Medea Benjamin Hearts Caterpillar

17 Apr

It’s been a week since those die-hard sleuths a Pro Israel Bay Bloggers broke the story of how Medea Benjamin, chief heckler of Code Pink and militant support of divestment programs everywhere, finances her radical-chic lifestyle through a twelve-million dollar trust fund stuffed with investments in companies that top the BDS blacklist (not to mention shares in progressive industries such as tobacco and Big Oil).

Unsurprisingly, the recipients of those funds have gone to ground, hoping the whole story will blow over if they don’t respond (good luck with that), with  just a few die-hard Twitterers left to throw up lame excuses for the Code Pink Dear Leader’s inexcusable hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is an obvious lens to view this latest chapter in the ongoing “Do as I say, not as I do” BDS “movement,” a movement headed (it should be repeatedly noted) by a poseur who travels the planet (no doubt with funds donated by One-Percenters like Medea Benjamin) hectoring academics to shun Israeli universities – including the one he continues to be enrolled in.  But in an age when the BDSers have quadrupled their efforts to slander the Jewish state while remaining silent about the killing fields of Syria, the stench of hypocrisy emanating from such groups has become so foul that even someone whose nose has been amputated should be able to smell them from a distance of a hundred miles.

Beyond the obvious hypocrisy angle, the Benjamin investment scandal ties in nicely to that WIX controversy that broke last year at Cornell (a school that just voted down a divestment bill the WIX-using Students for Justice in Palestine group tried to sneak under the door during the Jewish holidays).  If you recall, this is the same Cornell SJP that became embarrassed in 2013 when the social media world went all a-Twitter over the fact that the organization was using an Israeli software product – WIX – to create their pro-BDS, anti-Israel web sites.

Rather than go down the usual route of pretending other people’s arguments don’t exist and continuing to shout their own self-serving accusations, the Cornell SJPers instead chose to answer critics by insisting that their political stance did not require them to become “beautiful souls” who actually had to live by the philosophy they demand of others.

Now one could make the case that WIX has never been a BDS target so that BDSers using that particular product are not necessarily acting in direct contradiction to their alleged principles.  But given that Benjamin’s 2011 stock portfolio includes shares in the very companies anchoring divestment campaigns since 2009, this same excuse can’t be used to dismiss the behavior of the High Priestess of Code Pink.

Why are student governments voting on divestment measures across North America?  Because BDS campaigners on those campuses (supported by outside organizations that receive Benjamin Foundation funding) insist that a school endowment or retirement portfolio that contains a single share of GE or Intel or Caterpillar stock means that the school is “taking sides” in the Arab-Israeli conflict and must divest in order to “even the playing field.”

But as the Benjamin story highlights, the BDSers themselves cannot even be bothered to check out where their own money is coming from before accusing others of the “sin” of owning the same stocks they hold and profit from.

Ultimately, this story highlights just how irrelevant companies like Caterpillar are to the overall BDS project, beyond providing anti-Israel activists the excuse they need to force their agenda onto any organization of their choosing. For just as the student body of Cornell or the membership of the Presbyterian Church serve as a mere means to the boycotters ends, so too Caterpillar is simply a useful tool that allows Club BDS to create mayhem at any institution that owns even a single share of this widely-held stock.

If you look at the “Israel is guilty of everything” boilerplate that has become standardized in the various resolutions being voted up or down (mostly down) across the land, it contains the words the boycotters desperately want to stuff into the mouth of someone else so that the can claim their narrow partisan agenda is actually embraced by the masses. But as Medea Benjamin and Cornell SJP have demonstrated to us all, owning Caterpillar stock or using Israeli tech is perfectly acceptable – as long as you’re them and not the people in whose name they demand to speak.

Holiday Celebrations

11 Apr

Well the holidays are upon us, so time to take a look at some inspiring events from the various war zones the BDSers chose to open up over the last few weeks.

