“What does that have to do with the ELCA?” you ask. First, Rev. Raheb is pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). The ELCJHL and the ELCA have a very close working relationship. And that, is an understatement. "The ELCA's relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land is long-standing and deep, and we are proud to have relationships with each of the pastors in that church,” says Rev. Robert Smith, ELCA program director for the Middle East and North Africa (see here)
One example of that relationship is stated on the ELCJHL website which says, “Through partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), we are happy to offer our supporters in the USA an opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation toward the ministries of the ELCJHL.” (read here) If you search for “Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land" on
the ELCA.org website you will find 716 results. (see here)
Secondly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s supreme leader, Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson recently gave a glowing endorsement of Rev. Raheb saying, "Mitri Raheb is a pastor with passion in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Persistently working for a lasting, just peace in the Middle East, Pastor Raheb is a visionary leader who has created new pathways in the areas of education, employment and health care . . . This deserved recognition of Pastor Raheb is testimony to the global leadership shared by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and the ELCA remains committed to accompanying this partner church." (see here)
It seems that the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA really likes Rev. Reheb. So let’s find out a little bit more about him. A quick search of the internet finds that “In a speech to the 2010 Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem, Raheb discounted Jewish roots in Israel and said that Palestinian Arabs share DNA with King David and Jesus, but that Netanyahu (the Prime Minster of Israel) does not.” (read here)
Pastor Raheb is quoted as saying, “Actually, the Palestinian Christians are the only ones in the world that, when they speak about their forefathers, they mean their actual forefathers, and also the forefathers in the faith…So, that is the reality of the peoples of the land. Again, they aren’t Israel. This experience I’m talking about, it’s only the Palestinians who understand this, because Israel represents Rome….It was our forefathers to whom the revelation was given…” (see here)
"Discover the Networks" website has this to say about Rev. Reheb, “Raheb is one of the more prominent exponents of Replacement Theology, a doctrine which holds that Christians have replaced Jews in God's master plan and have ‘inherited all of God's promises, including the land of Israel.’ The Catholic Church adamantly repudiated Replacement Theology after the Holocaust, but Palestinian Christians like Raheb have revived it.
Raheb has authored numerous theological articles as well as three books targeted for a more general audience. His 1995 book, I Am a Palestinian Christian, was an opening salvo in his effort to advance the notion that Palestinian Christian claims to the Holy Land are theologically and historically more valid than those of Jews. In two subsequent books (Bethlehem 2000: Past and Present , and Bethlehem Besieged ), Raheb emphasized the ‘plight’ of Palestinians in Bethlehem during the Intifada, portraying them as innocent victims of unbridled Israeli violence.
In his writings, Raheb consistently minimizes or excuses Palestinian terrorism. He does not mention the Palestinians' organized terrorist infrastructure, the corruption and criminality of the Palestinian Authority (PA), or the relentless anti-Semitic incitement that pervades his whole society. Rarely does he mention the harassment and persecution that Palestinian Christians face from radical Islamic groups and from the PA. On those few occasions when he does make reference to some of these realities, he manipulates them to make them appear to be the consequences of Israeli transgressions. Hence, he blames the steady emigration of Bethlehem's Christian Arabs on Israel's ‘occupation,’ not on the PA or the Islamic dominance that has accelerated this centuries-long hemorrhage of Middle Eastern Christian Arabs.” (read here)
Rev. Raheb was also a signer of the Kairos Palestine Document which was outrageously bias and anti-Israel. Here are just a few statements made in the document:
- “Yes, there is Palestinian resistance to the occupation. However, if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity. This is our understanding of the situation. Therefore, we call on the Israelis to end the occupation.”
- “We also declare that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity. . .”
- “We declare that any theology, seemingly based on the Bible or on faith or on history, that legitimizes the occupation, is far from Christian teachings. . .” (see here)