U.S. Christians overwhelmingly back two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Most say they have not heard viewpoints on Gaza war from their church leaders
Most American self-described Christians want to see Hamas subdued as well as a negotiated end to the Israel-Hamas war, a survey released this week by Lifeway Research found. And a strong majority agree that people living in the region have the right to determine their own statehood and government: 88 percent so in the case of Israelis, and 74 percent for Palestinians.
The survey also found that a minority of American Christians are aware of their church leadership voicing support for either side in the war. And less than half (45 percent) said that prayers for peace in Israel and/or Jerusalem have occurred in their churches, although 66 percent of the frequent church attenders were aware of such prayers.
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Lifeway is an evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect churches. The survey on the Israel-Gaza conflict was sponsored by The Philos Project, which describes itself as a “community of Christian leaders who advocate for pluralism in the Near East.” The survey was performed online of 1,252 self-described Christians and was conducted Nov. 14-21 using a national pre-recruited panel. Although the survey did provide details about the differences between Catholic, Protestant/nondenominational and Orthodox Christians, there was no breakdown specifically of evangelical Christians, who tend to be more strongly pro-Israel.
Most surveyed said they have followed the war closely (44 percent) or have heard several updates (42 percent). Most (64 percent) seemed to be aware of the most basic facts of the war’s beginning, that Hamas attacked Israel, killing civilians and taking hostages. But only about half knew (52 percent) other facts vital to understanding the war, such as that Hamas is backed by Iran or that Israeli bombing has killed thousands of civilians.
Of the four options in the survey about ways to end in the war, most chose options involving negotiations and/or the subduing of Hamas:
29 percent: Israel and Hamas negotiate an enduring cease fire that results in the release of hostages
26 percent: Israel subdues Hamas and resumes negotiations with other Palestinian leaders on a permanent political solution to disagreements
15 percent: Israel subdues Hamas and establishes long-term security over and control of Gaza
12 percent: Israel subdues Hamas and consolidates civil and military control over both Gaza and the West Bank
3 percent: None of the above
15 percent: Not sure
A significant number of Christians said that the Bible (27 percent) influences their opinion about Israel, and 17 percent said it was the biggest influence. Most (56 percent) said the media influence their opinion about Israel, and a plurality (44 percent) said the media were the biggest influence.
For the long term, a clear majority of self-described Christians favor a two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine are self-governing with national borders respected by all: Almost half (46 percent) strongly agree with that view, and 35 percent somewhat agree. Opponents of a two-state solution total 11 percent with 9 percent not sure.
As to what has occurred in their churches, small totals of Christians said there has been condemnation for the killing of civilians (18 percent) or for the Hamas massacre (15 percent). Smaller numbers said church leaders have called for standing on Israel’s side (10 percent) or with Palestinian Christians (9 percent).