Overtures by US evangelicals to Arab churches tested by Trump’s Jerusalem decision.
American evangelicals rediscovered their brethren in the Middle East in recent years. The promise of the Arab Spring, followed by the threat of ISIS. Beheadings and other martyrdoms, followed by forgiveness.
Many decided we must become better friends, and work harder for the persecuted church’s flourishing in the land of its birth.
However, President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is putting that new friendship to the test, as Middle East Christian leaders have almost unanimously rallied against the decision.
Trump’s decision would “increase hatred, conflict, violence and suffering,” said the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem in a statement in advance of his anticipated announcement.
The Coptic Orthodox Church warned of “dangerous consequences.” The head of Egypt’s Protestant community said it was “against justice” and “not helpful.”
But the strongest testimony may have come from Jordan, where the national evangelical council pleaded against “uncalculated risks” that “may well expose Christians in this region to uncontrollable dangers.”
Despite these dire cries, many conservative US evangelicals rejoiced in Trump’s announcement. Support for Israel is a longstanding mark of much of the community.
“Evangelicals in the US don’t spend enough time thinking about Arab Christians,” said Joel Rosenberg, a dual US-Israeli citizen who last month led a friendship-seeking delegation of evangelical leaders to Egypt and Jordan. Many were members of Trump’s unofficial faith advisory team.
“People who love Jesus haven’t been talking to each other. But we should.” …