Over a quarter of Americans define themselves as Evangelical Christians. While Evangelicals are some of the most ardent supporters of the state of Israel, the mostly political liberal American Jewish community tends to relate to them with disdain. Suspicious and often downright contemptuous of Evangelicals, the Jewish community risks alienating potential allies in the domestic and international policy arenas.
Close to two millennia of persecution and attacks by the Christian Church have made Jews leery of Evangelical overtures of friendship. Many Jews suspect that Evangelicals support for Israel is based on calculations of the Armageddon, with Evangelicals hoping to use Jews as cannon fodder for the Second Coming. However, Jews must come to terms with the tremendous changes in Christian movements with regards to Jews and Judaism. Evangelicals are hardly about to launch crusades or burn Jews in public auto-da-fés. Indeed, while the Catholic Church remains ambivalent towards the state of Israel and mainline Protestant churches continue to harbour theological anti-Judaism masquerading as anti-Zionism, many Evangelical express respect and appreciation for their Jewish roots. While there is legitimate concern among Jews over Evangelical missionary attempts, if red lines are drawn and it is made clear that an alliance is purely political, as opposed to theological, the Jewish community should actively engage with Evangelicals. The solution to fears over missionary activity is to ensure that young Jews are adequately educated and committed to their own heritage and faith, as opposed to rejection of Evangelicals.
With so much international hostility to Israel, it makes little sense to rebuff the precious few friends that the Jewish state has. Most Evangelicals support Israel for reasons that have little to do with the Second Coming – they see Israel as a bastion of democracy in a sea of repression, and a loyal American ally in a tough neighbourhood. Moreover, Evangelicals, through their familiarity and commitment to the Bible, are aware of the millennia of Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. Understanding that the roots of their faith go back to ancient Israel, Evangelicals are less hesitant to boldly assert Jewish legal and historical rights to their homeland.
In domestic issues as well, Jews and Evangelicals face similar threats. It behooves Jews to understand that the main danger to Jewish communities in the West stem from the twin challenges of radical Islam and extreme secularism. In the United States, militant secularism is active in attempts to push religion out of the public sphere, marginalize the faithful and limit religious freedoms. In Quebec, one of the most ardently secular regions in North America, publicly funded daycares are forbidden to teach religion. Priests, rabbis and other clergymen are forbidden from visiting public daycares. Somewhat contradictorily, public as well as private primary and secondary schools are required to teach all religions, despite opposition from parents and religious leaders. Numerous European countries such as Holland, Switzerland and Norway, pushed by ultra-secular activists, have banned ritual animal slaughtering, making it extremely difficult for observant Jews to obtain kosher meat. In secular San Francisco, legislators came close to banning circumcision; a decision, which if implemented, would be tantamount to outlawing the practice of Judaism. In addition to the secularist onslaught, rising Islamic radicalism is forcing Jews out of numerous European cities and even countries. Evangelical Christians, relatively unconstrained by the dictates imposed by liberal political correctness, are more apt at recognizing the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism.
It is time for the American Jewish community to let go of its prejudices against Evangelicals. It should no longer be acceptable to look down on them for their supposedly primitive devotion and simplicity. Jews should reciprocate the support that they receive from Evangelicals, especially given Evangelicals’ consistent activism on behalf of the state of Israel, and the shared threats facing the two communities. A Judeo-Christian political alliance is needed.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of The Prince Arthur Herald.
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