Evangelical Support for Trump's Jerusalem Decision Is Not 'Theological,' Christian Leader Says
An evangelical leader, who serves as an informal adviser to the Trump administration, has written a lengthy defense of evangelical leaders' support for President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, rejecting claims that they favor Jews over Arabs.
In a recent op-ed, Johnnie Moore, an evangelical communications executive and a prominent advocate for persecuted Christians around the globe, explained that in addition to the "special relationship" evangelicals have with Israel and the Jewish people, evangelicals in the United States support Trump's decision "precisely because of their concern for the Palestinians."
He added that evangelicals are "tired of seeing innocent Palestinians abused and used by tyrants and terrorists."
"Evangelicals close to the administration did not support the president's decision because we favor Jews over Arabs nor for any obscure (and highly contested, I might add) theological reasons like those speculated about, reported upon and sensationalized in recent days," Moore explained. "Evangelicals supported the decision because we believe it was the smart and right thing to do. Ours was a geopolitical opinion, and not a theological one."
Trump announced on Dec. 5 that the United States will move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Writing from the holy city after arriving during Hamas' third "day of rage" following Trump's announcement, Moore argued that from what he could see on the ground, most Palestinians are "not taking the bait" when it comes to "efforts at provoking unrest by the terrorist agitators of Hamas, Hezbollah and their Iranian suitors."
"It isn't that they were happy about the United States' decision. It's just that many Palestinians are tired of being used as pawns," Moore, the author of books such as Defying ISIS and Martyrs Oath, wrote. "They just want peace, and they want a brighter future. Some even appreciate the stability, security, rule of law, and prosperity brought to the city because of the democratic ideals of the State of Israel."
He also assured that "evangelicals are not theocrats. And there's no Armageddon brewing, so far. But there are plenty of tyrants and terrorists who'd be happy to start one and not for the cause of Palestinians but on their backs and at the cost of their peace."
Moore, former senior vice president of communications at Liberty University who founded a public relations firm that provides services to a number of Christian celebrities and evangelical figures, has been one of the most active members of Trump's faith advisory board and serves as an informal spokesperson for the unit.
The board is made up of dozens of conservative evangelical leaders who have met with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and White House advisors a number of times throughout Trump's first year in office.
Evangelical activists played a pivotal role in pressing the Trump administration to officially recognize Jerusalem and move the embassy from Tel Aviv, a move that was also Congressionally mandated in 1995.
"I have no doubt that evangelicals played a meaningful role in this decision," Moore told Reuters at the time.
Evangelical leaders were so happy with the decision that a group of about 20 of them presented Trump with a "Friends of Zion" award during a meeting at the White House last week.
"President Trump's decision was supported by evangelicals — and by so many others — because it was legal, sensible and strategic, and it was a decision made in pursuit of peace with the Palestinians," Moore wrote in the op-ed, which was published by the Religion News Service.
"The president's decision complied with a law passed by Congress over 20 years ago, a law defied by every president since and a law that was further affirmed in June in a unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate," he continued. "It was sensible because Israel's seat of government is in Jerusalem, and most Palestinians had for years conceded that the capital of Palestinian state would be East Jerusalem, inferring the western half would remain in Israel."
Moore also quoted a Muslim civil leader whom he spoke to in East Jerusalem. This leader explained why protests in the city were quieter than the media predicted.
"Nothing has changed for us," the Muslim leader was quoted as telling Moore. "Israel's Knesset, president and prime minister are here. Many of the ministries are here. The decision of the United States affects nothing of our existing reality."
Moore also argued that Trump's decision will not "affect the future of the city in a negotiated two-state solution.
In a statement announcing his decision, Trump declared: "We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved."