How some evangelicals are challenging support for Israel’s government

July 29, 2016

Article first appeared here at The Washington Post on December 14, 2015

From left to right: Lynne Hybels, Todd Deatherage, Lisa Gungor and Shauna Niequist walk in Jerusalem in March 2015. (Photo by Christine Anderson)

JERUSALEM — Lynne Hybels is revered for her work helping the impoverished around the world, but some people view her as dangerous.

Hybels, cofounder with her husband of one of the nation’s largest churches, has been called a heretic and an anti-Semite for her efforts to build bridges between Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East.

Hybels is among a small number of influential evangelicals who are challenging a decades-long stance of blanket evangelical support for Israel’s government. They are taking trips to the Middle East, not only to visit biblical sites but to engage with modern-day Palestinians and Israelis in conversations centered more around modern politics than ancient texts. They are organizing conferences and writing publicly in an attempt to discern a new role for Christians in bringing an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Gradually, their ideas are taking hold, especially with young evangelicals.


Christmas gift for your Christian Zionist pastor

September 24, 2012

This Christmas, plan to give your pastor this book. You will either educate him or her, or you’ll be excommunicated.

Glenn Beck and John Hagee: False Prophets Profit Racist Israel

August 6, 2011
(In this essay, Rev. Ted Pike examines the machinations of fake-tears Glenn Beck and bible thumping John Hagee, and how these two false prophets profit the racist State of Israel. mw)

Beck's fake tears


By Rev. Ted Pike
25 July 11

The Guardian reports that during a dinner with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002 Rupert Murdoch said “he didn’t see what the Palestinian’s problem was.” Yet his son James (now head of Murdoch’s News Corp.) replied it was because “they were kicked out of their f—ing homes and had nowhere to f—ing live.”

James Murdoch’s speech reveals a spiritually darkened soul. Yet his mind was capable of clearly understanding the thorn that has made the Mideast bleed: the 1948 expulsion by Israel of 800,000 Palestinians into concentration camps.

Last week 5,000 evangelicals gathered in Washington D.C. at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conference to agree with televised Prime Minister Netanyahu who said, “When you support Israel, you don’t have to choose between your interests and your values; you get both.” He encouraged the attendees to think of Israel as “indistinguishable” from America. Also, Haaretz says:

“News commentator Glenn Beck worked the audience into a frenzy, decrying the historical persecution of Jews, insisting that Israel cannot cede control over territories it controls, and calling upon the conference attendees to declare that they, too, are Jewish… Beck repeated a refrain that Netanyahu had introduced earlier, appealing to audience members to self-identify as Israelis and Jews themselves. He exhorted, “When we see Israelis not as part of us, but as us, we can move to the next level as human beings,” adding, “Let us declare ‘I am a Jew,’ they cannot kill all of us.”

What these two demagogues are really recommending is that millions of evangelicals, restricted both genetically and theologically from ever becoming fully Jewish, give themselves mind, soul and body to total identification with and support and unconditional approval of Israel.

Prior to the CUFI conference, Beck said, “[Christian Israel supporters] see tragedy coming down the pike unless we take a stand…Many of us were asleep for a long time…We are waking up to what could be on the horizon: . . .the vaporization of Israel and the end of the Western way of life as we know it,”…Beck said the way to prevent such a tragedy was to stand together, be righteous and decent and protect one another.”  (These may be values Israel attempts to implement to fellow Jews but emphatically do not apply to Palestinians.)

Beck also said that it’s time to “get the Christian community in America to wake up and start standing up [for Israel].” Again, there is a problem: Israel stands by its sordid record of human rights abuses unapologetically, especially against the people of Gaza today. How can evangelicals support a nation perpetuating injustice? It can’t be done by asserting that it has been God’s will to imprison millions of Palestinian refugees for more than half a century under inhumane conditions of human rights deprivation, boycott and outright murder.

Instead, Israel-first evangelicals, following Beck and Hagee, opt to express their support for the pariah state through emotional extravaganzas and simplistic, pseudo-Biblical rhetoric that flatters Israel. Several attendees at the CUFI conference are quoted as affirming the following, which they believe are solid biblical grounds for unquestioning support of Israel.

