The Jerusalem Post reports on a new Christian Zionist initiative: a referendum among US Christians:
“Do you support the creation of a PLO state in the Land of Israel?” will be the question that Christians across America will be asked to vote on, according to an initiative of the Apostolic Congress’s Global Israel Alliance and Americans for a Safe Israel.
Unsurprisingly, no alternatives are offered, such as:
“Do you support an independent, democratic Palestinian state outside Israel’s 1948 borders?”
“Do you support Palestinians and Israelis enjoying equal citizenship of one state consisting of historic Palestine/Eretz Israel?”
Either of which are, I suggest, rather more sensible formulations. But the whole exercise is rather pointless because, as the Post reports:
The referendum ballots will be disseminated through every church and community center that considers itself within the Christian Zionist spectrum. Once tabulated, the results will be presented to every member of Congress, to Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and to Bush.
In other words, the referendum will be sent exclusively to Christians who believe that Israeli expansionism and Palestinian dispossession represent God’s will. Somehow, I think the result is a foregone conclusion.
But who’s behind this? The Apostolic Congress is indeed Christian Zionist, but with a difference: it represents the Apostolic Christians of the Oneness Pentecostal tradition, which rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. The Congress represents the Apostolics in Washington. According to its website:
In 1981, early in the Reagan Administration, Brother Stan Wachtstetter was able to open the door for Apostolic Christians into the White House…Pastor Robert G. Upton is currently the Executive Director for The Apostolic Congress. Pastor Upton has always had a keen interest in the world of politics, but it was not until he attended a White House briefing in June 2000 that he realized his vision of touching world leaders with prayer for our nation.
Wachtstetter and Upton appear here as part of a delegation to meet Karl Rove in May 2003. The accompanying report features this curious sentence:
Pastor Upton…posed questions about the war with Iraq. Due to the nature of Mr. Rove’s answers, we cannot write his answers to all these questions.
Mr. Rove offered opportunities for these delegates to participate in a bi-monthly conference call and welcomed us to the White House for a meeting every six months for our voice to be heard. This was a milestone for the Apostolic movement in the United States.
The Congress’s Gallery features Upton meeting with a number of conservative political figures, and conservative Christians do not appear to mind his disbelief in the Trinity. Indeed, Americans for a Safe Israel’s “One State Solution Campaign” consists of him, Gary Bauer and Ed McAteer along with the Jewish Herbert Zweibon (whom I discussed a few days ago).
But such ecumenism in the name of reaction should not be surprising – just yesterday I noted an alliance of two individuals connected to Pat Buchanan and Benjamin Netanyahu in the cause of selling apocalyptic novels. Brother Stan Wachtstetter is also a big fan of the Reverend Moon; according to Unification Reverend Michael Jenkins (whose own contribution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict appeared on this blog at the end of March), in 2001 Moon organised a conference
to continue to break down all religious barriers. Now the conference became a vortex of the first encounter of the major Moslem world leaders with Western Christian leaders. Global Violence: Crisis and Hope. In this historic conference Father showed the standard of True Love. He embraced the Moslem leaders from all backgrounds – moderate, liberal , radical and passive and brought them together as one family with Christians and Jews as well as heads of state. Rev. Stan Wachtstetter told me, ” I saw for myself that Rev. Moon, through that conference, prevented a global Muslim / Christian war. When the people arrived at the conference there was enormous uncertainty, tension and animosity. The Holy Spirit moved and the enemy spirit left the major Moslem and Christian leaders sowing seeds for peace.” I believe that Rev. Wachtstetter was right.
(PS – click here to see John Gorenfeld’s coverage of Moon’s recent coronation in the Dirksen Senate Office)
UPDATE 2 (25 September): Stan Wachstetter has been kind enough to contact me with clarifications and corrections. He tells me that his meetings with Moon are part of his wider ecumenical activities, and are his personal initiatives only. He disagees with Moon, has sympathy for the Palestinians, and thinks that Brother Upton has gone “too far”. As Stan has no leadership position within the Apostolic Congress, I have ditched the “Moon-friendly” part of the title to this entry. Here is Stan’s email (edited for typos and slightly for brevity):
Your article about “Moon Friendly Oneness” is the old, “Hitler drank coffee, Hitler was a Nazi, and thus people that drink coffee are nazis. Your assumption is so wrong that I assume you knew this fact when you wrote this article.
It is true that I, Stan Wachtstetter, have associated with Moon and many other religious leaders such as Catholic Bishops, Steven Couvey, Unitarian George H. Williams, and so many other friends of diverse groups including so many friends that lead in various evangelical groups. This is me, and I do this. My brothers are often accused of being such purists that they are labelled cultists.
Adding to this mix let me assert that I am clearly Oneness, but I am not United Pentecostal and have no leadership nor any other position in the Apostolic Congress. My activities are my activities.
What is absurd is the linkage between Moon’s view of Israel, and Pastor Upton’s view. What little I know of these things it appears they are the opposite. I question exactly how you link these two positions. I agree with neither of these and I feel the majority of Pentecostals do the same.
From what I understand of Moon’s view, he and they are totally opposed to the defense wall, and favor a two state solution (which in their minds seems to already exist.) Brother Upton by contrast has gotten close to the more right wing groups in Israel, and seems to favor a one state solution.
I certainly do not agree with Moon, and I have told Brother Upton that I feel he has gone to far. He does not believe that Israel must be restored, nor a single state to bring back the Messiah nor anything of that nature. It is true that most Pentecostals favor Israel, and advocate for their right to exist. However, the over whelming majority of Pentecostal see prophecy as something our God will work out, and not us. Thus single state and two state solution have no real meaning to our salvation nor religious view, and thus our political preferences on such matters are diverse.
I am sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians in all the countries of the Middle East. It would be nice to see a Palestinian homeland, and I favor a strong and viable Israel…
I am in retirement. I maintain my right to dialog with anyone I choose, without you or anyone linking me with any religious group to smear them. Pastor Upton has organized the Apostolic Congress, he has done the hard work, and this is his baby. I am supportive of what he is doing. The positional differences between us on such minor issues as a single state solution is not a criticism, but simply differing views on issues.
It is mentioned that I opened the door for Pentecostals into Washington and other governments. This was the work of my youth and I thank God for this. This was based on accommodation that grows out of the first amendment. From Washington and Whitefield, religious leaders have always been welcomed at the White House. All religious groups are welcome there and it seemed to me other fair that Oneness Pentecostals receive the same open door.
There is no special attention given to us. In fact, I am locked out at this administration because I complained about care of our troops in the field. I have been told directly that I will never be invited. In addition, I have complained bitterly that they (this administration and the Congress) can seldom tell the difference between a Trinitarian Pentecostal and a Oneness. Because of their lack of concern, generally it is Trinitarians invited to honor us. Proportionally, Oneness people are not given fair invitations to events.
In closing let me say that I know nothing of you, and I have no idea what your religious orientation to be, but I urge great Christian care from you.
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