Beliefs Politics

Evangelical leaders will travel to Israel to signal their support

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham
Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham. Photo by Chris Stephens
Several high-profile evangelical leaders will travel to Israel next week as a part of the "Christians in Solidarity with Israel" trip put together by the National Religious Broadcasters in response to the most recent conflict in Gaza. Photo courtesy of National Religious Broadcasters

Several high-profile evangelical leaders will travel to Israel next week as a part of the “Christians in Solidarity with Israel” trip put together by the National Religious Broadcasters in response to the most recent conflict in Gaza. Photo courtesy of National Religious Broadcasters

(RNS) Several high-profile evangelical leaders will travel to Israel next week as a part of the “Christians in Solidarity with Israel” trip put together by the National Religious Broadcasters in response to the most recent conflict in Gaza.

The Aug. 17-22 trip will include Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham and president of AnGeL Ministries; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; and Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, N.C.

“My prayer is that God’s people in this country and around the world would intercede for heaven’s involvement in Israel, that God would defend and protect her from her enemies,” said Lotz.

The NRB is a large umbrella group for Christian communicators involved mostly in radio and television. Its annual conference attracts thousands, and it bills itself as the “world’s largest annual gathering of Christian media professionals.”

The trip will emphasize American Christians’ steadfast support for Israel, said Perkins of the Family Research Council.

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham. Photo by Chris Stephens

“For a large number of Christians, there are two primary reasons to support Israel. We have the Jewish people to thank for our faith and we are instructed in Scripture not only to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but are told that those who bless Israel will be blessed,” Perkins said in a statement.

“Secondly, it is in the national security interest of the United States to support Israel. To abridge our commitment to the state of Israel would be an act of hostility not just to the Jewish state but would do damage to our own vital interests.”

While Richard Land, formerly head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, will join the trip, his successor, Russell Moore, is not listed as a participant.

The trip will include popular Bible teacher Kay Arthur, Richard Bott of Bott Radio Network and Chelsen Vicari from the Institute on Religion & Democracy. It will be led by NRB President and CEO Jerry A. Johnson.

Evangelicals aren’t the only ones rising to Israel’s defense after the much-criticized Gaza incursion. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and some Democratic members of the state Legislature are headed to Israel on Tuesday (Aug. 12).

But there’s no question that Israel holds a special place for older evangelicals in ways that go beyond politics. Earlier this summer, megachurch pastor John Hagee held a summit using theology to support Israel.

Still, some are worried over how younger evangelicals might be shifting on Israel. Earlier this year, David Brog from Hagee’s Christians United for Israel warned that young evangelicals were turning against Israel. Others say evangelicals are not turning against Israel but may be more sympathetic than in the past to a Palestinian perspective.

Younger evangelicals in particular may not view Israel the way their parents did, wrote Dale Hanson Bourke, author of “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”

“Most evangelicals older than 50 grew up in churches that taught some form of dispensationalism, a theology that views Jews as God’s chosen people, Israel as the land promised to them, and the second coming of Christ tied to Jews returning to Israel,” Bourke wrote. “Dispensationalism has fallen out of fashion in many evangelical circles and is no longer taught in many seminaries or from pulpits.”

It’s difficult to measure long-term support for Israel among evangelicals. Findings from the Pew Research Center, though, suggest that it has remained relatively stable in the past five years.

When asked “In the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, who do you sympathize with more?” evangelicals were far more likely to say Israel — 72 percent to 4 percent in 2013, about the same as in 2009 — according to the Pew poll.

The NRB grew in the 1940s out of radio regulations disputes between mainline Protestant denominations and evangelicals, who were rapidly growing in numbers. Israel has also been a pressing issue among some in mainline churches as the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted earlier this summer to divest from companies that profit from the oppression of Palestinians within Israel’s occupied territories.

“Countering rising anti-Semitism in the international press and on the streets, this friendship visit will communicate to Israel and to the Palestinians who stand in opposition to Hamas that we, leaders who represent the Christian community, stand with them,” said Johnson, the NRB president, in a statement. “It will also show the world that Christians in general support the Jewish people and their right to security.”

Lotz said her famous father has been a consistent supporter of Israel. “He would also express his love for the Arabs and Palestinians,” she said. Her brother, Franklin Graham, spoke at the Israeli Embassy earlier this year on why evangelicals love Israel.

During a recent trip to the beach, Lotz said, her daughter’s phone beeped from an app that tracked every missile strike against Israel. Lotz said it beeped so much she asked her daughter to turn it off.

“I think there’s a lot of information and spin going on about what’s taking place there,” Lotz said. “We need to support the Palestinian people. I think Hamas is using them for their evil agenda. I don’t support Israel giving up their land. ”


About the author

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for RNS, covering how faith intersects with politics, culture and other news. She previously served as online editor for Christianity Today where she remains an editor-at-large.


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  • This is great and they can witness to people as well. People who try to say
    that Jesus was just a prophet make no sense because no true prophet can
    be revered if they are a liar so if Jesus wasn’t the Son of God He was a liar
    and can’t be revered or a true prophet so all people who try to say that
    Jesus was just a prophet don’t make any sense and their whole belief
    system doesn’t hold up! Psalm 22/other Bible prophecy that came true
    with 100% accuracy/detail prove Jesus is the Messiah/only way to heaven!

  • I’m pretty certain its universal throughout judaism to not believe in jesus.

    So how then, is an evangelical christian entourage to israel merely showing support for zionism a good thing for evangelicals?

  • I don’t like that the jewish state carpet bombs a whole population of people indiscriminately.

    I further don’t like that the jewish state lies initially about precision operations, only targeting tunnels, only targeting armaments, or only targeting combatants.

    I also do not like, at all, that america financially supports israel.

    These beliefs are technically antisemitic. As such, therr are whole groups of jews and congressman and christians who want to make my views illegal on the basis that it is hateful and antisemitic.

    To this, I say america is lost. There is no hope for freedom. And no reason to stay where you are when you are not free and gaged against criticizing your own forced submission.

  • Karla, I have studied the Hebrew Bible and there are lots of interpretations of Biblical prophecy that have nothing to do with Jesus. The Messiah’s coming was supposed to produce universal peace. That has surely not happened.

    These evangelicals want a Jewish state with no Jews in it. Given the centuries of persecution and hatred of Jews the evangelicals have lost the right to evangelize Jews.

  • This is one evangelical that does not stand with Israel on this issue. As a Christian I see my responsibility as praying for both sides, and use my brain to look at both sides of any issue. Israel’s reaction to the killing of the Jewish boys and fairly ineffectual rocket attacks from Gaza with shelling of United Nations schools and killing and driving from their homes so many Palestinians, does not in any way seem righteous. It certainly appears that Israel’s goal is to drive the Palestinians into the sea.

    Sure the Judaic- Christian religion did begin in Israel many centuries ago. Israel’s goal is to drive the Palestinians.

    Ruth Graham Lotz is a fine person. I just think she is wrong in going to Israel at this time, but of course that is her right. As for Richard Land, I question his character which has a lot to do with why he left the ethics commission of the SBC.

  • This should prove to be really good PR for Israel!

    Tony Perkins’ past activities have included paying KKK Grand Wizard David Duke $80,000 for his mailing list, giving speeches to an organization that describes black people as a “retrograde species,” and declaring that gay teens rightfully commit suicide because they know they’re “abnormal.”

    If I were an embattled country that was increasingly on the wrong side of world opinion, I know I would want that world to know that Tony Perkins was on my side.

  • Oh yeah. The three deaths that started all this…prompting neytanyahoo to say “hamas will pay”.

    Yeah, there was an article a few weeks back in a new york publication, written by a jewish reporter, that said the deaths and the assumption that they resulted from a hamas directive were increasingly questionable.

    So the beginning pretense of this jewish state slaughter of all across its border might not even have been valid from the get go.

    I cant post links well from my phone, but can do so later tonight from my laptop..if the article is still online.

  • Makes me wonder that happened to the jews who burned the pali boy. I haven’t read a follow up to that.

  • Susan- Read the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Many misunderstand why
    Jesus Christ came the first time. The antichrist and the false prophet are
    going to come before the real Jesus comes again. The antichrist will set up
    a false religion to deceive people with a peace treaty that will get people to
    think that he can be trusted but will fool people with false peace and it’s
    before the real Jesus then the real Jesus comes/will reign then there is real
    peace but you need to know the real Jesus/the Bible so you aren’t fooled.
    Read Psalm 22/other Bible prophecy that came true about Jesus/the Messiah.

  • No surprise about the Grahams, but shame on them for supporting the atrocities of any religious group against another. The Grahams’ Christianity has its fill of religious wars, so this is not news. The obvious reason the very wealthy Grahams are supporting very wealthy Israel over the Palestinians that Israel evicted from their own homeland of many centuries–and then dared to claim the right to build Jewish settlements in the territory of the evicted Palestinians–is genealogy as well as money.

    Sadly, when it comes to religion–as noted in several of the above comments–a separation is seldom made between religion and money. That is equivalent to any separation between religion and civil government. A domination of ideology is the very cause of religious wars and the reason for the wisdom, though often ignored, of our constitutional requirement to maintain a separation between religion and civil government. Domination costs a lot of money.

    Of course, when the civil government is religious, as with both Israel and most Islamic states, separation is not possible or allowed. What we continue to see between Israel and the Palestinians is the same we are presently seeing between between religious factions of Islam in Iraq. It is the same we saw during all his tenure by al-Maliki and other denominations of Islam than his in Iraq.

    Religious denominations and factions historically resort to war and other vicious cruelties. 9/11 was an example. We have erected a monument to that. How very religious!

  • Karla & Susan: Neither the old or new testaments, none of the bible, is, as claimed, “the word of God.” Those writings contradict the very God claimed as author.

    The bible is the word of people, men. So take the predictions, the miracles, paradisal gardens and snakes, and the whole works for what they are, ancient mythology, some writings much older than others. And there are numerous “religious” writings outside that “Good Book.”

    One thing they have in common is that they were handed down by ancient and corrupting copiers for many thousands of years, long before printing presses, publishers, and book stores. None of the originals, even innumerable copies after any of them, even exist.

    Isn’t it a rather immeasurable deposit of faith to consider any of them like real history, much less like all the science, sociology, and psychology we have factually discovered since?

  • So apparently, because the Jews gave us scripture, we support modern Israeli in committing a modern apartheid against Arabs. Great.

  • Lles, Do not trouble your feeble mind about these things. Relax, in less than three weeks you can pick up your ticket at the Atlanta Int. airport and off to Moscow you’ll go.

  • “The bible is the word of people, men”

    Yes, I know that. I don’t believe that what you call the “Old Testament is the literal word of God. That does not make it less important.

    Karla, there is nothing about a Second Coming in the Tanach, what you call the Old Testament.

    Israel’s goal is to stop the rocket fire aimed at its civilians and to stop Hamas. You forget that Hamas does not want to end the occupation of Gaza. It wants to destroy Israel’s existence completely. I don’t agree with Natanyahu’s actions, but the criticism of Israel contains an intenisty and a ferocity that one doesn’t see in the criticism of any other country.

    The relation between civil and religious government is very complicated in israel. Many Israelis are secular. They resent the religious minorities. The religious community elects Members of the Kinesset to promote their particular religious viewpoint. They become powerful because they are often needed to form a coalition governemnt.

  • Susan- Read Ezekiel 37-39 in Old Testament and Revelation 20:7-9 in the
    New Testament. Read the book the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel as well.

  • I don’t like that the jewish state carpet bombs a whole population of people indiscriminately.

    That never happened outside your imagination.

  • So I am imagining the death count too?

    Good thing we I have you jews here to keep my thinking in line.

