Baptists Heed the Call for Justice, Freedom, and Equality
[Facilitators/Convenors: G.J. Tarazi, Leslie Withers, and Allison Tanner]
Allison Tanner is a CMEP board member on behalf of the Alliance of Baptists.
The Alliance of Baptists has a proud history of pursuing justice, affirming God’s inclusive kin-dom and equipping the church to follow in the way of Jesus. In response to Palestinian Christian siblings both within our communities and in the Holy Land, we have spent the past decade learning how we can live out these commitments in response to those longing for justice and beseeching us to work with God for their liberation. In 2013, in response to Kairos Palestine and internal organizing, the Alliance made this public commitment, “The Board of the Alliance recognizes the critical need to work for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel. The Board blesses and endorses the work of the Justice in Palestine and Israel Community.”
Our Justice in Palestine and Israel Community (JPI) has led the Alliance in the living out of this commitment through hosting educational events highlighting both the daily and multi-generational injustices Palestinians endure; equipping our membership to advocate for justice in U.S. policies and international accountability to Israel’s human right’s abuses including, but not limited to, displacement of Palestinian communities, increased settlement expansion, and ongoing military occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza; and engaging with mission partners in the work of hope and healing. Because we believe deeply in the importance of following the leadership of those directly impacted by injustice, we have focused our work on responding to the pleas of Palestinian Christians voiced in Kairos Palestine, their epistle to the international Church, follow up letters such as Cry of Hope, a Call for Decisive Action and participating in Global Kairos for Justice.
In centering the call of Kairos Palestine and continuing to educate ourselves about the increasingly dire conditions Palestinians continue to endure, supported by our U.S. tax dollars, we have made two major commitments to use our economic and cultural power to disrupt injustice and challenge systems of oppression. In 2016 we committed to boycott and divest from companies and corporations who profit from human rights violations of Palestinians, and in 2018 the Alliance joined with individuals, congregations, and denominations throughout the U.S. in boycotting Hewlett Packard (HP) for their role in helping create institutionalized apartheid.
In addition to economic boycott and divestment, we acknowledge the political and cultural power of Christian Zionism in intensifying the oppression of Palestinians. As Christians, we have an obligation to challenge evils being done in the name of Jesus and disrupt theologies of death and destruction. In following Jesus’ example, we want to be clear that we believe in a God of justice, freedom, and inclusion and we must decry ways in which religious leaders co-opt religion for purposes of power and greed. A few months ago, the Alliance committed to Confront Christian Zionism in our congregations and in the halls of congress. We are grateful for our Jewish siblings who have led the way in confronting the misuse of their faith in ways that oppress others and insisting that true religion demands we disrupt all manifestations of evil, both within and beyond our religious networks.
Our partnership with Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has been helpful in engaging in advocacy in the halls of congress and education in the church pews. As we continue to partner together, we covet your prayers in the work we are doing. We ask prayers for clarity in heeding the calls of or Palestinian siblings, courage to act according to our deepest commitments, and confidence in the face of misinformation and malicious attempts to silence the liberative work of God. Below is a prayer that we’ve been praying for the past year – we invite you to pray with us:
A Prayer for Palestine
God of Life and Love and Liberation
We pray for all who are living with death and devastation and destruction
We pray for Gaza and all the lives lost, communities destroyed, and families living in fear
We pray for East Jerusalem, for those who endure settler attacks,
home evictions and constant humiliation
We pray for people of the West Bank, ‘48, Refugee Camps and the Diaspora,
all who are longing for freedom, justice, and equality.
We pray for Israelis who are outraged by what is happening at the hands of their government.
We pray for all who are working for a just peace in the land we call holy.
May your life-giving spirit blow through war-torn lands and places of death to birth new life. Amen.
The Justice in Palestine and Israel Community seeks to follow the model of the First Century Jesus by “speaking truth to power” in 21st Century Palestine and Israel. The pursuit of justice is based on building meaningful relationships between and among all people, using the definition given to us by Martin Luther King, Jr., “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” This community works for justice in Palestine and Israel by raising awareness about the current situation there, sponsoring trips/pilgrimages to the Holy Land, networking with other like-minded faith-based groups, and advocating the pursuit of justice with elected policymakers. We believe that if justice exists, peace will be found.