Yes, Israel and Jews figure prominently in the religious imagination of America’s 60 million white adult evangelicals. But it’s not all about the Second Coming
Mark Galli and Yehiel Poupko Jul 21, 2019
Christian pilgrims and tourists react during a religious retreat lead by T.B. Joshua, a Nigerian evangelical preacher on Mount Precipice, Nazareth, northern Israel June 23, 2019\ AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS
As the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today and the Rabbinic Scholar at the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago, we wanted to add some detail, missing context and nuance to Haaretz’s otherwise thoughtful recent editorial, “The Evangelical Bear Hug.”
America is uniquely designed for religious to flourish. It is one of the only Western countries with no history of a state-established church. Its courts and legislatures jealously guard the wall of separation between state and church, synagogue and mosque. Every faith community has to compete for adherents on an equal, unregulated, non-taxpayer funded playing field.
This competition has been healthy for the development of Christianity, Judaism and Islam and has, in turn, stimulated a healthy culture of inter-religious relations.
American society is characterized by the need to form partnerships and coalitions. This is true of the religious landscape as well. It is American culture that has made for what is, arguably, the most meaningful Christian-Jewish relationship in the western world.
As a minority community of about 1.6 percent of the American population, the Jewish community regularly seeks partnership with a variety of Christian churches. The relationship with the various Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church is well developed and many decades old.
The evangelical-Jewish relationship is, in most instances, comparatively new. This is largely because Jews and evangelicals are concentrated in different areas of the country, and because inter-faith relations are not a priority for many evangelicals. Large numbers of evangelicals live in southern and southwestern regions of the United States where not many Jewish people live.