Pew’s Dishonest Comparison of Jews and Evangelical Christians on Israel

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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Pew’s headline, “More white evangelicals than American Jews say God gave Israel to the Jewish people” has spawned any number of stories. It’s easy to see why the comparison is blatantly dishonest.

Evangelical Christians are a passionately religious subgroup of American Christians who are being compared to an entire ethnic group. It’s obviously a lopsided comparison. Just as comparing Orthodox Jews to Americans in general would yield the same lopsided results.

“For example, twice as many white evangelical Protestants as Jews say that Israel was given to the Jewish people by God (82% vs. 40%)” he writes.

Michael Lipka is trying to use that lopsided comparison to suggest that Evangelical Christians are more likely than Jews to believe that.

Of the general public, 44 percent believe that as compared to 40 percent of Jews.

84% of Orthodox Jews* believe it as compared to 82% of Evangelical Christians.

When comparing highly religious groups that believe in biblical literalism, you get similar results. When comparing net populations, you also get similar results.

What Pew did was dishonestly compare a highly religious group with biblical literalism to a group that had nothing in common except ethnicity.

Lipka could have at least compared Protestants in general to Jews by religion in general. Instead he took the most dishonest comparison he could pull off.

Michael Lipka continues the same dishonest behavior throughout his post, but this time without even bothering to give the data.

White evangelical Protestants also are more likely than Jews to favor stronger U.S. support of Israel. Among Jews, 54% say American support of the Jewish state is “about right,” while 31% say the U.S. is not supportive enough. By contrast, more white evangelical Protestants say the U.S. is not supportive enough of Israel (46%) than say support is about right (31%).

The alignment continues.

53% of Orthodox Jews say that the US is not supportive enough and 41% say it’s about right.

Again, the contrast only occurs when Lipka and Pew make an invalid comparison between an ethnic group and a religion. Comparing religion to religious reduces the contrast to fairly little.

White evangelical Protestants are less optimistic than Jews about the prospects for a peaceful two-state solution to conflict in the region. When asked if there is a way for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully, six-in-ten American Jews (61%) say yes, while one-third say no. Among white evangelical Protestants, 42% say Israel and an independent Palestinian state can coexist peacefully, while 50% say this is not possible.

Meanwhile only 30 percent of Orthodox Jews says yes and 61% say no.

(*Footnote: considering that the most basic qualification for an Orthodox Jew is the belief in the Jewish Bible as the actual word of G-d, the numbers are still too low. Theologically speaking anyone who doesn’t believe that G-d gave Israel to the Jews is not an Orthodox Jew.

But some confusion may have been caused by the question of whether the modern State of Israel, as opposed to the land itself, was given by G-d. That explains why 90 percent of Modern Orthodox Jews poll yes and only 81 percent Ultra-Orthodox, a debatable category, poll yes.

I’m not sure whether Pew can be accused of deliberately muddying the waters by using “Israel” instead of the “Land of Israel” in their question. But the distinction is theologically significant. There is universal agreement on the G-d given nature of the land within Orthodox Judaism, however claiming that know that G-d intended the modern state is a more gray area )

  • objectivefactsmatter

    It’s also used as a red herring because the idea is that if these people beleive God gave the land to Israel, that’s not a valid reason for supporting a sovereign and their support is not legitimate.

    Nobody asked if that is their sole who even primary reason for supporting Israel.

    Obviously if there was some underlying injustice (according to Biblical standards), Bible believing people would not consider that God supports Israeli sovereignty.

    But that is the key reason these liars bring up theology when discussing Israel. It’s a bit of a “dog whistle” for Bible-haters and Israel haters. They just feel intuitively that people who hold the view that God gave them the land have no other rational motives for supporting Israel.

  • alihusaini

    Now this is a much more interesting article Daniel.

    • defcon 4

      Didn’t allah give the entire world to the ubermenschen?

  • http://www.ictytranscripts.org/ Paul Pikowsky

    Who cares if more white evangelicals than American Jews say God gave Israel to the Jewish people? Maybe there are more white evangelicals than there are American Jews. Jews are a distinct minority in the US with Christians the majority. The Bible says that God gave Israel to the Jews and Christians should believe in the Bible. If more Christians were to abide by that part of the Bible, then it is conceivable that more Christians would exist who believed that God gave Israel to the Jewish people than there are Jews everywhere.

  • Gregory Smith, Pew Research

    In the above post, Daniel Greenfield criticizes a recent Pew Research Center blog post (based on findings from our recent survey of U.S. Jews) that compares Jewish and evangelical Protestant beliefs about whether God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people. He suggests that a better comparison would be between evangelicals and Orthodox Jews. We agree that comparing evangelicals and Orthodox Jews is interesting. In fact, we reported results for Orthodox Jews in a table in the blog post that Greenfield criticizes. However, we respectfully disagree that comparing evangelicals with Jews as a whole is somehow “dishonest.” After all, Orthodox Jews are not the only Jews who tell us they feel a strong attachment to Israel. Comparing the views of Jews and evangelicals on this issue helps lend context and perspective to the views expressed by both groups.

    The Pew Research Center is is a nonpartisan, nonadvocacy organization, and as such, we strive to present our findings accurately, impartially and transparently. The same is true of our survey of U.S. Jews, which we hope will serve as an important source of information for readers interested in the attitudes, experiences and characteristics of the U.S. Jewish community. We encourage readers to take a look at our full report (http://www.pewforum.org/2013/10/01/jewish-american-beliefs-attitudes-culture-survey/) to explore the survey results for themselves.

    – Gregory Smith, Director of U.S. Religion Surveys for the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project