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Will Evangelical Conference Blame Israel?

"Exclusively faulting Israel is neither evangelical nor socially just." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Evangelical left activists are preparing to convene a conference on Middle East peace.

"Impact: Holy Land," meeting December 4-6 at the Friends Center in Philadelphia, PA, will include leading evangelicals from the U.S., ostensibly gathering around relationship building and discussion.

Major U.S. speakers at the December 4-6 event include evangelist Tony Campolo (former spiritual counselor to Bill Clinton), Chicago megachurch co-founder Lynne Hybels of Willow Creek Church, and popular religious campus anti-war activist Shane Claiborne of The Simple Way in Philadelphia. Palestinian Melkite Catholic Archbishop Elias Chacour will also speak.

Polling of American evangelicals reveals they are overwhelmingly pro-Israel. Citing not just theological reasons, evangelicals note Israel is a pro-American and liberal democratic government, offering tolerance to religious minorities, including Christians. Meanwhile, most of Israel's neighbors offer far less freedom.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

    "Exclusively faulting Israel is neither evangelical nor socially just.

    "Evangelicals across the political spectrum should agree that Israel has a right to live in safety. Any real peace must include Palestinians and others in the Middle East sincerely accepting and respecting Israel's permanent existence as a homeland for the Jewish people.

    "Christians who encourage Palestinian grievance and victim-hood only perpetuate suffering for the people they say they want to help.

    "Hopefully this 'Impact: Holy Land' event will not demonize Israel, overtly or subtly, and instead open eyes to the Middle East as it really is."

The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church's biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad.