Support for Israel today isn’t as unquestioned as it once was in evangelical circles. Today evangelical leaders on both sides say that the millennial generation sees the conflict differently – viewing it with a perspective of neutrality and empathy for both sides.
In June 2011, with church leaders convening in Cape Town, South Africa, for the third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey among evangelical leaders. The findings showed lower support for Israel than many expected. In fact, when asked if they sympathize more with Israelis or with Palestinians, a majority of American evangelical leaders (49%) expressed neutrality. Of the leaders polled, thirty percent stated support for Israelis, and 13% for the Palestinians.
David Gushee is professor of Christian ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University in Atlanta. He describes the trend toward a more evenhanded approach to Israel.
“What is happening is that the hard line of Christian Zionists was not successfully passed forward to the next generation, because it was based on theological themes that are now being questioned by younger evangelicals,” he says.
But the shift among evangelicals, Gushee clarifies, “is not from pro-Israel to anti-Israel, but from pro-Israel to a more balanced approach.”
Publication Date: March 11, 2014.