  • God promises to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse (criticize) Israel.
  • God promises to the Jews rights to own and occupy Israel unconditionally forever.
  • Israel does no wrong worthy of criticism. Even if a few Israelis did bad things, no sin of any magnitude can change their status as God’s chosen, “the apple of His eye.”

Such pablum is repeated by Hagee, Beck and their pro-Zionist followers as if it were biblical law. Hagee: “The truth is not what you think it is – it’s what the Bible says.” In reality, such evangelical, Zionist Bible-thumping is only righteous-sounding, Zionist propaganda. Unable to counter criticism of Israel rationally, Israelophiles have just one recourse: to go on the flattery offensive, further corrupting Israel. This is what Beck plans for late August when evangelicals worldwide will participate via satellite in his “Restoring Courage” conference in Jerusalem. “He said the event would be attended by 30 American political figures, 70 international politicians and citizen delegations from 100 countries around the world. . .” Already scheduled are 700 evangelical viewing parties of the gala event.

This will be a gathering of false prophets and their devotees, much like the 850 false prophets in ancient Israel who gathered on Mount Carmel against Elijah (I Kings 18:19). Those desired to establish their defiant premise that the nation could reject Jehovah (Jesus) and worship Baal and yet dwell in the land under divine blessing. Little has changed today as Beck, Hagee, and Israel persist in their claim that nearly six million Israelis can dwell in Palestine in rejection of Christ.

Yet the Jehovah-rejecting northern tribes found out differently. In 722 B.C., God enforced His terms of “no obedience, no occupation.” The entire northern kingdom went into captivity under the Assyrians and eventually was blown into oblivion across the arid Mideast sands.  Scripture says a similar fate will befall disobedient Israel today when a new “Assyrian,” the Anti-Christ, expels false Israel (Is. 10:5). God will rain judgment on the Great Harlot, Babylon, and her false prophets, who, like Beck and Hagee, prophesy peace to a nation which should be scouring its conscience with self-doubt and remorse, leading to repentance. “There is no peace, says the Lord unto the wicked.” (Is. 48:22) (See, “Babylon the Great’ is Israel“)

Is constructive criticism of Israel really cursing God’s chosen people? Is it really anti-Semitism?  Scripture says, “The wounds of a friend are faithful.” If Beck and Hagee were really the friends of Israel, they would be hosting an international conference not to flatter Israel but to encourage the Jewish state to end the free speech restrictions and persecutions of Christians and Palestinians which cause Israel to be increasingly despised by the world.

Instead, millions of evangelicals this summer will further corrupt Israel by flattery, only strengthening her and PR surrogate ADL/B’nai B’rith to create hate laws. Such laws increasingly plague the very Christians who believe Israel can do no wrong.

Since I began to publicly speak out concerning the Zionist threat in 1984, I have yet to receive an intelligent and systematic rebuttal from any evangelical. Instead, the truth I present is usually responded to by very short bursts of defamation of me as “anti-Semitic.” Any system of thought that cannot rationally defend itself but must habitually respond with emotion or defamation is condemned to a relatively brief life in the history of ideas. That is, unless it is artificially kept alive by massive media or cultural empowerment. Such, unfortunately, is the advantage of Israel and its evangelical sycophants, whose fanaticism and vast numbers continue to help outrace oblivion.

Unprepared by reason or true Scriptural authority to respond to massive worldwide criticism of Israel, evangelicals have floundered on the defensive in the last several years. Yet, Beck and Hagee, working intensely to revive pro-Israel ardor in the days ahead, could help create a tidal wave of unprecedented pro-Israel zeal, taking many evangelicals to a new level of spiritual adultery with the Great Harlot.

Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.

TALK SHOW HOSTS: Interview Rev. Ted Pike on this subject. Call (503) 631-3808.

National Prayer Network, P.O. Box 828, Clackamas, OR 97015

Rev. Fr. David B. Smith, parish priest, the “Fighting Father” fights Christian Zionism too

July 26, 2011

The final word on the place of modern Israel in Biblical Prophecy

I’ve been hearing it, in one form or another, ever since I was converted as a teenager – that God has a plan for political Israel, such that the fate of the nation is intricately tied to the fulfilment of other Biblical prophecies and, indeed, to the second coming of Christ!

