An exhibition currently at the Hinde Street Methodist Church in London is meant to replicate Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank. Tom Wilson, who was raised a Methodist, wonders why the church chooses to focus its attention on the Jewish state:
There is something deeply disturbing about people who are more troubled by the security put in place to prevent terrorism than they are by the terrorism itself.
It’s all the more disturbing that Hinde Street Methodists appear to have singled out Israeli Jews as being uniquely undeserving of being protected from terrorism. The church’s website may feature a declaration about opposing discrimination, but where the welfare of Israelis is concerned, it seems the church does discriminate. There is no shortage of conflict zones around the world where barriers and checkpoints have been set up. . . . Might [any of these] not be a subject of interest if the Methodists of Hinde Street have genuine humanitarian concerns?
But what if this has nothing to do with humanitarian concerns at all? What if this is about something far uglier within the Methodist movement? . . .
In 2010 the Methodists singled out Israel for boycott action. . . . Reverend Nicola Jones, who proposed the motion, supported her call for boycotts by dabbling in a discussion about Jewish chosenness (never a good sign) before going on to promote the supersessionist idea of a “new covenant.” She then completed her speech by remarking that “God is not a racist God, with favorites.” The implication was clear. The Jews and their religion are racist, with belief in a racist God, and as such they should be punished with boycotts. It was the age-old basis for the worst form of Christian anti-Semitism being revisited.
There is no getting away from the fact that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was an outspoken anti-Semite. . . . During the German occupation of the Channel Islands, a local Methodist minister called John Leale collaborated enthusiastically with the Nazis by disclosing the names of the Islands’ Jewish residents. Given that history, you might have thought the Methodists would show a little more humility on the subject. Instead, one of the members of clergy speaking at the 2010 conference accused Jews of using the Holocaust as a “Zionist tool.”
Sign Up For Our E-Mail List Get the latest from Mosaic right in your inbox
Sign up now for unlimited access