Religious leaders wrongly malign Presbyterians

July 3, 2014 

What an unfortunate article about the Manatee-Sarasota Jewish Federation in regards to a recent decision by the national Presbyterian Church to divest from three companies that conduct business with Israel (Herald report, "Presbyterian business decision causes schism with Manatee-Sarasota Jewish Federation," June 28).

While it made a captivating headline that was intended to make Presbyterians look awful, there does not seem to be a spirit of actual understanding of what happened.

The General Assembly is not a representative body. Each commissioner is beholden to his/her own conscience. It is true that on that given day 310 commissioners made the decision to do something that I personally find disgraceful and misguided.

I stand in full support of Israel's right to protect its citizens and of all American companies to engage in honest, free enterprise.

But Mr. Howard Tevlowitz, executive director of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, didn't ask me, a local Presbyterian leader, about it. He didn't ask a single member of my congregation about it.

For the record, not a single one of the 310 votes came out of my church.

And with all due respect to Pastor Joey Mimbs, as a Southern Baptist pastor, which the article was quick to point out, he did not reach out to us either.

What an interesting way to promote his church at the expense and deep pain of another. There is no defense for anti-Semitism in the guise of peace-making.

I personally find this action by the PC (USA) to be indefensible, and wish to differentiate from all who would single out for condemnation either Israel as a nation or Jewish people as a race and there are many Presbyterians in the pews who agree with me.

Which is why I wish that Mr. Tevlowitz and Mr. Mimbs had gone looking for the needle in the haystack of those 310 commissioners before issuing a statement that painted broad strokes about their neighbors right here in Manatee County.

Rev. Dr. Hope Italiano Lee

Bradenton

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