Church Banality on Mideast Terror

Mark Tooley on October 9, 2023

Mainline Protestant agencies are typically hostile to Israel. So their morally empty statements about Hamas terrorists murdering hundreds of Israeli civilians are lamentably unsurprising. These denominations are largely inconsequential given their decline and loss of public influence. Here’s the United Methodist missions board:

We are witnesses to the escalation of violence in the region and we call on Methodist people all over the globe to continue to pray for peace and for an end to the violence.

Pray for those who have lost family members and livelihoods, the injured, for those who perpetuate violence and for World Leaders that they may work for peace, the churches and all religious leaders and for those who work for peace in the region.

The situation is complicated, and we recognize the fear and sense of injustice that are felt, but we call on both sides not to resort to further violence and to engage in negotiation to establish a peaceful solution for all who live in the Holy Land.

“Complicated.” United Methodist agencies and officials make lots of controversial political statements about very complicated situations. Yet these complications don’t hinder their often polemical perspectives. But terror against Israel is apparently too complicated for any strong opinion.

Perhaps the Presbyterian Church (USA) statement is worse:

Bloodshed has come once again in the latest clash between Israelis and Palestinians with declarations of war and revenge coming from Israeli leaders. As hundreds lay dead and thousands injured, we grieve. We stand in shock that this long, battle-scarred conflict has taken yet another deadly turn.

We pray for those that have died, are dying, and wounded on both sides. We ask the Holy Spirit to intervene to bring calm and reason when vengeance and hatred now appear to have taken control.

We pray for our mission co-worker who must navigate this ever-changing landscape and for our partners who have placed their own safety on the line, not only seeking solutions to the ongoing crisis in the region, but also those in Gaza, at the hospitals that are overwhelmed with the dead and injured. We pray that leaders on both sides can step back and consider a peaceful and just solution that benefits all.

While these events continue to unfold, we come to you, O Lord, for your calm voice and guiding hand. Even in the midst of fire, destruction, and the cries of pain from both sides of this horrific scene, we know you are in the midst. May your Spirit dwell among them and guide them to a peaceful outcome for all.

Note the Presbyterians lament “declarations of war and revenge coming from Israeli leaders” without even citing Hamas. The terror attacks are described as “the latest clash between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“Clash” indeed.

Here’s The Episcopal Church:

We offer our prayers and support during this time of violence in Israel and Palestine. In Luke 19:41, we are reminded ‘That when Jesus drew near and saw the city, he wept over it.’ Many still weep.

We pray for those who have been killed, injured, are searching for loved ones, and are struggling with grief and fear. The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has consistently advocated for peace and justice, teaching us all what it means to walk in the way of love, to which Jesus points.

We are praying for Israelis and Palestinians.

We give thanks for the dedicated staff at al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, part of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and for all who are offering medical care in the region. We pray for their strength and safety.

“Time of violence.”

Jewish friends need not fret very much about these statements, which speak for almost no one, including the shrinking numbers of people in these once influential denominations. The political pronouncements of Mainline denominations are unserious and nearly irrelevant, except as examples of how once great and mighty churches commit suicide.

  1. Comment by David on October 9, 2023 at 8:11 pm

    Partitioning areas by ethnic group has never been very successful be it Ireland, Cyprus, India/Pakistan, Lebanon, or Palestine. It seems to have actually promoted ill will and long-term hatred. Had European refugees been content to live in a multiethnic place and adopt the language of the inhabitants, perhaps things might be better today. I consider the present situation hopeless with violence continually erupting.

  2. Comment by Mikeb on October 9, 2023 at 8:32 pm

    David, it’s actually working quite well now in Ireland, so I think you are left with Muslims who won’t tolerate anyone else, specifically Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Lebanese Catholic, Indian Hinduism.

  3. Comment by David Mu on October 9, 2023 at 8:50 pm

    These are people who make such nonsense, but all the while are thinking “From the river to sea, Palestine shall be free”. And only a fool thinks this doesn’t mean the death of every Jew in the world. They are disgusting.

  4. Comment by John on October 9, 2023 at 10:30 pm

    If they’re inconsequential why are you reporting on them? Why do you stalk them like wolves? Why do you take the time to pain-stakingly anaylze and critique every word that comes out of their mouth? Why build an entire organization that seems to do nothing, but constantly survey the mainline churches you claim don’t matter anymore? You’re like the gossipy housewife who only stops spying on the neighbors long enough to say “…but that’s none of my business.”

  5. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on October 10, 2023 at 10:09 am

    John, IRD continues to cover mainline Protestant political pronouncements because their path to irrelevancy is instructive for other Christians.

  6. Comment by David on October 10, 2023 at 6:44 am

    “More than 3,500 people died during those decades of conflict known as the Troubles. And though the period largely ended with a peace deal in 1998, many of Northern Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants continue to live mostly separate lives. More than 90 percent of children go to schools segregated by religion, and some neighborhoods remain physically divided. Nearly one hundred barriers, including so-called peace walls, still crosscut the capital, Belfast.”

