27 June 2012

The Political Church

As a Christian and a socialist, I could hardly let this story go by! Conservative Senator Nicole Eaton said on CBC Radio's As It Happens, "I don’t think that churches should take political stands. I think they should be more about helping people and giving people succour."

 The twist in her knickers? That the United Church has a "boycott against Israel". Darlin' Nicole, you're full of crap. The United Church's working group on Israel and Palestine flat out advises against a comprehensive boycott of Israel and Israeli goods and products. AGAINST. From the United Church press release:
The working group also
  • calls for an end to the occupation, saying that it is the primary contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence of the region
  • condemns actions and activities that seek to delegitimize or demonize Israel
  • affirms that non-violent resistance to the occupation is justified
  • calls on Israel to dismantle settlements within the occupied territories
  • calls on Israel to dismantle the separation barrier in all sections where it crosses over the Green Line
  • challenges Christian beliefs that theologically justify the occupation
  • advises against a comprehensive boycott of Israel and Israeli goods and products
  • calls for an economic boycott directed exclusively against settlement products that can be identified as produced in or related to the settlements or the occupied territories
  • advises against the use of “the language of apartheid” when applied to Israel
  • affirms Israel as a Jewish state, meaning a homeland for Jewish people that “ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or gender”
  • supports initiatives that work toward the creation of a viable Palestinian state as a homeland for the Palestinian people
  • supports a negotiated settlement to the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees that maintains the demographic integrity of Israel
  • calls for opportunities that will bring together Palestinian and Israeli/Jewish communities for growth in mutual understanding

Oh, the humanity! How dare the United Church! Uh... Except that this is all pretty reasonable. And non-partisan.

Actually, I think that churches help people precisely BY trying to shape public policy. I mean, no, I don't like how Charles McVety and his crew of psychopaths base their religion on their politics, and then use their religious views to try to oppress others, but I don't think trying to stop them via policy is a good idea either. Progressive churches just need to get louder and more political. Balance them out. See, we're trying to help all people, to use public policy to do so. We fought for equality of marriage most recently. We are also pro-choice. We are working to help bring abundance, equality, and freedom for all people, and we can't do that without being political. We run charities like Our Place and try to shape public policy in a way that make us obsolete. And as for sticking our noses into Israel? Well, those are people too. We don't pretend that only white people born in Canada matter. Jesus told us to love one another. Not just the people like us. And so we don't bury our heads in the sand on international matters. We find out what's going on, and try to get the government to do what we think is right. Just like everyone else who gives a crap about people. We just base our idea of right and wrong on the teachings of a man who was crucified for suggesting things would be awesome if we all just were nice to each other.

And all this doesn't mean the preacher gets up and says, "VOTE NDP!" It means the preacher stands up and says, "Jesus said to heal the sick and feed the poor. Let's do that. Vote. Vote for whomever you think best embodies the Christian values." The closest I ever heard a minister tell me who to vote for was when she said, "Vote with your conscience, not your wallet."

Senator Eaton owes the United Church an apology. I'm not holding my breath.