Columnist Sara Weinberger: Christian Zionism no friend

Sara Weinberger

Sara Weinberger


Published: 06-16-2024 8:59 PM

Nearly 300,000 people attended the March for Israel rally last Nov. 14. Although no Jewish clergy spoke at the largest pro-Israel event in U.S. history, Televangelical Pastor John Hagee, was an invited speaker. Hagee is the senior pastor of a 22,000 member evangelical church in San Antonio, Texas. He is also the founder and national chairman of Christians United for Israel, better known as CUFI, the largest Christian Zionist lobby in the U.S. Ariel, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, named a building in its sports and recreation complex The John Hagee Building, after the man who donated $1.5 million for the project. Addressing the mostly Jewish throngs, he proclaimed, “I am here to deliver a single message: Israel, you are not alone,” leading his audience in chanting, “We (Christians and Jews) are one,” and “Israel lives.”

While many cheered him on, others, aware of his reputation for antisemitic statements, were dismayed by Hagee’s inclusion in the program. In his book, “Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World,” Hagee interprets Jeremiah 16:16, “But now I will send for many fishermen” declares the LORD, “and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks.” According to Hagee, “Herzl and his fellow Zionists were God’s fishermen, calling the sons and daughters of Abraham home. Herzl was deeply disappointed that the Jews of the world did not respond in greater numbers.”

“God then sent the hunters … who pursues (sic) his target with force and fear … the force and fear of Hitler’s Nazis drove the Jewish people back to the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have — Israel.” Hagee blamed Jewish victims for not following Herzl’s dream of settling in Israel. Hagee also referred to President Obama as “one of the most antisemitic presidents in the history of the United States of America.” He blamed the “sin” of gay pride parades for causing Hurricane Katrina. John McCain, who relied on Hagee as his most influential Christian right supporter, ultimately cut him off.

Why then would the rally organizers choose Pastor John Hagee, an antisemite, to be the sole clergy addressing thousands grieving the most violent event against Jews since the Holocaust?

What is the basis of the lovefest that Christian Zionists like Hagee have with Israel? Here’s a clue: It’s not about the welfare of the Jewish people.

According to God’s plan, the Jews must return to Israel to precipitate Jesus’ second coming, which will be preceded by seven years of tribulation, characterized by war and global suffering. At this time, all those who believe in Jesus Christ as their savior will go up to meet him, leaving the non-believers to die on earth, in the battle between good and evil, called Armageddon. Good will ultimately triumph and Christ will return to earth with his believers for a thousand year reign.

This does not sound like a plan that benefits Jews. The Christian Zionist story is slated to end with not only Israel, but all of Earth existing solely for Christians. For some, this may sound like the stuff of conspiracy theories or science fiction, but white evangelicals comprise about 14% of the U.S. population, which amounts to over 47 million people, while Jews constitute about 2% and Muslims about 1% of the U.S. population. Those 47 million evangelicals are about one third of the Republican Party base.

Clearly, Christian Zionism’s unconditional “love” for Israel is paired with hatred of Palestinians. Palestinians are considered a threat to Israel, and Christian Zionism “is by far the largest movement supporting authoritarian policies in the Israeli government outside of Israel…” (Orly, Brenneman) Palestinians who advocate for their civil rights are demonized. In the U.S., college presidents and public school leaders have been attacked by Republicans at congressional hearings with accusations of supporting antisemitism by allowing pro-Palestinian protests.

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So why do progressives vilify AIPAC, while remaining silent about Christian Zionists, who have more money, members, and power? Compared to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) 100,000 members, Christians United For Israel (CUFI), claims a membership of 10 million, and has provided financial support to the Israeli government for weapons and settlements for decades.

Evangelical Christian Zionism’s influence is not limited to Israel. Christian nationalists, like House Speaker Mike Johnson seek to erase the separation of church and state in the U.S. to create a theocracy. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said in an interview, “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists,” while Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert has declared, “The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church.” Unsurprisingly, Christian Zionists support other aspects of a right-wing agenda that is homophobic, transphobic, misogynist, xenophobic, and racist. Trump, during his presidency, placated his Christian Zionist base with actions like moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, saying, “That’s for the evangelicals.” and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

The Israeli government has made a naive and dangerous pact with Christians United for Israel, that will ultimately advance the White Christian nationalist agenda. Evangelical Christians often feel positively about Israel, but are unaware of the alarming factors associated with Christian Zionism. The presence and influence of Christian Zionism has gone global, yet progressives are ignoring the threats it poses to democracy.

Sara Weinberger of Easthampton is a professor emerita of social work and writes a monthly column. She can be reached at