A recent survey, part of a multi-year research project measuring American Christian attitudes toward Jews, Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, shows that support for Israel among evangelicals is mostly based on age and biblical knowledge and hasn’t been substantively impacted by the current Hamas-Israel war in Gaza.

The comparative study, which concurrently examines sentiment across mainline, evangelical and Catholic communities, finds that a belief that “God’s covenant with the Jewish people remains intact today” has the greatest impact on support for Israel among a number of potential political, theological, sociological, and demographic factors considered in the study. If a respondent professes this belief, the likelihood that this person strongly supports Israel increases almost threefold (180 percent).

The second most influential justification across mainline, evangelical and Catholic communities is rooted in history rather than theology, with those who believe “Jews need a state of their own after the Holocaust” being 122 percent more likely to support Israel in the current war strongly. Specific to evangelicals, the study compares three different periods over the last six years (2018, 2021 and 2024), revealing that overall, evangelical support for Israel remains stable from 2021 to 2024, though earlier surveys did show a sharp decline in evangelical support for Israel between 2018 and 2021.

There was a decrease in the number of evangelicals viewing Israel in a traditional biblical context, including a decrease in the number of evangelicals agreeing with the idea of the Abrahamic Covenant. There was also a decrease in core evangelical behavior, like attending church and reading the Bible. Past studies have shown that these religious practices increase support for Israel. The current conflict generates a negative view of Palestinians and Muslims. The comparative research shows a decrease in the image of Muslims, a decrease in support for an independent Palestinian state and a larger blame for Palestinians in the conflict.

A large segment blamed both sides in both the 2021 and 2024 wars in Gaza. In 2024, more evangelicals are saying they have some knowledge of the conflict compared with 2021, which researchers attribute to more news coverage of Israel in recent months. Specific to Catholics, the survey found that Catholics are the least supportive of Jewish interests and causes and display the highest support for antisemitic tropes among the three surveyed groups.  Their views remained stable between 2022 and 2024, meaning that the current crisis has not substantively altered Catholic opinions.

While mainline denominations have been active in supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, with the United Methodist Church passing a fresh resolution at this summer’s General Conference,  the 2024 survey shows that 80 percent of mainline attendees have never even heard of the BDS movement and only seven percent support it.  As the researchers recently shared in a Religion News Service op-ed, the views of the mainline clergy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are out-of-sync with the views of the congregants. Recent college protests reflect findings of generational fissures in the American public. The research shows that the age of the respondent is a highly significant variable in explaining attitudes toward Israel, even after accounting for potential political, religious, cultural, and other demographic explanations.

Older respondents are most supportive of Israel, even in comparison to the 65 and older respondents, who are also ardent supporters of Israel. Additionally, statistical analysis shows that under-30 respondents are 47 percent less likely to express strong support for Israel than older respondents. The only age group for which the researchers did not find statistically significant effects is the 30-49-year-old cohort.

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