    “After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we will abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine “
    — Ben Gurion, p.22 “The Birth of Israel, 1987” Simha Flapan.

  7. Comment by David S. on October 10, 2023 at 10:31 am

    Nice to know that antisemitism among the leadership of the mainline Presbyterian denomination continues to reign supreme, following the resignation of Mr. J. Herbert Nelson II. I have accomparison to religious leaders in a certain region 80-90 years ago in mind, but given the often over used comparisons in these times to a certain regime of that era, I shan’t.

  8. Comment by John E on October 10, 2023 at 11:46 am

    The statement issued by the PC(USA) leadership was an embarassment. They appeared more aggrieved that Israeli leaders declared war, while studiously ignoring that Hamas carried out a deliberate pogrom of rape, torture and murder of civilians, ranging from infants to the very old.

  9. Comment by Bob on October 10, 2023 at 11:59 am

    “Had European refugees been content to live in a multiethnic place and adopt the language of the inhabitants, perhaps things might be better today. “
    LOL…you also hold this view for the United States of course as well…right?

  10. Comment by David on October 10, 2023 at 12:08 pm

    Even the American colonies were multiethnic. In the end, the native tribes were found to be inconvenient in many places as immigrants coveted their land. Sound familiar?

  11. Comment by John on October 10, 2023 at 12:30 pm


    Your organization contradicts itself. One minute claiming these denominations are insignificant and of no one’s concern, and yet you feel the need to constantly warn others against them. Your continued attention grants them significance. Perhaps instead of constantly writing on the activities of churches you’ve been claiming will be gone for the past 20 years, maybe you should take a closer look at what’s happening in those denominations you do consider “significant”. I read the statements from Pope Francis and the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Their statements were not that different from the United Methodists, yet the witness of the single largest Christian sect in the world is not worthy of your attention? You are an Anglican Jeffrey, are you not? Perhaps you care to comment on this joint statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York: “We are grieved and deeply concerned at the violence in Israel and Gaza, and we unequivocally condemn the attacks by Hamas. We pray for those who are mourning, those who are injured, and all those fearing for their safety. We pray for restraint on all sides, and renewed efforts towards a just peace for all. The way forward must be for both sides to build confidence in a secure future through which Israel and its people can live in security within its internationally recognized borders, and Palestinians have their own state and live in their lands in security, and with peace and justice.” Do you agree with this statement or do you feel that like that the mainline denominations above that it is “morally empty”?

  12. Comment by Bob on October 10, 2023 at 12:43 pm

    “Sound familiar?”
    Yep. Sounds like “river to the sea” Hamas type agitprop.

  13. Comment by David on October 10, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    Just for the record, the number of deaths from conflicts in the past 15 years is 6,407 Palestinians and 308 Israelis exclusive of recent events. Of the Palestinians, 4,326 were men, 1,326 were boys under 18, 1,362 were women, and 275 were girls under age 18.—UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

  14. Comment by Different Steve on October 10, 2023 at 8:47 pm

    Black Lives Matter Chapters Celebrate Terrorist Attack in Israel, Revel in Slaughter at Music Festival

    And David does essentially the same thing Trolls gotta troll.

  15. Comment by Gary Bebop on October 11, 2023 at 12:48 am

    Thanks to Mark Tooley we have here a remarkable billboard exposing the trolling commentary of a degraded Left. What a lurid burlesque of authentic sympathy they vaunt. Euphemism will not excuse the murder of children and families. The decapitation of infants is an unspeakable depravity. The trolls must think God is not watching.

  16. Comment by Curtis Nester on October 11, 2023 at 2:03 pm

    Whenever anyone begins a statement with “Its Complicated” I run, because that is their way of introducing all kinds of excuses for not facing a problem honestly and finding a real solution. Its the liberal form of obfuscation leading to deceit.

  17. Comment by John on October 11, 2023 at 4:36 pm


    What do you see as the solution, then? I see a problem with no easy solution. Israelis have a right to exist and to live in peace free of the horrors of terrorism. Palestinians on the other hand have been wronged historically. They have legitimate grievances both past and present and strong ties to the land. We can’t make up for one dispora by forcing another. That doesn’t excuse any of the actions of Hamas over the last week, nor does not preclude Israel from taking the necessary steps to protect and defend its citizens. But there is still the question of what happens next. What prevents the next attack? Gaza’s been closely watched and held in a state of constant occupation for years, and yet Hamas still managed to plan and execute these attacks behind the backs of Israel’s military and intelligence, which is no mean feat. What is the solution, then?

  18. Comment by Cal on October 11, 2023 at 5:56 pm

    Well, mainline churches are certainly the go-to places for moral twistedness.

    That said, too bad the original zionist movement did not purchase a South Pacific island or someplace. Planting themselves in the midst of a billion hostile muslims seems like a low-percentage move, in terms of safety.