I can’t remember where I heard it first – whether I first read it in Hal Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth” or whether I heard it earlier from New Zealand’s white Pentecostal evangelist, Barry Smith. Either way, I’ve heard it plenty of times since, and the spiel is always basically the same – that the triumph of Israel over its Middle-Eastern neighbours has been clearly prophesied in the Biblical texts, and that until this happens, the ‘final battle’ (‘Armageddon’) and the ensuing 1000-year reign of peace can’t happen either.

The spiritual thrust of this sort of message is always ‘give yourself to Christ so that you will be ready when he reappears.’ There is an obvious accompanying political message too though – that we should all lend a hand to the state of Israel in her battles with her neighbours, lest the progress of the Biblical prophecies be somehow frustrated, or at least stalled.

Christian Zionism’ is the technical term for this reading of the Scriptures. Ironically, it tends to flourish best in areas of the church where there is a strong distinction between the sacred and the secular – between religion and politics. Indeed, most Christian Zionists will tell you that political matters have nothing to do with their faith, which is concerned exclusively with their personal salvation. The only exception is with matters concerning political Israel, which still has a special role to play in God’s plan of salvation.

Beliefs along these lines are widespread amongst Evangelical Christians, particularly in the US, where they translate into an aggressively pro-Israel foreign policy. In recent years, the Christian Zionist lobby has played a significant role in supporting and strengthening the special bond that exists between Israel and the West., and members of the church have been actively courted by Israeli nationalists both in the US and in the state of Israel itself!

OK. Enough about Christian Zionism! If you didn’t know what it is, you do now. Either way, I’d encourage you to give it a wide berth! Why? Because, in my view, Christian Zionism is both wrong and dangerous!

It is wrong because it arises out of a misunderstanding of the Bible. It is dangerous because it sanctions actions that contribute to the supremacy of the state of Israel without regards to their broader consequences, and without any serious evaluation of the moral nature of the actions themselves.

Now … I do believe that I have a simple way of demonstrating to Christian Zionists that they are completely off-track! My argument is simple and decisive, and I have never yet met a Christian Zionist who is able to respond with anything more than a blank look when confronted with this argument.

What’s more, it doesn’t involve disputing any of the so-called prophetic texts. It doesn’t require me to challenge the distinction between sacred and secular. It doesn’t even require me to adopt a political position on the state of Israel. I could be very pro-Zionist and still maintain this point; that Biblical prophecy is never normative!

Biblical prophecy is never normative. In other words, prophecies in the Bible never function as commandments – telling us directly how to determine our relationships with our neighbours. They function to bring us closer to God – generally through repentance. Allow me to flesh this out:

When Amos proclaims God‘s judgement – “For three transgressions of Israel and for four, I will not revoke the punishment” – his purpose is not simply to upset people by telling them that they are about to be destroyed, nor is he giving them an invitation to come and join him in destroying Israel. On the contrary, his purpose is to call his hearers to repentance so that Israel might not be destroyed.

When the prophet Jeremiah rails against the sins of Israel, and predicts that a ‘boiling pot from the north’ will spill over in their direction and destroy everything, this is not designed to shift anybody’s political allegiance from Israel to the northern nation of Babylon (or Assyria).

On the contrary, Jeremiah’s sincere hope always was that the events he prophesied would not come to pass, and when things did take place just as he had predicted, Jeremiah wrote a whole book of Laments, mourning the tragedy of Jerusalem‘s destruction!

Do you see my point? Jeremiah predicted the destruction of Israel, but this does not mean that he endorsed it as a good thing, or wanted to encourage anybody to help make it happen.

Yes, the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC was the fulfilment of the Jeremiah’s prophecy, but it was still a great tragedy that should have been prevented, and, according to Jeremiah, could have been prevented, had the people turned to their creator in repentance and faith.

