First Do No Harm
I was a loyal (if mildly oblivious) member of a PC(USA) church for fifteen years. I was a ruling elder in my local church. I taught Sunday School classes, played for services, occasionally preached. I have had relationships with Presbyterian churches for a large chunk of my life. Historic Presbyterian doctrines, for the most part, held a strong appeal for me – that has increased over the years. I came to discover that they matched my own beliefs more closely than did the doctrines embraced by most other traditions. To me, they had (and have) the ring of truth.
A couple of years ago I left that church. The reasons for this decision were complicated, but the shortest explanation was that the national denominational organization seemed bent on abandoning both those Reformed doctrines I found so compelling, and the historic system of church governance known as Presbyterianism. The truth be told, these were not recent developments – I had just never looked closely enough to realize this fact.
For me – for my mental and spiritual well-being, and for ethical reasons – to leave the PC(USA) was a right decision. And I am better off for having done so. At the time I left, once I gave my reasons, I promised myself I would not comment on internal PC(USA) matters again. With one exception: If there came a time when the PC(USA) was taking actions that threatened to actively cause harm in the world outside the PC(USA), I would be obliged to speak out.
That time has come.
This is a temporary blog. I have no interest in permanently following PC(USA) doings. But, a series of worrisome proposals are coming before the 219th General Assembly concerning the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Many of the actions asked of that assembly are supported with biased, inaccurate, in cases downright false information. The General Assembly is being asked to weigh in on one side with a force that is unfair, unwarranted, and actively harmful to ANY productive discussion of the many issues. These actions, if taken, will in no way improve the quality of life Palestinians; they will in no way lead to peace. But they do threaten to render bias, dishonesty, and even antisemitism more acceptable.
Because this is loathsome to me, because this is loathsome to all people of good will, I urge the 219th General Assembly to reject all elements of bias, dishonesty, and antisemitism outright. I urge them to actively require the committees, agencies, officials, networks of the PC(USA) – the bureaucratic elements that answer to the GA – to desist from these practices once, for all.
And if urge is not strong enough a word, I implore, I even beg them to carefully consider the full implications and effects of the decisions they are required to make in July, 2010.