Though evangelical Christians in America are a known bloc of spiritual, political and financial support for Israel, a new study has shown that the younger generation of Christians are somewhat more ambivalent toward the Jewish State— a trend that concerns pro-Israel Christian leaders as well as policy makers.
The survey shows that of millennial evangelicals (those 18 to 35) 41 percent have “no strong views about the State of Israel,” compared to only 22 percent of those over 65.
“Older American evangelicals love Israel — but many younger evangelicals simply don’t care,” according to the study, released last month by LifeWay Research, an evangelical research firm based in Nashville, Tenn.
As KNI reported in December, the same trend holds for Jewish millennials in America who are showing less support of the Jewish state and a waning connection to Israel as well.
The survey of evangelicals, commissioned by Chosen People Ministries and best-selling Messianic author Joel Rosenberg, interviewed 2,000 respondents of various ages. But it was millennial evangelicals who were most “unsure of how they see Israel.” Some 30 percent of millennials said they were unsure how to view Israel as opposed to 16 percent for those aged 65 and over.
And while a good majority — 58 percent — of 18-34 year olds said they have a positive view of Israel, that is less than 76 percent of those 65 or older who said the same.
“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,” Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries, said. “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.”
Rosenberg echoed the sentiment and noted a distinct lack of understanding of the biblical theology of Israel among the younger generations.
“I think millennials are sending the Church a sobering message,” he said. “Right now, they’re not against Israel. But the survey makes it clear that many of them really don’t understand Israel’s place in the biblical narrative, and thus their support for Israel is nearly 20 points less than their parents and grandparents.”
Josh Ahrens, millennial outreach coordinator for Christians United for Israel — the largest pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. — said millennial support for Israel should not be assumed in the long run.
“We should be concerned by a tendency of the younger generation to be ambivalent toward Israel, and we would be absolutely wrong to assume that as they get older they will just somehow come around to supporting Israel,” he said.
David Brog, CUFI’s founding director, said the organization has seen some positive results by bringing young evangelicals on trips to Israel.
“Some of the worst manifestations of this turn against Israel were quickly neutralized, which is great,” he said. “But still at the end of the day you have a generation that’s approaching the issue differently, that is really saying, ‘before I choose which side I’m on, I want to know which side is more moral.’”
Rosenberg reiterated the responsibility of the Church to provide a proper understanding of Israel.
“Unless the Church gives younger believers a healthy, balanced, solidly biblical understanding of God’s love and plan for Israel, overall evangelical support for the Jewish state could very well plummet over the next decade as millennials represent an ever-larger percentage of the overall Church body,” Rosenberg said.
The survey, “Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel and the Peace Process,” can be read in its entirety here.