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LifeWay survey: Evangelical support for Israel dwindles among millennials

(Wikimedia Commons/Tiia Monto)The flag of Israel is featured in this image.

Older American evangelicals have always been staunch in their support for Israel, but a new survey has found that the support for the Jewish state has been dwindling among younger generations.

A survey conducted by the Nashville-based LifeWay Research has shown that 77 percent of evangelicals aged 65 and older said they support the existence, security and prosperity of Israel, compared to 58 percent of evangelicals aged 18 to 34.

A total of 2,002 Americans with evangelical beliefs were asked about a wide range of issues involving Israel, including questions about the nation's place in the Bible, and its treatment of Palestinians. LifeWay stressed that the poll focused on Americans with evangelical beliefs, rather than those who identify themselves as evangelicals.

The results indicated that 41 percent of younger evangelicals have no strong views about Israel. Fifty-eight percent of younger evangelicals have an overall positive perception of Israel compared to older evangelicals at 76 percent.

Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries, which helped underwrite the survey, said he was glad that most evangelicals support Israel, but he expressed concern about the decline of support among the younger generation.

"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," he said.

Overall, 67 percent have a positive view of the Jewish nation. Only nine percent have a negative view, and 24 percent said they are not sure.

Twenty-four percent said they support Israel's existence, security and prosperity no matter what it does, while 42 percent said they support the country but not everything it does. Thirty-two percent have no strong views about the nation, and one percent do not support it at all.

When asked whether the rebirth of the nation was an injustice to Arabs in the Middle East, 14 percent said they agreed. Fifty percent said they disagreed, while 36 percent were not sure.

Most of the respondents said that their faith is a significant factor in shaping their views on Israel.

Seventy-six percent of American evangelicals said that Christians should support the right of Jewish people to live in the sovereign state of Israel. Five percent of the respondents said they disagree, while 20 percent said they were not sure.

Sixty-nine percent believe that Jews have a historic right to the land of Israel. Six percent of evangelicals disagree, while 25 percent were not sure.

Forty-one percent believe that Jewish people have a "biblical right" to the land but have to share it. Only 19 percent believe that Palestinians have a historic right to Israel.

Author Joel C. Rosenberg, who also helped underwrite the survey, noted that most evangelicals understand the link between the Bible and the modern nation of Israel. However, he expressed fears that the drop in support for Israel among younger evangelicals might yield a significant decline in overall evangelical support for the Jewish nation in the future.

"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.

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