Should the PCUSA Open an “Office of Condemnation”?

A critique of the Overture 7-1 approved by the 2018 PCUSA GA dealing with so called hate crimes.

I suspect the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA was engaged in politically correct self-preening when it passed this feel-good motion inviting arm-chair condemnation of those “hate crimes” identified by the progressive world. Enough to justify its self-righteous perch as the moral arbiter of all things, but not enough to truly engage the religious leviathan terrorizing the world today.


The 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA met last month in St. Louis. As I reported in a previous blog, one of the overtures of particular interest to me on their agenda dealt with interfaith relations. Known as Overture 7-1, it was approved as amended by the General Assembly on Wednesday, June 20th. Among the seven directives of this overture was number 2, the final version of which reads: “Condemn all religiously inspired and motivated violence, prejudice, discrimination, and hate speech.” As I commented in the earlier blog, passage of this overture would keep the PCUSA extremely busy, especially with regard to the actions of the Islamic world. Perhaps the denomination will open up a new ministry dedicated to this new directive, appropriately named the Office of Condemnation.

It has been almost a month since the close of the General Assembly, and I have checked the official news organizations of the PCUSA to track the denomination’s obedience to this new directive. As of yet, there have been no condemnations of religiously inspired and motivated violence, violence, prejudice, discrimination, and hate speech. That does not mean, of course, that such things have not occurred around the world, just that the PCUSA is not attuned to obvious existence, especially with regard to the Muslim world. To be of help, I have catalogued a representative sample of the types of activities since June 20th which should have triggered an official PCUSA response:


  • On 7/8 Iran sentenced a young woman to 2 years imprisonment and 18 years probation (she must keep silent or else) for protesting the mandatory nature of the hijab.
  • During Ramadan, a Sikh teenager at the Islamic University of Science and Technology in Kashmir was systematically pressured to convert to Islam and observe Ramadan; when she complained after being stabbed by two masked men, the Muslim Vice-Chancellor dismissed the harassment claims, arguing that her classmates were “only joking.”
  • On 7/6, there was a public mass flogging of “suspected prostitutes” in Indonesia’s Muslim-dominated Aceh province.
  • On 6/27, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) revealed that it was imposing the Muslim jizyatax on the Assyrian Christian town of Ankawa in the province of Irbil, simply because its inhabitants were Christians, not Muslims.
  • In the country of Kyrgyzstan, officials recently ordered a church of Muslim converts to close or face the consequences.
  • Rampant discrimination against females within Islam is reflected in the high rate of female genital mutilation (FGM) practiced (and supported by Shari’a law). The British government recently reported that there is a religiously-based act of FGM committed every two hourson average among its population — the vast majority of these mutilations take place in immigrants’ home countries where they return specifically for this reason.
  • Fulani Muslim militants have systematically targeted Christian citizens in Nigeria for ethnic cleansing. So far in 2018, some 6,000 have been massacred.

Hate Speech:

  • A recent internal survey of 100 mosques in “moderate” Jakarta found that 41 of them were “radical,” meaning that their typical messages included “hate speech, calls for the establishment of a caliphate, and a negative portrayal of other faiths.” If this is true in a country touted for being moderate in Islamic practice, what might that imply for more conservative Muslim countries?
  • In June, Dutch politician Geert Wilders announced that his Freedom Party will be holding a “draw Muhammad” cartoon contest soon to highlight the need for vigilance over the right of free speech. He has since received many public and private death threats. Pakistani hardline politician Khadim Hussain Rizvi, upon hearing of this, publicly declared, “If they give me the atom bomb I would remove Holland from the face of the earth before they can hold a competition of caricatures….”
  • On 7/5 the official Palestinian Authority TV station publicly lauded as heroes the mutilators and executioners of Israeli soldiers captured in 2000. Imprisoned for years now by the Israelis, these individuals are being praised as “giants of endurance.”
  • On his 79th birthday (7/17) Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared his intention once again to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. “…[T]he fabricated Zionist regime will be eradicated,” he promised.


