Why Do Evangelical Christians Support Israel?

Because they have a favorable opinion of Jews

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

A new academic paper published in Politics and Religion explores the source of evangelical Christian support for Israel. There are a host of complicated religious and political factors, some of which are benign, and some of which will undoubtedly make some Jews uncomfortable–many evangelicals believe that the establishment of Israel is a necessary prelude to Jesus' Second Coming, which according to many will involve Jews converting to Christianity.

The most important bit of information I gleaned from the study, however, is that by far the strongest correlate of evangelical support for Israel was their opinion of Jews. In other words, evangelicals who are favorably inclined toward Jews (a strong majority) are strongly inclined to support Israel, and the minority of evangelicals who have an unfavorable opinion of Jews tend not to support Israel.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that evangelical support for Israel masks an underlying antisemitism, that evangelicals only support Israel so that Jews can be gathered in one place to be destroyed as part of the Second Coming, and thus their support for Israel is actual a reflection of anti-Jewish hostility. This turns out to be wildly wrong; whatever their theological views of the Second Coming, pro-Israel evangelicals are also pro-Jewish.

My statistical skills are pretty basic, so I checked with one of the authors to make sure I was reading this right. He responded, "I agree with you 100%. They [evangelical supporters of Israel] are not antisemites, but philosemites."

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  1. It’s an interesting question since, for example, Christians in Lebanon have suffered greatly as a result of Israel pushing radicalized muslims into their country.

    1. The PLO?

      Look up and read about Black September in Jordon. Then we talk.

      1. You’ve never heard of Hezbollah?

  2. Evangelicals believe Israelis will be their heirs after the rapture, and that the “age of gentiles” will end.
    The “Jews can be gathered in one place to be destroyed as part of the Second Coming” bit, is the same thing as the old “Jew use Christian babies blood to make Passover matzos” blood libel. Community scaremongering.

    1. And right on schedule the “Rev” shows up to prove you right.

      1. Reverend Dog Meat.

  3. “many evangelicals believe that the establishment of Israel is a necessary prelude to Jesus’ Second Coming, which according to many will involve Jews converting to Christianity”

    Strange way of describing being cast toward eternal damnation and hellfire.

    And rooting for other people to fulfill a peculiar role in an important endeavor and then be hurled promptly into hellfire upon such fulfillment is a shambling way to demonstrate affection toward those others.

  4. Who funds these researchers — evangelicals, “messianic Jews,” or perhaps both?

    1. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

      1. We can add a new verse to Amazing Grace:

        He once was blind
        And ne’er did see

      2. Seems a reasonable question. One a journalist might have answered in a report.

  5. Here’s an easy way to measure how ‘pro-Jew’ they are: ask them, ‘would you vote for someone who did not affirm Jesus as the Christ and Messiah?’

    1. Sure, why not? I don’t elect politicians to be spiritual leaders. In fact, I get a bit suspicious when they start touting that part of their life.

      1. Why do you think so many tout that part of their life? Because many people, especially on the right, find it somewhat determinative.

        1. Yes, I know. But I don’t.

  6. Also, ask them, ‘Is anyone who denies Jesus as the Christ and Messiah going to heaven?’

    These people like Jews like other people like pets…Their Bible tells them those who don’t accept Jesus as the Christ and the Messiah are going to Hell, but it also has lots of ‘Jews and Israel are the chosen of God’ parts too. So they 1. have to think Jews are commanded to be special and protected yet 2. aren’t quite right.

    Really, try it out. I was raised in this background and know the Scripture.

    1. Traditional Christian theology is that everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus is going to Hell. And that often includes members of other Christian sects who don’t accept Jesus the “right” way. It has nothing to do with Jews, as such, and, moreover, so what?

      1. Lots of Christians *today* don’t believe Jews or Unitarians let’s say are going to Hell. But for conservative evangelicals, they definitely think Jews have made the worst mistake someone can make.

        Try this on them: ask them if they’d like their children to marry a Jew, have a child and raise them Jewish. That will show you what they think of you I should think.

        1. “Try this on them: ask them if they’d like their children to marry a Jew, have a child and raise them Jewish. That will show you what they think of you I should think.” If the answer is no, they do not want their child to marry a Jew and raise their grandchild in the Jewish faith, what does that have to do with being pro Israel? How would it show you what they would think of them? Do you think that a person as described above hates Jews or is in anyway an intolerant person in a negative way? Please help me to understand. I am an evangelical Christian and I do not believe those that do not accept Christ are going to hell. They will be judged by God, not by me. There are orthodox Jews that are very intolerant of Christians just as there are many Christians that are intolerant of them. I think folks may be surprised that a significant number of evangelical Christians do not believe Jews are going to hell and that we have very strong relations with the Jewish community and the country of Israel. I have had this discussion as you described in your question, with a rabbi friend of the family and we both agree that marriage between Jews and Christians is to be avoided, but accepted and supported when it does occur.

