Evangelical Christians from around the world wave their national flags along with Israeli flags as they march in a parade in Jerusalem to mark the Feast of Tabernacles .
(photo credit: JNS.ORG)
Growing up as an Evangelical Christian, Israel was always at the forefront of conversation. It wasn’t so much that there was a choice – standing with Israel was always a given.
That is not necessarily the case for young Evangelicals today.
There are many young people all across the globe that grew up in a similar atmosphere. Christian homes with mezuzot on the doors, Hebrew text abounding in the form of scripture and embroidery, and decorative menorahs galore.
This was not just religion, but a way of life.
Some churches – like the one I went to growing up – talked about Israel. As time went on they got more vocal in the cause, and started conducting tours.
Later, as a teen, I went to another church, and it, too, talked about Israel, though more in a biblical sense. Where you went to church and what your leaders preached likely dictated what you would believe on the topic.
Not every Evangelical church preaches the same way. Many churches – especially recently – have denounced the religion of the Bible and implemented Replacement Theology, essentially teaching that the church has surpassed Israel and the Israelites.
In this day in age, Replacement Theology might be a popular choice for a number of reasons. The religion parallels Islamic belief, and is also more aligned with the West’s recent embrace of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. It may also be more digestible by millennials due to Israel’s dissolving popularity, erasing the controversial topic all together.
For some Evangelicals, Israel is no longer biblical, special, or even necessary.
A recent survey of over 2,000 American Evangelical Christians showed that the younger generation (ages 18-34) are less likely to have a positive view on Israel and more likely to be undecided.
Millennials face a challenge in picking a stance, as not just their peers but the whole world around you has an opinion on this strip of land.
As a child there was no reason to question what you were told, but now that the stories and discussions are a part of our daily lives – whether we want them or not – it’s hard not to question the backbone of not only our religion, but our upbringing.
It makes sense that young Evangelicals are undecided. Israel is a tough place to understand, whether you live there or not. Agreeing to stand with Israel without doing a background check – solely relying on a blind “it’s the right thing to do” will not win you any arguments.
There are also those who don’t want to get into heated arguments. It is much easier to “fight” online social justice warriors by not saying anything at all.
So why have young Evangelicals gone from standing with Israel to having no opinion at all?
Now that this demographic are starting to have families of their own, there could be a big shift on how the leaders of tomorrow support Israel. Some may be fed up and uninterested in fighting for a country that is over their head, while others may continue to pass down their traditional biblical beliefs.
The Western world may become more and more secular, meaning a less important Israel. Even if they want to find an answer, for those who have not set foot in the area it has become a fictional place.
At the end of the day, many young people are tired of believing in something that isn’t real to them; whether it is because of the church, the media, friends, or the fact that they have other things to care about.
The author is a freelance photographer and journalist based in Toronto, Canada. www.MeredithHolbrook.com