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November 15, 2012

UCC Minister Enlists Help of Anti-Semitic Publication to Get Message Out

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Peter Makari, Executive for the Middle East and Europe of the Common Global Ministries Board of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)(Photo: Dexter Van Zile)

It just gets worse and worse.

On Oct. 5, 2012, a group of 15 Christian leaders issued a letter to Congress. The letter called on lawmakers to investigate Israel for its alleged violation of U.S. law concerning foreign aid. The letter, which was filled with propagandistic tropes, did not ask lawmakers to investigate Egypt for its human rights violations.

The letter was bad enough. But what was even worse was an irresponsible decision by Rev. Dr. Peter Makari, area executive for Europe and the Middle East for the Common Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ.

In his zeal to publicize the letter, Rev. Dr. Makari, who has a Ph.D. in politics from New York University, gave an interview to the American Free Press, which the Anti-Defamation League describes as an anti-Semitic publication, whose founder, Willis Carto has, according to the ADL, trafficked in Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.

In response, the Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a press release calling for Makari’s ouster. The release includes the following details:

American Free Press (AFP) is regarded as the successor to the now defunct Liberty Lobby’s Spotlight. Willis Carto, one of America’s most notorious racists, is a founder of both. Carto is also the founder of the Holocaust-denying Institute For Historical Review. Some of the books that have been offered for sale by the AFP include The Judas Goats: The Enemy Within (details governmental infiltration of the American nationalist movement at the behest of “the alien force of international political Zionism”), The Conspiracy of the Six-Pointed Star, El Sicario: The Autobiography of a Mexican Assassin, and March of the Titans: A History of the White Race. The AFP site includes this quote in one of their essays: “Israel…is contributing to the unification and activation of the colored world for war against the colonial and other outsiders.”

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.

Has it really come to this?

Really?

Posted by dvz at November 15, 2012 02:32 PM

Comments

Excellent post, Dexter. I have gotten no response from Black or Watkins. Nor have I heard from Moos or Karimu at Global Ministries, to whom I also wrote asking for comment on this. Apparently have have decided to close their eyes and pretend it never happened.

DVZ: THANKS!

Posted by: David Fischler at November 16, 2012 01:32 PM

NOTHING NEW UNDER SUN: UCC spokesperson wiggles out of moral responsibility with that tired polity argument of "not speaking for the denomination." As more pews empty, there won't be a denomination to speak for.

Posted by: Ted at November 17, 2012 10:00 PM

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