Four in five US Christians see two-state solution to Israel-Hamas war

American Christians are strongly supportive of a two-state solution in which Israel and the Palestinians self-govern and enjoy national borders respected by all, a new survey published over the weekend has found.

According to the survey, 81% of US Christians believe in a two-state solution, with 88% saying that Israelis have the right to determine their statehood and government and 76% that the Palestinians have the same right.

The survey of more than 1,200 American Christian views on the Israel-Hamas war was conducted by  Lifeway Research on behalf of the Philos Project. It was conducted online between November 14 and 21 using a national pre-recruited panel of Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians. 

While there is a widespread belief that Christians generally support the idea of a greater Israel as described in the Bible, including Israelis living in the West Bank or the “biblical heartland,” the survey results suggest that the majority of modern American Christians appear to prioritize peace for both sides over this End of Days aspiration.

Moreover, more than half (53%) of respondents said that US Christians should advocate for strong measures to minimize civilian casualties in the Israel-Hamas war. Nearly half (42%) want an immediate, complete ceasefire to stop the killing.

Relatedly, while more than half of respondents (53%) want to see Hamas subdued by the war, very few American Christians (15%) want to see Israel establish long-term security over and control of Hamas. 

Despite the United States resisting international calls for an immediate ceasefire to allow Israel more time to address the Hamas threat and rescue more than 100 hostages still trapped in the coastal enclave, President Joe Biden stated last week that Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” was diminishing its international support. Additionally, the president has emphasized that achieving a two-state solution should be a top priority once the war is over.

Nearly half of those surveyed (43%) said that the Palestinian people in Gaza have supported Hamas’s fight. In addition, 31% said that the Palestinian people in Gaza were responsible for the October 7 attack.

Connectedly, 39% of American Christians said that armed rebellion of Palestinians is a natural response to being mistreated by Israel – 10% strongly agree, and 29% somewhat agree; 59% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 agree. 

Around the same percentage of Christians (43%) do not agree that violence is okay.

Around 3,000 Gazans entered Israel on October 7 and slaughtered more than 1,200 Israelis. Security and media reports have said that a large percentage were members of other terrorist groups and civilians.

The media is influencing Christians more than the Bible or church

Church (illustrative) (credit: INGIMAGE)

Strikingly, Christians are not being driven by the Bible but by the media in their views of the Jewish state.

Some 56% of respondents said that the media influenced their opinions about Israel, compared to only 27% who named the Bible and 12% their local church.  

Moreover, although overall, 65% of American Christians have a positive perception of Israel – including 17% very positive, 23% positive and 25% somewhat positive – some 42% of American Christians between the ages of 18 and 29 have a negative perception of Israel.

Those who attend church more are more positive about Israel. Some 71% of people who attend church at least weekly perceive Israel positively, and 72% who attend at least twice a month perceive Israel positively, too. 

The percentage is only 57% and 59% among those who attend only monthly or even more rarely. 

A June 2023 Gallup poll showed that US church attendance has declined. Only 31% of Americans said they attended a religious service weekly, compared to 34% in 2019 and 39% in 2013. 

According to the Philos Project survey, being pro-Israel is also tied to race. While 70% of White Christians described themselves as viewing Israel positively, only 51% of African American Christians, 56% of Hispanic Christians, and 49% of Asian Christians said they have a positive perception of the Jewish state.

Geography is also a factor, with 69% of those living in the Northeast or Midwest regions of the US viewing Israel positively and only 58% of those living in the West. 

Lifeway Research said the survey had 95% confidence that the sampling error front the panel did not exceed +/- 2.9%.

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