28 Jun 2021

The Israelis Get It

I was interviewed a couple weeks ago by a reporter with the Jewish News Syndicate, about recent polls that indicate evangelical Millennials are turning away from Israel.

Duh. I’ve been saying this for 10 years. Although I respect a number of pro Israel Christian organizations, a number of them seem to have not wanted to address this. At least not in the way I think it needs to be done, which is to say “outing” evangelical leaders embracing the Palestinian Narrative. When you confront someone like this, it is a person from your own neighborhood and community. And if you are prominent at all in evangelical circles, it can hurt your bottom-line, because at some level, cross-promotion is a thing.

Think a prominent Christian head of a pro Israel organization that also is a best-selling author and speaker. Is that person likely to confront the pro Palestinians within evangelicalism? Not bloody likely. It would be as likely as Charles Stanley admonishing his son publicly for his outrageous comments about the Bible. It just isn’t done in polite company.

If you had decided to expose Bill and Lynne Hybels’ pro Palestinian bent a decade or more ago, you would have run afoul of the vast Willow Creek network. Likewise, if you challenge Rick Warren’s dissing of Bible prophecy study, you are poking the eye of a media giant. In many cases, The Purpose Driven Life replaced actual Bible study in Southern Baptist churches. Think I’m wrong? Investigate the vast sums Zondervan Publishing put into shoving this book down the throats of SBC churches. It made Warren a multi-millionaire, among other things, and helped cement his reputation as a Church Growth Movement expert.

For so many reasons, a downturn in support for Israel in churches escalated some years ago. That’s why the recent polling data has alarmed so many people. But I’ve been contacted by a few Israelis this week and they understand it very well. Ironically, better than many American evangelical leaders.

Even with the departure (for now) of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israelis will not top cultivating relationships with Christians. They are smart to do so. If such cultivation is not maintained, it will increase the slide away from the Jewish state. From the article:

“A recent poll commissioned by two University of North Carolina at Pembroke professors—Mordechai Inbari and Kirill Bumin—showing a sharp drop in support for Israel among the younger set has raised some eyebrows.

“It found that young evangelical support for Israel had plunged to 33.6 percent from 69 percent in a 2018 poll. Those supporting the Palestinian side rose to 24.3 percent, up from 6 percent in 2018. Those supporting neither side stood at 42.2 percent.

“The poll focused on evangelicals ages 18 to 29, and was conducted between March 22 and April 2 by the Barna Group, a polling and research firm focusing on issues of faith and culture.”

Interestingly, the Barna Group is well-known among evangelicals. Awhile back, George Barna stepped away from the operation and Dave Kinnaman became president.

You should know that among Barna’s prominent clients are World Vision and Habitat for Humanity. Kinnaman himself is comfortable in what I could call center-left circles within evangelicalism.

World Vision issued a report some years ago that softened the role of Hamas in conflicts with Israel. Habitat for Humanity of course is Jimmy Carter’s endeavor and a bigger anti-Semite you’d be pressed to find.

My point is, I’m sure Barna’s polling about Israel is accurate, but they are part of the community that likes the Palestinians and the Israelis…not so much.

I know there are committed churches out there that love Israel. I know there are pastors and individual congregants that passionately love the Jewish people. But those voices aren’t heard as much as the voices of the Warrens of the world.

We must band together and get serious about Israel support in this country. The numbers don’t lie. The love of the younger generation for Israel is growing cold.

Night is approaching.