They Hate Us And/Or Want to Convert Us

Anytime the issue of evangelical Christian support for Israel comes up in a conversation among Jews, someone is bound to say something like, “they may love Israel, but only for theological reasons and they are anti-Semites” or “they are just trying to cozy up to us so that they can convert us all because they think that’s a prerequisite for Jesus’s return.” I’ve noted before that much of what American Jews think about evangelical Christians is contrary to empirical evidence (e.g., conservative evangelical Christians in the U.S. are no more or less anti-Semitic than Americans as a whole, and are substantially less anti-Semitic than some groups than lean Democratic and liberal, such as high school dropouts, Arab American, Hispanics, and African Americans), but a recent Pew study of worldwide evangelical leaders (only 20% North American, and 19% European) provides some additional interesting data about evangelicals worldwide.

34% say they sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians, while the rest says the sympathize either with both sides equally or with neither side (note that 47% of the leaders surveyed come from sub-Saharan African or Asia outside the Middle East, where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not exactly the leading issue of the day). 75% of evangelical leaders view Jews favorably, the same percentage as view Catholics and Orthodox Christians favorably. 73% say it is a “top priority” to evangelize among non-religious people, 59% among Muslims, 39% among Buddhists and Hindus, 27% among Jews, 26% among non-evangelical Christians, and 20% among Catholics.

I’d say that it’s pretty hard to look at this data and conclude that Jews should have a specific fear or loathing of evangelical Christian leaders.