Starting off with an event that put all the boycotter’s loathsome tactics and abhorrent behavior on display, a divestment resolution suddenly appeared on the agenda of the Student Assembly at Cornell last Tuesday, which meant a vote on the matter would take place over the coming week.  Actually, the original agenda made no mention of the measure – consisting of standard SJP boilerplate – but a re-send later in the day added it to the bottom of a long list of items.

Coincidentally (NOT!), discussion and voting on this measure would have taken place over a period when (quelle coincidence!) many Jews would be heading home (or would already at home) for Passover.

Thankfully, students at Cornell were able to organize a response rapidly enough to get the whole sordid thing tabled indefinitely yesterday afternoon (effectively killing the measure).

I’ll let this video from the vote (which ended with the usual BDSer tantrum) tell the tale:

Yes, once again, screaming at everyone who doesn’t do what you say is standard operating procedure for the current generation of Israel haters.

Actually, it’s also the tactic of choice for the last generation, as displayed by this articulate British fellow peeved over the fact that his group’s ongoing picketing of an Ecostream store in the UK (which sells evil Sodastream dispensers) has been met by effective, good-humored and hugely successful counter-protests by Sussex Friends of Israel:

And moving back one generation further, 85-year-old Saul Zabar dealt with the you-know-what-holes asking him why he wasn’t taking their phone calls by telling them point-blank “I didn’t think you were worth it.”  (Truer words were never spoken.)

But for better or worse, it is still worth it for some of us to continue working towards the continued defeat of BDS, the weakest link in the entire chain of anti-Israel propaganda that goes under the label of “de-legitimization.”

And in that spirit (as well as the spirit of adding bitter herbs to an otherwise sweet upcoming holiday), it’s also worth noting some not-so-good news coming from a place I haven’t revisited yet this year: Olympia Washington where local activists who lost a lawsuit against the local food coop for their anti-Israel boycott recently had their appeal of that original court decision rejected.

Now if I were a BDSer, I would simply ignore that story (as they have ignored the fact that every other food coop in the country have used Olympia as an example of what NOT to do) or come up with some cockamamie way to translate that defeat into a disguised victory.  But one of the reasons the boycotters lose so often is the fact that they spend far too much time in their own virtual reality vs. the real one.

Personally, I prefer learning from experiences (good or ill).  And, in the case of Olympia (vs. stories coming out of Dartmouth, Sussex and Zabars) the lesson seems to reinforce what I’ve said in the past regarding the preferability of political vs. legal responses to BDS.  For, more often than not, whenever we engage with Israel’s opponents at the political level we tend to win.  But whenever a BDS-related case has gone to court, the people bringing the suit (usually the BDSers, BTW) have always lost.

This may sound like odd commentary, given that I provided expert testimony in the Olympia case.  But that contribution was motivated by the fact that I never say no to anyone asking for help in their BDS fights.  And for those who aren’t asking for such help right this moment, I’m going to give you some advice anyway:  put your energy into coming up with imaginative tactics based on a sound strategy articulated in skillful language and you too will probably have the pleasure of seeing the boycotters bellowing and blubbering in impotent rage, rather than celebrating and gloating at your expense.

Sign the Petition for an Open Jewish Voice for Peace!

8 Apr

Jewish-Voice-for-Peace-Divest-This-Logo

While Elder of Ziyon beat me to this particular gag, I realized that the whole Open Hillel tactic provided me the means to accomplish something I’ve been tempted to do for a while: continue my anti-BDS work as a member of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

When I originally looked into what this might involve, I ran into the fact that JVP requires anyone joining their organization to sign a loyalty oath that commits them to supporting the organization’s pro-BDS agenda.  And since it would be dishonorable to sign up as a member with the specific intention of subverting their mission (even if such a move would reflect the true values of JVP), I decided to simply invest the $60 I would have spent on JVP membership dues into the sole proprietorship that is Divest This!.

