Colorado Christians Must Break Silence
Colorado Christians must break silence
By John Kane
American Christians for too long have been largely silent about the most dangerous conflict threatening peace in our world: the decades-old crisis in Israel and Palestine.
Christians in this country have largely gone along with the Cold War narrative (now refocused on terrorism) that dominates thinking in our media, our foreign policy establishment, and our Congress — as well as in Israel and among most Jewish Americans.
Such “Christian silence” is rooted to a great extent in ignorance of what is actually happening in the Holy Land, and it is also rooted in a legitimate fear of offending Jewish neighbors and fellow citizens.
Yet those who seek true peace in the Holy Land and who want to stop the spread of ethnic and religious hatreds throughout the Middle East must challenge the sacred pieties and the raw political power that so far have stymied President Obama’s efforts for Middle East peace.
In December, the major Christian leaders in Israel and Palestine issued a kairos, or “new moment” document. It echoed similar Christian calls in the past, including in South Africa and in our own civil rights movement. For make no mistake, it was a gradual awakening among American Christian churches, and among American Jews, that led to action against the violence and injustice in those times and places.
In responding to the call of the Christian leaders in Israel and Palestine, Christians in this country will also be joining with newly powerful voices in American Judaism, such as the Jewish lobby J Street and the activist group Jewish Voice for Peace. They, too, see this as a new moment, no matter that the headlines remain filled with cycles of terror, of occupation and response, of injustice and violence on both sides in the Holy Land.
We urge Colorado Christians to break their silence, to join the efforts of groups like Churches for Middle East Peace as they seek to change thinking and action in Washington, and to join us in reaching out to Christians and Jews here in Colorado. We must first learn to counter the myths and ideologies that feed violence and injustice. Then we as people of faith must act for justice and peace in the Holy Land. Help us break the silence.
John Kane is a professor of religious studies at Regis University. Additional signers to this commentary were Byron Plumley, director of peace and justice education at Regis; Vincent Harding, emeritus professor at Iliff School of Theology; Bill Calhoun, a retired Presbyterian minister; Rob Prince, publisher of Progressive Jewish News; and the Rev. Mark Meeks, pastor of Capitol Heights Presbyterian.