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November 16, 2012


Follow-Up: UCC Responds on Peter Makari Interview

Not to me, of course. I’m a nobody. But someone in their PR department spoke to CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Dexter Van Zile reports:

CAMERA spoke with the UCC’s press office to see if it would be offering an official response to the Wiesenthal Center’s challenge. No.

UCC Communications specialist Emily Mullins stated that Makari, (an ordained UCC minister), was not speaking on behalf of the denomination, but on behalf of the 15 religious leaders who signed the letter.

“He was serving as a spokesperson in that role,” she said.

It is important to note that the leaders of the two denominations that pay Makari’s salary – Rev. Geoffrey Black (UCC) and Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins (Disciples) – both signed the letter. In other words, in his interview with the American Free Press, Makari was speaking on behalf of his two bosses, himself and a dozen other religious leaders in the U.S. including leaders from the National Council of Churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Presbyterian Church (USA), the American Baptist Church and two Catholic organizations (Maryknoll and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men).

The UCC’s response is very alarming because suggests that 15 religious leaders from a variety of institutions in the United States were so intent on getting their message out that they were willing to give an interview to a publication that traffics in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

The distinction that Mullins tries to draw is hogwash. The letter that started all this begins:

We write to you as Christian leaders representing U.S. churches and religious organizations committed to seeking a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians.  Our organizations have been deeply involved in this pursuit for decades, inspired by the call and promise of Jesus Christ who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” [Emphasis added.]

The Anti-Israel 15 weren’t writing as private citizens, or as some kind of concerned ad hoc group. This group included many of the Usual Suspects: Mark Hanson of the ELCA, Gradye Parsons of the PCUSA, the head of the American Friends Service Committee (the gloriously named Shan Cretin), the transitional General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, the heads of the American Baptists and Mennonite Central Committee, the president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, as well as the aforementioned Black and Watkins. These people have been working together in anti-Israel advocacy both individually and collectively for years, and at no point in the letter did they suggest they were writing in anything other than an official capacity as a head of denomination or whatever. So Makari may not have been speaking on behalf of the UCC, but he was speaking on behalf of the leadership of the UCC, and several of its sister denominations and organizations.

And here’s the real point: even if Makari was speaking for no one but himself, is the UCC really OK with one of its most prominent employees giving an interview to a cesspool of bigotry like American Free Press?


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