Thursday, June 26, 2014
The First Presbyterian Church of Fort Myers
"First Presbyterian Church of Fort Myers, Lee County's oldest Presbyterian church, went on record Monday night opposition to the vote by its national governing body, Presbyterian Church USA, that they say condemns the nation of Israel and vilifies three American companies. Rev. Paul deJong, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Fort Myers, said the decision by the local church's session was unanimous and will be sent to Presbyterian Church USA as a formal protest. "We cannot and will not support Presbyterian Church USA in its misguided decision to divest itself of stock in companies whose products Israel uses in the occupied territories," deJong said. "We stand in full support of Israel's right to protect its citizens and of all American companies to engage in honest free enterprise." The center of the controversy was a vote Friday by the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church USA to sell stock it owns in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola because the companies make products used by Israel against Palestinians in the West Bank. The resolution passed 310 to 303. "The actions of the denomination are at best misguided, at worst represent outright racism, and certainly give every appearance of intentionally promoting anti-Semitism. One must question the motives of anyone who vilifies Israel with greater fervor than any other nation, especially when we consider the numerous places in which violence is being reported continuously. Indeed, rarely in history has one side held so much power and yet used that power with such restraint as Israel is doing in our day," Rev. deJong said. Rev. deJong said First Presbyterian Church considers the Bible to be the Word of God and the Bible clearly states that the people of Jerusalem (those we now call Jews) are God's chosen people. "There is no defense for anti-Semitism in the guise of peace-making. We find this action by the PCUSA to be indefensible, and we wish to differentiate ourselves from all who would single out for condemnation either Israel as a nation or Jewish people as a race. We call upon all true Christians to do the same," he said. Presbyterian Church USA is the largest Presbyterian body in the nation with more than two million members."