          Regarding the question of crucifying Christ, we agree to disagree and understand that it is for God to handle and that hating each other over this is not what God would want.

          In my estimation and opinion there are anti-Semitic Christians but they are a smaller faction of the evangelical Christian community and are not following the teachings of the Word of God. They form their own denominations and really are not aligned with the evangelical Christian community in my experience.

        2. I know lots of Jews who totally respect Christians, but don’t want their kids to marry a Christian, and have a child and raise them Chrsitian. Because they are Jews, not Christians. Now, if an evangelical Christian was fine with someone marrying an atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, Mormon, and so on, but not, specifically a Jew, then we have a problem.

          1. ” if an evangelical Christian was fine with someone marrying an atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, Mormon, and so on, but not, specifically a Jew, then we have a problem.”

            So, it’s OK if someone hates everyone who isn’t their brand of religion, as long as YOUR brand of religion isn’t singled out? How Christian of you to say that.

        3. You are either a troll or a terribly confused individual. Probably the former. If a person believes in eternal damnation for nonbelievers, what sense does it make to want your offspring to go into a situation where they might change their beliefs and lose their ticket to Heaven?
          Then you bring up Unitarians, who quit being Christians a long time ago.

      2. Traditional Christian theology is that everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus is going to Hell.

        IIUC, the Roman Catholic church, a not insignificant segment of Christianity, has expressly abandoned this belief.

    2. Well, you could think about it more as having a buddy who has a drinking problem, and hoping they correct it… Not that that’s too much better. They just want them to accept Jesus as being the Boss he is yo!

  7. Another flavor among some evangelicals I know is the attitude that Christians are adopted children of Abraham (see Galatians). Plus, viewing Jesus as the King of the Jews makes high regard, if not always agreement, natural.

    Non-theologically, Bibi is a mensch. During the Obama Administration, Netanyahu provided occasional YouTube reminders of what leadership looks like, for which many were grateful.

    1. To be fair; on the other hand, many were appalled. I’ve seen dozens examples of strong leadership, around the world, during my lifetime. The number of those leaders who were not some version of bad/evil was vanishingly small.

      1. That’s to be expected. Just the fact that you want to be in a position of power is enough to establish that you’re morally compromised. By the time you’ve fought your way up to the top position you’re probably the quintessence of power hungry. Rare indeed are the cases where a genuine concern for the public good remains mixed with the thirst for power over your fellow man.

        Constitutional democracy doesn’t rely on the rulers being good. It relies on restraining them and giving them incentives such that they have to do good to fulfill their lust for power.

  8. I did not know “philosemite” was a word, but google and wikipedia agree. They also agree that “phobosemite” is not a word. “Semitophobe” is not a word, but “semitophile” is.

    What a strange language!

  9. That actually sounds like the reasoning of the anti-Zionist Jews. (They exist. Their reading of scripture is that the Messiah, who has not yet come, will personally re-found Eretz Yisrael; therefore any earlier Jewish state in that location will have fallen by then.)

  10. Even assuming that most Evangelicals support Israel (and like Jews) because they believe in our destruction in the event of the 2nd coming, we should have no problem with them safety-wise unless that unlikely day comes.

  11. Wait until evangelicals find out that Israel has a universal health care which offers access to contraception, pre AND post natal care, and abortions if the woman was raped, underaged, or life in danger.

    They will drop support of Israel overnight.

    1. Almost no on in the U.S. thinks contraceptives should be illegal. IIRC, the survey data I last saw said 6%, and I would guess that many of those are Catholic. But it looks like the Obama Administration’s “War on Women” rhetoric claimed another victim.

      1. (And of course, evangelicals are not against “pre and post natal care”, government-provided or not.)

        1. In theory? Maybe.

          In practice? They routinely target providers of women’s services because those places aren’t anti-abortion.

          1. No, “they” don’t. They target Planned Parenthood because it *performs* abortions (indeed, is by far the leading abortion provider in the country), not because it “isn’t anti-abortion.”

            1. I’m not arguing motivations.

              I’m arguing consequences. And the consequences of conservative anti-sex-ed and anti-abortion stances and policies is fewer women’s services.

              1. More specifically, the result of being anti-sex-ed and anti-contraception is that MORE abortions are performed.

      2. I agree almost nobody in the United States thinks contraceptives should be illegal and most of those who do are Catholic. On the other hand, there is a lot of evangelical and other Protestant opposition to contraception that stops short of advocating bans but does want contraception less available and opposes (for example) education in public schools about contraceptives. In addition, many evangelicals consider some contraceptive methods to be abortifacient.

    2. That is a very strange and incorrect assumption.

    3. Outside the issue of national security, Israel is a very progressive country. In fact, I am not sure that most of the population is actually Jewish in the religious sense.

  12. I don’t have a problem with Jews or Israel in theory… The problem is that our support has been rather irrational, and bad strategy.

    Pissing off over a billion Muslims by giving over the top support to people they’re not keen on has just been a bad call. If we didn’t back Israel so hard they would probably chill to a degree.

