SBC leaders spearhead Evangelical statement in support of Israel, condemn Hamas attacks

Israeli emergency responders inspect the site of a rocket attack in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod on October 9, 2023. Israel relentlessly pounded the Gaza Strip early Monday as fighting raged with Hamas around the Gaza Strip and the death toll from the war surged above 1,100.
Israeli emergency responders inspect the site of a rocket attack in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod on October 9, 2023. Israel relentlessly pounded the Gaza Strip early Monday as fighting raged with Hamas around the Gaza Strip and the death toll from the war surged above 1,100. | AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images

Southern Baptist Convention leaders took the lead in releasing a statement backed by dozens of Evangelical leaders condemning attacks by Hamas that have killed hundreds of Israelis and expressed their support for Israel's "right and duty to defend itself against further attack."

On Wednesday, the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission released a statement condemning the terrorist attack on Israel that left 1,200 dead since Oct. 7 and prompted Israeli airstrikes that killed at least 1,055 in Gaza.

"In the wake of the evil and indefensible atrocities now committed against the people of Israel by Hamas, we, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the violence against the vulnerable, fully support Israel's right and duty to defend itself against further attack, and urgently call all Christians to pray for the salvation and peace of the people of Israel and Palestine," the statement began.

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"While our theological perspectives on Israel and the Church may vary, we are unified in calling attacks against Jewish people especially troubling as they have been often targeted by their neighbors since God called them as His people in the days of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3)."

Since the inception of the modern state of Israel in 1948, "it has faced numerous attacks, incursions, and violations of its national sovereignty," the statement notes.

"The Jewish people have long endured genocidal attempts to eradicate them and to destroy the Jewish state. These antisemitic, deadly ideologies and terrorist actions must be opposed," it reads, calling Israel a unique democratic presence in a region largely governed by authoritarian regimes.

The leaders believe the attack emphasizes the need to support Israel's existence.

"In keeping with Christian Just War tradition, we also affirm the legitimacy of Israel's right to respond against those who have initiated these attacks as Romans 13 grants governments the power to bear the sword against those who commit such evil acts against innocent life," the statement continues.

The leaders urged U.S. policymakers to address terrorism and governments to act against it to safeguard the innocent.

Signatories include SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Brent Leatherwood, SBC President Bart Barber, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler, SBC Executive Committee Interim President Jonathan Howe and  ERLC President Emeritus Richard Land, who is also executive editor of The Christian Post.  

The statement was also backed by former SBC Presidents Ronnie Floyd, Jack Graham, J.D. Greear, Steve Gaines, Ed Litton, Fred Luter, James Merritt and Bryant Wright.

Evangelical leaders outside the SBC also signed the statement, including California megachurch Pastor Greg Laurie, Awana President Matt Markins, Colorado Christian University Chancellor Don Sweeting, Alliance Defending Freedom CEO Kristen Waggoner and Institute for Religion and Democracy President Mark Tooley. 

Land, who strongly encourages others to sign the statement, commends the ERLC for taking the lead in producing the statement. 

"It was important to swiftly release a statement condemning the attacks given the barbarism and the savagery of the terrorist organization's actions," he said. 

Land, who served as head of SBC's policy arm from 1988 until 2013, voiced his solidarity with the Jewish community, which he said had been distressed by the lack of global outrage.

"I've been contacted by several of my Jewish friends. And they're disturbed," Land said. "They're very concerned that there hasn't been more outrage and there hasn't been more condemnation of these atrocious acts."

"Hamas is a terrorist organization," he continued. "They don't want to negotiate with the Israelis. Hamas wants to drive the Jews into the sea and eradicate them. They are promoting genocide. They're even worse than the Nazis because at least the Nazis tried to hide what they were doing. Hamas is promoting what they're doing. Israel has every right to defend itself against the savagery.

"We've heard people talking about the clash of civilizations between Islam and Christianity. This is not a clash of civilizations. This is a clash between civilization and barbarism," he said. 

Land, who is also president emeritus of Southern Seminary in North Carolina, criticized attempts by some to draw a moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas, stressing that such equivalences are misplaced and indicate a "demagnetized" moral compass.

He called upon U.S. policymakers to provide Israel with the necessary means to defend itself.

"They're not asking us for any troops," he said. "They're just asking us for the means with which to defend themselves against these atrocious kinds of attacks."

"It's important that we stand in solidarity with our Jewish friends," he added. "This is barbarism, as low as it gets. Civilization just must not put up with it."

The statement also highlighted the plight of Jewish and Palestinian believers in Christ who find themselves caught in the conflict's crossfire and encouraged them to stay faithful in the face of persecution. 

"[W]e recognize the dignity and personhood of all persons living in the Middle East and affirm God's love for them as well as His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ to all people," it said.

"We also recognize the difficult ministry of Jewish and Palestinian believers who labor for the Gospel. We pray for their protection and for God's blessing on their gospel ministry."

Land cited Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

"We all want our brothers and sisters in Christ to know that we are praying for them, whether you're a Palestinian Christian or you're a Jewish Christian," he said. "We're praying for you as brothers and sisters in Christ."

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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