Evangelicals’ support for Israel can no longer be counted on, especially as they are being “confronted with an evangelical-friendly, anti-Israel narrative,” writes David Brog in the Middle East Quarterly (Spring).
The attempt to promote the Palestinian cause among evangelicals is nothing new, but the center-right political complexion of at least American evangelicals made such appeals fall on shallow ground.
Brog argues that sympathy with the Palestinian cause is now seeping from the evangelical left into the mainstream, gaining credence with the millennial generation.
He writes that recent evangelical videos and films on Israel show a clear Palestinian bias, such as the 2013 documentary “The Stones Cry Out.” The Palestinian cause has also been popular on American evangelical college campuses, such as Wheaton, Oral Roberts University and Bethel College.
The Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank launched a biennial Christ at the Checkpoint conference that brings evangelical leaders, including megachurch pastors Bill Hybels and Joel Hunter, to experience “Israeli occupation.”
Similar sentiments are voiced by such evangelical gatherings in the U.S. as Empowered21 and Catalyst. Brog makes it clear that Christian Zionism, as represented by such a pro-Israel organization as Christians United for Israel, is still the majority view of most evangelicals.
Yet he sees the current development as following the precedent of mainline Protestants who were originally pro-Israel but then turned against the Jewish state after the 1967 war. A Religion News Service article in the Christian Century (May 14) notes surveys show that evangelical support for Israel has remained relatively stable in the last five years.
What also may be changing is that biblical prophecy teachings, which usually highlight the role of Israel in the end-times, have lost appeal to many younger evangelicals [see July-August 2013 RW for more on this development].
(Middle East Quarterly, http://www.meforum.org/meq/)