Are Most Evangelicals Pro-Israel? Survey Results May Surprise You — and Show a Way Forward

Evangelicals are not as unwavering in their support of Israel as everyone seems to think. That could be good news for the future of Israel.

The craziness around Halloween is hard to ignore and as with anything “sacred,” be it a day, a story, an object — it has multiple meanings. These days, as with so much in our polarized public culture, each meaning has its own advocates who ardently believe they have the whole truth.

There are our religious fundamentalists who oppose Halloween because of its pagan origins and occult and satanic symbols and believe the holiday undermines Christian values with its embrace of devils, demons, and goblins. Just as seriously, there are Wiccans who oppose Halloween for its offense to real witches by promoting stereotypes of wicked witches. (Opposition to fun often makes strange bed fellows.)

There are traditionalist Jews and members of other faiths who oppose Halloween because it is a Christian holiday — All Saints Day. There are our simplicity folks who oppose Halloween because they see it as another construction of Madison Avenue that has turned one more holiday into a commercialized ($5 billion) consumption experience. There are our concerned parents who oppose Halloween because of its increasing tolerance of violent images and vandalism.

There are serious Christians who reject the ghost, ghouls, witches, and vampires of Halloween and instead emphasize the Christian tradition of honoring all saints known and unknown. And then there is the majority of parents and children who simply enjoy the candy and costumes, the pranks and trick and treating, and the carved pumpkins and haunted houses of Halloween.

So, not surprisingly, depending on who one is and to what community one belongs and one’s psychological predisposition, Halloween is indeed many things. It is harmless fun or anti-Christian, anti-Jewish or anti-Wiccan, amusingly scary, chillingly violent or crassly consumerist. It is all of these as well as a Saint Fest, a day to honor the dead, a harvest festival, and a psychological release as, around us, nature “dies” for the winter and the day darkens earlier and earlier.

It seems to me that the cultural and spiritual energy surrounding Halloween is directly related to this multiplicity of meanings. (My wisdom tradition teaches that, contrary to conventional understanding, something is sacred not because it has only one specific meaning but because it has indeterminate and inexhaustible meaning.)

In other words, there is a partial truth to each of these meanings and rather than simply dismiss the meaning or meanings we feel are silly or wrong or even dangerous we might try to incorporate some insight or aspect of that meaning, however small, into our take on Halloween.

Personally, I grew up attending a Jewish parochial school that strongly discouraged any participation in Halloween festivities. But my parents, with a bit of reluctance, and quite a bit of pleading from me and my five brothers, treated Halloween as a secular day and permitted us to dress up and go trick or treating with emphasis on the treating rather than the tricking.

But we were reminded that Halloween was not a Jewish holiday and as age appropriate actually learned a little about the origins of the holiday and where we as Jews differed. And there were also some interesting additions to our celebration. Costumes were home-made, not purchased, and there were no hatchet in the head costumes. For every one piece of candy we got to keep we had to give away one piece. (We started with the non-kosher candy!)

And of course there was UNICEF — our celebrating and candy gathering were connected to giving to the less fortunate. One might say that we had fun without the fear and the frenzy — a kind of fun that transcended different faiths and backgrounds — in which our present joy superseded a pagan past, candy trumped creed, and treats trumped theology.

Be Safe and Happy Halloween!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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    I don’t believe I have ever read an article which expresses understanding of both sides as well as you do! Thank you sooo much! Have you been to Christ at the Check Point, sponsored by Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem. This is where I began learning about the Palestinian (Christians) viewpoint for the first time. Thank you, Thank you, for your excellent article.

    • Alma Ruth

      Hey Mary! My husband was there at CATC 2014!

  • Alma Ruth

    Thank you for a very compassionate approach, especially when it comes, ‘are you pro-Israel’?

  • David

    Thank you for this article. It is very encouraging to seeing a more nuanced view by Evangelical leaders on this issue. I think there has been a lot of education in the past 5 years on the issue when before it was either through ignorance or fear it was avoided. I also grew up not knowing but would consider myself “pro-Israel”. Conferences like ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ which brought Palestinian, Israeli and internationals together to discuss this, films like ‘With God On our Side’ and brave leaders like Gary Burge, Lynne Hybels have done a lot to bring more education to this issue.

  • richard6272

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  • Stephen Corbin

    Regardless of how the survey results break down, there is a strong evangelical arm that are Zionists and believe with all of their soul that the Israelis are destined to dominate all of Israel-Palestine with the Palestinans being driven from their homelands or imprisoned in a type of apartheid. This is based on the Bible predictions about the Jews. But the Jews of the Bible and the modern Israelis are not exactly the same thing. In Biblical times, the Hebrews were a tribe. Over the millennia, they have distributed around the world as a diaspora. Yes, Israel is essentially a Jewish state, although there are non-Jews living in Israel proper. But,
    Israel is not where all Jews live.