Evangelicals Get a Piece of the Promised Land
OAKLAND, California, Oct 3 (IPS) - After more
than 30 years of organising testimonial dinners for right-wing Israeli
politicians, handing out checks to Israeli charities, and forming
alliances with conservative Jewish leaders and groups, evangelical
Christians may finally be getting a chunk of the "Promised Land".
In a move geared toward solving northern Israel's unemployment crisis,
increasing tourism to the country, and solidifying relations with U.S.
evangelical Christians, the Israeli government has offered 35 acres of
land on the shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) for development by
The Israeli government is hopeful that Christian evangelicals will build
a large conference centre, complete with the requisite amenities, to
attract hundreds of thousands of evangelical tourists from the U.S. and
(According to officials at Israel's tourism ministry, more than 400,000
Christian tourists brought 1.4 billion dollars into Israel in the past
In May, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and former Prime Minister and
Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who resigned his post due to
opposition over what he called the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza
settlements, made the offer at a meeting with a host of evangelical
They included Pastor Sunday Adelaja of the Embassy of God in Ukraine,
Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston of Hillsong in Australia, Louis Cortes
of Esperanza USA, and Ted Haggard, the Senior Pastor of the Colorado
Springs, Colorado, New Life Church and the president of the 30
million-member National Association of Evangelicals.
Also on hand was Dr. Paul Crouch, president of Trinity Broadcasting
Network, a worldwide giant in Christian broadcasting, and Jay Sekulow,
the head of the American Centre for Law & Justice, a Christian-based law
firm founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson.
Although the offer came unexpectedly, Ted Haggard, a highly influential
evangelical leader with close ties to the George W. Bush administration,
told the Financial Times that under the right conditions perhaps as many
as one million evangelicals would visit Israel annually.
"While I don't know the particulars of the Israeli government's offer, I
have long been an advocate for the Israeli government encouraging
significant numbers of evangelical Christians to move to Israel and make
the Holy Land their permanent home," Rabbi Shmuley Boteach told IPS in a
series of emails.
Rabbi Boteach, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, the author
of 15 books, and a syndicated columnist, believes that while Israel
should always maintain "a sizable Jewish majority", evangelical
Christian immigrants should be welcome in Israel as long as they
"respect the integrity of the Jewish faith by foreswearing the
proselytisation of the Jewish population".
Concerned about security and the "well-being of the state of Israel,"
Rabbi Boteach said that, "There is no better way to demonstrate this
then to have a few hundred thousand evangelicals making Israel their
home, and serving in the Israeli army to save the Middle East's only
democracy from destruction at the hands of the many Arabs who have
fought for its destruction."
"I certainly don't expect to see large-scale immigration of evangelicals
to Israel," Gershom Gorenberg, the associate editor of The Jerusalem
Report and author of "The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle
for the Temple Mount", said in an email exchange. "Nor, for that matter
to I expect to see them eschew proselytising, since that is a core
Support for Israel by evangelical Christians grows out of both the
Biblical role that Israel plays for evangelicals, as well as practical
Veteran journalist and author Frederick Clarkson pointed out in his
book, "Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy",
that in the 20th century, "most evangelicals" were "pre-millenialistsą
Christians who believe it is not possible to reform this world until
The Second Coming is then "followed by a 1,000-year rule of Jesus and
the Christians". That is where "The Rapture" comes in, which Clarkson
describes as "an event in which all the saved Christians, dead and
alive, are brought up into the clouds with Jesus prior, during or after
(depending of the school of theology) a period called 'the
"The Israeli government has a long relationship with American
evangelicals," Clarkson told IPS. "They have been cultivated as a
domestic pro-Israel political constituency, as well as a source of
foreign exchange through the tourism industry, so offering some land
sounds like an effort to deepen and expand those political and financial
"While immigration of large numbers of American evangelicals to Israel
might sound appealing to many Israelis -- especially as further Middle
Eastern wars seem possible -- Rabbi Boteach's notion of inviting
hundreds of thousands of American evangelicals to Israel with the
expectation that they would not evangelise is silly," Clarkson added.
"Evangelisation is what evangelicals are supposed to do. It is a central
element of their religious identity that they will certainly be
unwilling to erase."
In her seminal work on the rise of the Christian Right in the United
States, "Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right", Sara
Diamond wrote that the relationship between Christian evangelicals and
Israel changed considerably when "popular broadcast ministries,
especially those focused on studies of the 'end-times,' drew
evangelicals to pay closer attention to Middle East politics."
Diamond credits Hal Lindsey, author of "The Late Great Planet Earth",
with adding "Israel's security" to the Christian Right's list of
In 1988, at the National Religious Broadcasters convention, Israeli
government and military officials held a private briefing for Christian
media preachers. That meeting was organised to "tell the untold story
about the situation [between Christian evangelicals and Israel] and
counteract distortions currently being presented in the media".
Ten years later, then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a
U.S.-based group in Washington called Voices United for Israel. Most of
the 3,000 in attendance were evangelicals, including Ralph Reed, then
the executive director of the Christian Coalition, and other prominent
members of the fundamentalist Christian community.
Over the past few years, a number of veteran Christian right leaders
have joined forces with Jewish conservatives to launch pro-Israel
organisations. Gary Bauer -- the former head of the Family Research
Council, who now runs a group called American Values -- joined forces
with Rabbi Daniel Lapin, head of the conservative Jewish organisation
Toward Tradition, to form the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.
Reed, who is currently running for lieutenant governor of Georgia,
joined with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the president of the International
Fellowship of Christians and Jews, to launch "Stand for Israel".
According to press reports, Stand for Israel is a project they hope will
have the same political impact as the powerful Jewish lobbying group,
the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
*Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His
WorkingForChange column "Conservative Watch" documents the strategies,
players, institutions, victories and defeats of the U.S. Right.
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Date: 05 Oct 2005
Because preterists know that Christ's parousia occurred in the first
century, they're the only ones with the potential to turn back the lies of
dispensationalism. However, preterists first have to remember that
resurrection and judgment occur simultaneously in the Bible (the
resurrection of the godly who were being persecuted is accompanied by the
judgment of the ungodly who had been persecuting the godly) and therefore
that EACH of the two first-century resurrections spoken of in 1 Cor. 15:23
had to be accompanied by a first-century judgment. Preterists carelessly and
mistakenly assume that "the judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70" occurred
simultaneously with the resurrection of the dead in Christ at his parousia.
They appear to have completely overlooked the fact that a judgment first had
to accompany the resurrection of Christ in AD 30. Christ was persecuted and
killed by the ungodly religious leaders of Jerusalem and therefore Jerusalem
was judged in the moment of Christ's resurre