Human Genome Project Director to Appear on TV Show Linking Darwin to Hitler

D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries is preparing its latest volley in the war against science: a new TV programme which will show that Charles Darwin was responsible for Adolf Hitler. WND reports (link added):

“This show basically is about the social effects of Darwinism, and shows this idea, which is scientifically bankrupt, has probably been responsible for more bloodshed than anything else in the history of humanity,” Jerry Newcomb[e], one of two co-producers, told WorldNetDaily.

…Co-producer Jerry Newcomb[e] said before the advent of Darwinian beliefs, the basic concept was that man was made in the image of God, and was therefore valuable. But Darwin changed all that.

Newcombe’s co-producer is John Rabe, who has a blog here. The TV show was inspired by book by Richard Weikart, who lays out his case in a trailer:

Adolf Hitler was clearly trying to speed evolution along, and he wasn’t the only one. He was drawing on what many other scholars, biologists, geneticists, in Germany were also preaching and teaching in the early twentieth century. Natural selection was a guiding idea for Hitler and the Nazis, in fact if you read just about any books about the Holocaust, you come across the word “selection”, because in the camps that’s exactly what they did, they used the term, and the term was related directly to Darwinian terminology, that when you went to the camps you went through a selection process. They were selecting this person to survive, and this person to go to the gas chambers.

However, Weikart does not tell us whether the idea of the fittest organism being the most likely to survive in a given environment is in fact a myth created by proto-Nazis, or whether it is true but immoral and wicked for us to make such an observation. PZ Myers at Pharyngula responds:

How absurd can you get? Racism, anti-semitism, and ethnic cleansing long preceded Darwin, and the idea of selection was common to anyone who had domesticated and bred plants and animals. They might as well have claimed, “no farming, no Nazis” (although I think even that would be dubious—hunter-gatherers also have enemy tribes, and will kill to get rid of the competition.).

PZ also draws attention to the programme’s line-up (his emphasis, links added):

The one-hour program features Ann Coulter, author of Godless; Richard Weikart, author of From Darwin to Hitler; Lee Strobel, author of The Case for a Creator; Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution; Phillip Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial; Michael Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box; Ian Taylor, author of In the Minds of Men, and Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project.

Collins has recently become a religious believer, and his book The Language of God is to be published in September. However, Collins’ new Christian faith is somewhat mystical, and he is not a proponent of either “Intelligent Design” or of the Young Earth Creationism promoted by Kennedy and his allies. So why is he now apparently lending support to a fundamentalist project which, judging from the trailer, is concerned purely with using hysterical and slanderous rhetoric to promote fear and hatred of science and scientists?

UPDATE: Answer: he’s not – see here.

Jerry Jenkins: Left Behind Game “Not More Violent than the Old Testament”

Christian Retailing (1) reports from July’s International Christian Retail Show in Denver, where the new Left Behind video game was demonstrated. The game has been the subject of a great deal of controversy due to its violent content, and some conservative evangelicals have repudiated it. However, the game’s developers have come out, er, fighting (brackets in original):

“Left Behind” series co-author Jerry Jenkins said he welcomed the controversy surrounding complaints about the game’s content that made headlines.

“(The controversy) makes you examine your motives, success (and) what you’re doing,” he said. “I looked at the violence for the game to be in the (Christian retail) market. It’s not more violent than the Old Testament,” Jenkins added.

Some might say that sets the bar pretty low (and what about the New Testament, given that the Book of Revelation is one of Jenkins’ inspirations?

…The premise of the post-rapture game–classified as “real time strategy” because players direct multiple characters’ actions from a bird’s-eye view of the New York City streets–is that “you are on the Antichrist’s shoot-to-kill list, and you must defend your own life and the lives of those around you–with violence if necessary,” said Dereck Wong, vice president of sales.

The anti-Christ’s agents, whom the Christian “Tribulation Forces” have to kill, are “Global Community Peacekeepers” – an obvious reference to the United Nations. However, according to marketing manager Greg Bauman,

…more is achieved “with prayer (and) influence, not violence,”

Characters can boost their “spirit rating” by finding scripture scrolls. There are also marketing tie-ins; the game includes

…Christian music from artists such as Fighting Instinct, Toby Mac and Jeremy Camp. A “buy it” button directs players to iTunes to purchase each artist’s album.

“Evangelism is the key of this video game,” said Wong, who noted that each game will include a wristband made by Campus Crusade and that players are linked throughout the fame to DontBeLeftBehind.com, and evangelical Web site operated by the ministry.

Wong said the three goals of the game are “to entertain, to make people think about God, and to make people talk about God.”

Plus:

Left Behind Games will offer a Christian-market exclusive by bundling the game with Tyndale House Publishers’ New Living Translation Metal Bible.

The report makes no mention of the other controversy surrounding the game: that it installs spyware which cannot be deleted.

Talk to Action has a series of articles on the game, by Jonathan Hutson; the first one, with links to those that follow, can be seen here. I charted the rather weird corporate origins of Left Behind Games with a mining company here.

*******

(1) 7 August 2006, pages 1 and 18

Iraq: A Tourist Guidebook (1966)

Links to the book here.

Just for a change, today’s blog entry is something different from my usual fare: a link to Iraq: A Tourist Guidebook, published in Baghdad in 1966. I found it at a bookstall in Doncaster (in the north of England) a few years ago, going for 20 pence or so, and I’ve just scanned it in. Of course, the book presents a rosy picture of the country – while it boasts of the “4,906” Jews in Iraq, there’s no indication that the number had been much bigger a few years before – but it’s a fascinating glimpse not only of Iraq’s past, but of how the country might have developed in some alternative reality.

iraq-guidebook

Journalist Peter Hermann used a copy for a short 2003 piece that appeared in the Baltimore Sun.

(The book has been uploaded into Photobucket; I avoided Flikr as part of the boycott against Yahoo. Shi Tao remains in a Chinese prison)

Armey: Bush Believes in Tribulation, but not Trying to Make it Happen

The BBC World Service’s Reporting Religion programme has an interesting interview with Dick Armey, former US House Majority Leader. Armey is a long-standing supporter of the Israeli right, and in 2002 stated publicly that he wished to see Palestinians removed from the Occupied Territories. BBC journalist Dan Damon asked Armey about his beliefs concerning the End Times (at 19:55).

Armey: We talk about the End Times, the day of Tribulation. Yes there seems to be, if you believe in Bible prophecy, there seems to be a great deal of the circumstances that was prophesised present at this time, and a lot of people believe that this is the time for that prophecy. They also believe that a free and a, what shall I say, well, Israel will be a consequence after those days of Tribulation, but that the whole world goes through a difficult time during those days of Tribulation.

Interviewer: Do you believe it?

Yes, I do.

Does the President of the United States believe it?

I believe he does.

Do you understand why that would worry people who are not Christian or Jewish living in the Middle East?

Well, I can understand why that would worry people, it worries us. This is a very difficult time in the world. I know of nobody who thinks of the days of Tribulation as a good thing. We believe it will happen because the Bible says it will happen, but it is not something that we prefer to see happen. We just expect that to happen, because the Bible says so.

Are you trying to make it happen?

No, I don’t…I’d be very upset with anybody who’s advocated that we ought to make it happen. These things are supposed to happen in God’s good time, and somebody that would try to create the circumstances purposely I think would be out of step with the teaching of the Bible.

And yet a lot of people, a lot of Americans, are raising money, the Americans are sending weapons to Israel. Isn’t that trying to make it happen?

No, I don’t think so. My own guess would be that the most active Americans that are supporting Israel materially by way of sending money or materials, war materials, are not American Christians but American Jews.

Where should we go with this, Congressman, because we’ve got these tremendously dangerous divisions, haven’t we, between people who believe in the end times calling themselves Christians, people who belive that that the final battle with the infidel is coming, calling themselves Muslims?

Well, you know, I think you have to look at who is playing this out, who is asserting it. I think the most important question that you ask is: ‘are people in the United States, particularly people in positions of authority and responsibility – are they trying to make the End Times happen? Are they forcing the issue?’ And those then become in my estimation the very dangerous people that we must look out for. And I don’t believe that any people in office in a position of responsibility and authority in the United States today is trying to force these circumstances predicted in the Bible to come to pass.

Meanwhile, Max Blumenthal reported recently in the Nation that

Over the past months, the White House has convened a series of off-the-record meetings about its policies in the Middle East with leaders of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a newly formed political organization that tells its members that supporting Israel’s expansionist policies is “a biblical imperative.” CUFI’s Washington lobbyist, David Brog, told me that during the meetings, CUFI representatives pressed White House officials to adopt a more confrontational posture toward Iran, refuse aid to the Palestinians and give Israel a free hand as it ramped up its military conflict with Hezbollah.

The White House instructed Brog not to reveal the names of officials he met with, Brog said…

I looked at Brog here, and at previous White House meetings with Christian Zionist lobby groups here.

But just how significant is all this? Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker recently expressed some scepticism:

Doubtless [Christian Zionist leader John] Hagee holds his audiences in thrall, but that audience does not happen to include George W. Bush or even (cue thunderclouds) Karl Rove. Nor millions of other Christians. Despite what the anti-Christianists seem to believe, the evangelical movement is not monolithic on such issues and Hagee doesn’t have an office in the State Department.

In fact, at one White House meeting with about 35 evangelical leaders, one participant told me Hagee said nary a word. Even if he had, no one in the Bush administration is listening.

“You can be sure that Condi Rice is not reading Tim LaHaye books,” says Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and director of its Evangelicals in Civic Life program.

…What’s missing…is a basic understanding of reality: the fact that those who preach an End Times scenario also voted for Bush does not necessarily mean that they have Bush’s ear. When someone like Hagee sends a smoke signal to the White House about Israel and Armageddon, the attitude at Pennsylvania Avenue is, ”Oh yeah, John, we’re aware of that, thank you.”

Pentecostal Church to “Force” Museum to Move Hominoid Display

The Daily Telegraph reports from Kenya on a new religiously-inspired attack on science (link added):

Powerful evangelical churches are pressing Kenya’s national museum to sideline its world-famous collection of hominid bones pointing to man’s evolution from ape to human.

Leaders of the country’s six-million-strong Pentecostal congregation want Dr Richard Leakey’s ground-breaking finds relegated to a back room instead of being given their usual prime billing.

…”The Christian community here is very uncomfortable that Leakey and his group want their theories presented as fact,” said Bishop Bonifes Adoyo, the head of Christ is the Answer Ministries, the largest Pentecostal church in Kenya.

“Our doctrine is not that we evolved from apes, and we have grave concerns that the museum wants to enhance the prominence of something presented as fact which is just one theory.”

Bishop Adoyo said all the country’s churches would unite to force the museum to change its focus when it reopens after 18 months of renovations in June next year.

This is just the latest campaign from Bishop Adoyo, who in 1999 demanded that Kenya change its national motto. Charisma magazine reported at the time:

A Pentecostal pastor in Nairobi, Kenya, is challenging the use of the country’s long-held national motto, saying the word is having a negative spiritual effect on the East African nation because it translates as an invocation to a Hindu goddess.

…The word harambee is the most distinctive expression of the Kenyan idiom, and it serves as the national rallying cry. Its origins as a commonly used term are with Hindu laborers who constructed the country’s trans-national railway, yet the word has spiritual roots as well.

According to Ram Krishan Sharma, the pandit–or “preacher”–at the Arya Samaj temple, harambee is an invocation. “When one says harambee, they are saying, ‘O god mother, take our pains and sorrows away.'”

…Adoyo believes that Kenyan Christians and Muslims should not be forced to pay homage to a deity acknowledged by less than 1 percent of the population. “A national motto should be neutral,” he says.

Adoyo went on to explain the spiritual side of economics:

Adoyo is convinced that the reason why Asians control 20 percent of the Kenyan economy is that they worship what they know, while the rest of Kenya commits unwitting idolatry.

…Adoyo ruefully compares “Harambee” with “In God We Trust,” the motto on the U.S. dollar, saying: “[Americans] started on the right footing, and now the dollar rules the world. Not so us!”

Critics, meanwhile, complained that “harambee” was simply an African word meaning “let us all pull together”.

Back in the 1990s, Adoyo was also active in spreading Satanic panic, for the benefit of President Daniel Arap Moi. The Mail and Guardian reported:

Two years ago [1994], amid a flourish of press reports of children kidnapped for ritual sacrifice, Arap Moi appointed Kenya’s archbishop to head an official commission into devil worship.

…The commission says devil worshippers have brought a plague of human sacrifice, cannibalism, “incantations in unintelligible language” and rape of children – and gives hints on how to spot Lucifer’s agents at work. Citizens should look out for the “magic horns of witchcraft”, the numbers 666, images of witches on broomsticks, nudity and snakes. Other giveaways are an “obsession with sex, especially lesbianism or homosexuality”.

Bonifes Adoyo, a member of the commission and senior pastor of the Nairobi Pentecostal Church, says it found devil worship at every level of society but mostly among the elite.

“The elites entice people into it with money,” Adoyo said. “Materialism and affluence do not answer spiritual longings…they want mystical powers to control people.” He said those who have “joined the bandwagon of economic and political freedoms” played into the hands of devil worshippers.

By “elites”, it seems, Adoyo meant Arap Moi’s political opponents. This 1994 “Inquiry into Devil Worship” was published in 1999:

In August 1999, the Government presented to Parliament and thereby effectively published the 1994 report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Devil Worship…It also reported that “Satanists” had infiltrated nonindigenous religious groups including Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), and the Church of Christ Scientist (Christian Scientists), as well as other organizations, including the Masonic Order (Freemasons) and the Theosophical Society, making them “doorways” to Satanism. Most members of the Commission were senior members of mainline Christian churches; a deputy director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) also served on the Commission.

A second report adds “the golfing society” to the list of “channels that could lead to the occult”. Apparently this was because of the existence of a “Lucifer Golfing Society”, whose patron is the Duke of Edinburgh. A Nation critique of the report can be seen here. Tragedy followed: in 2000, two women were burned to death as witches in the village of Gachami, and in 2004 the panic led to colonial-era church imagery coming under threat of destruction.

The bishop also takes a firm line against Islam; a 2004 source reports from a conference, where

Bishop Bonifes Adoyo (Kenya) exposed the hideous strategies of Muslims to Islamize all African nations and those plans are incubated in Abuja of Nigeria. They gather everyday, make use of their youths, burn churches, buy over institutions, occupy territories, go on suicide bombing, practice terrorism and call all these exploits. Exploits that breed evil. They must be stopped, and Christians, the church in Africa must arise against this destructive monster. A word of prophecy came that God desire men who will not only give him their hearts but their heads also. He said he would not find pleasure with those who draw back.

More recently, Adoyo was part of a campaign to have the Da Vinci Code film banned in Kenya.

Adoyo’s “Christ is the Answer” ministry is based at the Nairobi Pentecostal Church, Valley Road, which was founded by Canadian Pentecostals in the 1960s. A Christian radio station based at the church was the scene of a violent attack in May which left a guard dead; Islamic militants are thought to have been to blame, although a sinister comment from Security Minister John Michuki (and a previous attack on a newspaper office) about teaching a lesson to media that “harm” the government have raised other suspicions. There is also a weird (and impenetrable) argument over whether Rick Warren has had links with the church (see here).

(Hat tips: Pharyngula, Dispatches from the Culture Wars. Cross-posted to Talk to Action.)

Name variations: Boniface Adoyo, NPC Valley Road

Rabbi Tells US Christians not to “Turn the Other Cheek” Over Jerusalem Gay Protest

“This is the defining moment, the shot heard around the world, whether Israel will be the Holy Land or the homo-land”

Hot on the heels of the article I discussed yesterday, Agape turns to Rabb Yehuda Levin for advice:

Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Jews for Morality says on Thursday the homosexuals in Jerusalem are planning, in place of their previously cancelled “gay pride” parade, to have instead a “march to a vigil against hate.” This so-called march is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m., local time. Levin says he and other conservatives feel “that Jews, Christians, and Muslims in America have a responsibility as Americans because we turned the other cheek” to the immorality of homosexuality. “We allowed this to fester until, in America, there are now states where homosexuals can legally marry,” the rabbi laments. But he insists it is not too late to do something and is urging pro-family citizens and people of faith in the U.S. to take action now. Levin says Americans need to contact the offices of the Mayor and the Chief of Police in Jerusalem and urge them not to allow this homosexual “march” to take place.

Just what damn pinko came up with this wretched “turn the other cheek” idea in the first place? At least Agape is taking a stand. Levin continues in similar vein over at the JTA:

“This is the defining moment, the shot heard around the world, whether Israel will be the Holy Land or the homo-land,” said Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Brooklyn, who spearheaded opposition to the parade and represents more than 1,000 rabbis from the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada and the Rabbinical Alliance of America. “We can’t just turn our cheek to homosexual militancy,” he said. “This will be the battle of Lexington and Concord in the struggle for morality and decency.”

Back in July, Levin promised “bloodshed – not just on that day, but for months afterward”.

Levin, as I’ve discussed on the blog before, is the Jewish Fred Phelps: he believes (like Christine Darg) that the Lebanon conflict was caused by God’s wrath against the planned WorldPride event, and a few years ago he urged a boycott of the Washington Holocaust museum for including information about homosexuals killed by the Nazis. The controversy over gay pride in Jerusalem has also upset a lot of US Christians, who find the idea of gay Israelis offensive both to the holiness of Jerusalem and to their Bible-based stereotypes about how Jews in the divinely-restored Israel ought to behave. Levin’s main Christian ally here is California pastor Leo Giovinetti.

My previous entries on the Jerusalem gay pride controversy can be seen here and here.

The Writing on the Sign

The cause of religious free speech rouses the Center for Law and Policy to action; Agape reports:

A federal appeals court in New York will once again be hearing arguments in a case involving a church in Staten Island that was banned from displaying a billboard because it contained a Bible verse condemning homosexuality.

Mike DePrimo, senior litigation counsel for the CLP, is appearing before the Second Circuit to present the case. He says the case is a clear-cut example of religious censorship. “The city cited their anti-discrimination law as the basis for their action,” DePrimo explains.

…In fact, however, the city was promoting religious intolerance, says the attorney. “What we like about the case is that this is not the pastor’s personal sentiments; this is pure scripture,” DePrimo says. “He simply quoted the scriptures [and] put them up on the billboard. And, essentially, the city’s attack is on the Holy Bible; it’s not on religious speech as such. It’s on the Holy Bible itself.”

You tell ’em, Mike:

anti-jewish-bible-sign

Of course, DePrimo is actually defending a different sign (as reproduced by Agape below), but one assumes that he holds all verses of “pure scripture” to be equally holy and worthy of public display.

leviticus-sign

Christian Zionism Promoted in Romania

The latest from ASSIST:

Romanian Christian leaders are very concerned that the country’s Christian believers understand the Middle East crisis from a Biblical perspective.

With that in mind, Alfa Omega TV organized a conference with the theme of “Prayer for Israel.”

…Hosted by Timisoara Christian Center, the conference took place at the end of July. Among the topics discussed were “Strategic Intercession for Israel,” “Signs and Wonders in the Muslim World” and “The Coming Revival in Israel.”

