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The Presbyterian Church (USA) has stepped up security at its headquarters and advised its churches to be on alert after receiving a letter threatening arson attacks because of its policies in the Middle East.

The handwritten letter, received Wednesday at the church's Louisville headquarters, threatened to set churches on fire while people were inside in retaliation for "anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attitudes," Jerry L. Van Marter, director of the Presbyterian news service, said.

The letter had no return address, but it was postmarked from Queens, N.Y., he said. The letter gave a Nov. 15 deadline for the church to reverse its Mideast policies.

Van Marter said the church has received thousands of letters, e-mails and phone calls since its General Assembly decided in June to begin selective divestment from corporations supporting the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

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