By John Holten, Moorhead
What on earth are 60 Lutheran bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America supposed to do in Israel during this crisis in Gaza? Even though the timing is foolish, the supposed purpose is equally ludicrous.
At one time there were about 10 percent-plus Lutheran Palestinians but most have emigrated or moved on. To show “support” to the local Lutheran church in Palestine while they are dodging bombs is insane. If these aging collared prelates think they can influence the Israelis while the Israelis are cleaning up from rocket attacks, they are deluding themselves.
To their credit the Lutheran hierarchy has been very supportive of the Palestinian’s plight. Like our own Indian history, world history will ultimately show that it was the Israelis with firm American support including some evangelical Christians who were the cause of the oppression of these people for three generations. Until we and the countries of the Mideast get past the theology that the sand of the Mideast is holy land, given by God only to the Judeo-Christian world, terrorism will result. If we accept that illogical concept we likewise have to accept that we have stolen and occupy sacred lands of American Indians.
Terrorism, at least in Palestine, is the result, not the cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Violence begets violence. The violence is always worse against he Palestinian civilians. Current toll: at least 700 Palestinian women, children and a few militia; 10 Israelis. A disproportionate response typical of the Israeli concept of retaliation. A study group would be appropriate at an appropriate time, but not even the Congress would send the entire Senate overseas to study any issue.
It would be far more profitable for these theological giants to put their own house in order, deal with the hemorrhage of membership decline, now in excess of 2 million, and negotiate the impending confrontation at the national assembly over the sexuality issue before this church experiences something similar to what happened in our sister church, the Episcopal Church this past year. And listen to the folks in the pews. It is those of us in the pews who can vote only with our feet or wallet who will ultimately decide the future of this ELCA.
Foreign policy is not the forte of those 60-some bishops. I am not sure that Lutheran church policy is either.