Biblical prophecy is not normative. Jeremiah’s prophecies did not make the destruction of Jerusalem a morally acceptable act, and if we had been a part of his audience, the correct response would not have been to go and enlist in the Babylonian army so as to join in the looting. No. Such prophecies have a specific spiritual purpose, functioning something like shock therapy. The prophet paints a shocking picture of the judgement that is about to fall with a view to rattling his hearers to the point that they wake up to the fact that something is seriously wrong!

This is what distinguishes Biblical prophecy from both fortune-telling and electioneering. Biblical prophecies are not given for the sake of satisfying anybody’s curiosity about the future, any more than they are designed to help shape 21st century foreign policy. Prophecies are given in order to call people to back to God.

This is where Christian Zionism just gets it plain wrong.

Christian Zionists claim that the Biblical prophecies point to the triumph of 21st Century political Israel over its Middle-Eastern neighbours. I think that their interpretation of the Biblical texts is erroneous, but that is unimportant here. What is important is, even if they were entirely correct, and that a particular Biblical prophet did indeed predict a military victory for modern Israel over, say, Iran, this would not mean that either the prophet or the Bible was endorsing this as a good thing, deserving of our support, any more than the destruction of Jerusalem that Jeremiah foretold was viewed as a good thing, worthy of support. On the contrary, as in the historic example, even if it were ‘prophesied’, the right thing to do, from a Scriptural point of view, might well be to oppose it.

Biblical prophecy has never been normative for people of faith. It is the commandments that are normative. You know the ones – ‘love God and love your neighbour’. These are the Divine commands that inform our actions and tell us how we ought to behave towards our neighbours. And it is only on the basis of these commandments that we can construct a Biblically-based foreign policy – on the basis of love!

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too harsh in judging my Christian Zionist brethren for confusing prophesy and commandment. After all, the prophet Jonah himself was guilty of exactly the same confusion.

You remember Jonah, don’t you? After his adventure with the big fish, he did end up going to Ninevah and delivering his message: “Yet forty days and Ninevah will be destroyed”.

.It was a very simple message, and if ever a Biblical prophesy appeared to be a simple prediction about the future, it was Jonah’s.

If you made it to the end of the book, you know that Jonah, after delivering his message, found a good vantage point outside of the city and sat there, waiting for the fireworks to begin. Much to his own chagrin, they do not begin. His prediction was not fulfilled. Why not? Because his prophecy had been successful. Do you see the distinction?

Jonah’s prophecy was successful, in that it caused people to repent and come back to God. The result was that the city did not need to be destroyed. God is depicted as being very happy about this. Jonah was not.

Read over the last chapter of the book of Jonah sometime if you’ve missed the details. Jonah treated his prophecy as if he were simply informing people of the inevitable. He fully expected the judgement to happen and believed that it was right and fitting. Indeed, I suspect that nothing would have made Jonah happier than if God had given him the privilege of pressing the button to detonate the fire and brimstone attack upon Ninevah. But it was not to be!

Jonah made the mistake of seeing the destruction of Ninevah as a good thing, simply because he had prophesied it! If he’d had any Christian Zionists with him, they might have formed an anti-Ninevah foreign policy on the basis of his prophecy. They might have further concluded that sending arms to Ninevah’s enemies was an appropriate response to Jonah’s prophecy. Thankfully the people of Ninevah knew how to respond to Jonah‘s words. They repented, which was the purpose of the prophecy all along!

Biblical prophecy is not normative! It is the commandments that are normative.

Confusing the two is not simply a mistake. It is dangerous and can be downright wicked, because when you confuse prophecy and commandment, you run the risk of breaking the commandments for the sake of seeing your prophecy fulfilled.

Let’s get specific here:

The oppression of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel in recent years has been horrendous. Between the massacres and assassinations and the daily grind of an apartheid system that treats Israeli Arabs as second class citizens, all the commandments have been broken.

If we look at the situation through the eyes of Jesus – with eyes of compassion and mercy – we cannot but be moved to both pity and anger. Pity for the many who have been victimised – both Palestinians and Jews who have tried to resist the occupation. And anger towards the foreign countries who make the oppression possible – countries that include Australia as well as the US.

And the saddest part, from my point of view, is that much of this oppression takes place in the name of religion, and with the blessing of the many parts of Christ’s church, because it is all seen as being a necessary part of the great end-time drama, as depicted in the Biblical prophecies. How shameful!

