By John Lomperis, Juicy Ecumenism.
An abbreviated version of the following testimony was delivered yesterday by UMAction Director John Lomperis to the board of directors of the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church. This denominational agency, which manages billions of dollars of assets and investments on behalf of the church, has been pressured by activists for the Palestinian cause to divest from companies described as “profiting from the Israeli occupation,” as these same activists have successfully gotten some United Methodist annual conferences (regions) to do.
Thanks for hearing me out. I am here as your brother in Christ, as a longtime fellow United Methodist, as an elected General Conference delegate, and as the director of one of the major evangelical caucuses within our denomination, the UMAction program of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Some activists have lobbied various United Methodist leaders to single out certain companies for divestment because of their business with Israel, particularly companies characterized as “profiting from the Israeli occupation.”
As you approach these matters, both for the board’s internal work and for your influence at General Conference, I respectfully express my hope that you will consider some reasons why such agendas are morally irresponsible, factually misleading, unrepresentative of United Methodists, and really harmful to the church we all love.
I wish to make clear that I do not adhere to the dispensationalist theology that drives many Christians to support Israel. Rather, I am driven by a deep concern that my church’s social witness be thoughtful, well-informed, and devoted to the highest standards of social justice.