51% of US Evangelicals believe Jews are ‘still God’s chosen people’: poll

A man wearing a kippah waits for the start of a demonstration against anti-Semitism at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, September 14, 2014.
A man wearing a kippah waits for the start of a demonstration against anti-Semitism at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, September 14, 2014. | Reuters/Thomas Peter

Some 51% of Evangelical Protestants in the United States say they believe Jews are God’s chosen people, according to a recently released survey. 

Titled “The Jewish Connection: Evangelicals and Israel,” the findings were announced this week by Infinity Concepts, a faith-based communications agency that co-produced the report with Grey Matter Research.

Drawing from a survey of approximately 1,000 Evangelical Protestant Americans, the report found that 51% of respondents believed that Jews were still God’s chosen people.

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By contrast, 19% said they were unsure, 17% said they believe Christians have replaced Jews as the chosen people, 10% said they believe Jews were never God’s chosen people, and 2% held an “other” view.

There was a generational difference in this sentiment, with 59% of respondents who were 70 or older saying they believe Jews were still the chosen people, while only 44% of those aged 40 and below agreed.

The report measured priority status for Israel and the Jews, using a scale of 1 to 5, in which 1 meant not important while 5 meant very important.

This part of the survey found that 48% of respondents believe that “supporting Israel and the Jewish people to be important in their own charitable behavior,” ranking the issue as a 4 or 5.

The report also found that 20% of Evangelical respondents were “Israel loyalists,” which meant they not only believed Jews were the chosen people, but also placed “a very high priority on supporting them.”

“From the Jewish and Israeli perspective, the Evangelical community is often viewed as a monolithic group that is both pro-Israel and pro-Jewish,” said Mark Dreistadt, CEO of Infinity Concepts, in comments to The Christian Post on Wednesday.

“We knew this was not true, but felt it was important to quantify the diversity as best we could. By looking at theological viewpoints, charitable giving, and support priorities we were able to see the mosaic of diversity emerge.”

Dreistadt also told CP that he found the “number of people that do not have a specific perspective” on the issue to be interesting, adding that he believed it “represents important growth opportunities for increased awareness, education and engagement with regard to Jewish-Christian relations and cooperation.”

“My perception is that Protestant Evangelicals are embracing the Jewish community — and the Jewish community is embracing the Evangelical community — more than ever before,” he continued.

“This is a trend that I personally hope will continue as the two communities learn to understand, trust and value one another. Because of the benchmarks established in this survey, we will be able to objectively measure progress in the years ahead.”

The group Christians United for Israel had some issues with the report, emailing a statement to CP on Wednesday in which they said the findings were “somewhat sensationalized.”

“A majority of Evangelicals believe the Jews are God’s chosen people. In stark contrast, just 17% support replacement theology,” CUFI stated. “Imagine a politician with a 51% approval and 17% disapproval rating — would they be worried?”

Respondents who put interest in Israel and the Jews high on the 5-point scale were asked to rank multiple issues on their priority. These included: “Supporting Holocaust survivors,” “Helping needy individuals and families in Israel,” “Supporting pro-Israel politicians or political positions in the U.S.,” “Helping Jews outside of Israel return to their homeland of Israel,” “Helping people learn about the Jewish roots of Christianity,” “Supporting medical services and first responders in Israel,” “Helping preserve or excavate biblical sites,” and “Supporting Messianic believers and businesses in Israel.”

Of the respondents, “helping needy individuals and families in Israel” ranked the highest with 27% putting that as top priority, while 16% placed “helping people learn about the Jewish roots of Christianity” as a top priority, with the remaining options ranging from 7% to 11% of respondents.

Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research, told CP that he felt the survey showed that many Evangelicals in the United States prefer to help Israel and the Jewish people in non-political ways.

“So much coverage of anything having to do with Israel is from a political viewpoint that it’s easy to start viewing the topic primarily through a political lens,” Sellers said.

“But the vast majority of American Evangelical Protestants have higher priorities for helping Israel and the Jewish people than supporting pro-Israel politicians or political positions in the U.S. It’s a great reminder that no matter what may be going on politically, to Evangelicals, Israel is far more than a political topic.”

CUFI also took issue with how the “pollsters demanded respondents choose one top priority in the context of support for Israel,” believing that it “does not provide a great deal of insight.”

“Just because one chooses one item as a top priority, does not mean they ignore all other ways of supporting Israel,” the organization added.

“If one wanted to assess, for example, the impact of Evangelical support for ‘pro-Israel politicians,’ one should’ve asked a question about whether the respondent is more or less likely to support a politician with whom they agreed/disagreed on issues relevant to Israel.”

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