A new survey found declining support among younger American Evangelical Christians for Israel, suggesting a growing generational gap within one of the Jewish state’s most fervent backers in the United States.
According to the poll, which was released Monday, over three-quarters of Evangelicals aged 65 and older hold a “positive” view of Israel. That number steadily drops among younger age groups before bottoming out at 58 percent among Evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 34.
The same trend was evident when respondents were asked whether “Christians should support Israel’s defense of itself from terrorists and foreign enemies,” with 83% of those 65 and older agreeing, compared to 66% among 19-34 year-olds.
Younger Evangelicals were also less likely to oppose a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Only a quarter of 18-34 year-olds expressed opposition in contrast to 36% among the 50-64 age group and 34% among those 65 and older.
Despite only 23% of Evangelicals supporting a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, 59% of the poll’s respondents said Israel should do more to “love and care” for the Palestinians. That sentiment was highest among 18-34 year-olds, with two-thirds expressing agreement.
The study included 2,002 respondents and was conducted by the Christian group LifeWay Research on behalf of Messianic group Chosen People Ministries and evangelical author Joel Rosenberg.
Mitch Glaser, the president of Chosen People Ministries, said while he was encouraged by Evangelicals’ high overall level of backing for Israel, the drop in support among younger Evangelicals is a cause for concern.
“I am concerned for the obvious decline in support for Israel among millennial followers of Jesus, who either do not know what they believe or do not seem to care,” he said.
Echoing Glaser, Rosenberg warned support for Israel could continue to decline as younger evangelicals make up an increasingly larger share of the group.
“Unless the church gives younger believers a healthy, balanced, solidly biblical understanding of God’s love and plan for Israel, overall Evangelical support for the Jewish state could very well plummet over the next decade as millennials represent an ever-larger percentage of the overall church body,” said Glaser.