But then the Open Hillel program, supported by Jewish Voice for Peace, demonstrated that an organization’s mission should in no way prevent those who oppose that mission from joining and doing whatever they like once inside the tent. So, in the spirit of openness, justice, fairness, inclusiveness, dialog and all kinds of other words with positive connotation, I present a humble petition in support of an Open JVP:

Background

Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization claiming to speak on behalf of Jews interested in a just peace in the Middle East, has chapters and affiliates across the US. Jewish Voice for Peace currently publishes its ”JVP Mission Statement,“ with a more detailed version appearing as part of their member registration form – a form which asks anyone interested in joining the organization to commit to “work in agreement with our [JVP’s] mission and guidelines.”

Included in these mission guidelines is support of international efforts to target Israel with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.  Specifically, joining the organization requires members to adhere to a mission statement which includes the following: “JVP rejects the assertion that BDS is inherently anti-semitic, and we encourage discussion both within our own community and outside of it of the growing BDS movement. JVP defends activists’ right to use the full range of BDS tactics without being persecuted or demonized…”

These guidelines are counterproductive to creating real conversation about BDS among JVP members, and prevents JVP chapters from exploring a full range of options, including supporting efforts to defeat BDS on college campuses and elsewhere, exposing the hypocrisy of the BDS movement and those that support it, discussing the possibility that BDS campaigns might actually be anti-Semitic and bigoted, highlighting the “movement’s” many frauds and failures, and producing parodies and funny songs about Omar Barghouti.

Requiring support of the BDS agenda for membership in JVP excludes the voices of those Jews dedicated to peace who have honest disagreements on how this peace can be achieved, shutting down open discourse on Israel and the Middle East. For example, these rules prevent sites like Divest This! (which is dedicated to defeating the BDS movement) from doing so as a member Jewish Voice for Peace, or from forming coalitions with other anti-BDS individuals and organizations as a representative of JVP.

Petition

As members of the Jewish community dedicated to a just peace we believe that Jewish Voice for Peace acknowledge and engage with a full spectrum of political views on the BDS movement. We see cooperation with anti-BDS groups on and off campus as an essential step towards peace and understanding. Furthermore, if Jewish Voice for Peace truly wants to be an organization dedicated to “Israelis and Palestinians: Two People’s One Future,” it cannot exclude Jewish groups simply for their political beliefs.

Therefore, we ask Jewish Voice for Peace to remove its guidelines for support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions “movement”, which currently exclude groups and individuals with particular political views from participating in the organization, and to make support for all other items on the organization’s mission statement optional.

 

Sign the Petition for an Open Jewish Voice for Peace!

Background

Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization claiming to speak on behalf of Jews interested in a just peace in the Middle East, has chapters and affiliates across the US. Jewish Voice for Peace currently publishes its "JVP Mission Statement," with a more detailed version appearing as part of their member registration form – a form which asks anyone interested in joining the organization to commit to “work in agreement with our [JVP’s] mission and guidelines.”

Included in these mission guidelines is support of international efforts to target Israel with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.  Specifically, joining the organization requires members to adhere to a mission statement which includes the following: “JVP rejects the assertion that BDS is inherently anti-semitic, and we encourage discussion both within our own community and outside of it of the growing BDS movement. JVP defends activists' right to use the full range of BDS tactics without being persecuted or demonized...”

These guidelines are counterproductive to creating real conversation about BDS among JVP members, and prevents JVP chapters from exploring a full range of options, including supporting efforts to defeat BDS on college campuses and elsewhere, exposing the hypocrisy of the BDS movement and those that support it, discussing the possibility that BDS campaigns might actually be anti-Semitic and bigoted, highlighting the “movement’s” many frauds and failures, and to producing parodies and funny songs about Omar Barghouti.

Requiring support of the BDS agenda for membership in JVP excludes the voices of those Jews dedicated to peace who have honest disagreements on how this peace can be achieved, shutting down open discourse on Israel and the Middle East. For example, these rules prevent sites like Divest This! (which is dedicated to defeating the BDS movement) from doing so as a member Jewish Voice for Peace, or from forming coalitions with other anti-BDS individuals and organizations as a representative of JVP.

Petition

As members of the Jewish community dedicated to a just peace we believe that Jewish Voice for Peace acknowledge and engage with a full spectrum of political views on the BDS movement. We see cooperation with anti-BDS groups on and off campus as an essential step towards peace and understanding. Furthermore, if Jewish Voice for Peace truly wants to be an organization dedicated to "Israelis and Palestinians: Two People’s One Future," it cannot exclude Jewish groups simply for their political beliefs.

Therefore, we ask Jewish Voice for Peace to remove its guidelines for support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions “movement”, which currently exclude groups and individuals with particular political views from participating in the organization, and to make support for all other items on the organization's mission statement optional.

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BDS and Thuggery

3 Apr

I don’t think I’m alone in being appalled by the degree to which nasty behavior – up to and including intimidation and violence – has gone mainstream within the BDS “movement.”

Now anti-Israel activism has always had its ugly side that included vandalism, threats, and shouting down those with whom the boycotters disagree. I can recall the divestniks storming the podium when they lost the divestment vote they forced on the City of Somerville as far back as 2004, the same type of public tantrums we saw when the Methodist Church or Carleton College told them “No” more recently.

But in most of the cases just mentioned, BDS supporters were able to keep the Mr. Hyde portion of their personality in check, at least during what I call the “all smiles” period when they were trying to convince an uninformed audience that both they (and what they were requesting) were all perfectly reasonable.

But recent behavior in schools like Michigan, Vassar,  Northeastern and elsewhere seem to indicate that the boycotters no longer feel the need to be bound by civilized norms even during a period when it would be to their benefit to pretend to be something other than a bunch of single issue fanatics ready to do anything to get their way.

On the surface, this slide to uncouthness up through violence seems counter-productive.  Why resort to tactics that (1) make it less likely to convince anyone of anything; and (2) give your “movement” the reputation of being made up of mindless thugs (making it that much more difficult to win your next campaign)?

Some theories I’ve been toying with to explain this degeneration of behavior include:

1. Despite all its bombast, BDS is no closer to achieving a single one of its goals now than it was when it was birthed in sin at the 2001 Durban I conference. In fact, by any conceivable measure: growth in Israeli GDP and exports, partnerships between Israeli and international businesses and universities, numbers of tourists and celebrities visiting the Jewish state, (i.e., anything other than the boycotters own ability to make noise), BDS has been a flop.

Given that they have been reduced to trying to get school governments to pass toothless divestment resolutions that everyone knows will be ignored by school administrators, the student body and the media, why not use these campaigns primarily as a way to force others to watch your political id come to the surface?

2. The gravitational field surrounding radical politics generally tends to pull in the direction of further radicalization. I saw this in Somerville when the local divestment group that originally showed enough pragmatism to get their measure passed eventually drove away moderate members, leaving a fanatical core that was never able to accomplish anything again. And when faced with the kind of losses we’ve seen over the BDS decade and a half, it’s only natural that louder and more ruthless actors will be more effective at pinning failures onto lesser radicals (and drive them from the ranks) than vice versa.

3. Despite claims that divestment campaigns “foster dialog” about the Middle East, those that push these initiatives are willing to go to almost any length to ensure dialog on this subject cannot take place; from wallowing in pathos-driven arguments designed to make rational discourse impossible, to ignoring facts and opinions they don’t want to hear, to shouting down any speaker trying to bring those alternative facts and opinions to the attention of others.

This tactic has become more and more difficult to sustain as the “Arab Spring” turned to Winter, which meant that some of the facts that needed to be driven from the stage included the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Arabs (including thousands of those Palestinian Arabs the boycotters claim to be fighting for) in places like the killing fields of Syria. While the boycotters have been able to marginalize issues like gay rights in the Middle East (at least in their own minds) by invoking fake phenomena like “Pinkwashing,” erasing scores of dead Palestinians from the record (while simultaneously claiming to care about them deeply) has required them to shout ever louder and, most recently, resort to tactics that go beyond just verbal violence.

