Jonathan Zirkle, a lawyer, broke the rules when he attacked Ganoune Diop by name. After the Chair made a general admonishment to the attendees about the rules, Zirkle took the mic again and broke the rules a second time by attacking Diop. When the Chair quickly and appropriately interjected an admonishment to Zirkle about the rules, Zirkle continued to break the rules by attacking Diop. Zirkle’s willful rule-breaking is not what made his rude behavior a shameful low in the history of GC sessions. Zirkle made an anti-Semitic slur by invoking the name of George Soros and by alleging that the Seventh-day Adventist Church supports this Jewish financier. Zirkle’s proud and ostentatious display of anti-Semitism during a GC session is unprecedented. Right now, Zirkle’s anti-Semitic fans are dancing a jig in the dark swamps of the Internet.
Most SDAs do not understand what anti-Semitism is. They think it is bad feelings about the Jews. Actually, anti-Semitism is fundamentally the oldest loony conspiracy theory known to humanity about how the world operates. The theory holds that a cabal of Jews and their enablers control the world. How does this tie in to Zirkle? Well, Zirkle is a leader of the SDA anti-vax movement. This movement is awash in loony conspiracy theories, which are corollaries of the oldest loony conspiracy theory known to humanity. The thinking is that given that a cabal of Jews, which includes the bogeyman Soros, and their enablers control the world, you can’t trust Big Pharma, the mainstream media that is urging you to get vaccinated, the “deep state” that includes the CDC, world organizations who are working together to fight the pandemic, etc.
Other SDA anti-Semites who have specialized in disseminating loony conspiracy theories include Walter Veith (who has been rebuked as a loony conspiracy theorist in a BRI newsletter), Conrad Vine of the Village SDA Church (which is the headquarters of the SDA anti-vax movement), and David Read, an exponent of Great Replacement Theory (which is a pillar of Neo-Nazism, as the chant in Charlottesville–“Jews will not replace us”–illustrates), anti-vax agitator, and probably the most overt and belligerent anti-Semite in the history of our denomination.
Does the Seventh-day Adventist Church support Soros? No. The Church filed an amicus brief in which one of his organizations is a party for the purpose of arguing that foreign affiliates of US organizations should have the same first amendment rights of those US organizations. US organizations can receive government money and not be forced to advocate a government policy, so the Church urged that foreign affiliates of those US organizations that receive government money should also not be forced to advocate a government policy. The US Supreme Court disagreed and held that foreign affiliates of US organizations do not possess constitutional rights. Therefore, if a condition for receiving government money were advocacy of same-sex marriage, for example, ADRA organizations in the United States would not be forced to comply with that condition but foreign ADRA organizations would be. As you can easily discern, the Church filed the amicus brief in support of an idea rather than a person. The amicus brief can be found online: 20200304125424429_19-177 bsac Brief of Adventist Development and Relief Agency International.pdf (supremecourt.gov).
We have witnessed in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in recent years a rise of anti-Semitism, caused in part by Donald Trump’s normalizing of this bigotry in public discourse. We need to do a better job as Christians in teaching the members of our faith community what anti-Semitism fundamentally is and join together in opposing this bigotry.