[Aaron D. Miller]: There's one additional point, and that is Jerusalem. First of all, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has always been a conflict over land, political identity and religion. And it's gotten worse, there's no question. But in July of 2000, on the eighth day of the Camp David summit, Jerusalem becomes the focal point of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
And imagine the scene. There are Americans trying to persuade Israelis and Palestinians, among the many fixes that we tried, to take sovereignty over the Haram ash-Sharif, the Harabayat (ph), the mosques and the remains of both the first and second temple which lie below the mosque. We're trying to convince the Israelis and Palestinians to take sovereignty, which they assert, and reposit it with God. That's an American approach. Or we'll give the Palestinians sovereignty above ground, and you Israelis will have sovereignty below. We don't get it.
History teaches that Jerusalem is not to be shared, Jerusalem is to be possessed, is to — always in the name of God, in the name of religion, in the name of the tribe. The notion that we now face a religious conflict is a — or more of a religious conflict may be true because Hamas is politicizing, the evangelicals here are politicizing, and there's been a lot of ultra-orthodox Jews politicizing the issue of Jerusalem. But the primary issue remains a religious manifestation of Israeli and Palestinian nationalism, and we're no closer to resolving that religious issue than we were eight years ago this July. Council on Foreign Relations
There is no doubt that many in Israel are desirous of following the Torah as the law of Israel. The Torah has the God of Israel coveting the land of Canaan and exterminating people or driving them completely out or fully assimilating them, albeit under extensive qualifications. The Israelites are commanded by their God to wage wars of aggression to take the land from the Canaanite tribes.
Jesus taught that that is not the real spirit of God, even the God of Israel (hence we still use the uppercase G). Covetousness is wrong even when directed toward those who are not Jews under the Law of Moses recorded in the Torah. Jesus exposed the hypocrisy in that law.
Either one rises to the level of comprehending that all the people on Earth are the children of God, albeit often misguided, or one stays at the level of the Torah fundamentalists who see all others (non-Jews) as not their brothers and sisters or fellow members of the human race with full membership rights.
Frankly, there is no question but that Jesus's message was prophesied by even Moses as to come and that Jesus's message is the more enlightened of the two and closer to God who is righteous and who does not advocate for covetousness regarding any human being and who does not advocate for any war or for any ritual sacrifices, etc.
Jesus fulfilled the law. He enhanced it to perfection. He clarified it and raised it up to God. Jesus is the lawgiver. He revealed what God really wants.
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)