"Christ at the Checkpoint is primarily a public relations scheme to dissuade American evangelicals from pro-Israel views." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President
Contact: Mikhail Bell, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, mbell@TheIRD.org
WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Evangelical left activists are preparing a provocatively titled conference and conflating Jesus Christ with Palestinian liberation.
"Christ at the Checkpoint," meeting March 5-9 at Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank, will include leading evangelicals from the U.S., ostensibly gathering about "empowering the Palestinian church."
Major U.S. speakers at the March 5-9 Checkpoint event include evangelist Tony Campolo (former spiritual counselor to Bill Clinton), Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter (board member of National Association of Evangelicals and spiritual counselor to President Obama), Chicago megachurch co-founder Lynne Hybels of Willow Creek Community, and popular religious campus anti-war activist Shane Claiborne of The Simple Way in Philadelphia.
Polling of American evangelicals reveals they are overwhelmingly pro-Israel. Citing not just theological reasons, evangelicals note Israel is democratic and pro-American, offering tolerance to religious minorities, including Christians. Meanwhile, most of Israel's neighbours are not.
IRD President Mark Tooley commented:
"The conference schedule seems heavy on political and social critique and very little on the topics of evangelism and discipleship that typically characterize church conferences focused on expanding the 'Kingdom of God.'
"Palestinian politicians are often accused of speaking sweetly about peace and co-existence in English to Western audiences but far more stridently in Arabic to their own constituency. Perhaps that same spirit afflicts organizers and defenders of Christ at the Checkpoint.
"This event would truly convey its desire for 'peace' and 'reconciliation' if it condemned not just evangelical and Jewish pro-Israel theologies but also critiqued Islamist theology asserting that conquered Islamic lands may never revert to non-Islamic control.
"In the mind set of many Christ at the Checkpoint organizers and speakers, a Texas Baptist who believes God still blesses the Jews is more morally culpable for Mid-East conflict than a Hamas-supporting Islamist in Nasrallah who believes Allah wants to drive the Jews into the Sea.
"Christ at the Checkpoint is primarily a public relations scheme to dissuade American evangelicals from pro-Israel views. To succeed, they will have to mount blinders on cooperatively gullible evangelicals, guiding their eyes towards disruptive Israeli checkpoints, while hiding the rest of the surrounding reality."