    Friendship and commerce with all nations and entangling alliances with none and all that jazz would have been a better call IMO.

    I’m down for selling weapons to Israel, they just shouldn’t be buying them with money US taxpayers gave them in the first place!

    1. You can’t buy the non-enmity of Muslims by refraining from supporting people they hate, only their contempt.

      1. Obviously there are the extremist Muslims out there… But I think 95% of our problems with the Muslim world come from practical shit, like our endlessly backing regime change, Israel (who is a militant aggressor in their eyes, and frankly kind of has been since being founded, whether you agree with its founding or not), and just generally fucking with them.

        We had POLITICAL problems with the Ottoman Empire, but we really didn’t have this level of “clash of civilizations” going on. This only popped up once we started dicking thing. I think if we hadn’t fucked with the Muslim world so hard, and hadn’t backed Israel to the hilt 97% of anti-Western bias would have never happened.

    2. This expains why Islamists are so sympathetic to the government and people of, say, France.

      1. The entire western world supports Israel, and anybody with a brain knows it.

    3. Let’s rephrase this:

      Pissing off over a billion theocratic dictators by giving over the top support to people they’re not keen on has just been a bad call. If we didn’t back the only democracy in the area so hard they would probably chill to a degree.

      1. Let them take back buffer regions controlled by Israel, and we will have peace in our time.

        1. Sorry, but God gave them that land and warned that what was given to Israel by Him cannot be given away by Israel.

          “The land must not be sold permanently because the land is Mine and you are but aliens and My tenants.”
          ~ Leviticus 25:23

          “He remembers His covenant forever, the word He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.’”

          [1 Chronicles 16:15-18]

          If you are Jew or a Christian, this is non negotiable.

          1. And if you’re not religious that all means dick all nothing…

          2. Competent adults neither advance nor accept superstition-based arguments in reasoned debate, particularly with respect to public affairs. Clingers, however . . .

          3. I really don’t want to get into a scripture argument, but Leviticus also calls for my brutal murder, and most modern Christians and Jews have managed to “negotiate” around that.

            For that matter, most Christians and Jews have managed to “negotiate” around all the commands regarding menstruating women and the things they taint, Christians have “negotiated” away commands they don’t want to follow while doubling-down on the commands next door that they want to keep, basically everyone has “negotiated” around that whole “don’t let women instruct men” bit… heck, even the commands regarding what can and can’t be done on the Sabbath have been “negotiated” around, sometimes with explanations that baffle outsiders (I don’t get Manhattan’s magic wire. I understand it’s important to Manhattan’s Jewish population, but it’s just baffling), sometimes by just saying “well, it’s not a command-command…”.

            Heck, remember the command about usury? That’s been negotiated around for ages!

            All of which is to say, Christians and Jews have demonstrated that they can negotiate around a lot over the years.

      2. Except we’ve backed dictators, and toppled democratically elected governments in that region… Sooooo there goes that high ground.

        Frankly, democracy is oversold. Most of those countries don’t want democracy, hence they don’t get it. A guy like Saddam was perfect for the ME. He kept order, actually genuinely tried to help his people out by building things up, was originally pro western, anti religious extremist, and wasn’t even very murdery until we destabilized his country.

        Sometimes you shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

        Also, Israel is a democracy… That’s done a ton of shit that’s really fucked up, and probably illegal to boot. Whether or not you agree with the right of conquest kinda matters… But Israel has definitely just straight jacked territory and shit on people for their benefit. I personally am somewhat okay with the “if you can conquer it and keep it it’s yours” thing, but one shouldn’t be surprised when the conquered aren’t too keen on the idea!

        1. In the old days, you’d conquer territory and hold on to it via the simple expedient of killing enough of the people who used to live there that the ones who were left didn’t put up much of a threat. The modern idea, though, is that you DON’T kill most of them… it worked in Japan, and in Germany one out of two times. It is not working in the Middle East.

          1. True. In olden days you would usually kill a ton of people, enslave a good chunk of the rest, and basically breed out half of them by having a ton of rape babies with the females taken during the whole thing.

            You also stole all the land/things of value to pay for the campaign.

            This is why the US is collapsing as an empire so fast. If you loot, even sans all the murdery stuff, you can sustain an empire for a LONG TIME. The Iraq war could have been HIGHLY profitable if we’d just jacked their oil for real. But we didn’t, they retain ownership of most of it.

            I don’t want the US to become an evil empire… But if we’re going to do it we had better start looting so it’s a profitable endeavor!

    4. Consider it an investment. US now has two batteries of the best battle tested short range anti missile systems in existence, Iron Dome. Much of it produced by Raytheon. The Israelis just announced an upgrade and a workable laser system coming.

      The F-35 has been tested in battle by one country who has been on top of the program with its own modifications from the start. Guess who.

      In cyber there is one country who together with the US has launched one of most successful attacks in history. Stuxnet.

      In intel the Israelis punch far beyond their weight. That includes human intel on the ground. They can tell you what Khamenei had for breakfast. You want that information.

      Not only that but in peacetime, medicine, IT, physics, science and research Israel is the only country in the ME with any contribution worth talking about.

      A long term investment returning every year. That is Israel. Near all money is returned to US workers and technology transfer.

      So OK cut that off if you want. The Saudis, Turkey, Egypt do what?

      1. That’s all fine and well… Except we shouldn’t need to care much about any of that. We shouldn’t be in wars in the ME, or anywhere else, so we shouldn’t care about intel in the region. Israel is a tiny ass little country that has developed some useful things… But nothing compared to what we do stateside or in Europe, and is a rounding error. Also, I never said US companies couldn’t work with Israeli businesses.

        Everybody uses the current disastrous paradigm to explain why Israel is a great ally… The problem is the whole paradigm needs to be changed!

        We shouldn’t be to the hilt allies with Jews OR Arabs. That’s the whole point. The entire place is an irrelevant backwater and should be treated as such. Asia (China in particular) is where the action is if you really give a fuck about national security.

        As I said, the whole paradigm is wrong.

        1. I am beginning to sense that the end of the United States’ reflexive support of Saudi Arabia and Israel is slowly coming within sight. From right-wing belligerence and superstition-laced government to brutal dictators, boundless hereditary privilege, and obnoxious indolence, there is plenty that is worthy of abandonment.

  13. The explanation is that it’s not about Revelations, it’s about Genesis 12:3
    “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse”

    Taken literally, it’s a command to bless (and therefore support) the Jews.

    There exists a different reading, replacement theology, in which Israel and the Jews are read to refer to the Christian Church. The evangelicals Prof. Bernstein is referring to do not hold to replacement theology.

    1. Yes but they do not read בְּרֵאשִׁית in the original.

      That passage is a part of a legend, a story about Avram who is later referred to as Avraham. He leaves his place of birth to establish a clan which becomes a tribe. Many things happen. In the start he has a sort of message or revelation. Go forth and I will establish from you a great nation..The best part is the last of the passage. “and in you shall all the families of the earth will be blessed”

      So he goes into the unknown with all he can gather on that thin promise. In our own lives we do that from kindergarten to whatever we do. We venture into the world with almost nothing but faith and hope. We fail and sometimes succeed if we keep trying. Often we do not see what we have done.

      Someone I knew, an evangelical, very nice person asked me “who will give you salvation for your sins? Who will forgive you?”

      My answer was that I did not know. It is not what I think about. If I harmed you in some way that is my responsibility.

      My sermon of the day for what it is worth.

      Also music link for what it is worth since we are getting religious.

      Bon Jovi performing the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah.

      https://youtu.be/RSJbYWPEaxw

  14. One possibility is that causation goes the other way: if evangelical Christians are generally supportive of Israel as a result of some path dependent Cold War politics, they may find philosemitism natural as a result. Conversely, people with an opposition to Israel may as a result find themselves more receptive to certain strains of anti-semitism.

    1. The problem is people who try to conflate being anti-Israel, or even just CERTAIN Israeli policies, as being antisemitic. Thinking the Jews have dicked the Palestinians is not the same as wanting to gas all the Jews.

      1. The problem is the vast majority of people who are anti-Israel, and those who limit their opposition to certain Israeli policies (particularly those concerning domestic terrorists) ARE antisemitic.

        1. The problem is people who make pronouncements without bothering to consult reality.

        2. By that definitions, lots of American Jews are antisemitic.

        3. Bullshit.

          I don’t give a fuck if somebody is Jewish. In the USA I don’t like the fact that 70-80% of the Jewish population votes left wing… As a matter of fact, I wish their politics were more like their Israeli cousins. But I have no issues with Jews in particular. A lot of the people I admire most in the world and world history were Jewish.

          But it’s insane to not realize the Israelis have done some fucked up stuff. A lot of it is “because they had to,” from their perspective at least. But fucked up none the less.

          The alternative to accepting that people can be fine with Jews while still disliking Israeli policies, or indeed general actions of the Jewish community in other countries even, is to believe that Jews can literally NEVER do anything wrong. Ever.

          I think we all know that’s silly.

  15. Eh, I suspect it’s less about the intricacies of evangelical theology – those seem quite flexible these days.

    It’s just partisan bedfellows. Bibi has cozied up with the right wing, and so the conservative side of evangelism has reciprocated. Don’t count on anything steadfast.

    It’s what the Founders were worried about – church got into politics, church became about rationalizing politics into their faith.

    1. I agree this is mostly clingers clinging to clingers.

      Over time, the clingers tend to lose, but sticking together helps them delay the tide of progress.

  16. “Another important finding is that there is less support toward Israel among young evangelicals (ages 18–29).”

    Ouch – that has to hurt.

    1. I suggest you show the young evangelicals a few hours of Palestinian TV, and they will change their minds.

  17. ‘If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.’