4. Sadly, those tasked with keeping the peace on college campuses (i.e., administrators) have shown far more patience for the excess of groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) than they have or would ever show towards a group directing this same level of hostility towards any minority group other than Jews.

In many ways, this choice reflects the double standard directed at Israel which gets punished for the intransigence of its alleged Palestinian negotiating partners. But this also reflects the fact that college administrators are primarily concerned with keeping their own headaches to a minimum. And given that groups like SJP have made it clear that they stand ready to create living hell for anyone who makes them play by the rules, the easiest route for many college leaders is to carve out an exception that lets one group of students (Israel haters) say and do things they would never tolerate from anyone else.

5. On the plus side, the escalation of BDSer’s atrocious behavior reflects their genuine frustration with the countermeasures Israel’s supporters have been deploying more and more effectively in the last couple of years. No longer are Israel’s Jewish and non-Jewish friends willing to stand idly by as the defamers have their say, and the fact that anti-divestment forces have been able to win the day even when outnumbered by SJPers 10:1 demonstrates (1) the strength of our arguments and (2) the readiness of fair-minded decision-makers to listen to them (which makes it all the more important for the furious boycotters to prevent those arguments from being presented or heard – by any means necessary).

As a final (and ironic) bright spot to all the BDS thuggery we’ve seen escalating over the last year, it comes from the way such behavior demonstrates to all the true face of a “movement” pretending to be the inheritor of Martin Luther King and Gandhi.  For having already shown that the boycotters are ready to say anything (up to and including manipulating others and lying over and over again) to get their way, every act of BDS misbehavior provides ammunition for those of us who want to show how the BDSers are now ready to do anything to get everyone else to bend to their will.  

Series/Winning and Losing on Planet BDS

1 Apr

Hoping I’ve only lost most and not all of my audience after a month’s digression into the comings and goings of the PC-You-Know-What, it’s time now to look at other BDS-related news that’s been taking place over the last several weeks, particularly student government divestment votes that sprouted like mushrooms in the warm, wet Spring manure.

But before continuing with that particular metaphor, a little light housekeeping.

As some of you know, one of several reasons I took a hiatus last year was increasing frustration with the blogging format for a site that’s more essay-y (is that a word?) than blog-y (definitely not a word).

Over the years, I’ve written a number of stories based on previous writings, as well as several series – all of which got buried deeper and deeper the longer the reverse chronological nature of the blog pushed old material ever further down the pile.

So with the egotistical assumption every blogger/essayist has that his past commentary is of any interest to anyone, I just used one of those handy-dandy plug-ins available with WordPress to create a new meta-organizational structure on the site built around series.

If you look at the top of the page (as well as a new Series pull-down on the right sidebar), those menus that used to just bring up unorganized categories now list series that have been written over the years, including sequenced pieces on subjects like BDS and South Africa, International Law, as well as Strategy and Tactics for defeating BDS.  I’ve even created a Humor menu that will bring you back to those madcap adventures of Bill (I mean Sidney), Ted (I mean Omar), Pinky and the Brain (as well as to the only Adolf Hitler in the men’s room joke I’ve used to date) in case you need a break from the oh-so-serious reality all around us.

And speaking of reality, pardon me for not taking the latest attempts of the boycotters to create their own version of it as seriously as they do.

When you’ve been dealing with these doofuses as long as I have, you come to see patterns that repeat themselves like a Noh drama (or, more appropriately, a sit-com on the CW Network).

A dozen years ago, the BDS “movement” (simply called “Divestment” in the pre-Barghoutian days) was behind dozens and dozens of petitions on college campuses across the country demanding that every school in the land divest from the ZiZi Empire.