Timisoara Christian Center is also known as Agape Church; the senior pastor is Isaac Matei, whose elder brother Daniel Matei previously held the position (short profiles of both can be seen here). Daniel belongs to the International Coalition of Apostles, which is based in Colorado Springs under none other than the neo-Pentecostal leader C Peter Wagner, who acts as “Presiding Apostle”.

The conference was addressed by a familiar keynote speaker:

Writer and television producer Christine Darg, from Daystar International, known as a writer about both Israel and the Arab world, was the special guest at the conference. One of Darg’s television series, “Exploits,” is broadcast weekly on the Alfa Omega satellite channel.

Darg was featured on this blog a couple of weeks ago, where I noted her claim that that the Lebanon conflict had been sparked by God’s wrath against the homosexual “desecration” of Jerusalem. ASSIST also mentions some of the other attendees:

Speaking in the news release, conference attendee Pastor Marius Birgean said, “Many issues concerning Israel were clarified, and I was also motivated to pray more for God’s plan with Israel and the Arab world.”

Birgean is the author of Terorism, Islamism si sfarsitul lumii, which seems be (using a dictionary) something along the lines of “Terrorism, Islamism, and the End of the Light“. The book description, so far as I can make it out by guesswork, discusses 9/11, the clash between the Judeo-Christian civilisation and Islam in the light of Scripture, and the “New World Order”. A second title, Europa, is concerned with the things that sustain the “system of the anti-Christ”, including Catholicism. His church’s rather uninformative English-language website can be seen here. Back to ASSIST (link added):

Another conference participant, David Nagy, a messianic leader from Oradea, said he was very glad he attended the event, because it clarified for him the relationship between Israel and the Body of Christ.

And Emilia Patru from Craiova, a city from the South of Romania said in the news release, “God called me and my church to pray for Israel.”

Alfa Omega TV, meanwhile, has an English-language website here. The station also provides Christian education videos for Romanian public schools, apparently in collaboration with the Romanian Ministry of Education; these videos include programmes on “Judeo-Christian values” and “creationism”.

Wealthy “Social Justice” Evangelicals Screen 2008 Republican Presidential Candidates

Time has a short article on an unknown evangelical organisation with influence in the Republican party (links added):

The least known but one of the most eagerly courted, screening committees for the next G.O.P. presidential nominee met recently in Colorado Springs, Colo., amid the panoramic opulence of the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort…The political group, called Legacy, aims for mystique: it has received no media attention and is unknown even on the Web. Yet all the marquee ’08 Republican candidates have spoken to Legacy or met with its founders…”If you’re running for President,” said a close associate of President George W. Bush’s, “it is the place to go.”

…Legacy was started by two Dallas businessmen: Ray Washburne, a real estate and Tex-Mex-restaurant baron, and George Seay III, founder of the Seay Stewardship & Investment Co. and grandson of former Texas Governor Bill Clements. Its members are mostly young–in their 30s and 40s–and wealthy, through entrepreneurship, inheritance or both. They are Christians concerned with social justice, in the mold of Rick Warren of Purpose Driven Life fame, and practice their faith without, as a Broadmoor attendee put it, “quoting Leviticus”–a reference to the harder-edged rhetoric at other gatherings of social conservatives…

Washburne was the subject of a long profile in the Dallas Observer ten years ago; some of his business ventures (particularly a short-lived magazine named Texas Business) appear to have ended in acrimony. Forbes has some more recent details, while a short bio of Seay can be seen here.

(Hat tip: Raw Story. Cross-posted to Talk2Action.)

Prominent US-Palestinian Lutheran Barred from Birthplace

Boing Boing links to an article about Grace El Yateem, a Palestinian-American Lutheran and president of the Association of Lutherans of Arab and Middle Eastern Heritage (ALAMEH). The report is by her brother, Daoud Kuttab (link added):

My sister Grace and her four children were traveling from Jordan to see relatives in the West Bank using the northern Jordan-Israel crossing point.

