*UPDATED* CAMERA Contacts Trustees of Christian Century

UPDATE (July 18, 2013): Christian Century Trustee Rev. Peter Marty has responded to CAMERA’s letter. Wall will stay on Christian Century’s masthead. The text of Marty’s response can be seen here.)
Christian Century is the house organ for mainline (liberal) Protestantism in the United States. For many years, it was edited by James M. Wall, an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. Wall stepped down as editor in 1999 but continued to write columns for the magazine until 2008. His name is still listed on the magazine’s masthead.

In July 2012, Wall began serving as associate editor for Veterans News Now, an Internet magazine that demonizes Israel and depicts its supporters as the enemy within the American body politic and as perpetrators of global conspiracy to imprison humanity.

Wall is also a regular contributor to My Catbird Seat, whose mission “is to inform and educate the public on issues of the US/Middle East conflicts that are unreported, underreported, or distorted in the Zionist owned American Media.”

CAMERA has alerted David Heim, executive editor of Christian Century about Wall’s affiliation with people who have taken up the banner of anti-Jewish hostility that, in a previous era, was waved by the likes of Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and Father Coughlin. (A piece about Wall’s affiliation with Veterans News Now and My Catbird Seat can be read here and here.)

Heim said Wall’s name will remain on the masthead.

In response to Heim’s decision, CAMERA has sent the following letter to Christian Century‘s publisher, Rev. John Buchanan, former pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. CAMERA has also sent letters to the trustees of the Christian Century Foundation.
Recipients include:

Lydia Talbot, Executive Director of the Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries.

Rev. Peter Marty, host of “Grace Matters” a radio show produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

Anita Eerdmans, Vice President of Marketing for Eerdman’s Publishing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The Letter

The text of the letter, (which was sent via email on July 10 and by hard copy on July 11, 2013), follows:

[To the Trustees of the Christian Century Foundation:]

I am writing on behalf of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). CAMERA is a media monitoring, research and membership organization devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East. CAMERA fosters rigorous reporting, while educating news consumers about Middle East issues and how the media covers the region.

I write to you in your capacity as a trustee of the Christian Century foundation, which oversees the publication of the magazine of the same name. […]

CAMERA has paid close attention to the writings of James M. Wall, who served as editor for the magazine from 1972 to 1999 and as a columnist for Christian Century until 2008. In 2007, CAMERA corresponded with publisher John Buchanan about inaccuracies in Wall’s columns. In our letter, we asked that the magazine correct Wall’s errors and subject his writing to increased oversight and fact checking.

Christian Century never made any corrections to Wall’s columns, but he did stop writing for the magazine, with his last column appearing in the April 2008 issue. Wall’s name remains on Christian Century‘s masthead where he is listed as “contributing editor.”

Wall’s name needs to be removed from this masthead.

It needs to be removed because in the years since he stopped writing for the magazine, Rev. Wall has become associate editor of Veterans News Now, an anti-Semitic website that demonizes Israel and its Jewish supporters in the United States.

He is also a regular contributor to My Catbird Seat, another website that traffics in anti-Semitic tropes. (I have detailed these problems in an article published in The Algemeiner on July 9, 2013. You can also see more information about these websites at two blogs – Naming His Grace published by Viola Larson and David Fischler’s blog, Stand Firm. Rev. Fischler has also written about this issue here.)

Veterans News Now is also part of a network of websites that includes Veterans Today, another notoriously anti-Semitic website and Deliberation a website that has recently published an article that approvingly invokes Adolph Hitler’s statements about Jews. (This seems shocking and implausible, but it is true. You can see information about Deliberations at Viola Larson’s blog, Naming His Grace.)

Wall’s writings are also problematic as documented in the Algemeiner article mentioned above. He has described members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) who opposed the passage of anti-Israel resolutions as Israeli agents who have infiltrated the denomination’s General Assembly. He has also lionized Ahlam Tamimi, an unrepentant terrorist responsible for the murder of 15 Israeli civilians.

Veterans News Now and My Catbird Seat are so far beyond the pale that CAMERA does not normally monitor the content of these websites. The only reason they came onto our radar is that both publications explicitly highlight Wall’s current status as contributing editor for Christian Century in their effort to portray themselves as credible news outlets. Christian Century aspires to be a mainstream magazine.

When confronted with a similar situation, the editors at National Review fired commentator John Derbyshire who, in April 2012, had written an ugly piece about race in America for a relatively obscure webzine.

National Review editor Rich Lowry explained his decision by saying that the “main reason that people noticed [the piece] is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we’d never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways.”

Sadly, Christian Century has so far refused to part ways with James Wall despite his decision to align himself with people who proudly wave the banner of anti-Jewish hostility.

CAMERA is fully aware that James M. Wall is a crucial part of Christian Century‘s history and is a prominent supporter of the magazine’s newly created The Martin E. Marty Legacy Circle. But with his writings and his decision to serve as editor of Veterans News Now, he has placed himself beyond the pale.

His name needs to be removed from the magazine’s masthead as soon as possible.


Dexter Van Zile

Christian Media Analyst
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America

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