Methodist Lobbyist Takes Anti-Israel Divestment Agenda to Doorstep of Caterpillar Tractor
"The United Methodist Board of Church and Society apparently believes that the roadmap for Middle East peace leads through Peoria, Illinois. Does anyone really think that punishing Caterpillar will help create a peace in the Middle East?" -- Mark Tooley, Executive Director UMAction
Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, email@example.com; both with the Institute on Religion and Democracy
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 /Christian Newswire/ -- The chief of the United Methodist Church's official lobby office is meeting tomorrow in Peoria, Illinois with Jim Owens, President and CEO of Caterpillar in order to convey his opposition to Caterpillar equipment sales to Israel. Jim Winkler and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society are urging church members and church agencies to divest their holdings in Caterpillar, Inc. Their resolution, which will go before the United Methodist General Conference in April 2008, accuses Peoria-based Caterpillar of facilitating Israel's destruction of Palestinian property.
The 7.9 million member United Methodist Church's pension agency reportedly has $5 million in Caterpillar stock out of $15 billion in assets. Similar anti-Israel divestment actions have been rejected by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Church of England, among others.
IRD Director of UMAction Mark Tooley commented:
"The United Methodist Board of Church and Society apparently believes that the roadmap for Middle East peace leads through Peoria, Illinois. Does anyone really think that punishing Caterpillar will help create a peace in the Middle East?
"How bizarre that the head of the United Methodist lobbying office is now traveling to the doorstep of Caterpillar in order to protest its ostensible complicity in the Middle East conflict. Does he really believe that punishing Caterpillar will solve multi-generational ethnic tensions and religious fanaticism in the Middle East?
"Perhaps the United Methodist Board of Church and Society should examine a 2006 resolution approved by United Methodism's Pacific Northwest Conference. It noted that "some church groups have selectively advocated divestment of firms doing business with Israel while ignoring severe human rights abuses by the governments of Israel's neighbors," affirmed the Jewish state as ""nearly the only long-standing democracy among its neighbors in the Middle East," and declared that "selective attention to Israel's mistakes will not create peace in the Middle East."