Grace and her family, United States citizens who live in Brooklyn, N.Y., were excited about visiting our relatives in the Palestinian town of Beit Jala. Her husband, Khader El Yateem, Lutheran pastor of Salam Arabic Church in Brooklyn, who was required by Israeli authorities to travel a different route, has not seen his many relatives for over eight years. The last time he tried some four years ago to attend the funeral of his brother-in-law he was not allowed to enter. He was told by the Israelis that he could not use his American passport, only his Palestinian travel documents…My sister, like other Palestinians born in Jerusalem, has never had any Palestinian documents because Jerusalem was annexed by Israel and is therefore considered part of it.

…Without an explanation, an Israeli police officer came up to my sister with her and her children’s passport and told her that she was denied entry into Israel and that this denial applied to all crossing points…my sister was angry that her children would not be able to see their relatives in Palestine, and visit Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Christ.

There does seem to be one discrepancy here, concerning Khader’s previous visits to his relatives: in 2003 Ethically Speaking, the newsletter of the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, reported that

At a recent Bay Ridge Dialog Group meeting, Rev. Khader El-Yateem, a member of the group, shared a story of his trip some weeks ago to the West Bank to visit his family.

However, Ethically Speaking also highlights how Grace’s visits to the Palestinian territories have had a humanitarian aspect:

From his moving personal story, the group learned of the terrible medical service and supply deprivations that exist in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The group is forming a Medical Mission Committee to research medical conditions in that part of the world and determine how best to help. In the meantime, there is an opportunity to take an immediate positive step. Grace El-Yateem, wife of Rev. El-Yateem, and herself a nurse, is going to the West Bank with her children on July 6 [2003]. The need for the simplest of supplies is so great that she has offered to hand-carry, in her luggage, as much in the way of non-prescription, over-the-counter supplies as we can get to her before she leaves.

Khader El-Yateem, meanwhile, was profiled by PBS for a documentary about Arab-Americans post-9/11. Some details:

Khader El-Yateem was born in the West Bank town of Beit Jala in 1968. As a young man, he worked as an activist in the Youth Leader Reformation Lutheran Church and was a student at Bible college. When he was 20 years old, Israeli soldiers surrounded the house where he lived with his parents and took him to prison despite the fact that he was never accused nor charged with any crimes. He was detained, interrogated and tortured several times that year. In 1989, after being held captive for 55 days, Khader spent months recuperating from his wounds.

…Since 9/11, Khader’s church has become a haven for Brooklyn Arabs, Christian and Muslim alike. They turn to him for help after losing relatives at the World Trade Center, after being harassed, after losing their jobs…

The church itself has been profiled on Faith and Values TV:

Salam Arabic Church became the country’s first Arabic-Lutheran church two and a half years ago…Pastor El-Yateem and his wife are among those leading the effort to build connections between Lutheran Arabs nationally and internationally.

…The church helps its immigrant members face problems of language, social problems, lack of job skills, and domestic violence. The church offers weekly women’s group meetings headed by Grace El-Yateem. The youth group meets three times per week. Pastor El-Yateem holds regular meeting or counseling sessions to deal with situations such as immigration and citizenship, learning English, and job training. The church also offers a food bank and provides clothing to those in need.

…Pastor El-Yateem is honest about the multicultural challenges that his parishioners face, including the negative stereotypes from some Americans towards Arabs. An immigrant himself, Pastor El-Yateem has the compassion, dedication, and vision to make this church work.

Perhaps some US politicians can take up Grace’s current plight. For example, back in June Representatives Michael McCaul and Joe Crowley presented themselves as champions of Palestinian Christians, asking for support for a draft resolution to protect “the oldest Christian community in the world.” But it’s unlikely; as I discussed at the time, McCaul and Crowley were really only interested in demonising non-Christian Palestinians. Problems for Palestinian Christians that are caused by Israel’s policies are not likely to prompt much in the way of brave dissent.