Renee Houlihan stood once more in front of her home church, Calvary Community Church, of Phoenix, on Father's Day, June 20, holding a Project Strait Gate sign reading "Blessed are the Peacemakers," and passing out literature and free DVDs to any church member who showed an interest. She and her informal group, ranging from six to only one – Renee -- have been there each Sunday since May 2.
Renee, a mother of six, along with members of her family and a handful of We Hold These Truths volunteers, plan to stay until Calvary Community disavows its love affair with Zionist Israel and its support for the occupation of the Palestinian people. Her team has passed out some 200 DVDs of documentary presentation they consider to be balanced stories of the occupation.
Asked how her Sunday vigils make her feel, she replied without hesitation: "I am the voice for those in Gaza who have no voice... it makes me feel really good."
Renee was raised a Southern Baptist and attended community churches all her life. She says she was taught that "Israel was the chosen people" everywhere she went. Her awakening began about the time of the second bombing of Iraq in 2003 as a result of facts she learned from secular sources, and not from one word spoken by her church. She learned the stories about weapons of mass destruction that persuaded many of her Zionist friends to support the attack were lies. She is now sure that church people are the ones most victimized by this deception.
More recently, she learned about the Zionists' distortions of Biblical scripture. She believes Jesus' statements: blessed are the peacemakers, love you brother and even your enemy. She says Jesus was the final sacrifice, and she no longer believes the form of pro-Israel racism she was taught at Calvary Community.
A six weeks Calvary course on Islam, taught by a professed former Muslim and focusing on how evil Muslims are by nature, was a turning point for Renee. She notes the church has no classes on Judaism and the Talmud... She says that part-way through the course she found herself beginning to hate Muslims, though she did not know any. She said, "we were not speaking the word of God."
Renee observes that Pastor Mark talks about Israel occasionally, and he "preaches all night about loving your neighbor," but he can not make a connection between this and what Israel is doing. She tells a story about how Pastor Mark goes to Israel and is entertained by generals and politicians and then "comes back and regurgitates what he was told to the congregation... he, too, is deceived."
Pastor Mark of Calvary Community expresses concern about the people of Iraq: "we are not against them, only against the government." Renee has this to say: " if Pastor Mark understands what is going on, then he is one of the most evil men in the world." "If he knows he is being lied to and duped that is scary." "To give him the benefit of the doubt, he is wise in his own eyes... he buys Israel's line, but he is not being discerning."
Renee’s objective is to make people come to Christ's teachings. She decided to picket after becoming convinced she was being lied to and that "people are dying, children are dying, and the church is supporting the lie." What does she hope to accomplish? Renee wants to have an open dialogue with Calvary church goers "because they don't understand their own deception and they need to know what we are doing about it." We are saying this is wrong and this is not the way Christ would do it.
We asked Renee if she first spoke to her pastor. She said no, because he cannot be reached, and she was only allowed to talk to his secretary.
Project Strait Gate has had this same experience many times. Access to a mega-church pastor is tougher than getting an audience with a Senator.
Several people tell Renee they have watched her free video. One told Renee it was she who was deceived, but the person refused to state whether he had watched the entire video. One family said they watched with great interest but the video they watched did not show the connection between their own church and the crimes they witnessed against the Palestinians; another woman attempted to persuade a third party not to watch Renee's video. To all of these Renee answered with references to scripture or to Jesus' acts. She has learned not to allow secular arguments to divert her from her task.
You may join Renee and hold one of We Hold These Truths signs, providing you will stick to Renee's principals of quiet persuasion.
If you are too far from Phoenix to be there for one hour on Sundays, perhaps you would like to start your own vigil team wherever you are in the U.S. We assure you, there is a Christian Zionist church in your area, perhaps several dozen if you live in a metropolis.
If you are unsure, here is the message we wish all church members could hear. Roots Of Christian Zionism (link show)
Project Strait Gate is producing a new DVD that explains in just 35 minutes the phenomenon called Judeo-Christianity.
Your invitation to join Renee: (http://whtt.org/straitgate/index.php?news=2&id=277)
We Hold These Truths
Project Strait Gate
303 238 1168
Why every city needs a Project Strait Gate
Why War In Gaza? (Charles Carlson March 2002)