Jimmy Carter wrote a New York Times oped piece this week, A Cruel and Unusual Record, which states flatly:
"The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.
"Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation's violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public.
"As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues."
Carter's focus is on "moral authority." This is the same authority that must, in all cases, motivate the nation's churches.
Less than a week after the publication of Carter's powerful call for "moral authority," the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., a major US Protestant denomination, meets in Pittsburgh for its General Assembly. During the week of June 30-July 7, delegates will conduct church business, develop church policy, and consider action on moral issues.
One of those issues is whether or not the Presbyterian Church's investment portfolios should divest from three U.S. corporations which support, with their products, Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
The Presbyterian General Assembly follows a similar national meeting of the United Methodist Church, where the same issue was presented to delegates attending the denomination's quadrennial General Conference. The Methodists chose to continue their relationship to the occupation, rejecting a divestment resolution.
The Methodists did advocate a boycott of Israeli products produced in occupied areas. This action, however, did not have the specificity of withdrawing investment of the denomination's own funds from the occupation.
For the next week, delegates to the 2012 Presbyterian Church General Assembly will have their opportunity to take their own moral stand on occupation, by voting for or against the conduct of three US corporations, Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, the same trio that escaped Methodist divestment.
Only a few of the delegates, or most likely, none of them, will recall votes taken, or not taken, in the 1923 and 1924 Presbyterian General Assemblies.
Any delegate who did look back to 1923 and 1924, would be reminded that each of their votes will be recalled in history as a personal "moral authority" decision.
It was 87 years ago, at the 1924 Presbyterian GA meeting in
Indianapolis, that GA delegates awaited the result of of an
investigation of one of their most prominent preachers, Harry Emerson
Fosdick. (pictured here)