Pastor should apologize for comments

Each week the Glendale News-Press, the Burbank Leader, the Pasadena Sun and the La Cañada Valley Sun invite a group of local clergy to comment on different issues. In late May, they were asked to comment on a recent State Department report documenting an increase in anti-Semitism. Why, they were asked, is anti-Semitism on the rise?

The Rev. Bryan Griem of the Montrose Community Church began his comments with this dubious statement: “I can say with no anti-Semitic feelings that scripture said such would be the case.” Then he went on to explain that anti-Semitism is not only understandable but justified because Jews rejected Jesus.

Using Biblical quotations to justify Jew hatred and suggesting that Jews deserve it because they rejected Jesus as savior puts Griem in the same company as other hard-core bigots. Those views are not simply hate speech. They have led to centuries of overt discrimination, persecution and mass murder, including the Holocaust.

The Catholic Church and most Protestant denominations have rejected these views. But there are still people, including clergy, in every part of the country who share Griem's intolerant views.

I am not confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Griem wasn't criticizing Israel. He was attacking all Jews for rejecting Jesus. And for good measure, he insulted Muslims in his answer, too. If Griem wants to understand the persistence of anti-Semitism, he should look in the mirror.

Griem is entitled to his ignorant opinions, but do these papers have to give him a weekly public platform to spew his hatred? I call on Griem's congregation, other local clergy, and all people of conscience to condemn Griem's remarks. And in the spirit of healing and reconciliation, I call on Griem to deliver a sermon to his congregation apologizing for his outrageous comments.

Peter Dreier

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