  • I know your hearts are sealed and your minds are hardened to the truth. But there is a God of this world and he revealed Himself through Jesus Christ to all
    that would believe. You will someday know this truth.

  • This is a textbook case of what happens when popularizers like Ehrman are allowed to grossly distort the textual evidence and these views percolate through society to comment sections on blogs.

    One thing they have in common is that they were handed down by ancient and corrupting copiers for many thousands of years, long before printing presses, publishers, and book stores. None of the originals, even innumerable copies after any of them, even exist.

    Our earliest manuscripts date to the early second century. Some of these documents, such as the Gospel manuscripts, were the product of ANE disciple-master relationships which necessarily disseminated information according to strict, short principles and stories that could be easily memorized in an oral culture. Going back to the Old Testament, Jewish scribes were so careful in their copying of texts that the would burn entire copies if a single error was detected.

    Even if we were left with something like the KJV, it was remarkably accurate given the patient care monks spent preserving the Bible (among many ancient and medieval works).

    Honestly, your comment is something out of The Da Vinci Code rather than anything found in modern scholarship on textual transmission.

  • I would be interested to know, on whom do you wish amputational form of genital violence?

    The jews, or the palestineians?

    Upon your answer, I will further be interested to see if the admin thinks the answer is worthy of censoring.

  • So those thousands in Gaza who have been killed and wounded don’t exist? What about the hundreds of thousands who are now refugees? I suppose they don’t exist either. Perhaps you should watch the news and see for yourself the carnage that Israel is inflicting on the people of Gaza.

  • Ohhh yes it did… while you were too busy preaching nonsense instead of working towards spreading the Love of God to ALL people and bring the NEW Jerusalem for His NEW people.

  • Wonder why I don’t see any of these guys saying a prayer to Christians killed daily in the Middle East.
    I also find it funny that the so called Christians are more interested in the peace of Jerusalem (ignoring the Bible’s teaching on the NEW SPIRITUAL JERUSALEM) and ignore the rest of the world.
    Many call “Lord oh Lord” but few really do the will of God.

  • “I know your hearts are sealed and your minds are hardened to the truth. But there is a God of this world and he revealed Himself through Jesus Christ to all
    that would believe. You will someday know this truth.”

    Well , no, my heart is not sealed to God and my mind is not hardened. I do believe in God, but I don’t see that God revealed him or herself through Jesus. That does not mean that my heart is sealed or my mind is hardened. That is classic anti-Jewish nonsense.

  • No. An epiphany of past stupidity that influences future thought processes, which in turn modifies your comments perhaps, but not Ebola.

  • pope francis is the antichrist, billy graham is a masson, i rather read my bible and not get involve with the beast(the vatican antichrist pope)

  • 1. We cannot rely on Hamas data for the number of people killed because of war or the proportion of dead who are civilians. See BBC and New York Times articles that explain doubts about Hamas numbers.

    2. Hamas and UN are responsible for many or most civilian deaths. Hamas uses human shields and UN shelters Gazans in the middle of the war zone instead of empty spaces in Gaza where no ordinance falls.

  • The ‘death count’ offered by Hamas of all parties was in the low four digits and, per various news outlets, disproportionately composed of men between the ages of 20 and 38 (i.e. paramilitaries). That’s not what you get when you engage in ‘indiscriminate’ ‘carpet-bombing’.

  • I think I’ll rain rockets down on the subdivision where your sorry clerical ass is planted and run tunnels under the neighborhood to plant bombs underneath local schools. I’m sure you’ll be consistent and tell your neighbors to just suck it up.

  • With any luck these pieces of trash won’t come back And this country will be a better place. In fact can we just send 95% of the christians there and hope they stay.

