The Methodist church is not racist: petition watch

by Richard on October 19, 2010

Let me be honest. I’m not entirely convinced that the petition* was the best idea I’ve ever had. Even so, it has given folk an opportunity to express their view about the Methodist Church’s ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’ report and resolution and that, I think, is proving worthwhile. Here’s a comment from a Stanley Walinets, who is otherwise unknown to me:

As a Jew, I fully appreciated the Methodist’s resolution ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’. I’m increasingly distressed by the unceasing determination of my fellow Jews in Israel, and in our diaspora, to never accept any criticism of their ill-treatment of Palestinians — who have historically been displaced from their lands by the Israelis in the name of their claimed God-given right. Many arguments are offered by supporters of Israel’s practices but rarely if ever do these defenders provide honest admissions of Israel’s own part in the world-wide hostility it is creating for itself. Examples are just too many to quote here. But a typical one was offered in a full-page letter to The Rev Lord Griffiths by John Leslie, printed in the Methodist Recorder of July 29th. In one typical paragraph, Mr Leslie says ‘Hamas brought war upon itself in Dec 2008 by allowing more than 8,000 unmerciful missile attacks on towns and villages in Israel’. He makes no mention of the fact that Hamas’ had agreed a cese-fire with Israel some 6 months before Dec 2008. It observed that cease-fire throughout, until Israeli agents suddenly killed six or seven Palestinians on Gaza’s outskirts, claiming they were terrorists. Israel thereupon used the alleged ‘necessity’ for its aggressive incursion as justification for launching its massive aerial onslaught (killing 1400 or more innocent civilains in the process). It completely ignored Hamas’ 6-month compliance with their mutually agreed cease-fire. There are many examples like this — the 10-meter high ’security fence, for example, much of it built on Palestinians’ farmland. Together, tho’ Israel refuses to acknowledge it, Israel is actually creating a world-wide anti-Semitism from which I and my fellow Jews will ultimately suffer. So the Methodist Resolution was a just decision and many of us support it.

Yesterday, my friend David had a little sneer that it had only gathered 113 signatures. So I’m sure he’ll be delighted to note that today the number stands at 200. Small beer, to be sure, but not uninteresting.

* I’ve taken the petition down now, but you can read it here (pdf).

Sorry. I was too hasty. The petition remains.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }


methodist preacher 10.19.10 at 10:15 pm

Its a shame that the preamble to the petition is inaccurate!


Richard 10.19.10 at 10:54 pm

Inaccurate? Can you mean this section?

David Hallam, a Methodist Local Preacher and blogger, has sought to argue that the Methodist Conference acted in a discriminatory and anti-semitic manner, illegally using the resources of the church. To this end he has threatened a lawsuit against the church.

You keep saying it’s inaccurate, but for the life of me I can’t see why. You have argued that the church has misused its resources, you have said it is discriminatory. And since discrimination against Jews is the definition of antisemitism, ‘antisemitic’ is also accurate. Your writ has not yet been served, so your lawsuit is still threatened. So it looks to me like it’s accurate at every point. Show me how I’m wrong.


malc 10.19.10 at 11:56 pm

I still don’t see how it could be seen as racism (as you can tell, I don’t get here quite as often as I’d like and have missed most of the argument..s). I mean, unless you’re mistaking the State of Israel as the Jewish Race how can disaproving of and taking action against some of the acts that have been committed to Palestine and it’s people be deemed racist??

I mean, surely if this was racism we would be talking about all Jews, all over the world and not just those that are committing these acts of… for want of a better word, terror. Or are we misusing the word “racism” and we are refering to the Israel the state rather than the Jewish peoples as an actual race??


Richard 10.20.10 at 12:09 am

It’s a mystery to me too Malc. Even this zionist website says “Anti-Semitism should not be confused with legitimate criticism of Israel or Israeli policy”. Of course, David is now saying that he is talking about discrimination not anti-semitism, but he’s being too clever for me.


