Over the past decade, a minority of evangelical Christian leaders have been quietly drifting away from approval of Israel. Such thinkers now lead a focused effort to wean evangelicals away from traditional unconditional support of the Jewish state. This movement stresses the duty of Christians to love Arabs equally with Israelis. Here are some of the chief players in this emerging revolt.
As early as 1982 Stan Mooneyham, president of World Vision International, one of the largest and most highly respected evangelical relief organizations, was among the very few public voices to scathingly criticize Israel’s saturation bombing of southern Lebanon. That bombing slaughtered 19,500 inhabitants of the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp. World Vision continues to express this Christian conscience. They sponsor trips for evangelicals and their leaders to the Israeli-occupied West Bank to meet Christian Arabs and hear their concerns and perspective. In addition,
…a 2010 documentary questioning the wisdom of Evangelicals’ unwavering commitment to Israel was endorsed by a top official at World Vision…The film has since been screened several times at World Vision events, and it received a favorable review in America’s leading evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, which declared, “Christian Zionism is officially on notice.”
Meanwhile, Gabe Lyons — a young evangelical organizer and graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University — has put on a series of Christian conferences aimed, in part, at promoting an “open, honest discussion” on the Middle East conflict. Like many of his peers, he believes the evangelical conversation on this topic has been hijacked by political activists — and he wants to reclaim it.
“The evangelical community has only heard one narrative on this issue. Part of the responsibility we have is to make sure they hear the rest of it,” said Lyons, who believes he’s witnessing a shift in opinion among “younger Evangelicals who are just getting full exposure to what’s really happening in the region.” (New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line, buzzfeed.com).
The Telos Group, co-founded by Todd Deatherage (who spent five years in the George W. Bush State Department), has the same emphasis. It orchestrates at least 15 visits a year by evangelicals and their leaders to the West Bank. It also brings Arab Christian and political leaders to meet with western Christians.
…Deatherage says Evangelicals don’t need to abandon their theological beliefs about Israel in order to feel Christian sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinians. In fact, Deatherage said the most eye-opening experience for many of the people he takes on Telos trips is interacting with the Palestinian Christian community.
“The fact is that there is a church on the ground,” Deatherage said. “We imagine this conflict to be between Jews and Muslims, and so when people see that there are Christians there, and even Palestinian Evangelicals, they didn’t know that. I mean, there’s a Bible college in Bethlehem, where people talk about their faith the very same way they do, they read the same books, many of them studied in the same universities in the U.S.”
Deatherage works closely with the strongly evangelical Arab Bethany Bible College in Bethlehem in the West Bank. It recently held its fourth annual “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, featuring speakers such as William Wilson, president of Oral Roberts University; Rev. Geoff Tunnicliffe, secretary-general of the World Evangelical Alliance; and Joseph Cumming of Yale University’s Center for Faith and Culture.
Its “Call to Action” says:
Under the title “Your Kingdom Come” over six hundred followers of Christ representing more than twenty nationalities met at the third biennial “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference in Bethlehem from the 10th to the 14th of March 2014 to pray, worship, learn and discuss together the responsibility and role of the church in helping resolve the conflict and bringing peace, justice and equality to the Holy Land through following the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.
The manifesto for the conference says: “There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored…"
Understandably, the government of Israel views the conference as a threat to Israel’s image.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs…condemned the conference, stating the “through the manipulation of religion and politics is an unacceptable and shameful act.” “Using religion for the purpose of incitement in the service of political interests stains the person who does it with a stain of indelible infamy,” the government said. Israel Today reported that in personal correspondence, an Israeli official said that “unfortunately, we well know about the [Christ at the Checkpoint] conference,” explaining that for the Israeli government, the event “is particularly problematic, because it is designed for the evangelical Christian leadership — an extremely important audience to us.”
Yet one of the conference delegates gave this feisty response:
Responding to the Israeli government’s statement, a Christ at the Checkpoint speaker, Gary M. Burge, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois, told Christianity Today by email that it is “tragic on so many levels” and “ill-informed.”
The statement itself, Burge said, “is an incitement.”
“This is simply the only gathering of Palestinian Christians in the world who are trying to have their voices heard by their brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said. “I’m at the event. It is packed. And it is a moving testimony to these Christians’ faithfulness to Christ amidst dreadful circumstances. Israeli bureaucrats simply want those voices silenced.”
Burge said he thought the Israeli government “is worried about this gathering because every year evangelicals are growing in their understanding of this conflict and questioning the standard Israeli narrative of things.” (Politics, theology collide at ‘anti-Israel’ conference, wnd.com)
Enter multi-billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros. Operating from a skewed liberalism and frequently criticized by conservatives, Soros seems determined to reinvest his wealth to assist peoples of every race, religion, nationality, and even sexual orientation toward a successful life. He set up Open Society Foundations to redistribute his wealth.
According to a report by the Jerusalem-based watchdog group NGO Monitor, Soros, who is Jewish, has been a frequent critic of Israel and does not support Zionism.
