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

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


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 )

Tags: Israel