  • In early July, Pakistan’s first Sikh police officer, Gulab Singh,was attacked in his home by Muslim officials who removed his turban, unwound his hair and then dragged him from his home by his hair, disrespecting his faith and pressuring him and his family to leave the country.
  • On July 5 it was reported that a joint declaration (produced by a British Muslim) condemning anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred sought the signatures of both Muslim and Jewish leaders in France. Interestingly, all the Jewish leaders supported the declaration, but no French Muslim leader was willing to sign the document.
  • In late June, a Dutch Muslim named Hussein Jamakovic sent an email to four major news sites in Holland with the wish, “May you get cancer, you filthy, far-right cancer Jews.” This mindset while not always voiced, is not far below the surface in many Muslim circles.
  • On June 25, three Arab Muslims were sentenced in Sweden for a December 2017 firebomb attack on a synagogue in Gothenburg. The court concluded, “The crime…had a hate motive.” Some nine other masked men were involved in the attack, but could not be identified and so escaped prosecution.
  • Five African nations (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Nigeria and Sudan) are regularly in the news for slave-trafficking. Evidence of prejudice is found in the fact that the slaves are overwhelmingly dark-skinned, and the slave-owners are principally light-skinned Arab Muslims.


  • On 6/24, over 150 villagers were massacred by Muslim Fulani members of the militant group Miyetti Allah (which I’m told means “We are grateful to Allah”).
  • On 6/26, the Taliban issued a public statement justifying violent jihad on theological grounds, countering criticisms that their observance of Islam is aberrant.
  • As of 6/27, UNHCR estimates that Boko Haram attacks within the last decade have displaced some 1.9 Nigerians internally, as well as another half million plus in neighboring states.
  • On 7/3, the bombing of a Sikh community in Jalalabad, Afghanistan left 19 dead. The Islamic State claimed responsibility and offered this warning: “Leave for India or convert to Islam.”
  • On 7/6, seven family members returning from a wedding celebration near Diyala were stopped by an Islamic State patrol and machine-gunned to death.
  • On 7/8, ten “Syrian refugees” were arrested in Berlin for attacking a man wearing a Star of David.
  • On 7/10, 50 villagers in Adamawa, Nigeria, were slain by Miyetti Allah. Likewise, the next day, members of the same terrorist group massacred 42 others in the town of Taraba.
  • On 7/13, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of a political rally taking place in Mastung, Pakistan. The blast killed 149 and injured 186. Radical Muslims see man-made political parties as an affront to Allah, who has already determined the right pattern of government and its application.
  • On 7/14 in Kabul, Afghanistan, another bomber struck a rural development agency, killing 7 and injuring 15.
  • On 7/16, jihadists invade the village of Injagalane, Mali, and mow down at least 14 fleeing residents.
  • Yesterday, in Ajiram, Afghanistan, a suicide bomber sent by the Islamic State attacks a rival mosque during a funeral, killing 22 mourners and injuring another 23.

As I indicated above, all of these events by no means exhaust the list of violence, prejudice, discrimination and hate speech fomented by members of the Muslim world in the name of Islam over the last thirty days. Why do we see such a disproportionate amount of hatred and violence perpetrated by Muslims against others? The answer is that violence and hatred against unbelievers and “unfaithful Muslims” are endorsed by Allah and his messenger in Islam’s holiest revelatory sources. Though the average Muslim today rejects these commands to hatred and violence, those who are most zealous for a return to the Islam of Muhammad believe that the path of violent jihad is the way to Allah’s blessing.

Since the 9/11 attacks on America by al-Qaeda, over 33,500 deadly assaults have been carried out around the world by self-described Muslims in the name of Allah, an average of 2.000 per year. The PCUSA, in its virtuous crusade to condemn all “religiously inspired and motivated violence, prejudice, discrimination and hate speech” has its work cut out for it.  Not only must the denomination now denounce all future acts of religiously inspired/motivated violence, etc., but if it is honest it must take issue with the commands to violence and hatred woven throughout the Qur’an, Hadith traditions and the earliest biographies of Muhammad (whom Muslims aspire to emulate as far as humanly possible).

I suspect the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA was engaged in politically correct self-preening when it passed this feel-good motion inviting arm-chair condemnation of those “hate crimes” identified by the progressive world. Enough to justify its self-righteous perch as the moral arbiter of all things, but not enough to truly engage the religious leviathan terrorizing the world today.

Will we see a future string of condemnations against Muslim violence from Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson in the coming months. Hardly likely. Instead, satisfied that it has done its moral duty with the approval of Overture 7-1, the PCUSA will now go back to sleep, rousing itself only to express outrage against those it views as haters of liberal causes (which bizarrely as of now includes the defense of Islam).

Dr. Mateen Elass was the pastor of  First Presbyterian, Edmond, OK, from 2007 to 2015. In the fall of 2015, he began a new calling with Voice of the Truth in Colorado Springs, CO, a ministry dedicated to reaching the Arabic-speaking peoples with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This article is used with permission.