” and how “mainline Christians and those of other faiths are complicit, though unaware of connections with Christian Zionism.”

“Presbyterian Church (USA) has long singled out Israel for animus, fixation, double standards and demonization. Now PCUSA has voted to divest from Israel bonds and to slam ‘Christian Zionism,'” B’nai B’rith International stated.

“The denomination tragically fails to speak for all its members, for fairness and for truth,” B’nai B’rith added.

A previous version of the resolution referred not to the “dangers” of Christian Zionism but to “heretical views of Christian Zionism.” A prior version of the resolution also referred to the 10 Commandments as “a core requirement of Judaism,” although the new version scrubbed that reference.

The other resolution, which called for boycotting Israel Bonds, addressed the church’s investment in the “sovereign debt,” of “three nation-states that are currently engaged in prolonged occupations: Israel, Morocco and Turkey.”

“Israel has occupied Palestinian territory since 1967; Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since 1976; and Turkey has occupied Northern Cyprus since 1974,” the denomination stated. “Addressing Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian territory is especially urgent today, as it is directly connected to the devastating war in Gaza and ongoing violence in the West Bank.”

“On Oct. 7, 2023, amidst the 56th year of Israel’s occupation, Palestinian militants killed 1,139 Israelis and took 241 people hostage. In response, the Israeli military has invaded and bombed Gaza and, in a lesser but still lethal manner, the West Bank,” the denomination said.

It added that the Israel Defense Forces has “killed more than 37,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including at least 15,000 children” since Oct. 7, and “Israeli settlers and soldiers have killed at least 548 people, including 135 children, in the West Bank during that same time.”

“Israel has detained at least 9,170 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza since October 7,” it added. “Israel has severely limited Gazans’ access to food, leading the U.N. Commissioner of Human Rights and other human rights organizations to suggest that Israel is, or may be, using ‘starvation as a weapon of war.'”

RNS reported that both resolutions were part of legislation that passed unanimously. The denomination “has been sharply critical of Israel and its policies over Palestinians for decades,” it reported. “Two years ago it voted to declare Israel an apartheid state, angering the U.S. Jewish establishment.”

“There is a growing consensus in the church that we shouldn’t be profiting from Israel’s human-rights abuses and, frankly, genocide against Palestinians,” said Bob Ross, a member of the steering committee of the advocacy group Israel/Palestine Mission Network, RNS reported.

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