Despite God’s assurances to Abraham in Genesis that those who bless him and his descendants will be blessed and those who curse him will be cursed, several church denominations have put Him to the test by supporting modern Israel’s enemies and denouncing the Jewish State. It seems, however, that there is indeed a price to pay, as several such churches and denominations are reporting declining numbers.
Last month, the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) predicted it would lose over 400,000 members in the next five year, the Jerusalem Post reported. Citing Presbyterian Lay Committee publication The Layman, the Israeli paper noted that the meeting of PCUSA’s Office of the General Assembly and Presbyterian Mission Agency Board Executive Committee arrived at the conclusion after examining recent trends.
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, pointed out that the sharp decline would impact the church’s activities, even after cutting current expenses.
“Even with a three percent reduction of expenses and a three percent raise in per capita [amount of money congregations pay per member to the presbytery, synod and General Assembly], year over year losses of more than 90,000 members per year is institutionally unsustainable,” she said. “To put it into perspective, that’s the equivalent of closing an average of 1,000 PCUSA churches a year.”
PCUSA is notable for its condemnation of Israel and support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It has blamed Zionism exclusively for the unrest in the region, and in 2014 voted to erase references to Israel from its liturgy.
But PCUSA is not alone in its unfortunate position. The United Church of Christ (UCC) and United Methodist Church (UMC), both of which have adopted anti-Israel stances, have also seen their numbers slide.
Membership numbers for the UMC are reported annually at the church’s yearly conference. According to these reports over the past several years, membership numbers are dropping significantly over time. Unsurprisingly, this is the same church that in January voted to divest from five Israeli banks for fear of supporting the “occupation”.
Meanwhile, the UCC, whose membership numbers dipped from over 2 million in 1965 to just 943,521 in 2014, also approved a resolution last summer to divest from Israel.