Through the network of Open Society Foundations, Soros funds a number of anti-Israel organizations aimed at delegitimizing Israel on the global stage, shifting U.S. public opinion against Israel, and promoting fringe political opposition groups inside Israel… (Do Funders Like George Soros Pose a Threat to Evangelical Christian Support for Israel?, jns.org)
Soros annually funds just over 7 percent of the pro-Israel Jewish activist group J Street, which educates and lobbies for withdrawal of Israel from occupied territories, thus assisting Palestinians to set up their own independent government. According to NGO Monitor, he has also funded The Telos Group with a 2010 gift of $238,000.
It is difficult to criticize the positive approach of The Telos Group and the new breed of human rights-oriented evangelicals. Telos tells critics they are neither pro-Israel nor pro-Palestine but rather desire to reflect the behavior of Jesus (Who helped not only Jews but the despised and oppressed Samaritans). BuzzFeed report says: “The campaign has alarmed America’s most committed Christian supporters of Israel, who acknowledge their rivals’ message is gaining momentum within the church.”
David Brog, co-chair with Dr. John Hagee of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), is very suspicious of evangelicals who encourage discussion with the Palestinians. Before CUFI, Jewish Brog was chief of staff for arch liberal “Mr. Hate Crimes Bill,” Jewish Senator Arlen Specter. Brog spent years lobbying with Specter, who for 10 years with Sen. Edward Kennedy was chief promoter of the federal hate crimes bill, the Christian-persecuting Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. (Convicted Amish Are Not “Hate Criminals”) Brog is a dedicated lobbyist for Israel and not a Christian. He is nervous about junkets of Christians bypassing Zionism's propaganda center, Jerusalem, to meet beleaguered Palestinians in Bethlehem. Once such visitors witness such suffering, the investment of Zionist propaganda over a lifetime fades into unreality.
But Brog says Palestinian Christians and their western Christian supporters are the deceivers.
“This effort is being led by Palestinian Christians who, while not always Evangelicals, are quite adept at using evangelical language and imagery in their effort to blame Israel and Israel alone for Palestinian suffering… The movement has gotten louder because they have more money to spend. So we’re seeing more anti-Israel Christian films, speakers, and conferences.” (New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line, buzzfeed.com)
Brog says this quiet evangelical rebellion is, fortunately, largely confined to leadership, “It’s very much grasstops, not grassroots.” This is true; a recent PEW survey shows support for Israel among American evangelicals actually grew 10 percent by 2014, up to 82 percent. Such can be attributed to virtually total support for Israel in evangelical media and education, including tireless pro-Zionist propaganda by CUFI and the globe-encircling Pentecostal Trinity TV network. Nevertheless, in addition to its more than 600 attendees, more than 8,000 worldwide watched streaming video of the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference.
This movement represents a healthy departure from the "listen only to Israel" point of view which has prevailed among evangelicals for generations.
What is missing, as is also lacking in the much larger liberal Protestant opposition to Israel’s injustices as well as secular anti-Israel protest on college campuses, is recognition that Israeli oppression of Palestinians is only a lesser part of the problem of Jewish supremacism worldwide. Such encompasses Jewish domination of international banking and Wall Street, Congress and U.S. Mid-East policy, Hollywood and American big media. (Jews Confirm Big Media is Jewish) In addition, the super-powerful Jewish Anti-Defamation League defames as “anti-Semitic” any public figure in the western world who even mildly criticizes Israel, effectively threatening their careers unless they grovel to ADL in apology. This has resulted in a massive worldwide chill on free speech concerning Israel.
Nevertheless, evangelical groups transporting Christians to the West Bank to hear the Palestinian viewpoint are taking the first baby steps toward understanding the Judaic world revolutionary conspiracy. (See Jewish Activists Created Communism) Hopefully, this will lead to a much greater and deeper comprehension of Jewish supremacism's threat to civilization. As they persevere, they realize Jews and Israel can indeed do grievous wrong and that Christians who criticize them out of love and righteous indignation do so without a divine curse. In fact, like Jesus and the Hebrew prophets, they have a duty to speak out against evil Jews, and such is not anti-Semitic. Also, for the first time, large numbers of evangelicals experience being called “anti-Semitic” by both Jews and fellow evangelicals. Every time it occurs, they become more impervious to such Zionist scare tactics and only speak out more boldly.
This essential enlightenment makes the followers of World Vision, Telos, the Bethany Bible College, and their 600+ “Christ at the Checkpoint” delegates potentially receptive to all truth concerning the Zionist conspiracy.
I have not mentioned the many thousands of thoroughly awakened evangelicals coming to www.truthtellers.org, watching our videos (watch The Other Israel online), reading our hundreds of uniquely informative archived articles, and listening to my Bible studies, many of which concern Jews in God's plan of the ages. While some may object to the concessions these groups make toward the government of Israel, we should remember that they attempt to work in a very hostile, suspicious, and even persecutive environment. My supporters may want to become involved with them, partly so their leaders and members may be exposed to the much greater truth they urgently need. Survival of civilization depends on Holy Spirit-led Christians again becoming a source of “all truth,”as Jesus promised. (John 16:13) Christians are meant to facilitate truth and justice, not just in the troubled Middle East but in a world and society being massively brainwashed, corrupted, and torn apart by “Babylon the Great,” Jewish supremacism. (See ‘Babylon the Great’ is Israel.)
Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.
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