In Generational Shift, Millennial Evangelicals Not as Supportive of Israel

New survey shows majority of American, young Evangelicals believe 'Christians should do more to love and care for the Palestinian people'

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A rally for Israel organized by the International Christian Embassy, 2015.
A rally for Israel organized by the International Christian Embassy, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

WASHINGTON - A survey of 2,000 American Evangelical Christians released Monday found generational differences among participants in positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with older evangelicals offering more unconditional support of Israel than those under 35.

According to the survey, American evangelicals under 35 are less likely than their older counterparts to offer unquestionable support for Israel, and are more likely to hold positive views of the Palestinians. 

The survey was conducted by a firm called Life Way Research and commissioned by the Chosen People Ministries, a group that proselytizes, and Joel Rosenberg, an evangelical author and activist based in Jerusalem whose father was Jewish. 

The survey highlights how younger evangelicals, while still overall supportive of Israel, have more nuanced views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. policy toward it. 

For example, while 76 percent of evangelicals over the age of 65 have a "positive" view of Israel, among evangelicals under the age of 35, the number was only 58 percent. That's still a clear majority, but almost a fifth less than among the older population. At the same time, 66 percent of evangelicals under 35 believe that "Christians should do more to love and care for the Palestinian people," while only 54 percent of those over 65 share this view. 

Among Millennial evangelicals (those under 35), 41 percent stated that they have "no strong views about the State of Israel," while only 22 percent of those over the age of 65 responded the same way.

Overall, the survey purports to show that 25 percent of U.S. evangelicals support Israel "no matter what it does," while 42 percent support Israel in general, but not "everything it does." 

In addition, while more than half of evangelicals over the age of 65 disagree with the statement: "The Palestinian people have a historic right to the Land of Israel," the number drops to 41 percent among those under 35.

When it comes to the Jewish people's right to the land of Israel, 80 percent of those over 65 believe the Jewish people have a right to the Land of Israel, compared with 61 percent of those under 35. 

On the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, only 23 percent of U.S. evangelicals say they support a peace deal that would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. But only 31 percent say they oppose the idea.

Meanwhile, 46 percent of survey participants said they are "not sure" what their position is on a potential peace agreement.

The survey comes amid ongoing reports of details of a Mideast peace deal being drafted by the Trump administration. evangelical support for Trump was strong in the election.

A press release announcing the survey's publication came with what its commissioners appeared to intend as a warning: "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." 

“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,” said Dr. Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries and one of the sponsors of the poll. “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.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics: