The July 26 Kansas City Star devoted almost three pages about a rapidly growing religious phenomenon, the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Grandview, Mo.

The July 26 Kansas City Star devoted almost three pages about a rapidly growing religious phenomenon, the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Grandview, Mo.

IHOP’s founder, Mike Bickle, is a charismatic leader who places heavy emphasis on the “end times,” including the rapture and the second coming of Christ. Some comparisons have been drawn to the Community of Christ’s commercial and social impact on Independence which IHOP could do to Grandview. 

I certainly hope the best for IHOP, but I always have concerns and reservations about religious fundamentalism, particularly when it is directed toward Israel. For decades, and more specifically in recent times, right-wing and fundamentalist Christians in the U.S. have viewed Israel through rose-colored glasses. This appears to be the case with IHOP.

Senators Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and James E. Risch, R-Idaho, are circulating a “dear colleague” letter regarding the Obama administration’s Mideast Policies. In the letter they praise Israel’s recent actions and called upon Arab leaders to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process by taking certain concrete actions.

That is consistent with the Obama administration’s policy to enlist all parties in the Middle East to step up to the plate. On June 4, President Obama said, “If Israel is going to make some very difficult political decisions around settlements and ultimately around borders that would allow for a Palestinian state, Arab states have to make some difficult political decisions themselves, recognizing Israel’s existence, its legitimacy, that it has security needs like any other state …”

However, the good senators conveniently have omitted mentioning the need for a complete Israeli settlement freeze to help move the peace process forward. They also ignore Israel’s recent approval of a controversial settlement project in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, a project that has been on hold for more than 20 years in compliance with Israel’s legal obligation.

Such blatant Israeli violations add fuel to an already raging fire. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has chosen to thumb his nose at the United States with regard to the settlement issue, probably feeling that the U.S. has an unalterable commitment to let Israel do whatever it wishes to Palestinians and Arabs both within and outside its borders.

Netanyahu’s actions do not bode well for a two-state solution, nor will this benefit Israel in the long run. If there ever was a time for the U.S. to exhibit “tough love” toward a long time respected ally, it is now.

Equally pertinent is the need for fundamentalist Christians, such as IHOP, to cease using outdated myths about Armageddon and the “end times” that make no positive contribution to helping solve a very complex and emotionally laden situation. This is not the time to be demonizing or lionizing either Arabs or Jews.

I suggest you contact Missouri’s U.S. senators – Christopher S. “Kit” Bond, 816-471-7141, and Claire McCaskill, 816-421-1639 – and advise them not to sign on to the “dear colleague” letter unless it is revised to reflect a more balanced approach.