  • Do Christians give Israel a blank check to do anything they wish? Does the God of Israel protect Israeli children and not grieve for Palestinian children? I believe he grieves for both. Israel has the right to exist and Palestinians have a right to exist…this should be the prayer of all Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

  • I am sick and tired of everyone being an expert on Israel and Palestine, and everyone twisting the truth, There are facts!!! and maybe all who defend Israel and their actions should read those facts. 90 percent of the world knows those facts, 130 countries in the world supports Palestine, You mean to tell me that the Israeli lobby is so powerful that is has brainwashed most of the US citizens,
    or maybe the Israeli lobby has bought the United States Govt and Media and some so called religious leaders in believing that the Palestinians should all be killed and sent out to refugee camps in other Middle Eastern States. I have a great solution, why don’t all of you who support Israel and are so afraid of its peoples welfare petition the US Congress to give Israel a state here in the United States, say Florida, California, or New York the congress would probably do it because they cannot say NO to Israel, they are bought and paid for. and than kick out all the people living in that state and give all the land, buildings, homes etc to the new Jewish inhabitants and when the people who were kicked out protest, imprison them and blow up their homes, and kill them and label them Terrorists for trying to get their homes back.
    I PROPOSE TO GIVE ISRAEL THE STATE OF FLORIDA and have everybody in Florida relocated to Montana , and that way Israel will be secure forever
    and all its people, after all if Jesus is coming back why can’t he come back to Florida, it seems the middle east specifically Jerusalem is not Holy any more because Holy people do not oppress and kill innocent people. READ THE BOOK “SON OF A GENERAL” WHICH WAS WRITTEN BY THE SON OF A ISRAELI GENERAL, He tells the truth and he is from a prominent Jewish Family, or is everybody that doesn’t agree with Israel bad. IF YOU PEOPLE DO NOT MAKE ISRAEL SEE WHAT IT IS DOING WRONG THAN YOU ARE ALL CONTRIBUTING TO THE EXTINCTION OF ISRAEL IN THE FUTURE AND THAN IT WILL BE YOUR FAULT FOR NOT DOING THE RIGHT THING, ISRAEL WILL NOT FLOURISH BY CONTNUOSLEY KILLING PALESTINIANS AND CAUSING UNREST IN THE MIDDLE EAST THROUGH THERE PROXY THE US GOVT. THE INTERNET IS PROBABLY THE WORST ENEMY OF ISRAEL BECAUSE THE REAL TRUTH CANNOT BE HIDDEN ANYMORE.

  • Franklin Graham’s Warning !

    Franklin’s warning of coming persecution of Christians echoes what his mother Ruth and father Billy have clearly stated. Re Ruth, see search engines including Google for “Letter from Mrs. Billy Graham.” To see what Billy has written, Google “Famous Rapture Watchers – Addendum.”
    Since Franklin blamed the Obama administration for his own National Day of Prayer snub and persecution, and since he accused “Christian” Obama of “giving Islam a pass,” readers can get some rare insights into Obama and his fellow travelers by Yahooing and Googling “Obama Supports Public Depravity,” “Obama Avoids Bible Verses,” “Separation of Raunch and State,” and “David Letterman’s Hate, Etc.”
    To see some exceptional in-depth studies of coming persecution, see two unique books by media figure Joe Ortiz entitled “The End Times Passover” and “Why Christians Will Suffer ‘Great Tribulation’ ” – both published in the US and UK by AuthorHouse.
    Even though historian Dave MacPherson’s bestseller “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books) is the most accurate history of the 184-year-old pretrib rapture view (which generously funds evangelical agendas!) and has earned the most coveted kudos, his discovery of many scandals in high pretrib rapture circles since 1830 has earned him the No. 1 spot on that endtime view’s “hate” list (Google “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty”)!
    So while many evangelicals are still clinging to what they think is a 2000-year-old endtime belief, many others like Franklin Graham are warning of coming persecution while learning that the belief in question was dreamed up by 19th century “fringe” Britishers and is actually less than 200 years old!
    Want dessert? Google “Pretrib Rapture Politics.” Also type in “Bernhard, David, Griffin, Maher, Silverman” on Google etc. for the most complete version of “Un-Americans Fight Franklin Graham.”
    Now you have really been warned!

    / I discovered the preceding piece on the never boring web. Reactions? /