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'Christ at the Checkpoint' Looks to Chip Away at Evangelical Support for Israel
"Checkpoint represents a wider movement, mostly confined to Evangelical elites, to neutralize a key pro-Israel constituency in America." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President

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

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Some Evangelical activists are preparing a provocatively titled conference ostensibly gathering about "empowering the Palestinian church."

"Christ at the Checkpoint," meeting March 10-14 at Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank, will include several high-profile Evangelical Christians. This year's gathering includes the head of the World Evangelical Alliance, a prominent Dallas Southern Baptist pastor, the president of Oral Roberts University and a Wheaton College professor, among many others.

Polling of American evangelicals reveals they are overwhelmingly pro-Israel. Citing not just theological reasons, Evangelicals note Israel is pro-American and democratic, offering tolerance to religious minorities, including Christians. Meanwhile, most of Israel's neighbours are not.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:
    "The Checkpoint's goal is to highlight 'injustices in the Palestinian Territories' by Israel and, more centrally, to steer U.S. Evangelicals especially away from traditional friendship for Israel towards neutrality or even hostility.

    "Checkpoint represents a wider movement, mostly confined to Evangelical elites, to neutralize a key pro-Israel constituency in America, with hopes of moving the U.S. geo-strategically towards neutrality between Israel and its enemies.

    "Unfortunately, their perspective ignores the nasty reality of the Middle East, where democracy, human rights and religious liberty at largely confined to Israel and absent nearly everywhere else.

    "Israel has the only growing Christian population in the region. Exertions by Checkpoint and its allies in the wider movement to curtail Evangelical-Israel friendship does no favors for Palestinians by feeding their victimology and usually ignoring the deep issues among Palestinians that mitigate against responsible statehood.

    "Evangelicals do need a new, updated public policy perspective regarding the Middle East that stresses human rights for all people. But Checkpoint's tired old version of Liberation Theology and anti-Israel bias has little constructive to offer.

    "No doubt sincere, well-intentioned people will attend Checkpoint. But they are dangerously naïve to accept much less to promote Checkpoint's narrative."