Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lynne Hybels On A Pro-Palestinian Christian Tour

Bill Hybels, pastor of mega church Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, has been frequently featured on the media's list of Who's Who.  Not too long ago Pastor Hybels introduced President Clinton as a guest at a Willow Creek church leadership conference. Hybels also offered the president spiritual counsel in the aftermath of Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Currently Hybels, pastor of the one of the world's most influential seeker friendly churches has taken a back seat on the media radar screen to his wife Lynne.

 One Christian blog reports Ms. Hybels has become a "woman on a mission."
Lynne Hybels

In light of a past encounter with Palestinian Christian Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust, the pastor's wife spent time with him in Palestine, and the encounter changed her perspective on the Israel Palestinian issue.

At a recent meeting at her home, the film The Little Town of Bethlehem produced by evangelical Christians was screened.  According to the film's promotional blog, the documentary "shares the gripping story of three men—a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian, and an Israeli Jew—each born into violence but willing to risk everything to bring an end to violence in their lifetime." Sami Awad is the Palestinian Christian in the film and was present at the meeting.

When introducing Awad after the 77 minute film, Lynne Hybels declared, "I want to introduce you to my hero."  

Upon closer examination of The Little Town of Bethlehem, I observed the production to be filled with historical inaccuracies about the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, places the majority of the blame for the lack of peace in the disputed territories on Israel, fails to even mention the fact the majority of the Palestinian population voted for Hamas, a terrorist organization, to govern them. These historical distortions and omissions casts a disingenuous shadow on  this evangelical documentary.

In The Little Town of Bethlehem (LTOB) Awad and others compare their non-violent movement to that of Martin Luther King.  However, this comparison is seriously flawed. The film fails to mention that during the civil rights movement blacks in the South never performed terrorist acts against the white community.  Blacks did not walk into segregated schools or lunch counters in the southern U.S. as suicide bombers with bombs strapped to their backs.

Awad claims to be firmly against demonizing Israelis. Yet throughout The Little Town of Bethlehem the demonization of Israeli soldiers was a continuing theme. In addition, this Palestinian biased film gave a pass to the radical terrorism perpetrated by the Palestinian people and their Arab neighbors since the War of Independence of 1948. Palestinian terrorism was not even alluded to in the film. I felt I was watching a propaganda films produced by Nazi propaganda expert Joseph Goebbels.

Regarding LTOB, Hybels commented, "Little Town of Bethlehem has challenged me to ask on a deeper level, ‘What does it mean to follow Jesus into the brokenness of this fragmented, hate-filled, fearful world?’” She hopes its influence can be extended: “I think every American—certainly every Christian—should watch this film!”

Well, the film is definitely getting some nationwide exposure.  The next stop for The Little Town of Bethlehem is a screening at the Wild Goose Film Festival  a Christian music festival that is to be held near Chapel Hill, NC.

After the documentary film is screened Saturday, June 25, Brian McLaren, the father of the controversial emergent church, Lynne Hybels, and Ian Cron, an episcopalian priest will serve on a panel to discuss the film.  I wonder if the Israeli side will be presented.  I doubt it.  I guess this is what it means to "to follow Jesus into the brokenness of this fragmented, hate-filled, fearful world."

So where does mega-church pastor Bill Hybels stand on his wife's involvement with the pro-Palestinian Christian movement?   One can only draw hasty conclusions as Lynne Hybels appears to be delving deeper and deeper into a non-violent Palestinian Christian movement that fails to see the violence of their own people and casts the blame for the Middle East crisis on Israel alone.

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