Why petitions?  Because free online petitioning software coming online at the time meant starting your own branch of “the movement” on a new campus was easier than registering at a porn site.  And the fact that the boycotters couldn’t care less who was signing up (be they students from the local campus, students from entirely different campuses, or pranksters claiming to be transfer students from the Moon), meant every divestnik could claim that their demands were backed by hundreds of voices (rather than just a tiny, unrepresentative bunch of loudmouths).

And then, as suddenly as they appeared, these petition-driven campaigns died out.  Why?  Because when your activity only causes every college administrator in the country to declare that they will never divest from Israel and opponents are out-petitioning you by margins of ten to one, even the most ardent fantasist can no longer maintain the pretext that their “free-screech” represents the opinion of anyone but themselves.

Say what you like about petitioning, but at least it didn’t require student governments across the land to be forced to pull all-nighters where a new generation of BDS-niks can howl at them in impotent rage for hours on end.  In 2010, it was maybe possible to convince a gullible media outlet that a divestment vote at Berkeley might reflect student opinion.  But after years of forcing redos at Berkeley and other UC campuses, recent “successes” (consisting of sneaking votes in behind the backs of the student body, bullying, elaborate cheats or packing student government with folks who are BDSers first, student reps second) simply demonstrates to all how hard it is to get a “Yes” vote in the absence of actual student-body consensus.

Now I’ll be the first to admit the creepiness of having to attend (or even read about) a Students for Just-Us-in-Palestine-demanded student government marathon session where BDS storm troopers work themselves into an erotic frenzy of Jew (whoops, I mean Zionist) hatred. And the manipulative language and disruptive behavior the boycotters deploy once these meetings commence further highlights how much groups like SJP hold in contempt the student body in whose name they are desperate to speak.

Actually, that’s not quite right.  For as far as those pushing divestment at all costs are concerned, the student body does not really exist, except as a prop in the boycotters’ own BDS&M fantasy drama.  In fact, the distance between student government declarations and actual campus opinion is what has allowed college administrators to flip BDS the bird on campus after campus with impunity.

So what should we do as those aforementioned BDS mushrooms continue to sprout in excrement of the BDSers own making?  I don’t know, maybe we should get Israel investment clubs rolling on each and every campus where student councils voted “Yes” on divestment and force the BDSholes to do something about it.  Or why not simply ignore their trivial student government wins, just as they ignore each and every one of their own overwhelming losses and go on celebrate Israel on campus after campus, while brandishing the #BDSFail hashtag every time some SJP bellower opens their maw to demand we acknowledge their latest “astounding success!”

Above all else, let’s keep in mind that it takes zero political skill or public support, no devotion to justice or swimming with the tide of history to do what the BDSers have been doing over last decade and a half.  It simply requires you to be fanatically thoughtless of the needs of everyone around you (including those you claim to be fighting for), and ruthless enough to pursue your agenda regardless of who gets harmed along the way.  Simplicity itself (at least for those who years ago had their consciences surgically removed and replaced with self-righteous fury).

The Social Gospel Paradox

28 Mar

I’m close to finishing Joseph Bottum’s An Anxious Age, the subtitle of which (“The Post-Protestant Ethic and Spirit of America”) provides a valuable frame with which to close out this month’s discussion of what next for the Presbyterian Church’s relationship with Jews and Israel.

Works I’ve read (and urged others to read) over the last several years, such as the writing of Spotts and Poupko, look at the post-war era as the beginning of the end for the Mainline Protestant churches.  If you recall, this was a period when Mainliners like the Presbyterians, Methodists and Episcopalians joined in Ecumenical communion, putting aside doctrinal differences to create a joint front against growing competition from Evangelicalism and secular modernity.

While such a decision seemed perfectly reasonable and natural then (and still seems rational today), eliminating the differences between Methodist and Presbyterian gave people very few reasons to associate themselves with either church.  And so began a death spiral for Mainline Protestantism which Bottum identifies as the most important undiscussed contribution to changes in American society during the 20th century.

