US Evangelist opinion split on Israel

Despite traditionally supporting the Zionist state, American Evangelists are seeing a new pro-Palestine trend emerge within their church.

US Evangelist opinion split on Israel

World Bulletin / News Desk

For a long time there has been a Christian Zionist voice, grounded firmly in conservative Republican Evangelical opinion, calling for support of the state of Israel echoing throughout the United States.

While this voice, as some studies have shown, even surpasses Jewish support for the Zionist state, a new trend is slowly emerging within the American Evangelical church that is calling for the support of the Palestinian cause. This new movement was started by a niche group of Evangelists who felt alienated by the merger of their faith with Republican foreign policy during George W. Bush’s administration.

Naturally this movement has been largely criticized, if not completely ignored as taboo by most influential Evangelists, who find the roots of their pro-Jewish stance in the 19th century “dispensationalist” theories of John Nelson Darby. In fact, a survey conducted by Pew in 2013 found that 82% of Evangelists believed that God gave Israel to the Jewish people. In 2012, the governor of Texas, Rick Perry said “As a Christian, I have a clear directive to support Israel.”

However, what many of these Evangelists have failed to realize is that Israel has not just been established at the expense of Palestinian Muslims, but also Palestinian Christians, who have likewise had their land stolen from them.

Todd Deatherage, who worked for the Bush State Department for five years before co-founding the Telos Group, which aims to educate Evangelists on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, told the BuzzFeed website “We imagine this conflict to be between Jews and Muslims, and so when people see that there are Christians there, and even Palestinian Evangelicals, they didn’t know that. I mean, there’s a Bible college in Bethlehem, where people talk about their faith the very same way they do, they read the same books, many of them studied in the same universities in the U.S.”

Claiming that the Telos Group aims to generate a ‘balanced’ view on the issue, the group organizes 15 trips to the region every year to the Bethlehem Bible College, where they meet Palestinian Christians who have been affected by the conflict. “The evangelical community has only heard one narrative on this issue. Part of the responsibility we have is to make sure they hear the rest of it,” Gabe Lyons, a young Evangelical activist told BuzzFeed.

This has alarmed some more hardcore Evangelical fanatics, such as the executive director of Christians United for Israel, David Brog. “This effort is being led by Palestinian Christians who, while not always Evangelicals, are quite adept at using evangelical language and imagery in their effort to blame Israel and Israel alone for Palestinian suffering,” he said.

While it is difficult to state the exact reason why this new trend is developing among Evangelical youth in the US, brushing it off as neo-Nazi rooted anti-Semitism or the fanatical urge to avenge the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which is usually used to explain Christian opposition to Israel, seems a bit too simple of an argument. It could perhaps be a complex relationship between religion and politics, in which either one’s interpretation of the bible is influencing their political opinion, or on the contrary, their political opinion influencing their interpretation of the bible. On the other hand, it may just be a stand on moral grounds based on universal principles of justice. Nonetheless, it is a trend that deserves more attention and study.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Ocak 2014, 11:12
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Many Zionists were Jewish converts to evangelical. It was this Protestant religious discourse that marked the family backgrounds of many of the key members of the British political elite responsible for formulating the Balfour Declaration.