United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC
Photo credit: Agnostic Preacher’s Kids (CC-By-SA 3.0)
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DCPhoto credit: Agnostic Preacher's Kids (CC-By-SA 3.0)
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC
Photo credit: Agnostic Preacher’s Kids (CC-By-SA 3.0)

A United Methodist Official who called for the boycott of holocaust museums plans to visit Iowa for an event with the Iowa United Methodists on Saturday, June 6th.

Janet Lahr Leiws, the Advocacy Coordinator for the Middle East at the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries and a Peace with Justice Associate with the UMC’s General Board of Church and Society wrote in a denomination newsletter on May 22nd that United Methodists should boycott holocaust museums until Palestinians have one of their own.

Don’t participate in Holocaust Remembrance Day without participating in Al Nakba Remembrance Day. Don’t visit a Holocaust museum until there is one built to remember the other holocausts in the world: the on-going Palestinian holocaust, the Rwandan, the Native American, the Cambodian, the Armenian… You could be waiting a long time!

Her article (which can be read here in full) has been removed from the denomination’s website.

Lewis visits Iowa next Saturday to speak at the Iowa Annual Conference Methodist Federation for Social Action dinner. (You can see the event flyer here.)

Mark Tooley, the executive director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, who is also a United Methodist pointed out Lewis’ flawed point of view in a piece at the American Spectator:

Lewis’s boycott of the Holocaust Museum, and suggestion of “on-going Palestinian holocaust,” is of course far worse. Hitler’s mass murder of 6 million European Jews is unique in the annals of human horrors. Stalin and Mao likely killed more, and the Armenian and Cambodian genocides were appalling, the Rwandan genocide also, plus the Sudanese regime’s continuing homicides, not to mention at least half a dozen other similar crimes by governments over the last century.

But no sustained massacre in history was conducted across years with such deliberation and cold, mechanized efficiency, by a regime elected by the informed voters of an ostensibly civilized nation, as was the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. It began with boycotts of Jewish businesses and expulsions of Jews from public life, escalated to expropriation of property and mass incarceration, continued towards mass shootings, suffocation by carbon dioxide in mobile vans, then finalized with daily gassing by the tens of thousands in death camps, where the bodies were delivered of gold teeth and hair, then were incinerated, filling the guilty land with the stench of burning human flesh.

What Israeli policies towards Palestinians merit the term “holocaust” much less rank with Hitler’s relentless death machine? Is it the security fence against Palestinian suicide bombers? Is it the occasional demolition of Palestinian homes suspected to belong to terrorists? Is it the security checkpoints? Is it the purchase of Palestinian land by Jewish settlers?

Can the term “holocaust” apply to the Palestinians killed in the recent Gaza war, when Israel reacted against Hamas rockets? Or Palestinians killed during intifadas orchestrated by Yasir Arafat as a negotiating tool when offers of a Palestinian state were insufficient for his political purposes?

What an extreme, illogical position and it is one that, seemingly, the Iowa Annual Conference of United Methodists endorse through their invitation.

Update: See Dr. McClanahan’s comment below (the Iowa Conference Director of Communications)  Ok, fair enough.  It can’t accurately be said the Iowa Annual Conference endorses this position.  I apologize for my error and stand corrected.

I think it is fair to ask if the Methodist Federation for Social Action based in Iowa does or at the very least why they would want to be affiliated with such a person.  It does   To be clear however, the Iowa Chapter of MFSA is an affiliate organization of the Iowa Conference.  From their website:

The Iowa Chapter of the National MFSA, an affiliate organization of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church, seeks to move the church to be an inclusive, justice seeking, and risk taking Body of Christ in the world. In the Wesleyan tradition, MFSA seeks to transform the social order until it resembles the reign of God announced by the prophets and Jesus, where justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream. (emphasis mine)

If MFSA is identifying itself as an affiliate organization doesn’t that suggest some type of relationship or are they just self-identifying themselves that way?

Here are some ministries of the Iowa Conference.  Like, for instance, their lobbying team who seems to always fall on the side of the left on bills they register on.  It’s amazing how they seem to have more in common with Planned Parenthood and One Iowa than they do some of the evangelical-based groups.  They also register on a number of bills like HF 58 a prolife bill they registered against.  To their credit they also registered against HF 65, the death with dignity act.  They registered in favor of a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage.  I wonder how Methodist small business owners feel about that?

Apparently the Iowa Conference doesn’t believe Iowans should be able to defend themselves as they registered against HF 92.  They registered in favor of State Representative Mary Mascher’s gay marriage bill because you know, Jesus endorses gay marriage (this bill was an attempt to have the Iowa Code reflect the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision).  He apparently, in the minds of the conference (unless their lobbyists are somehow not representing their wishes) sexual orientation therapy is bad since they registered in favor of HF 276.   School choice for some reason must not be a Methodist value since they registered against HF 313.

I could go on and on and on.  Do delegates of the Iowa Annual Conference vote on bills the Conference advocacy team registers on?  I doubt it.

2 comments
  1. What idiocy. I would hope she will be countered by those who support Israel’s right to exist as a democratic and free country and our ally.

  2. Mr. Vander Hart:

    In your “caffeinated thoughts” blogpost you assert that a personal opinion is also the official position of the Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, conveniently qualifying your condemnation of nearly 175,000 United Methodists, from approximately 800 existing and emerging communities of faith, with the word, “seemingly.”

    It cannot be inferred that the Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church either is opposed to or agrees with the position you quote from Ms. Janet Lehr Lewis. Your suggestion, at the conclusion of your “caffeinated thoughts” blogpost, is inaccurate when you propose otherwise.

    While it is correct that Ms. Janet Lahr Lewis will be speaking at the Methodist Federation for Social Action dinner on Saturday, June 6, 2015, MFSA, like REVIVE, is an unofficial group, and as such is entitled to its own opinions and perspectives. Groups such as REVIVE or MFSA extend their own invitations to their annual dinners, which are held, by convenience, during the meal hours when the Iowa Annual Conference session is in recess.

    Just as you are free to state your personal opinions in your “caffeinated thoughts” blogpost Ms. Lewis is entitled to express hers. Positions and perspectives of the Iowa Annual Conference only become official when they are ratified by the Annual Conference session.

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