Evangelical Christians in the U.S. have long been very supportive of Israel, but a new survey reveals that defense might be disintegrating.
The poll, commissioned by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and undertaken by the Barna Group, found only 33.6% of young evangelical Christians from ages 8 to 29 said they support the Jewish state in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
That’s a steep drop off from the 69% of young evangelical Christians who said during another survey conducted in 2018 that they sided with Israel, according to The Times of Israel. That same survey found that, of the 1,000 respondents from many different demographics, 75% defended Israel.
The recent Barna study was conducted online between March and April and surveyed more than 700 people. Of those individuals, 24.3% said they sided with the Palestinians and 42.2% didn’t choose a side.
Three years ago, only 2.8% of poll participants pledged support for the Palestinians.
Forty-five percent of the respondents to the 2021 poll said they support a two-state solution, while 35.1% said they were neutral.
A plurality of respondents, 41.5%, said they believe Israel treats the Palestinians fairly. More than 22%, though, said Israel doesn’t treat the Palestinians correctly and 35.7% did not pick a side.
Close to half of the survey’s respondents — more than 44% — said their religious beliefs did not factor into their understanding of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. More than 38% said their spiritual convictions have led them to view Israel more favorably, while 17.4% said their beliefs have led them to be more supportive of the Palestinians.
Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said recently Israel should focus more on evangelical Christians in the U.S. rather than trying to bolster support among Jewish Americans, because they are “disproportionately among our critics.”
“People have to understand that the backbone of Israel’s support in the United States is the evangelical Christians,” he said. “It’s true because of numbers but also because of their passionate and unequivocal support for Israel.”
It is worth noting that a majority of young evangelicals, 71.6%, still believe Jerusalem should remain the capital of Israel. Only 28.4% said East Jerusalem should be sectioned off and made the capital of a potential future Palestinian state.
Former President Donald Trump moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, a decision he said in 2020 he made “for the evangelicals.” At the time, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Christians “support Israel with much greater fervor and devotion than many in the Jewish community.”
Of the survey’s participants, 46% said they voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, while only 26% said they cast their ballots for Trump. Twenty percent said they didn’t vote at all.