Egyptian Evangelicals “Don’t Understand” Christian Zionist “Favoritism”

Lee J Grady, editor of the neo-Pentecostal Charisma magazine, reports on his recent visit to Egypt, where he met with Egyptian evangelicals:

…What is also obvious is that Arab Christians feel neglected and abandoned by many of us in the West. They don’t understand why some Western Christians seem to show favoritism toward Jews, especially when the Israeli government has at times persecuted and harassed Arab believers in the Palestinian territories.

Egyptian Christians love all lost people, this leader told me. “But our love for the Jewish people should not cause us to love any other group of people less.”

This is the second time recently that Grady has challenged Christian Zionist assumptions. Last month he noted that:

Many church folks, particularly those who were around in the 1960s and 1970s, have been conditioned to be religious pessimists. They studied books such as The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, who predicted that Soviet Russia would invade Israel and trigger the end of the world. Lindsey was horribly wrong, but different variations of his speculative theories spread like a virus…Today, many American Christians have a similar doom-and-gloom attitude about the Middle East.

Grady, by contrast, is optimistic that the Middle East will become Christianised in future years, in part due to supernatural manifestations (including Muslims having dreams about Jesus).

But perhaps Grady ought to be directing some of his comments towards Stephen Strang, Charisma‘s publisher. Strang is a hard-core Christian Zionist, as this advert shows:

In response to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent declaration that Israel should be “wiped off the map,” a proclamation signed by participants of “A Night to Honor Israel” will call on the U.S. government to stand with Israel in its battle against global Islamic terrorism.

Of course, opposition to the wretched Iranian president is right and proper; but the advertised event has a particular ideological focus – and some extremist participants:

The event, scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Thursday, November 17, at Altamonte Springs, Fla., located near Orlando, has “one purpose only—to show Christian love and support for Israel—both the land and its people,” says Stephen Strang, publisher of Charisma magazine and sponsor of “A Night to Honor Israel.”

“Israel’s battle with terrorism is America’s battle with terrorism. We stand united together!” the proclamation declares. The signed proclamation will be sent to U.S. officials and the United Nations, Strang says.

The keynote speaker for the event is John Hagee, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church, an 18,000-member nondenominational congregation in San Antonio, and an ardent supporter of Israel who has visited the country regularly since 1978.

Hagee is a major Christian funder of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. And he’s only selectively anti-terrorist, as Gershom Gorenberg noted in 2000 (1), discussing one of Hagee’s books:

Hagee, pastor of a 15,000-member San Antonio church, starts by praising Rabin’s brilliance and personal warmth. But then he gives the backdrop to Rabin’s murder. Israel, he says, is divided between religious Jews who think they have a “holy deed to the land” and Jews who “put more faith in man than in the God of their fathers.”…And, he says, Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, belonged to the religious side of Israel. From there, readers are left to draw their own conclusions.

In short, Hagee and Strang are just the kind of Christian that Grady’s Egyptian Evangelicals find so annoying and baffling.


(1) The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, Oxford University Press, New York, page 165.