April 24th, 2008



Apr 08

blah blah

Just thought I’d post this press release from the Methodist Federation for Social Action about divestment at the UMC General Conference.

As far as other issues up before GC…it’s probably time we take that whole Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors thing seriously. As in, God loves gay people too.

United Methodist General Conference to Consider Divestment

Washington, DC, April 21, 2008 – United Methodists from Europe, Asia,
Africa and the United States will gather April 23 – May 2 in Ft. Worth
Texas at the denomination*s quadrennial conference. The General
Conference, the church*s official legislative body, will discuss and
act on matters related to polity and social challenges that face the
world today. One issue that has generated much debate already and will
be considered at General Conference is corporate divestment from
companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine.

The Methodist Federation for Social Action, an independent caucus group
of United Methodist laity and clergy working on issues of justice and
peace in the United Methodist Church and world since 1907, has submitted
a resolution to General Conference asking the body to use its moral
authority and take nonviolent action to support justice, peace and
security in both Palestine and Israel by developing a process for
responsible and ethical investment. The Federation calls upon the church
to undertake a process of phased, selective divestment from companies
that support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and other
violations of human rights in Palestine/Israel.

On April 17, the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
withdrew its resolution to begin the process of divestment from
Caterpillar Corporation as a result of Caterpillar*s agreement to meet
with the board to continue dialogue.

Rev. Kathryn Johnson, Executive Director of the Methodist Federation
for Social Action made the following statement in response to the
General Board decision:

*The Methodist Federation for Social Action is pleased that
Caterpillar Corporation is willing to sit down with faith-based groups
to discuss its role in Israel*s illegal occupation of Palestinian
land.  We are hopeful that this dialog will go beyond a discussion of
the Caterpillar code of conduct and produce concrete changes in the
actions of Caterpillar in the occupied territories.

With the withdrawal of the only single-company divestment petition
before General Conference, the way is clear for United Methodist
delegates to focus on the major question before them related to
divestment: Will United Methodists continue to profit from the Israeli
occupation of Palestine, an occupation the denomination is on record
opposing?

Beth Corrie, a United Methodist and cousin of Rachel Corrie (who was
killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer in 2003) issued the following
statement:

 ”While I am pleased to hear that my Church has begun productive
dialogue with Caterpillar (CAT) over widespread concern that CAT’s
business dealings with the Israeli Defense Forces are in conflict with
international law and CAT’s own Worldwide Code of Conduct, I will be
convinced of the company’s seriousness by its deeds, not its words.
Since the death of my cousin 5 years ago under the blade of a CAT D-9
bulldozer, a death that was not the first nor the last as a result of
the Israeli Defense Forces* illegal policy of demolishing civilian
homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, numerous faith and human
rights groups had made it clear to the Company that its products are
being used in war crimes.  Five years is long enough — we are calling
on CAT to act.”

The Methodist Federation for Social Action joins that call, and urges
those at General Conference to adopt a broad-based resolution that sets
clear timelines and procedures for corporate accountability and actions
by all companies, not just Caterpillar. During the four years since the
last General Conference passed a resolution opposing the occupation,
almost 2400 people (168 Israelis and 2209 Palestinians) have been
killed. *Every life is precious,* said Johnson *and we believe
that ending the occupation will help protect Israelis as well as
Palestinians. Waiting four more years to act is not an option.*

*Divestment is consistent with United Methodist Social Principles,
our Book of Discipline, and perhaps more importantly our commitment to
justice for all people,* continued Johnson. *Proposals before
General Conference represent a grass roots effort.  The Methodist
Federation for Social Action and six Annual Conferences have submitted
divestment proposals to General Conference.*

To reach spokespeople from MFSA for comment during General Conference,
call Amy Stapleton at 202-577-8712 or email amy@mfsaweb.org.
  (See Caterpillar*s Worldwide Code of Conduct at
http://www.cat.com/cda/files/89286/7/worldwide_code.pdf.)
For more information on General Conference petitions visit
http://www.unitedmethodistdivestment.com