Since his remarks were published on Monday, January 17th, the Stated Clerk, Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson has been heavily criticized inside and outside of PCUSA. Jewish organizations from the left, right and center have been united in condemning his hateful rhetoric. We at Presbyterians for Middle East Peace have been steadfast in our opposition to the Stated Clerk’s words.. Once again, the leadership in Louisville has failed to grasp how closely our congregations work with their Jewish neighbors on issues of importance. This work has become more important as the pandemic rages around us, as we face the reality of systemic racism and seek to address issues of poverty. The toxic nature of the Stated Clerk’s words have the potential to damage these relationships and the Stated Clerk must apologize.
We are glad that we are not the only ones in the denomination who are lifting their voices in concern. A group of like minded Presbyterians have created a Change.org petition, that you can find here, which calls upon the Stated Clerk to acknowledge the harm his words have done and seek to find ways to strengthen our strained relationships with the American Jewish Community. We would ask that you consider adding your name to the petition.
PCUSA has been a staunch supporter for the right of self determination of the Jewish people, as we most recently affirmed in 2016, and have supported its right to exist. However, we have also been steadfast in our view that the Palestinian people also have the right to self-determination, a reason why we support two states for two people, and we strongly condemn the continued practices in the Occupied Territories that ill treat Palestinians as individuals and a people. These two realities are the core of our Christian witness for peace in the region.
We, at PFMEP, regret the language that has been used within the denomination to address these principles. The language has become increasingly toxic, mirroring the language that has lead to anti-Semitic attacks in the United States. The Stated Clerk’s words exemplify this to toxic environment and they are not the Way of Christ.
We ask you to consider adding your name to the Change.org petition and help us charter a more Christian witness to peace in Israel/Palestine and in our communities.