Support for Israel has fallen significantly in the past three years among young evangelicals, according to a new survey that gauged attitudes about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The poll of 700 evangelical Christians between the ages of 18 and 29 found that 33.6 percent side with Israel, 24.3 percent with the Palestinians and 42.2 percent with neither side. It was conducted by Barna for researchers at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP), according to The Times of Israel.
In 2018, a separate survey by UNCP researchers Motti Inbari and Kirill Bumin showed majority support for Israel among young evangelicals, with 69 percent backing Israel, 5.6 percent backing the Palestinians and 25.7 percent saying they didn’t favor either side.
Inbari and Bumin noted that evangelicals in the U.S. have historically supported Israel based on their End Times theology. But among young evangelicals in the new poll, 44 percent say their religious beliefs do not impact their views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to The Times of Israel. Thirty-eight percent say their religious beliefs lead them to support Israel, while 17 percent say their religious beliefs lead them to be more supportive of the Palestinians.
Nearly half of young evangelicals “admitted to having very limited or no knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the newspaper reported.
A 2017 survey by LifeWay Research showed that 76 percent of all evangelicals believe Christians “should support the Jewish people’s right to live in the sovereign state of Israel.”
Ron Dermer, former Israeli ambassador to the United States, recently said Israel should prioritize the “passionate and unequivocal” support among evangelical Christians in the U.S. over that of American Jews.
“People have to understand that the backbone of Israel’s support in the United States is the evangelical Christians. It’s true because of numbers and also because of their passionate and unequivocal support for Israel,” Dermer said, according to The Times of Israel.
“About 25 percent [of Americans] — some people think more — are evangelical Christians. Less than two percent of Americans are Jews,” he said. “So if you look just at numbers, you should be spending a lot more time doing outreach to evangelical Christians than you would do to Jews.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Luke Franzen
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.