Dramatic Decrease of Israel Supporters Among Young Evangelicals

The Center for the Study of the United States (CSUS) at TAU has presented new data about the declining support of Evangelicals toward Israel

12 February 2024
Dramatic Decrease of Evangelical Supporters of Israel
Support for Israel among young evangelicals has dropped by more than half in just three years

Since the 1980s Evangelicals have been one of the most reliable sources of political support for Israel in the United States. This had a profound effect on American foreign policy and contributed to the deepening ties between the United States and Israel ever since. However, recent data suggests that younger Evangelicals today may not necessarily share in the “fervent embrace” of Israel that has characterized earlier generations. In a series of in-depth public opinion surveys conducted between 2018 and 2021, and released in a new book, Prof. Motti Inbari (UNC-Pembroke) and Dr. Kirill Bumin (BU) demonstrate the transforming nature of American evangelical attitudes towards Israel.


Today, nearly half of young American evangelicals (under 30) support neither Israel nor the Palestinians (42.2%). In 2018, for reference, this figure stood at 25% while support for Israel was more than two-thirds (68.9%) – over twice as many as in 2021. As late as 2021, only 33.6% of young evangelicals conveyed support for Israel while 24.3% supported the Palestinians.


Recent Survey Shows Dramatic Decrease of Young Evangelical Supporters of Israel.


This suggests a major drop in pro-Israel feelings in just three years. Simultaneously, a stark increase in support for the Palestinians is evident: if in 2018 only a little over 5% of young American evangelicals supported Palestinians, in 2021 that number quadrupled to reach 24.3%, as mentioned before.


Why Are younger Evangelicals turning away from Israel?

In their book, 'Christian Zionism in the Twenty-First Century: American Evangelical Opinion on Israel', Prof. Motti Inbari (UNC Pembroke) and Dr. Kirill Bumin (BU) reveal the changing nature of Evangelical support for Israel. “The current young generation of American evangelicals grew up in a very different informational environment than their parents and grandparents. While the older generations have witnessed Israel’s struggles existing in a hostile Middle East, for the younger generation, Israel is portrayed as the aggressor while the Palestinians are victims,” says Motti Inbari. “Also, young Americans receive their information from different channels than older Americans, relying mostly on social media rather than traditional media. These factors have created ‘a perfect storm’ where the different generations of evangelicals hold different views on many social and political matters, including Israel.” However, Inbari calls for caution: “As situations change and as people age, their opinions might be swayed in other directions, and only time will tell if these trends will become mainstream evangelical opinions.” Inbari further suggests that “What we see with young evangelicals might reflect a sort of youthful rebellion, where the under 30 evangelicals are defying their parents’ politics, rallying against the evangelical establishment and its decade-long support for Israel.”


How Does Social Media Affect This New Generation?

Kirill Bumin, who co-authored the study, emphasizes the changing nature of evangelical theology: “Almost seven out of ten evangelical and born-again young evangelicals that we surveyed in Spring 2021 adhere to the postmillennial (the theological doctrine that the second coming of Christ will occur after the millennium) and amillennial (the denial that an earthly millennium of universal righteousness and peace will either precede or follow the second advent of Jesus Christy) theological views, which see the Jewish people and the state of Israel as no longer necessary in the fulfillment of God’s plan for the second coming of Jesus Christ and the end times,” Bumin says. He points to the generational differences among pastors as indicative of the changing trends. “Our survey shows that pastors who adhere to the most pro-Israel theology, called premillennialism, are older and less diverse than pastors who adhere to the amillennial and postmillennial theological views, which see the Jewish people and the State of Israel as no longer important for God’s plan for the second coming of Christ and the end times,” Bumin explains. “Many young evangelicals probably seek out pastors that are younger, more ‘hip,’ more like them, and, as a result, it is quite likely that under-30 evangelicals are exposed to both inhospitable media environment which paints Israel as the aggressor and eschatological traditions that assign little theological importance to the contemporary Jewish people or the State of Israel.”


Dr. Yoav Fromer, head of The Center for the Study of the United States (CSUS) at Tel Aviv University which is organizing the event, warns of the potential strategic ramifications for the future of U.S.-Israel relations. “This should be a wake-up call for Israeli policymakers. For decades, consecutive Israeli governments – especially under Benjamin Netanyahu – have taken for granted the Evangelical support and neglected other groups within American society, including Jewish Americans,” says Dr. Fromer. “Now, as younger generations of Evangelicals appear to be turning away, Israel must seek to cultivate new sources of popular support among some of the fastest-growing demographic groups in America – like Hispanics and Asian Americans. If they don’t do this, and fast, in 10-20 years when Israel finds itself in need of emergency American aid, there might not be anyone there to offer it.”

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