Babbling in Political Tongues

Just before midnight on June 1, 2001, a Palestinian suicide bomber strolled into a crowd of youngsters cued up outside Tel Aviv’s hottest nightclub, the Dolphinarium, located on the seafront promenade about a mile north of the ancient port of Joppa. The terrorist then blew himself up killing 21 kids; the youngest victims (four of them) were 15 years old, the oldest was 25. The Nelimov family, recent immigrants from Russia, lost two daughters: Yulia age 16 and her older sister Yelena who was 18. The Dolphin nightclub attack was only one of 1,798 terrorist incidents in Israel perpetrated that year by groups associated with Yasir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority. In 2002 and 2003 Palestinian terrorists undertook 1,776 and 1,742 attacks respectively with 504 recorded through the first of June for this year. Terrorists use three basic methods: suicide car bombs, individual suicide bombers detonating explosive belts, and suicide hit squads firing automatic pistols and tossing grenades. The total number of attacks comes to 5,280 over the past four years, resulting in over 700 Israelis killed along with innocent Palestinians and others caught in the crossfire.

In the last week of June 2004, the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (PCUSA), an ultra-liberal remnant of a once great Protestant denomination, meeting in its annual General Assembly in Richmond, Virginia, passed Overture 04-32 submitted by the Presbytery of St. Augustine. This overture condemns Israel for acting in response to the 5,280 or more terrorist attacks unleashed by Arafat’s murderous cronies. The overture cites Israel for its “occupation” of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan heights, areas before the 1967 war manned by the armies of Jordan, Egypt and Syria whose presence constantly threatened Israel. Among the PCUSA’s political pronouncements, the radical religious left’s equivalent of speaking in tongues, is an overture that condemns Israel for killing “several thousands of Palestinians” in response to “hundreds” of Israelis killed by suicide bombers.

While no substantiation is offered for the “several thousands” of Palestinians purportedly killed by Israelis, the fact is that on 5,280 occasions over the past four years terrorists operating from the West Bank, Gaza and the Bekka Valley have carried out attacks on Israel killing hundreds of innocent people.

Israel’s response has been to target terrorist leaders and to erect a barrier through East Jerusalem to prevent suicide bombers from infiltrating at will. Fact is, targeting killings (dubbed “assassinations” by liberal Presbyterians) work. There have been no suicide bombings in Israel in the last four months. As for targeted killings, due to Israeli initiatives, the hunters are now the hunted.

Targeted killings go after the Hamas, Hezbollah, al Fatah and al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade leaders who plan the attacks. Israelis know that once the suicide bomber self-detonates he (or she) is out of the equation. The idea is to prevent attacks by killing the leaders and destroying the group infrastructure: the planners, the bomb makers and the people who recruit bombers. In the last six months over 400 people associated with suicide bombing have been arrested and incarcerated, along with those few “terminated with extreme prejudice.”

While interesting in the context of the culture war, the Presbyterian overture on Israel is de rigueur for what is fast becoming the poster child denomination for radically liberal Protestantism. In addition to condemning Israel, commissioners also confessed corporate guilt for the abuses allegedly committed by a handful of military police at Abu Ghraib, passed a resolution dubbing the war in Iraq illegal, reaffirmed support for all forms of abortion, and declined to support an amendment to the US Constitution prohibiting gay marriage. Is it any wonder the PCUSA lost 46,000 members last year? At its current rate of decline averaging one member every 11 minutes, the denomination will be extinct by 2039. The radical liberals who dominate the PCUSA seem unaware that most American Christians support the armed forces, believe homosexual behavior is sinful, think killing babies in the womb is morally despicable and believe marriage, other than between a man and a woman, is physically impossible, morally reprehensible and should be illegal.

It was not always this way with Presbyterians. Many of America’s founders were Calvinists who modeled the Federal system on denominational polity and wrote the US Constitution based on governing church documents. So how have liberal Presbyterians come to their current religious and political irrelevancy?

The answer is an obsession with political correctness in the era of post-modern Christianity. In the mid-1960s when liberals took control of the PCUSA they quickly abandoned definitive truth by declaring that the Bible, rather than being the Word of God merely “contains” the word of God along with stories, myths and some suggestions which, if followed, offered blessed assurance that “I’m okay and you’re okay.” From there it was a short jog to the promised land of moral relativism. Accordingly, the Presbyterian Church plunged into irrelevance. Nevertheless, even as the denomination founders, the governing body babbles in political tongues on vital topics like Israeli security. Don’t listen.

Earl H. Tilford

Earl H. Tilford

Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. He currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism. Email: [email protected]

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