While Boasting of Its Broadminded Liberality, a Progressive American Church Singles Out the Jewish State for Opprobrium

Established in the U.S. in 1957, but with roots going back to colonial New England, the United Church of Christ (UCC) is one of the major denominations that make up what is known as mainline Protestantism—long the socially dominant form of American Christianity. These churches have gone into a precipitous decline in recent decades, as Samuel Goldman explains, and the UCC is no exception. While, unlike so many Christian denominations, this particular church does not have a long and sordid history of anti-Semitism, that too appears to be changing, as seen from the latest meeting of its General Synod. Luke Moon writes:

[A] General Synod seemingly cannot conclude without passage of a resolution uniquely condemning Israel. This year’s resolution, “A Declaration of Just Peace between Palestine and Israel,” claims to be for peace and opposed to anti-Semitism—and yet singles out Israel for special rebuke and calls on local churches to partner with some of the most radical anti-Israel organizations in the U.S. It also claims to be against supersessionism, [the belief that the church has replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people], and yet urges churches to critically examine the “use and interpretations of Scripture as well as liturgies and hymns that equate ancient biblical Israel with the modern state.”

This type of antagonism against Israel is unsurprising. . . . Although the UCC boasts of its broadminded liberality, its statements and policies show an ongoing animus against the world’s only majority-Jewish country.

The UCC likes to “repent” for various historical misdeeds committed by other people often long ago. But perhaps it should repent for its own ongoing unfairness and double standards towards Jewish Israel. And perhaps it should reflect more on Christianity’s centuries of misdeeds against Jewish people and on why Israel was created as a special refuge for Jews after so much persecution, culminating with the Holocaust in majority-Christian Europe.

Read more at Juicy Ecumenicism

More about: American Religion, Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Jewish-Christian relations, Protestantism, Supersessionism

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus