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Forward Magazine: American Jews like Muslims more than Evangelicals

Christian Zionists. Photo from Forward Magazine.

Forward Magazine is the largest Jewish publication in the world. The magazine dropped a bombshell in their new issue. Support for Israel by America’s Evangelical Christians is a one way street. According the Public Religion Research Institute, American Jews like Muslims better than they like Evangelical Christians. This is in spite of the fact that Evangelicals are overwhelmingly pro-Israel.

Forward magazine explains that Jewish hostility towards Evangelical Christians is motivated by politics. Most Evangelicals are conservative, while most Jews are liberal.

From Forward…

Over time, the organized Jewish community began to warm up to evangelicals — in part, he believes, because of his group’s financial support to Jewish organizations. “When we started giving to the Jewish Agency [for Israel] and the [American Jewish] Joint [Distribution Committee], the Jewish community’s attitude began to change,” Eckstein said in a telephone interview from Israel.

Eckstein recalled being chastised for bringing televangelist Jerry Falwell to his synagogue 32 years ago, but later he officially represented the State of Israel at Falwell’s 2007 funeral. “Evangelicals went from being a pariah to becoming accepted,” he said.

This acceptance, however, has not penetrated the liberal Jewish circles or the broader Jewish community, all of which still view friendship to Israel as second in importance to shared social values. “There is a small segment of the Jewish population that loves evangelicals because evangelicals love Israel,” said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington religious affairs think tank. These Jews focus on the issue of Israel while not “buying into” other values promoted by Christian evangelicals, Cromartie said.

All research points to the sharp contrast between Jews and Christian conservative views on abortions, women rights, gay and lesbian rights, and the separation of religion and state as the key factor distancing the two communities. But David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, America’s largest evangelical pro-Israel organization, sees these issues as an excuse.

“On the social issues, there is more-or-less unanimity between Christian Conservatives, Mormons, Muslims and Orthodox Jews,” Brog argued. But it is only the Christian conservatives who are treated with mistrust by Jews — a situation caused, Brog posited, by Jewish concerns over evangelical proselytizing or adherence to the belief that the Christian faith should replace Judaism. “We in the Jewish community need to stop viewing the present through the lens of the traumatic past,” he said.

While praising Jewish organizations and federations for welcoming Christian evangelicals, Brog pointed to the Reform movement as leading the opposing views. Eckstein spoke generally about liberal Jews who “are concerned about tikkun olam [repairing the world]” more than about Israel, as those who still refuse to trust evangelicals as partners.

According to the polling data (American Jews, conducted in March):

61% say they will vote to re-elect Barack Obama, up from 50% last September.
60% have a favorable view of the Democrats, while 76% have an unfavorable view of Republicans
57% believe recent immigration trends strengthens America (this number has actually been coming down)
53% believe that “ultra-Orthodox control of Israeli religious life” is a problem in Israel
93% say abortion should remain legal in all or most cases
81% support homosexual marriage
46% said “commitment to social justice” was most important quality of Jewish identity

When asked to rate Mormons, Evangelicals, and Muslims on a scale of 1-100:

66% said Muslim are “an important part of the religious community in the US”

The survey shows that 29% of American Jews are secular and 35% are Reform. These two groups are the most left-wing.