Leave it to Mark Tooley, the former CIA worker turned staffer for the Republican Party-aligned Institute on Religion and Democracy (and political companion of right-wing icon David Horowitz), to use the conflict in the Middle East to score cheap political points against mainline Christians by simply making stuff up.
Consider this false charge made today by Tooley:
The anti-Israel divestment campaign among U.S. churches has been largely defeated. But in the midst of the terrorists' war on Israel, the Religious Left's hostility to Israel continues.
Religious Left church officials have responded to the conflict between Israel and Hezballah with their usual lamentations over "the violence." But it is "the violence" by Israel that exclusively concerns them. Typical among them has been the reaction of United Church of Christ president John Thomas.
"We watch with horror and outrage as Israel punishes an entire population for the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier in Gaza, and as belligerence escalates with Hizb Allah's attack on military personnel near Lebanon," Thomas wrote in a letter to "Palestinian Friends and Partners." He continued, "While we pray for the Israeli soldiers' release and safe return to family, we also know that these incidents have become an occasion for the further oppression of the Palestinian community, for the massive destruction of economic infrastructure and for the tragic loss of much innocent life."
As noted on this site, Thomas and other mainline Christians have clearly condemned violence on both sides. "We call on Hezbollah to release the Israeli soldiers in its hostage and end its provocative attacks and hatred against Israel. Hezbollah's rocket attacks against northern Israel, while effecting little military advantage, have instilled terror in civilian populations, killing and wounding many innocent people, and providing Israel with a pretext for pursuing its own attacks," wrote Thomas just yesterday.
Tooley ignores these comments in his post on Frontpagemag.com (Horowitz's site) and claims that any condemnation of Hezbollah will only be made by the "Religious Left" to "rhetorically facilitate its more heartfelt condemnation of Israel."
Christians are called to be peacemakers. IRD, a group that has long advocated the liberal use of American military power against other nations, ignores what many consider to be the basic teachings of Jesus.
It is also simply false that the UCC - as suggested by Tooley - has endorsed or encouraged divestment against Israel. The General Synod of the UCC has instead called for church resources to be leveraged through investments in corporations that support peace efforts. Divestment - a tactic only considered as a last resort - has not been targeted at Israel but at corporations (American included) that profit from war in the Middle East. Like the Pope and groups such as Human Rights Watch, the UCC has condemned violence and advocated reconciliation among all the parties in the Middle East.
Tooley's IRD was set-up and is funded by voices in Republican Party that hope to undermine the mainline Christian tradition of prophetically speaking out on issues of war, peace and economic justice. God is not a Republican or a Democrat, as Jim Wallis likes to say, but IRD confuses the Gospel message with the Republican Party platform on each and every issue.
Don't be surprised to see the Religious Right and their allies float more lies like Tooley's as they seek with intention to drive a wedge between Jews and mainline Christians during this difficult time.
After all, the mid-term elections are coming up and Tooley and other conservative political activists are worried about the outcome. Division and distortion may be the only tactics they have left to bring voters to their side.