But the author also sees the post-war ecumenical era (and subsequent collapse of Mainline membership) as the result of decisions made much earlier, decisions that grew out of the challenges every church faced in the 19th and 20th centuries as modernism, rationalism and science began to dominate societies that once defined themselves as “Christendom.”

Mainline Protestantism managed to uniquely hold its own in the US until the 20th century due to its unusual nature of being both part of the establishment (given that, until quite recently, nearly every leader and intellectual in the nation was a member of this or that Mainline church) yet outside that establishment (since separation of Church and State and the diversity of Mainline substrates meant no particular church was ever in a position to dominate the secular political order).

From this position of insider/outsider, the churches fostered patriotism among their members while also giving their religious institutions an outsider’s platform to critique society.  Ironically, it was during a period when the churches still prioritized ministry (i.e., delivering the message of Christ within the context of specific doctrine) over politics that they were the most politically effective (think about church leadership in the fight against slavery).

The turning point for Bottum, however, was Walter Rauschenbusch’s introduction of the Social Gospel at the start of the 20th century.

Written during an age of tremendous political, economic and social upheaval, it’s no surprise that religious thinkers and writers were identifying Christ’s suffering with the suffering of the world’s marginalized and dispossessed (as defined in 20th century terms of class, race and the futility of war). But Rauschenbusch’s Social Gospel approached this challenge in a way that would have long-term (and largely unintended) consequence.  For his new Gospel identified six evils that form “the social sin of all mankind, to which all who ever lived have contributed, and under which all who ever lived had suffered.”

These six social sins include:

  • Bigotry
  • Arrogance of power
  • Corruption of justice for personal gain
  • Mob madness and violence
  • Militarism
  • Class contempt

But if you look at how the Social Gospel defines these sins (as evils that have lived with us since the beginning of time), they begin to look less like human failings (the original notion of sin) and more like metaphysical forces that transcend humanity, much like God or (more appropriate in this case) Satan.

Which meant that for those who embraced the message of the Social Gospel, simply fighting against bigotry or corruption was not enough.  Rather, one had to incorporate into one’s belief system the existence of superhuman evil in the universe organized around the six social sins.  In other words, during an era when rationalism was banishing Satan from set of beliefs one could hold as a person of reason, the Social Gospel provided those same reasoned men and women a new set of spirits (really demons) in which to believe.

Rauschenbusch’s critics pointed out that a world in which man was responsible for aligning his soul against supernatural evil left little room for God and Christ.  And while the original Social Gospel followers (all pious men and women) were able to deflect this criticism, it turns out that their children found it a bit easier to orient their faith around the fight against the Social Devil rather than belief in more traditional deities. And for their grandchildren and great grandchildren, it became easier and easier to abandon this or that doctrine – even the foundational beliefs of Christianity – so long as churches remained dedicated to the battle against bigotry, militarism and the other “genuine” spiritual evils in the world.

An irony that Bottum points out is that it was the very choice to put politics (or, more accurately, a human-based and ultimately politicized re-definition of religion) before doctrine that eliminated Mainliners role in both the religious and political realm.  For as church leaders have themselves bemoaned in recent decades, when was the last time you heard a Presbyterian minister on the Sunday morning talk shows proving moral guidance on the issues of the day?

But everything you have been reading about the Presbyterian Church over the last month points out a more depressing irony that only those outside the realm of true believers will recognize.  For if you look at those six social sins listed above, you will pretty much see a list that perfectly describes Israel’s ruthless and relentless foes.  And yet these foes, through skillful deployment of corruption, class hatred, mob violence, et al, have managed to force themselves to the top of the agenda of the descendants of Rauschenbusch, meaning the BDSbyterians (and those who follow them) have thrown away God in order to embrace (rather than fight against) a very devil that makes up the remnant of their belief system.