MPAC-Linked All Saints Church: ‘Evangelical Zionism’ Is ‘Evil’

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On December 15, All Saints Episcopal Church of Pasadena hosted the annual convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a group with Muslim Brotherhood origins and a controversial past. The question of why All Saints would collaborate with this specific group persisted. The answer came during the event when Reverend Ed Bacon listed “acts of evil” committed by Christians and included “evangelical Zionism.”

The first hint of a political objective behind this interfaith gathering came during a December 6 press conference. Salam al-Marayati, the president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), said that his organization seeks to help the U.S. act as an “honest broker” for peace in the Middle East. This is a soft way of saying that the U.S. must take a tough stand towards Israel, as evidenced by MPAC’s record of anti-Israel activism. The All Saints Episcopal Church leadership was standing with him.

During the opening session, Reverend Ed Bacon talks of his “heartbreaking” visit to the Gaza Strip in 2002, where he visited the “Red Crescent Society” and met with its leader. Presumably, he was referring to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, an anti-Israel humanitarian group that accuses Israel of “continuous targeting of civilians and their properties and hampering the access of medical personnel and ambulances to casualties.”

In a later session, Bacon said that he’d speak about problems in his own religion’s past. He said “the history of Christianity is littered with acts of evil.” He mentioned the Crusades, slavery, the Jim Crow laws, Islamophobia and “evangelical Zionism, where Christian right-wing evangelicals are paying for the growth of settlements in the West Bank.” He claimed that there are “an awful lot of people who are paid by the industry of fear.”

Al-Marayati said at the convention that MPAC has worked with All Saints Church since 1990. This means that the partnership was not severed when al-Marayati said in 1999 that Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli soldiers is “legitimate resistance” and MPAC founder and senior adviser Maher Hathout’s 1998 statement that Hezbollah is fighting for “an American value—freedom and liberty.”

In 1999, MPAC said that Hezbollah’s bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 “was not, in a strict sense, a terrorist operation” and was “exactly the kind of attack that Americans might have lauded had it been directed against Washington’s enemies.” In 2006, MPAC said it “completely deplore[s] the attack” but was pointing out a “highly relevant fact.”

In 2003, though, MPAC opposed the designation of Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups and suggested it was “based on political considerations.” Former MPAC Political Adviser, Mahdi Bray, has a history of extremist rhetoric and went to Egypt in February 2008 to stand in solidarity with prosecuted Muslim Brotherhood members.

The MPAC-All Saints partnership withstood Maher Hathout’s speech in October 2000 where he said, “Israel is an apartheid state against every fiber of the modern world” and referred to it as “butchers.” He predicted that the Arab governments “will be flushed down in the cesspools of history of treason” by a “general intifada.” He later said he regretted the “harshness of my remarks” but stands by them.

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