New Survey Reveals a Generational Shift in Evangelical Views Toward Israel

Lifeway SurveyA new study  was released this week and revealed that the overall support of Evangelicals for Israel will drop significantly in the next decade if the younger generation is not educated now about its biblical importance.

The LifeWay Research survey, “Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel and the Peace Process,” was unveiled during a press conference on December 4 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by Chosen People Ministries and New York Times best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg, the survey found that although more than 3 in 4 Evangelicals (76 percent) say Christians should support Israel, 4 in 10 younger Evangelicals (41 percent) have no strong views about Israel. Additionally, fewer younger Evangelicals (58 percent) have an overall positive perception of Israel than older Evangelicals (76 percent), and they are less sure Israel’s rebirth in 1948 was a good thing for the Palestinians.

“In spite of growing opposition to Israel resulting from the growth of various anti-Israel movements active in the United States, it is encouraging that the survey confirms most Evangelicals continue to support the nation of Israel,” sad Dr. Mitch Glaser, President of Chosen People Ministries and one of the sponsors of the poll, said in a press release. “Still, I am concerned for the obvious decline in support for Israel among Millennial followers of Jesus, who either do not know what they believe or do not seem to care.”

As the debate continues regarding a two-state vs. one-state solution for Israel and Palestine, the survey shows Evangelicals are uncertain of the answer. Forty-six percent of respondents are not sure that the State of Israel should sign a peace treaty that allows Palestinians to create their own sovereign state.

Still, according to the survey, Evangelicals care deeply about the security of the State of Israel, but they also care about the security of the Palestinian people and believe Christians should demonstrate more love and concern for Palestinians. Although 73 percent agree that Christians should support Israel’s defense of itself against terrorists and foreign enemies, 59 percent agree that Christians should do more to love and care for Palestinian people. This viewpoint is even more prevalent among Millennials, ages 18-34, of which 66 percent are more likely to agree that Christians should do more to care for the Palestinians than older generations, including individuals aged 50-64 (57 percent) and 65+ (54 percent).

“I think Millennials are sending the Church a sobering message,” author Joel C. Rosenberg, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen and another sponsor of the survey, said in a press release. “Right now, they’re not against Israel. But the survey makes it clear that many of them really don’t understand Israel’s place in the biblical narrative, and thus their support for Israel is nearly 20 points less than their parents and grandparents.

“Extrapolate that going forward,” Rosenberg added. “Unless the Church gives younger believers a healthy, balanced, solidly biblical understanding of God’s love and plan for Israel, overall Evangelical support for the Jewish State could very well plummet over the next decade as Millennials represent an ever-larger percentage of the overall Church body.”

In order to help bridge the gap of understanding among Evangelicals, key faith leaders, scholars, authors, and pastors announced the formation of the Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, an organization dedicated to facilitating a better public understanding of the complexities of the Middle East, including its roots in history and the Bible. The group will strive to educate Millennials and others about Israel’s role in the biblical narrative – past, present and future – a while also affirming God’s concern for Palestinians and all peoples of the Middle East.

The Association for the Peace of Jerusalem will be releasing a new evangelical statement of support for Israel during Proclaim 18, NRB’s International Christian Media Convention, February 27-March 2, 2018, in Nashville, Tennessee. The group will also announce plans for how to better engage Millennials on Israel.

LifeWay Research conducted the “Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel and the Peace Process” study September 20-28, 2017. The survey asked 2,002 Americans with Evangelical beliefs about a wide range of issues involving Israel — from its place in the Bible to its treatment of Palestinians. The survey focused on Americans with Evangelical beliefs rather than self-identified Evangelicals.

For the full survey results, visit lifewayresearch.com/2017/12/04/support-of-israel-among-younger-evangelicals.

By NRB Staff

Published: December 7, 2017

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