Palestinians airing views in pews of Pasadena

The Jewish Daily Forward reports:

An influential Episcopal church in Pasadena with long-standing ties to the Jewish community is coming under fire from local Jews for hosting a Palestinian Christian activist group’s conference.

The conference, “From Occupation to Liberation: Voices We Need To Hear” slated for February 15 and 16 at All Saints Church, a 3,500-member church in the San Gabriel Valley, caught the attention of members of Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center last month, after a Boston-based media watchdog group sent out alerts that the conference’s sponsor promoted an anti-Israel agenda.

The conference is sponsored by the American arm of Sabeel, a Jerusalem-based organization that promotes itself as seeking a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

All Saints received another mention in the news of the day:

Southern Baptist pastor Wiley Drake said Wednesday that he is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service for endorsing GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee in a press release written on church stationery.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the IRS. The group says Wiley lashed out against them with a press release on Aug. 14.

“I commend the IRS for investigating Pastor Drake’s flagrant abuse of church resources,” Barry Lynn, executive director for Americans United, said in a prepared statement.

“Americans go to church to grow spiritually, not be lectured on which political candidate to vote for,” he said.

Drake defended the release and his comments on the talk show, saying that he was only offering his personal endorsement of Huckabee – not the church’s.

“I think I’m perfectly within my rights and I am upset,” he said in an interview.

In September, the IRS closed a lengthy investigation of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena without revoking its tax-exempt status.

In a sermon just days before the 2004 presidential election, All Saints’ former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, was critical of the Iraq war and President Bush’s tax cuts, although he did not urge parishioners to support Bush or his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

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