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In the case of Darfur, three million Darfuris are still living in refugee camps in Sudan and Chad after having experienced an attempted genocide, in which 300,000 of their number perished during the brutal racial cleansing. And Arab colonization of Darfuri lands has been so extensive, Crockett states: “Demographically, Darfur has already been transformed, probably forever.” It would also be “extremely difficult to turf them (the Arab settlers) out of their new domains. If anyone tried, it would certainly lead to new violence.” For the black African Darfuri refugees then, there is probably no going home.
While there are other world issues besides the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio that the United Church, and other left-wing churches, can be cited for treating unequally, such as the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, it is the Church’s hypocritical silence on Arab racism against black Africans that really stands out. It was churches like the United Church who led the commendable struggle against apartheid in South Africa, singling it out for condemnation and helping impose an official boycott. But their efforts to combat the much crueler and deadlier Arab racism, that has enslaved tens of thousands of black Africans in places like Sudan and Mauritania, have been negligible in comparison. The Africans in those countries would be happy if such “progressive” churches bestowed attention upon them equal to that given to the Palestinians.
A recent study on the United Church, however, helps explain why its humanitarianism appears to have boundaries, stopping at non-left-wing issues. Kevin Flatt, a history professor and study co-author, says that the church’s views are “being set by trends in secular thinking” and its contribution to issues is simply “an echo of the NDP (Canada’s socialist party) or [secular] environmental groups.” In other words, if it isn’t a fashionable, left-wing political cause, the Church is simply not interested. And the same can probably be said about many other “progressive” churches.
But this focus on left-wing causes may form the root of the United Church’s eventual downfall. The study maintains “its take on social issues” has put the Church “in serious danger of losing its identity as a Christian denomination…” And since people generally go to church for spiritual sustenance and not to pursue or promote social causes, this, in turn, will lead to a further crippling decline in attendance. One professor estimates church membership will drop to 250,000 in 15 years, while Flatt believes attendance will be almost zero by 2040. So if the United Church intends to boycott Israeli goods it should do so now, because soon there won’t even be enough members around to vote on such a woolly-headed motion.
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