Bene D 10.20.10 at 6:33 am


David Hallam doesn’t have a clue about your online history.
He doesn’t know you have helped a lot of people, ministered, encouraged as God has called you to do without a word to anyone else. He isn’t aware of times you’ve given respect to bloggers from around the world arguing out their points of view, resolved conflicts, heard them out and brought peace. Hallam isn’t aware of significant contributions you have made world wide to foster faith blogs and faith bloggers. He is in no position to understand or acknowledge the positive example connexions has been for the UK Methodist Church.
connexions consistent standards of technical excellence and openness are genuinely beyond his online experience.
One difference between the two of you is you’ll not toot your own horn. Mr. Hallam being the politician that he is, is a master at it.
His crack about David Warnock is directed just as much at you, and no one need be shy pointing out his shots are childish and churlish.
He has something to prove and points to win. David Hallam is attempting to frame and card stack and bandwagon his position, particularly in the way his messages are selectively formulated to emotionally engage the recipient. (in this case negatively) His glittering generalities serve his blog well, but aren’t going over in the court of public opinion and won’t in a court of law.

There is something salvageable in Mr. Hallam’s pissy little post, for what it is worth.

Two of your questions, two answers. (I suggest getting a sceenshot) There is more in M. Hallam’s response, but here are the salient points. From: The Methodist Preacher blog.
Tuesday October 19/10

Where’s this political campaign that the Methodist Church is supposed to be running, and how much is it costing?

“If you see Methodist Council document MC/10/88 you will see that of the 85 tasks laid down for the connexional team by conference the resolution 14/7 is listed as a priority A. Presumably this activity is going to take up professional time? How much that will cost I do not know. But there is a cost to which I do not wish to contribute.

Church House has advised me (letter 040910) that resolutions 14/1 to 14/11 can be interpreted as “campaigning”. Resolution 14/7 qualifies as “political activity”.”

What’s the difference between discrimination against Jews and anti-semitism?

“As I have repeatedly said on this blog and others: the best judges of what constitutes anti-Semitism are Jews themselves, not me.

What I do know is that conference has passed a motion which can be interpreted as being “discriminatory”.

“Discrimination” has a legal definition, one that can be tested in a court of law, and soon will be.”



Richard 10.20.10 at 7:13 am

You’re very kind, BD.

I think I’ve reached the limit of my endurance, and I don’t anticipate arguing with him any more. He’s talking about his lawsuit being “imminent” now, but we’ll see. I’d still be hugely surprised if it ever comes to court. We’ll have to see.


Bene D 10.20.10 at 9:08 am

Funny isn’t it, when we know we are being goaded, we can still fall for it. I’m sorry to see you have to endure.

Your posts are not in vain Richard, you’ve kept this in the open, laid out Methodist procedure, asked questions, given others voice and have been splendidly Methodist and quite Christ-like.

When someone calls in a media favour, makes a grand announcement, cries imminent and stays vague, time is not their friend. Premature announcing may be done to make perceived opponents sweat, but degenerating into churlish taunting leads observers to wonder who is really doing the sweating now. Something seems have derailed between The Telegraph article and October 20th. As you say, we’ll see. Very poor pr technique to say the least. The decisions made can’t be helpful to Mr. Hallam’s business reputation.

Mr. Diamond is going to have to make a big splash for his client (or clients) and he will be well paid to do the enduring.

Small comfort for those who are being goaded and hurt…


Bene D 10.20.10 at 9:15 am


The post you and I linked to at Methodist Preacher appears to have been taken down.

Wouldn’t an apology to you and Rev. David Warnock in your inboxes be nice.

I was partly joking about screenshots. Wow. Just wow.


Richard 10.20.10 at 9:24 am

I don’t anticipate any apologies, BD, but it would be nice to be proven wrong. Unfortunately, David taking down the post has taken all the comments with it and they haven’t been cached by google I don’t think. It’s all still out there somewhere, of course.


Bene D 10.20.10 at 10:13 am

Yep. It is. No point in embarrassing Mr. Hallam, by reproducing the post, he’s done it to himself.