  19. Comment by David on October 12, 2023 at 7:15 am

    The Palestinian-Zionist conflict goes back well before the establishment of Israel. Previously, much of the Middle East was controlled by Turkey, which made the mistake of siding with Austria and Germany in WWI. With its defeat, colonial powers sought to annex the area. France took Lebanon and parts north up to Turkey, the UK took Palestine, Jordan, and parts south.

    During the war, the UK had an urgent need for acetone, a highly volatile chemical used in munitions (and in nail polish remover). A British Jewish chemist, Chaim Weizmann, invented a method of producing this using bacteria. Using this leverage, he was able to persuade the British to allow for the eventual establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This was named the “Balfour Declaration” whose namesake was actually quite antisemitic and sponsored legislation to limit Jewish immigration to the UK from persecution in the Russian Empire. Sending Jews to Palestine was seen by him as a way of keeping them out of the UK.

    With the dissolution of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, there was a rise in nationalism among the Palestinians and the small Jewish Zionist population. The first became enraged over the Balfour Declaration and there was violence between the two groups as early as 1920. Zionism was viewed as an obstacle to the establishment of a Palestinian state, and in the end, this proved true.

  20. Comment by David S. on October 13, 2023 at 5:15 am

    Even the UCC was able to publicly condemn Hamas…now it was as a signatory to CMEP’s principally mainline version of the ERLC backed, ecumenical statement, whereas the PC(USA), there is not one mention of that document, even though it’s Washington Office did sign.

    Interestingly, the ELCA is opting for static, whereas Ukraine and Israeli incursions in Jenin in early summer received comment. Unlike UCC and Disciples, it didn’t even at a minimum mention being a signatory to CMEP letter.

  21. Comment by David S. on October 13, 2023 at 1:02 pm

    The PC(USA) has updated its statement and removed the original prayer. But, the concluding comments are worse, to me, than the original, because the leadership of the PC(USA) is trying to whitewash that they were more than likely shamed into updating the statement:

    “Earlier this week, the Office of the Stated Clerk issued a call for prayer as an immediate response to the tragedy. Since then, we have been thoughtful and prayerful in discerning what to say and have worked with our colleagues who are closest to this unfolding crisis. The prayer has been taken down with this new response. The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness has also issued a Statement of Lament for Israel and Palestine.”

  22. Comment by Angela Ney on October 14, 2023 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent article but I think you need to spread your critique wider to include ACNA churches I know whose statements were little better than some of these mainline ones (sorry about violence, care about both sides–no moral denunciation of Hamas evil, no clear statement of support for Israeli victims). Or the many many non-Baptist evangelical churches who simply refuse by policy to make statements at all (the PCA, for example). I understand the complexities of churches getting involved in “politics” but with atrocity of this level, silence does speak terribly loudly.

  23. Comment by John N Kenyon on October 16, 2023 at 6:03 pm

    The Beaver (Mark Tooley) can’t tell a diphthong from a white woman. Perhaps maybe just possibly had he invoked just war theory applied to the right of Israel to exists and the issue of 60+ stateless nations including the Palestinians to have a homeland, this sickly pious discussion might deserves more than unmitigated bull****.

  24. Comment by Thomas on October 21, 2023 at 2:04 pm

    Angela Ney, I think you are mistaken about ACNA. Please read what Archbishop Foley Beach posted on his Facebook page:
    “Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
    I am writing to ask you to pray for Israel and the peace of Jerusalem. As you have probably heard on the news, Israel was attacked by Hamas today and they are now at war. We have numerous brothers and sisters there and currently we have numerous folks on pilgrimages. Below is a summary on how to pray from Christ Church Jerusalem and CMJ.
    In Christ,
    From CMJ: Today, more than ever, the land of Israel and its people need your prayers! Today is a holy day in Israel and this morning, Hamas militants from Gaza launched a massive assault in southern Israel.
    ❗️In the last 7 hours over 3200 rockets have been fired into Israeli villages and cities. Tragically, the Iron Dome defense system is being overwhelmed, and reports of casualties are emerging.
    ❗️The head of the Israeli Police Force confirmed in a public statement that there are 21 locations within Israel, where security forces are clashing with Hamas militants. The are dozens of unconfirmed reports of kidnappings. Israeli media are reporting that at least three villages in southern Israel are under Hamas control.
    ❗️Surgical wings in many Israeli hospitals are completely full. Israel emergency services have alerted the public to a drastic shortage of blood in blood banks. Confirmed reports of over 300 wounded so far since 7 a.m. this morning. 20 deaths have been confirmed.
    ❗️The IDF has begun its official response with reports of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.
    Please pray:
    – Pray for wisdom for the leadership of Israel.
    – Pray for strength for the medical services.
    – Pray for God’s sovereignty and comforting presence to stretch out over southern Israel and the Gaza Strip.
    – Pray for mercy for those that have been taken hostage.
    – Pray for the people of Gaza that they would come to know the Prince of peace, Jesus Christ.
    Above all, pray for peace. Pray for swords to be beaten into plowshares. Pray that the people of this region will seek His face. Pray for the Lord’s healing over this Land, a place so dear to his heart.

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