We are already seeing alarming signs and symptoms of the coming Great Tribulation, a period of strong and powerful delusion, described by the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2: 9-11: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
It’s important to analyze the deplorable anti-Israel divestment vote at the 221st General Assembly (GA) of Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). Director of the eduction/research group StandWithUs Roberta P. Seid, along with the group’s CEO Roz Rothstein, witnessed the proceedings. Their incisive 7-point article (excerpted below) on the PCUSA’s self-delusion is “must” reading for any serious Bible student.
Self-Delusion No. 1: “PCUSA prides itself on its fairness and democratic procedures.” As it turns out, the Church’s Committee on Middle East Issues did not meet those standards at the GA. The moderator originally appointed for the committee—centrist Rev. Al Butzer, who had visited the Holy Land with Jewish and Palestinian groups—was unceremoniously replaced through behind-the-scenes manipulation. Since resolution proponents get a longer time to speak when they present the resolution’s rationale, anti-divestment committee members asked for equal time to respond. The Middle East issues committee rejected their request and limited them to 90-second comments. Proponents of divestment also provided supposedly neutral resource experts to answer questions, but their “experts” were committed anti-Israel ideologues. The result was an almost unchallenged barrage of anti-Israel hate propaganda that ignored all context, including the ongoing terrorism and threats Israel faces from the terrorist group Hamas and its allies, Hezbollah, Iran, and other self-declared enemies in the region.
Self-Delusion No. 2: “Committee members, who are chosen randomly shortly before the GA meets, can learn enough from the committee debate to vote on complex international issues.” Not true. Several of the 66 committee members admitted they had known little about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and were swayed by the debates. Given the committee’s structural bias, they clearly were in no position to make informed, responsible judgments.
Self-Delusion No. 3: “Divestment promotes peace and ensures that PCUSA is not ‘profiting from violence and human rights crimes.’” Given the three companies targeted for divestment, PCUSA is encouraging violence and the murder of Israelis. The companies provide equipment that is non-violent, saves Israeli lives every day, and is critical for Israel’s self-defense in a violent and hostile region.
PCUSA’s criminalization of these critical self-defense measures sends an ugly message to Israelis: respond to aggression passively, and die quietly.
Self-Delusion No. 4: “PCUSA’s divestment is not part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.” Not true. No matter how much PCUSA claims otherwise, divestment advances a central BDS strategy. As many divestment opponents reiterated, PCUSA unwittingly or willingly became part of a movement it cannot influence.
Self-Delusion No. 5: “Divestment does not reflect anti-Semitism.” It does. After the divestment vote, PCUSA leaders protested that they “love their Jewish brothers and sisters”—clear evidence they were worried about anti-Semitism. The obsession with Israel was another tell-tale sign. All 14 resolutions in the committee were about Israel and the Palestinians. The silence about the atrocities in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere, and about the persecution of Christians, exposed the committee’s double standards and yes, anti-Semitism.
Self-Delusion No. 6: “The divestment decision will reinforce PCUSA’s image as a faith group that works for reconciliation, peace, and morality.” Just the opposite is true. PCUSA has exposed its bias and dishonesty and ruined its credibility. Once highly respected, the PCUSA has disqualified itself as a peacemaker in the Middle East and elsewhere. PCUSA’s judgment simply cannot be trusted.
Self-Delusion No. 7: “This decision will strengthen PCUSA.” Actually, the anti-Israel stance has already caused bitter divisions inside the Presbyterian Church, and with its former friends. Divestment clearly is divisive. It passed by a margin of only seven votes among 613. Many PCUSA members who worked hard to defeat the bigoted anti-Israel resolutions have said they may separate from PCUSA. Jewish organizations across the ideological spectrum have denounced PCUSA for irreparably harming interfaith relations.
These are fitting results of PCUSA’s pernicious anti-Israel resolutions, and the manipulations and self-delusions that enabled their passage.