The number of Christians in the Holy Land has grown slightly, according to new data released Christmas Day.
The report, published by the Central Bureau of Statistics, found Israel’s Christian population grew by about 2% in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available. Christians now make up 1.9% of the population of the Jewish state.
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Interestingly, nearly 76% of the Christians in Israel are Arab Christians, accounting for roughly 7% of Israel’s Arab population, according to the Israeli government study.
Most of Israel’s Arab Christian population lives in Nazareth (21,100), followed by Haifa (16,700), then Jerusalem (12,900), and Shefar’am (10,500). The average Christian home is comprised of 3.06 people, which is on par for a Jewish household but smaller than a Muslim home, which averages 4.46 people.
“The average number of children up to age 17 in Christian families with children up to this age is 1.86,” reads the report. “Of these Christian families, the average number of children up to age 17 in Arab Christian families is 1.94 — smaller than the numbers in Jewish families (2.42) and in Muslim families (2.62).”
Arab Christians were also much more likely to pursue higher education than other demographics.
Nearly 53% of Arab Christians and about 31% of non-Arab Christians pursued higher education after completing high school — a greater proportion than the Arab Muslim population (31.2%) and the Jewish population (48.2%).
According to the report, “The proportion of women among the Christian students was higher than women’s proportion among the total number of students in the advanced degrees: 65.2% and 53.1%, respectively, of those studying for a third degree, and 73.8% and 64.2%, respectively, of those studying for a second degree.”
The presence of Christians in the Holy Land has long been controversial, especially when outside groups come into the Middle Eastern country. Evangelism in the Jewish state is frowned upon.
As CBN News reported in January 2021, the Jewish Agency for Israel, an organization that helps Jewish people immigrate to Israel, announced it was cutting ties with a Christian group based in Canada over allegations the ministry had engaged in evangelism.
Rabbi Tuly Weisz, founder of Israel365, an organization dedicated to helping evangelical Christians understand the biblical significance of the Jewish state, wrote in October that he is concerned by the number of Christians who share the Gospel with Jewish people while in Israel.
“Unfortunately, some of the Christian visitors will hope to use their time in the Jewish state to engage in missionary activity,” he wrote in The Jerusalem Post. “The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem does its best to prevent this, warning its guests to refrain from such offensive behavior.”
While some Christians sympathize with Weisz’s words, others — like radio host and author Dr. Michael Brown — believe it’s critical for believers to evangelize to Jewish people.
“Every Jewish believer I know urges Christians to please share the Good News with our people,” he told The Christian Post. “It is the most unloving thing you can do to withhold the water of life from a Jewish person. Jews and Gentiles are saved the exact same way. It is through faith in Jesus, through His death on the cross. And without that, there is no salvation.”
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