Biblical prophecy is never normative!

Jonah prophesied that Ninevah would fall. Thanks be to God, his prophecy was NOT fulfilled.

Jeremiah predicted that Jerusalem would fall. Oh, what a good and godly thing it would have been had we been able to prevent that from happening!

The fact that something has been prophesied does not mean that such an outcome is a good thing. The predicted events may be things that we should oppose. We need to be guided here by the commandments. The commandments inform our actions, not the prophecies themselves.

OK. That’s the spiel. Are you convinced? I hope so. I accept though that many Christian Zionists will not be convinced.

Even amongst those who read and understand what I have said, some will not be convinced, but will continue to believe that the Lord Jesus would have us give unilateral support to the State of Israel, regardless of their record of human rights abuse. I accept that. People are complex, and hold to these types of positions for reasons that are often difficult to understand.

But know this – that the Christian Zionist position is not logical, it’s not moral, and it’s certainly not Biblical, even if its adherents to add ‘because the Bible says’ every time they state their case.

Rev. David B. Smith
(the ‘Fighting Father’)

Parish priest, community worker,
martial arts master, pro boxer,
author, father of four

Fighting Father Dave

First published as “The final word on the place of modern Israel in Biblical Prophecy” in Feb 2006

Understanding Rev. Joe Amaral: Insights into the Words and Deeds of a Useful Idiot for Zionist Israel

June 17, 2011


By Mystery Worshiper

Rev. Joe Amaral has written a book, Understanding Jesus: Cultural Insights into the Words and Deeds of Christ. You’ll see “smokin’ Joe” on his First Century TV program. A likable person, probably sincere. He travels the world and conducts tours for Zionist Israel. But, is he a complete religious fake like Walis Shoebat and Ergun Canar? Or is he simply an extremist Christian Zionist like Rev. Dr. Charles McVety and just a “useful idiot” (a Christian Zionist who is more Zionist than an Israeli Zionist)?

To try to find out who Rev. Joe Amaral really is, let’s look briefly at this Portuguese-born minister of Milton, Ontario, Canada. Rev. Amaral is a Christian Zionist (an “Israel-firster”) to the core and I would cautiously call him a useful idiot; I don’t think he is a fake in the strict sense of the word. However, there are some strange things about Rev. Amaral that bother me, and even make him a suspect, given the fact he is a trained (Pentecostal) clergyman and claims to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, below I give a few bits of information about Rev. Amaral that indicate his “useful idiot” tendencies in helping the politcal Zionist cause:

  1. Rev. Amaral has appeared on Zionist media shows and his name is proudly displayed on a list of rabid political Zionists, including Mein Weinstein of the “militant, occasionally violent Jewish Defense League“—an outfit that promotes ethnic cleansing and is considered “violent” by the FBI in the USA. Are we known by the company we keep?
  2. Sharing the same guest list is political Zionist Frank Dimant, Executive VP of B’nai Brith Canada. Dimant is an extremist Zionist who apparently convinced Rev. Charles McVety’s Canada Christian College to give him an honourary doctorate. (Frank Dimant is an Orthodox Jew who is “the follower of the rather secular Ze’ev Jabotinsky” a fierce fascist who declared that Zionism’s strength “stands or it falls by the question of armed force.” In fact, Jabotinsky was founder of Irgun, the terrorist Zionist group; see list of Irgun attacks. And B’nai Brith is a Masonic foreign lobby outfit that works against Canadian sovereignty and works to abolish Christian symbols.)
  3. Rev. Amaral advertises that he has connections with the racist State of Israel and “works closely with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” You can be certain that Mossad is watching (and grinning).
  4. Rev. Amaral’s website also links to Zionist film-maker Steven Spielberg who denies all holocausts (except one).
  5. Rev. Amaral has produced a documentary that he says tells the truth about “how Palestinian propaganda seeks to rob the Jewish people of their rich history in the Land of Israel” and how Palestinian “Children are taught and encouraged to aspire to kill Jews and to become suicide bombers.” He doesn’t say anything about the first peaceful Jewish homeland established over 80 years ago.

Joe Amaral admits that he was a disappointed and discouraged Pentecostal pastor. Nothing new there. But what is new is his experience of hearing from God that after failing as a pastor, God told him to promote the Christian Zionist belief that whatever the political State of Israel does, it is ordained of God. Rev. Amaral therefore establishes himself as an extremist Christian Zionist, that is, “any Christian who supports the Zionist aim of the sovereign State of Israel, its army, government, education etc…for any reason.” In other words, “Bless Israel.” And this includes ethnic cleansing, war, etc.

Just a few days ago, Israeli Prime Minister B. Netanyahu  was asked by Christian Zionists: What is the best way to support Zionist Israel? His answer was simple: “Visit.” This is precisely what Joe Amaral does best. His various websites are loaded with information on how to join his tours to Israel.

It’s a pity that Rev. Joe Amaral has strayed so far from his original calling of preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. It is my hope that Rev. Joe Amaral will one day leave the cult of Christian Zionism behind him and experience a true conversion similar to this professor of theology who tells the story of his “journey out of Christian Zionism.”

Is Rev. Charles McVety a “spiritual Bernie Madoff”?

June 22, 2010

Everyone remembers fake “investment advisor” Bernie Madoff (Shamir calls him the financial “suicide bomber”) who ripped off billions of dollars from his friends (even more from his foes) and said he’d do it again if he had the chance. But not everyone knows about “spiritual Madoffs” inside Christian circles.

Sure, we all know about the obvious “spiritual Madoff” scammers such as Israeli-born Benny Hinn. But do we know about the fakes in our own churches who can trick Christians for years? Two obvious fraud examples: Walid Shoebat and Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. If these messianic maniacs can fool “evangelical” Christians for years, who is to say that there aren’t other Christian fakes lurking behind pulpits?

I come now to the Rev. Dr. Charles McVety, a not so humble man (watch him). My personal take is that McVety is a Zionist shill; in fact, he almost admits it. In any case, here are a few reasons why I’m highly suspicious of him (other than the fact he is “the most high-profile champion of Christian Zionism“—the fastest growing cult in the world):

I could go on and list other things that make me suspicious of McVety such as his appearance in a news release of Likud Canada, and McVety inviting criminal Karl Rove to Canada. But that’s it for now.

Evangelical leader of ‘The Family’ more frightening than Jim Jones of Peoples Temple

February 21, 2010

Dr. Charles E. Carlson of WHTT asks a good question: “What is really wrong with ‘The Family’ and why should all followers of Christ denounce and oppose it?”

His answer: “Because it will take Christian Zionists, including President Obama, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and a flock of Congressmen in both parties to a dangerous new height of political power by whispering in their ears, ‘Do it,’ God gave you power so He must want you to do your will.”

In an exclusive Religion Dispatches interview with Jeff Sharlet, Sharlet describes the leader of the Family, Doug Coe, this way:

That penchant for “invisibility,” as he calls it, makes him unusual, but don’t mistake him for some humble servant of the Lord. Above all else, Coe admires strength, of the iron fist variety. Over the years he’s acted as a de facto lobbyist for strongmen ranging from Haiti’s Papa Doc Duvalier to Indonesia’s Suharto. Disavowing the strident pulpit-pounding that makes headlines, Coe preaches a far more authoritarian message, advising congressmen to look to “evil men” such as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao for insight into the nature of Christ’s power.

Also, Pastor Chuck Warnock offers an insightful review of a book on “The Family” and concludes by saying

“Jeff Sharlet has done evangelicals a favor by showing us that in the case of the Family, the emperor really is naked.  The argument which forms the basis for the Family — that men of authority are there because God placed them there — is a poor exegetical attempt to justify amoral power politics.  If Jesus were to have adopted the philosophy of the Family, he would have worked with Herod, and he would have taken Pontius Pilate to lunch.  And, when Satan tempted Christ by offering him raw political power, Jesus would have jumped at the chance because, as Doug Coe says, “we work with power where we can [and] build new power where we can’t.”

Christians must always be vigilant and be prepared to chase out the wolf that dresses up in shepherd’s clothing!

%d bloggers like this: