Church Leader’s Third Strike: Presbyterian Church Head Should Resign for Continuing to Promote Anti-Semitic Rhetoric
February 14, 2022
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said that Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, head of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUSA), should resign for continuing to spread anti-Semitic and hate-filled false comments about American Jews and Israel.
For the third time in recent weeks, Nelson continued to promote false claims about American Jews and the State of Israel despite criticism from Jewish leaders and members of his own church.
In his latest anti-Semitic salvo - a video and transcript posted February 10th on PCUSA’s online magazine “The Presbyterian Outlook” - Rev. Nelson triple-downed on his previous false charges, accusing Israel of “21st Century slavery” and American Jews of complicity. Nelson’s seven-minute video came a day after PSCUSA’ Committee on the Office of the General Assembly issued a statement affirming that he is authorized to speak on behalf of the church.
“Three strikes and he’s out. He should leave his post — now,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC’s Associate Dean and Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein, Director of Interfaith Affairs. “Not just because he is morally blind. Not just because he is hypocritical. But because his raging indifference to violent acts of Jew-hatred are legitimized by his own radical politics thinly wrapped in theological tinder.”
Meanwhile, many Presbyterians have spoken up to condemn his words and offer words of support to the Jewish community since the Stated Clerk’s initial remarks on January 17th. Over 150 prominent Presbyterian leaders signed a petition calling up the Stated Clerk to acknowledge his hateful language. A prominent member of the denomination’s General Assembly Committee on Interfaith and Ecumenical Relations has resigned in disgust. And leaders at all levels are upset with the Stated Clerk’s words and lack of contrition, many looking at scenarios to reign him in.
SWC welcomed their support. “We applaud PFMEP and all the other Presbyterian leaders for having the courage to stand up to hate and anti-Semitism in their own house,” said Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, SWC’s Director of UN Relations & Strategic Partnerships. “We appreciate their commitment to continuing a positive partnership and dialogue between Presbyterians and the Jewish people.”
PFMEP is a grassroots group of Presbyterian lay and clergy volunteers with a solid history of working with Jews in interfaith dialogue and who “want the PCUSA to be an effective peacemaker in the Middle East.”
To read SWC’s recent op-ed on this issue, click here.
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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).