Two Veterans of the Religious Right Agree: Christian Zionism is Not the Way of Jesus

A thousand new “housing” units are going up in East Jerusalem. And Christian Zionist support of the Jewish settlement movement in the Holy Land is under fire—from two former Religious-Right leaders.  “It’s the Christian Zionists who have driven American foreign policy over a cliff,” former Right-to-Lifer (turned eminent Buddha-killer) Frank Schaeffer writes, in his recent Huffington Post review  of a 2010 documentary film that exposes the manipulative rhetoric of Christian Zionism: With God On Our Side, directed and produced by an American Evangelical. The film is an exposé and a conversion story: Porter Speakman, Jr.’s “change of heart from Christian Zionist to moderate peace maker.”

Both Schaeffer and Speakman are sons of Evangelical ministers; both were raised to believe that the Jewish occupation of Israel is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Now, both are speaking out against that ideology, which has left so many Evangelicals susceptible to Christian-Zionist abuses of scripture. “Speakman’s film presents an authentically Christian and Evangelical alternative perspective to the warmonger Far Right’s views,” Schaeffer writes. “It is the key to understanding why Evangelicals have become the permanent party of war in the name of ‘helping Israel’.” He’s hopeful that the film could be an antidote to the Christian-Zionist sway over American Evangelicals. Schaeffer’s With God On Our Side review is an exhortation:

If you want peace in the Middle East then learn why the Christian Zionists who say they love Jews love Jews the way tigers “love” lambs. Their “standing up for Israel” is not helping the Jews, Arabs and Palestinians who live there. It’s only encouraging the militant hardliners — like the ones who just stuck it to the rest of us with their 1000 new insults to peace they call “housing” — to commit suicide, and maybe take the rest of us with them.

Ashley Makar works with refugees in Connecticut. She does community outreach for IRIS--Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, in New Haven. She has an e-book of essays, You Were Strangers: Dispatches from Exile. Ashley has published essays in Tablet, The Birmingham News, The Struggle Continues (the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute weblog), Religion Dispatches, and The New Haven Register.