Yep. The comment thread is out there too somewhere.

It would take tech skills to retrieve it..;^)

[Note: edited by admin to remove non-working link]


Richard 10.20.10 at 10:25 am

Anyone who has subscribed to the Methodist Preacher rss feed will still have the post. If they take the rss of the comments they’ll have those too.


PamBG 10.20.10 at 5:27 pm

Actually, I think I understand how it’s seen as racism, but I think - as I’ve been saying - that it’s a faulty understanding of the concept of “New Creation” which is an entirely different paradigm than the one that forces a choice between Zionism or Replacement Theology.

In “New Creation theology” Christ is the fulfillment of the Covenant promise that God made to Abraham on behalf of all people including gentiles . New Creation theology looks to Christ as the fulfillment of God’s Covenant promise, not the recreation of “a State of Israel” as God’s fulfillment of the Covenant promise. In New Creation theology, there is a - theoretical, at least - theological solution that all peoples who have variously inhabited this land for many thousands of years might find a peaceful solution to co-residency. This is, I believe, the theology that the report was articulating and which some are insisting on seeing not as “New Creation theology” but rather as “replacement theology” - the kind of thinking used by many Christians who supported the holocaust.

I don’t know a lot about Judaism, but in a rigid Orthodox theology, I suppose that probably it is only “Zionism or nothing” that is theologically possible. However, I do know that more “liberal” Judaism sees the Jewish people as the people who are supposed to bear the light of God to the Gentiles and I would think that this theology would be similar to “New Creation theology” with the exception, of course, that they wouldn’t see Christ as the fulfillment of the covenant but rather their own moral and ethical mission as a people as its fulfillment.

Really, you’re working with two parallel ways of thinking here. If you’re determined to see anything other that out and out Zionism as a racist agenda, then you cannot even see or even admit to the other, “New Creation” paradigm. What I’m perpetually puzzled about - although probably I shouldn’t be - is how people get to be preachers in British Methodism who seem to have various and individual intense dislikes for Methodist theology. What do we think that The Covenant Services is about? Declaring Christian superiority over the Jews?


Richard 10.21.10 at 11:34 am

>> “What I’m perpetually puzzled about - although probably I shouldn’t be - is how people get to be preachers in British Methodism who seem to have various and individual intense dislikes for Methodist theology.”

Puzzlement that’s shared, Pam


Kim 10.21.10 at 11:58 am

Perhaps because the assessment process is not theologically rigorous enough? And - worse - because Methodist theology is not taught with sufficient vigour to ordinands, let alone local preachers? And I’m not taking a potshot, rather I’m extrapolating from the URC, many of whose ministers, let alone lay preachers, do not know their Calvin and Barth (which doesn’t stop the buggers, in their ignorance, from dissing them). And from conversations I have had with Methodists, the extrapolation is not misconceived.

Of course in David’s case there are psychological issues.


Richard 10.21.10 at 12:01 pm

>> “And - worse - because Methodist theology is not taught with sufficient vigour to ordinands, let alone local preachers?”

You know that’s something I’m concerned about. I spent this last weekend with a group of folk who are preparing to candidate for ministry. 48hrs of wesleyan theology! It’s not enough by itself, but it’s a start.


Kim 10.21.10 at 12:10 pm

Yes, you’re one of my sources! I’m glad to hear about your weekend. Lighting a candle is, of couse, always better than just cursing the darkness. Even if it contains Arminian wax. ;)


Richard 10.21.10 at 1:18 pm

No candles, Kim.

We’re saved by grace, not grease.


Kim 10.21.10 at 3:24 pm

In-joke, folks.


Richard 10.21.10 at 3:39 pm

Sorry Kim. Couldn’t resist.


Adam 11.02.10 at 10:07 am

The singling out of Israel, alone of all nations on earth, for such treatment (and in light of it being the only free society in the entire region) is certainly antisemitism. There is no other explanation.

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