Freedom & Liberty,  Religion

One day after CATC2012, pro-Israel church deemed “no longer legitimate” by PA

Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 ended 9th March 2011. The conference programmer was Stephen Sizer, who wishes to use police resources to silence critics of his views.

It invited the Palestinian Authority prime minister Salim Fayyad, and the PFLP-supporting mayor of Bethlehem Victor Batarseh. Batarseh was blacklisted by the USA for funding the PFLP. Camera notes:

The PFLP, one of the largest factions in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) after Fatah, staged 122 attacks, murdering 18 Israelis, in 1991 alone. In 2006, the PFLP criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for condemning a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, claimed responsibility for attacking Israeli border guards after a failed attempt to kidnap a soldier, and reportedly joined with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in terrorist attempts.

Only last month, Batarseh attended a PFLP-led commemoration of the life of its founder George Habash, whom Time Magazine has called “Terrorism’s Christian Godfather.”

I have previously noted how CATC 2010 welcomed Bethlehem governor Abdul Fattah Hamayel, a former Fatah member who recently put a man on trial for criticising PA medical services. Then I wondered why Christ at the Checkpoint was associating itself with these authoritarian, pro-violence figures.

This week we have discovered some appalling news from the Palestinian Authority which is overseen by the likes of Fayyad, Batarseh and Hamayel. Algeimer now reports:

A week after Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told an audience of Evangelical Protestants from across the world that his government respected the rights of its Christian minorities, officials from the Palestinian Authority have informed Bethlehem pastor Rev. Naim Khoury that his church lacked the authority to function as a religious institution under the PA.

The church can still gather to pray, for now, but the PA’s decision conveyed on Saturday will have a real impact on the members of First Baptist, which endured numerous bomb attacks during the First Intifada.

They said that our legitimacy as a church from a governmental point of view is not approved,” said Khoury’s son, Steven, who serves as an assistant pastor at First Baptist. “They said they will not recognize any legal paper work from our church. That includes birth certificates, wedding certificates and death certificates. Children are not even considered to be legitimate if they don’t have recognized paperwork.”

The irony, Steven said, is that the PA’s announcement comes right after the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference. This conference, which took place from March 5 through March 9, 2012 was a gathering of approximately 600 Evangelical Protestants from across the globe (mostly from the United States) to discuss the theology of Christian Zionism, which some Evangelicals believe increases the prospect of violence in the Middle East and gives support to Israeli policies that they do not like.

During the opening night of the conference, Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad told the assembly that his government respected the rights of Christians. Palestinians celebrate religious holidays together, PA officials attend Christmas celebrations and even attend Midnight Mass for Christmas, Fayyad said.

My question is this: why does the PA no longer consider Khoury’s church to be legitimate?

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