More Evangelicals are 'dismissive' of Israel than loyal to it - survey

28% of Evangelicals reject the idea that Jews ever were God’s chosen people.

Christianity, illustrative (photo credit: REUTERS)
Christianity, illustrative
(photo credit: REUTERS)

A higher percentage of Evangelical Christians are “dismissive” toward Israel than loyal to the state, according to a new study by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter.

The report found that 28% of Evangelicals reject the idea that Jews were ever God’s chosen people and place Israel and the Jewish people as a very low priority among their charitable behavior.

In contrast, 20% of Evangelicals can be considered “Israel loyalists,” meaning they see the Jews as God’s chosen people and put supporting the Jews and Israel as a high priority.

However, the majority of Evangelicals (53%) are neither dismissive nor loyal but rather unsure of how they view the Jewish people and Israel, the study found.

“This 53% is wide open to becoming loyalists,” said Infinity Concepts founder and CEO Mark Dreistadt. “There is a lot of opportunity for growth here and that is my big takeaway from this.”

An actor portraying Jesus Christ takes part in Passion Play as part of Good Friday celebrations at the Sanctuary of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska near Krakow, Poland April 19, 2019. (credit: AGENCJA GAZETA/ADRIANNA BOCHENEK VIA REUTERS)An actor portraying Jesus Christ takes part in Passion Play as part of Good Friday celebrations at the Sanctuary of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska near Krakow, Poland April 19, 2019. (credit: AGENCJA GAZETA/ADRIANNA BOCHENEK VIA REUTERS)

Specifically, the report is based on a survey of more than 1,000 American Evangelicals, defined as people who agrees with the following principles: The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe; it is important for me to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their savior; Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin; and only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.

According to Infinity and Grey Matter, Evangelicals by this definition amount to 23% of American adults - about 59 million people.

The survey closely examined the 20% who are considered Israel loyalists, 32% of whom are Latino, 21% white, 12% African-American, 9% Asian-American and the rest not giving their racial identity. It found that these loyalists tend to have less formal education than non-loyalists.

Among Evangelicals who read the Bible daily, 25% are loyalists compared to only 19% who read it a few times a week and 14% who read it less frequently.

Strikingly, the majority of top supporters have never been to Israel.

“These people have a strong affinity with Israel not because of personal experience in the country – only 8% have ever personally traveled to Israel – and among Evangelicals who have traveled to Israel, the proportion who are Israel loyalists is not any higher than among the rest who haven’t been to the country,” the survey said.

However, they are much more interested in traveling to the Jewish state – 71% of loyalists are extremely interested in making this trip, compared to 32% of all other Evangelicals.

Dreistadt said it was noteworthy that Christians love Israel before ever being in the country. However, when they do come to Israel, they go back “changed and their faith deepened – and they have more understanding of scriptures,” he said.

The survey also debunked a stereotype that Christian support is tied to the political Right – at least in Israel. Only 9% of Evangelicals said they support pro-Israel politicians or political positions as a top priority.

“The vast majority are more concerned with exploring the biblical roots of Christianity, preserving or excavating biblical sites, helping the needy, or a variety of other types of work than they are about the political side of things,” according to the survey.

Finally, more than half (51%) of Evangelicals believe that Jews are still God’s chosen people.

The older a person is, the more likely they are to have this perspective: 59% over the age of 50 do, 56% between 55 and 69, 49% between 40 and 54, and 44% under the age of 40.

In contrast, 17% believe in replacement theology, the idea that the Jews were once God’s chosen people but Christians replaced them after the birth of Jesus.

Some 19% of Evangelicals are unsure of what they believe, 10% believe the Jewish people never were God’s chosen people, and 2% expressed a different opinion that was not available in the options.

Dreistadt said the organization plans to resurvey in the next three to five years to see what changes.

“It is important to build bridges and to embrace one another and work together,” he said. “There is so much we can do when we understand, trust and value one another.”