    1. And if you repeat this idiocy you have neither.

      1. What do you mean? Of course you can organize your entire philosophy around a bumper sticker slogan.

  18. Israel is where the second coming is to occur. There’s your pro-Israel part. And no, evangelicals are not against Jews or wish to see their destruction. In fact, Evangelicals absolutely support all Jews who accept Christ as their savior. The rest are all going to Hell. That certainly counts as a form of “pro-Jew,” I suppose.

  19. Interesting how impervious to evidence preexisting prejudices are. Me: here’s an empirical study showing that most evangelicals are both pro-Israel and have a favorable opinion of Jews. Commenters: great, let me take this opportunity to reassert my preexisting belief that evangelicals hate Jews.

    1. Hmm, are you convinced by every survey you read? ‘Cause if so I’ve got a few to present to you, if you are skeptical are you therefore ‘impervious to evidence [because of] preexisting prejudices?’

    2. Actually what I see here is a comment section filled with different definitions of what hating Jews mean.

      You say it means answering a survey question. Other people are pointing to political and theological beliefs that don’t sound very pro-Jew.

      It’s a debate over definitions. Anti-semitism is often hard to define, because it comes in both overt and subtle shadings.

      1. I think this is a good point.

        I find it hard to think that someone is “pro-Jewish” if they think that Jews are going to hell because they don’t share that individual’s belief.

        Sure, the individual may well wish Jews no harm, and even hold Jews, individually or in general, in high regard. Still, there is an uncomfortable undercurrent there that rouses suspicions. It is hard not to see that view as tending towards supporting theocracy, or at least clear government favoritism for Christian beliefs. That’s not good for the Jews.

        1. “if they think that Jews are going to hell because they don’t share that individual’s belief.” If they *Only* think Jews are going to Hell, that’s a problem. If they think 80% of the population is going to Hell, including Jews, that’s not a problem. It just isn’t, because they are going to Hell not because they are Jews, because they aren’t Baptists (or whatever). There is a huge difference between “Jews are specifically damned because (e.g.) they are the ones whom Jesus originally preached to, and they rejected him, making them and their descendants damned so long as they don’t accept him” and “everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus in a way I find proper is going to Hell. And yes, since you asked, that includes Jews.

          1. If they *Only* think Jews are going to Hell, that’s a problem. If they think 80% of the population is going to Hell, including Jews, that’s not a problem.

            In the US, until recent decades, the main non-Christian faith Christians were likely to run into was Judaism. Even today, Jews are about one third of those with non-Christian faiths. So to the extent this affects attitudes towards non-Christians, it would have primarily affected attitudes towards Jews.

            And of course attitudes that tend toward Christian theocratic political views do affect Jews, even if they also affect other non-Christians. It’s possible to do things that negatively impact more than one group.

            Is someone who hates Jews and Hindus not an antisemite?

            1. There is a long evangelical history of evangelicals claiming Catholics, Mormons, and others, including other evangelicals are doomed to Hell. Plus, if you read memoirs of southern small town Jewish life, there was some antisemitism, but nothing like the memoirs of life in the Northeast with Jewish kids being chased and beaten up daily by Irish Catholic thugs.

              1. Yes, there is, but it’s not clear to me what your point is here.

                Note that I’m not claiming evangelicals want to beat up Jews or anything like that. The ones I’ve known, and I’ve known a lot, having lived a long time in the Bible belt, are mostly decent people, in the same proportions as non-evangelicals.

                My problem is more with the implications of their beliefs than with their individual attitudes.

            2. Yeah, most hardcore Christians would be just as apt to say I’m going to hell as some Jewish person is. They would also likely hold a strict religious Jew in higher regard than me since some of the things I do tend to be frowned on by religious folks.

              I think trying to turn everything into antisemitism is a bad road to go down, and often people take it to the point of ridiculousness. Casually thinking somebody isn’t following the right spiritual path does not mean you HATE said person, or said group of people. You might feel sorry for them for not seeing the light, but that isn’t hate.

              Calling them Christ killers and wanting to pogrom their asses for killing Jesus… That would be hate. I don’t tend to see much of that around these days.

    3. Yeah, you are well known for rising above the partisan narrative, Prof. Bernstein.

      Your confirmation bias didn’t confirm for everyone. That you find this proof everyone else are the ones pushing a preferred narrative is more telling about you than them.

      1. I would be somewhat more charitable. Bernstein has right-leaning and libertarian friends, and they are, of cousre, not anti-Semites. He probably knows some evangelical Christians, including some who may believe Jews are going to hell, but they don’t apply that in their personal lives, it’s just a far off religious belief. Plus, he appreciates the support for Israel policies he favors from evangelicals.

        So he wants to believe the best about them. Which I totally understand.

        We have a similar one happening on the left. All the evidence is that there’s significant homophobia in segments of the black community, that it is longstanding and well known, and that it hurts Pete Buttigieg in states like South Carolina. James Clyburn, of the Congressional Black Caucus, has talked about it. Yet if you look at the discourse of many Extremely Online liberals, they go to great lengths to deny it. They don’t want to believe that valuable members of their coalition, people whose rights are a priority to them, hold offensive views about gay men. So they find ways to not believe it.

        1. Homophobia. There is that word. Saying that someone doesn’t believe in a man putting his sexual organ in another man does not mean that a phobia exists. A part of winning a debate is to not let the other side set the terms of the debate. All this is for another thread.

      2. You should learn the difference b/n proof and evidence.

        1. You being Sarcastro. For Dylan, it’s the inability of people to understand that from a theological perspective, believing someone isnt saved doesn’t mean you think he is bad or evil. There is no contradiction b/n saying “I don’t think Jews are saved” and “I have personal warm feelings toward Jews.” Plus, for a lot of people,if you disagree with a groupon politics, they must be bad on all issues. So if you think evangelicals are a negative, reactionary political force, they must also be antisemitic. Amazingly enough, things are much more complicated Han all good vs all evil.

          1. There is no contradiction b/n saying “I don’t think Jews are saved” and “I have personal warm feelings toward Jews.”

            Nah. The contradiction there, and the cognitive dissonance it creates, has been used to break down anti-whatever beliefs for all of human history. It’s a lot harder to believe that someone you like is going to Hell then someone you have no “warm feelings” towards.

            1. Because I understand how I am biased for people I like and against those I do not, given both have the same belief I disagree with, I do not use that disagreement to state one is going to hell and the other is not. That would be illogical. Based on my calculus of it, it would be excluded as a basis for taking a position in support of or against.

              1. Congratulations then, you are a superior being.

                And being a superior being, you should recognize that few humans separate their biases from their reasoning as you do.

            2. The Prof. is right, and you’re wrong Escher.

              I am not religious… Yet I really tend to like most conservative Christians in MOST ways. Ways that don’t involve their uptightness based on scripture.

              I think they’re dumbasses in some of those regards. But it doesn’t change the fact that generally speaking I like them. For a bible thumper they have the exact opposite process. I’m not good on the uptight stuff, but am otherwise pretty awesome. They probably think I’m going to hell, but they still like me personally, and agree with me on many things. It’s not that hard to understand, nor is it even contradictory or cognitive dissidence. It’s nuanced thinking, not wrong thinking.

              1. “I think they’re dumbasses in some of those regards. But it doesn’t change the fact that generally speaking I like them.”

                I like them, generally, too… I just don’t want them to be a in a position where they get to make decisions for me… and I react poorly to the ones who try to achieve such positions.

                1. Yeah I’m not too keen on dumb laws either, like no selling booze on Sundays or whatever… But in the grand scheme of things, I’ll take an authoritarian bible thumper any day over a progressive.

                  They’re both killjoys on some stuff, but the bible thumpers are more laid back on a lot of important stuff (like gun rights), and even some of their authoritarian impulses are at least functional and not completely counter productive.

                  Strongly encouraging lifelong marriages may be stifling in some situations, but it creates positive overall results for most people and the nation at large. Encouraging broken homes and welfare dependency doesn’t do ANYBODY any good. That kind of shit.

                  So if it’s between Billy Graham and Bernie Sanders, I’ll go with Graham, despite both of them pissing me off a lot.

              2. It’s not that hard to understand, nor is it even contradictory or cognitive dissidence. It’s nuanced thinking, not wrong thinking.

                I never called anything “wrong thinking”, I pointed out that humans aren’t good at thinking their friends are going to Hell.

                And whataya know, as Americans have become more religiously integrated, far fewer Americans say that people from the wrong church are going to Hell, far more think you can be a righteous sinner, fewer think you can’t be good without God, and so-on. For that matter, fewer people have a problem with inter-religious marriages, more people think you can be faithful without a church, and so-on.

                The more people positively mix, and associate, with folks from other religions, the more they cherry-pick to avoid and soften the condemnations of other religions.

                This isn’t conjecture, this is history. Thinking these changes in religious thinking stopped right when you got to your views, whatever they are, is absurd.

                1. My point was merely that it is not a 100% thing. Maybe all that stuff makes it easier for most people or whatever, but I’m pretty sure plenty of people are able to deal with it just fine. My super religious aunt and uncle don’t hassle me none too much, and I suspect if they thought about it they’d conclude I’m going to hell.

                  1. My point was merely that it is not a 100% thing.

                    Then you’re arguing against a claim that wasn’t made.

                    Here’s a hint: whenever people are talking about psychological principles and theories, there are no absolutes, just trend-lines.

  20. The most important bit of information I gleaned from the study, however, is that by far the strongest correlate of evangelical support for Israel was their opinion of Jews.

    I’m not sure this is quite accurate.

    It’s true that this is the variable with the highest statistical significance, at p < .001, but that is not the same thing as being the "strongest" correlate. The coefficients for several other variables are much larger and also statistically significant (p < .05).

    It also has the highest odds ratio, but then again, the variable has only four possible values, while others have as many as seven. I'm not familiar enough with this procedure to know how much that matters, if at all, but it seems to me that it might.

    There is also substantial correlation among the independent variables here, which can introduce problems as well.

  21. Humans are not good at maintaining cognitive dissonance.

    So simply put, if a person starts with two contradictory beliefs, say “non-(the-right-sort-of)-Chrsitians are going to Hell” and “Jewish folk can be my moral and philosophical peers”, then over time they will compromise one or both of those beliefs in order to solve the cognitive dissonance.

    This human trait, that we aren’t good at cognitive dissonance, explains a lot of social/cultural change in the US. Israel being a major ally to America has always been accompanied by lower levels of antisemitism (compare to pre-WWII, when we set limits to how many Jewish immigrants we’d accept from Germany). Women’s first entrance into the professional tiers of the workforce faced a lot of resistance, but it opened doors because once an office had one competent woman professional, it was harder for the dudes to say a woman couldn’t e a competent professional. LGBT acceptance largely stems from “come out, come out, wherever you are” for the same reason: once you know people that are actually gay, it’s hard to think we’re inherently bad people.

    All of which leads to folk compromising the part of their religions that claimed all these folks are “bad” or “sinners” and so-on, because if Joe down the hall is an OK fellow, how can he be Hell-bound?

    So yeah, if someone sincerely tells you they think you’re going to Hell, don’t expect fair treatment. Maybe eventually they’ll get around to editing out that part of their religion (whereupon they’ll deny ever taking it seriously), but until they do, they aren’t going to treat you fairly or like an equal, because they don’t think you’re an equal.

    1. “All of which leads to folk compromising the part of their religions that claimed all these folks are “bad” or “sinners” and so-on, because if Joe down the hall is an OK fellow, how can he be Hell-bound?”

      As a Christian, I believe we are all sinners. Christ said there are no good people, only God is good. It is not my duty as a Christian to judge them. Work and business relationships are professional and nothing more. Being gay or a woman should not be factored into the equation as a discriminator as only performance and other factors be discriminators. My issue is when my Christian faith is used as a discriminator to deprive me of opportunity due to litmus test inquisitions in the work place to out the “intolerant (Christian)”. One may freely display their support for LGBT rights and community support within their workspace, but Christians cannot and in many business workplaces, it is forbidden.

      1. Work and business relationships are professional and nothing more. Being gay or a woman should not be factored into the equation as a discriminator as only performance and other factors be discriminators.

        Yes, that’s the ideal.

        Don’t deceive yourself into thinking it has ever been the reality.

    2. As I said above, I don’t believe there is any cognitive dissonance.

      Christians believe we’re all flawed, but most will accept that it is to varied degrees. As I said above I mostly like Christians more than irreligious prog idiots, but I think some parts of their religion are silly. I have no problem with keeping this straight in my head, and from personal experience my friends/family that are religious don’t seem to have many issues in reverse.

      There are always the extreme zealots, and they have a problem with it. But that’s not most folks.

      1. You know what? Go for it. I bet you’re immune to propaganda and advertising too.

        1. Uhhh, well, compared to most people I am.

          Everybody is flawed and some stuff gets through to them… But I have VERY unorthodox viewpoints on a lot of stuff specifically because I follow the facts, even when they lead me to places I REALLY don’t like.

          I do most of my shopping based on specs and objective facts about products too. When a company actually makes a quality product, their brand making it might factor in… Like saaay Redwing boots. Because they REALLY do make some of the best damn boots on earth. But glitzy ads by some shit company like Lugz do not sway me to buy their crap products.

          I am a freak though. Most people aren’t as cold/logical in their thought process as I am… But most people aren’t as irrational on this subject as you seem to think either IMO.

          1. […] I follow the facts […]

            Then crack open an Introduction to Psychology book, because you’re doing a lot of foot-stamping and saying “nuh-uh” instead of doing so.

  22. Regardless of why evangelicals support Israel, I think anyone supporting any policy should have a better reason for it than “because my religion says so”.

    1. You’re dealing with people who genuinely perceive “just because” to be a legitimate argument, though. Not just legitimate, but indeed compelling, if not perfect.

      Childish, credulous people.

  23. Prof. Bernstein said: Interesting how impervious to evidence preexisting prejudices are. Me: here’s an empirical study showing that most evangelicals are both pro-Israel and have a favorable opinion of Jews…”

    Prof. Bernstein, thank you for your post and followup comments.
    The vast majority of evangelical Christians that I know or have talked to (and I have lived in many places, from Alaska to Key West), believe just as you say.

    The comments are full of misstatement of mainstream evangelical thought. Mainstream belief is that there is only one God. God is God, Jesus is God, God is Jesus. Religious Jewish people (as opposed to cultural secular Jews) already believe in God and Gods omnipotence. Most evangelicals that I know believe that when the second coming happens, the vast majority of believers (Jew or Christian) and many unbelievers will recognize and understand Gods true message and be saved.

    Nowhere in the new testament does it say that if a Jew understands and accepts Gods message, they stop being Jewish. Additionally, none of the evangelicals I know or have talked to believe that we as Christians have any proactive part in the second coming of Christ. It will happen in Gods time and in a manner God chooses.

    Mainstream evangelicals believe that Israel was given to the Jews by God, and a Jewish Israel is part of Gods plan. That enough knowledge for most evangelicals to support Israel and the Jewish people from a religious point of view.

    1. Thanks for stating so articulately what I believe as well. I could not have said it better.

    2. “Mainstream evangelicals believe that Israel was given to the Jews by God.” And mainstream Muslims believe that Palestine, including the current State of Israel, was given to them by Allah. So we’re at an impasse over whose imaginary friends should be in charge of American foreign policy, and the First Amendment forbids government policy makers to resolve the issue.

      I am more supportive of Israel than not, though not nearly to the extent Professor Bernstein is. But wherever one lands on that question, it should be based on what is in the best interests of the United States, and not on someone’s religious views.

      1. Therein lies the problem… Appeasing 1 billion + Muslims is obviously a far better call strategically… But, but, but what about the poor Jews??? Everybody feels bad for the Jews because of various shitty historical things. So we’re torn between trying to be nice to the kid who got bullied in school, and doing the smart thing. Therein lies the problem.

        1. The point becomes more complex when the victim of bullying becomes a bully.

          And when support for substandard conduct becomes a left-right divider in American politics, the former victim should prepare to operate without American skirts to hide behind.

          1. Holy flying fuck… I actually kind of agree with you on one, single thing. That’s crazy.

            Yeah, Israel has turned into a bully. And in a way I almost understand why… They’re kind of playing by prison rules. They’re surrounded by countries that hate them, that if they really ganged up could probably kick their ass… So they feel the need to act all crazy and fuck people up to prove how tough they are, so the other guys don’t fuck with them.

            So I get that… But it doesn’t mean it’s right or whatever. And it especially doesn’t mean I want my tax dollars paying for it. If we didn’t back them to the hilt and they could still pull off all their bully shit, well fine. That’s all on them. But I don’t want to support that.

        2. Do you believe most Muslims spend part of their day worrying about the fate of the Palestinians? Most Muslims are not Arabs.

          1. Every day? Of course not. But it’s an issue that always flairs up periodically.

            Palestinians aren’t Arabs themselves! Nor are Pakis. But most of them seem to be pretty nonplussed on Israel.

            Either way it’s a pretty major issue in the ME, even if Indonesian Muslims gave no fucks.

      2. Krychek_2 Said: “…But wherever one lands on that question, it should be based on what is in the best interests of the United States, and not on someone’s religious views.”

        Please reread the last sentence of my post where I said “from a religious point of view.”

        Most reasonable people have the ability to separate their religious points of view from their political, and act accordingly at the ballot box. This is how so many evangelicals voted for trump. It was not a religious decision.

        Yes there is normally a strong overlap between the two, but for most evangelicals that I know, religion is religion, and politics is politics.

        For example most right to life supporters that I know base their view on the inherent responsibility of the government and people to protect innocent life. That is a political stance.

        The new testament is not a guide book on how our government or non believers should act, it’s a guide book on how believers in Christ should act. Christianity unlike some other mainstream religions, does not prescribe any form of government, neither does it require believers to stay out of politics, or prioritize support for their government when it’s appropriate.

        1. Just Another Face, of course “Christian” takes up a lot of territory and Christians are not a monolithic unit. And probably no two Trump voters voted for him for precisely the same set of reasons (though there is a lot of overlap).

          All that stipulated to, there are plenty of Christians out there who *do* think that government should be the enforcer of their religious views, and it is to those people my comments were addressed. And that includes support for Israel. There’s a comment on this very comment thread that essentially says God gave the land to Israel and that settles the question. I actually heard one of them explain it thusly: The purpose of the church is to set policy, and the purpose of the state is to carry it out, by force if necessary.

          And that’s even before we get to people who claim to support policies based on non-religious criteria, but who are simply rationalizing away what is actually their faith talking. Yeah, I can make secular arguments against allowing gay marriage, but I’ll guarantee you the lion’s share of the opposition to it was religious. Ditto abortion. And ditto support for Israel.

        2. Most reasonable people have the ability to separate their religious points of view from their political, and act accordingly at the ballot box.

          Assumes facts not in evidence and not supported by history.

          Alternatively, only supportable with an aggressive deployment of “No True Scotsman”.

        3. I disagree, but maybe it’s semantics. Evangelicals said of Trump that he was not their cup of tea but was better than the other option.

    3. Most evangelicals that I know believe that when the second coming happens, the vast majority of believers (Jew or Christian) and many unbelievers will recognize and understand Gods true message and be saved.

      Have you met this guy?

      He and Trump are big pals, by the way.

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