Support for Israel Drops, 'Future of Jewish State Depends on Next Generation of US Evangelicals'

Experts warn a significant drop in support for Israel among young U.S. evangelicals marks a potential turning point in the longstanding relationship between these allied groups.  

A series of polls show support for Israel among American evangelicals under 30, fell more than 35% in just three years. There’s added concern that negative messages across social media regarding the war in Gaza could lead to a greater drop. 

Dr. Kirill Bumin, associate dean of Metropolitan College helped compile the three-year study. 

“The reason why I think younger evangelicals might remain very skeptical, and not particularly supportive of Israel is because they’re being bombarded with, I don’t want to say anti-Israel messages, but not particularly favorable messages toward Israel, at the time when they’re forming their foreign policy beliefs,” said Bumin. 

Three surveys led by Bumin and Dr. Motti Inbari at UNC-Pembroke from 2018 to 2021, indicate this change came during a pivotal turn in Israel-Palestine relations. 

“And what we found in that survey, was that attitudes became more negative towards Israel,” Bumin said. 

As of 2021, roughly one-third of young evangelicals surveyed support Israel, compared to more than two-thirds in 2018. During that same period, support for Palestinians rose from 5% to 25%. Also, the number of respondents saying they support neither Israel nor Palestine doubled from 25% to 50%. 

“What changed is this introduction of social media,” said Inbari. “Younger people now have a much more diverse opportunity to get information than the other generations in the past did not have.” 

Another finding shows pastors are changing, including a drift in their support of Israel and how they interpret the Bible.  

“And that change is from a more pro-Israel, pre-millennial dispensationalist position to one that really does not see much importance to the contemporary state of Israel or the Jewish people in the end times and the second coming of Jesus Christ,” Bumin explained. 

The authors have published their findings in their book: Christian Zionism in the Twenty-First Century: American Evangelical Opinion on Israel

Dr. Yoav Fromer, head of The Center for the Study of the United States at Tel Aviv University emphasizes the importance of this study.

“That without the United States, Israel will not exist, and I say this as an Israeli,” said Fromer. 

He adds the future of the Jewish state depends on the next generation of U.S. evangelicals. 

“I don’t know if my children will have a country to live in,” Fromer said. 

One unexpected outcome identified by Inbari and Bumin is how the younger generation which is sometimes bombarded with pro-Israel messages can be turned off, comparing it to teenage angst and rebellion. 

“So, on the one hand, we found that socializing with other young evangelicals who support Israel reduces support for Israel,” Bumin said. “On the other hand, we found that young evangelicals are very strongly motivated by perceptions of fairness. How fairly do Israelis treat Palestinians in the occupied territories? And if they feel that they’re treated fairly? Right, then they’re more likely to support Israel.”

The authors note several generational shifts, including changing beliefs on End Times prophecy and how Israel figures into it – could potentially reshape the overall Evangelical movement itself. 

They challenge leaders to engage young believers by using new methods and platforms that resonate with them. 

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